Sermon on July 10 2022

KaB FKB (Volker Aßmann)
1 Corinthians 11:17-34:

This sermon is translated from German into English. You can find the original video here

You know what the LORD said about this meal;
I myself have passed on His words to you as they were reported to me:
On the night that He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took the bread, gave thanks to God, broke it in pieces and said: “This is mine body that is sacrificed for you. When you celebrate this meal in the future and eat of the bread, remember what I have done for you!”
After they had eaten, He took the cup (cup), thanked God for it, and said, “This cup (cup) is the new covenant, sealed with my blood. Every time you drink from this cup, remember what I have done for you!”
So be clear about this: every time you eat the bread and drink from the cup, you are proclaiming death of the LORD – until the LORD comes again.


From the beginning of the church to the Corinthians, there are some characteristics and essential parts of life as a Christian and as a church. This also included the regular celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Acts 2:42 : ” They constantly took part in the teaching of the apostles, in the fellowship, in the feasts and in the prayers.”
“What shaped the life of Christians was the teaching the apostles taught them, their solidarity in mutual love and helpfulness, the Lord’s supper and prayer .”


The Lord’s Supper as a memorial meal – so that we never forget it!
In the history of the congregation and church of Jesus there are various designations, including ‘the Lord’s Supper’ and ‘the Lord’s Supper’.
And it’s always a celebration – Christians have every reason to celebrate that God loves us humans, that Jesus, God’s Son died out of love for our sins and that we belong to God’s family as a result. We celebrate this as God’s children.


The Lord’s Supper as a community meal:
The Lord’s Supper is always an expression of fellowship. Fellowship with Jesus Christ and fellowship of Christians with one another.
Being a Christian always means living in a new family of God’s children.
So Jesus invited his disciples to the first supper:
“How I longed to celebrate this Passover supper (which then became the first supper) with you before I had to suffer.” (Luke 22:15)
For 2000 years, Christians have been celebrating this feast, the Lord’s Supper, as a whole congregation as well as in smaller groups. Nowhere in the Bible do we read anything about the fact that the Lord’s Supper should only be celebrated within a certain framework, such as in a church service.
Wherever Christians (no matter how many) are together and they are concerned about Jesus Christ, they have been celebrating communion ever since


The Lord’s Supper as a memorial, against our forgetfulness!
When you celebrate this meal in the future and eat the bread, remember what I have done for you! …
you drink from this cup, always remember what I have done for you.” (1 Cor.11)
Because Jesus knew that we are forgetful people who keep losing sight of what is really important and forget what is important, HE gives us this festival as a reminder.
Never forget that the death of Jesus on the cross is the only chance for all people to have a relationship with God as reconciled and saved.
Not all possible activities and services for Jesus are the first and most important thing in life as a Christian and as a community, but: having fellowship with one another, listening to God’s word, praying and celebrating communion.
Bless the LORD, my soul, and do not forget what good HE has done for you!” (Psalm 103:2)


The Lord’s supper as a meal of proclamation
Be clear, then, that every time you eat of the bread and drink of the cup, you proclaim the death of the LORD – until the LORD comes again.” (1 Cor.11)
At every celebration of the Lord’s Supper we are to proclaim exactly that, and we do it: We proclaim the death of Jesus. The fact that God actually came into our world in Jesus, both God and man, to die.
However, it is not intended as a recurring funeral service.
Anyone who only celebrates the death of Jesus has not understood why Jesus died. And also that the death of Jesus on Good Friday was not the last, but we celebrate the crucified
and risen. Without Easter morning and the resurrection of Jesus we would have nothing to celebrate.
But with every supper we celebrate the victor Jesus – the victor over death, sin, the devil and all hopelessness.
Therefore, when we have and expect a mood of funeral service at the Lord’s Supper, we must seriously question ourselves.
The word “funeral” represents a deep contradiction.
What grief is worth celebrating?
As Christians we have the hope of resurrection at every “mourning service”, funeral, otherwise we would have no hope at all.
Yes, every time at Communion we remember that there was and is no other way to salvation and reconciliation with God than the vicarious death of Jesus for us personally.
“… then remember every time what I have done for you! (1 Cor.11)
It is not a general holiday to commemorate historically important events, but this usually has little or nothing to do with individuals.
At communion I remember what Jesus did for me personally.
I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.


The Lord’s as a meal of hope

So know this: every time you eat of the bread and drink of the cup, you proclaim the death of the LORD – until the LORD comes again. (1 Cor.11)
Jesus Himself said before His death that we celebrate and proclaim the death of Jesus with every supper (and otherwise) – until He comes again!
A dead person does not come back, neither does the dead Jesus come back. Only those who live can come back! And Jesus is alive and HE is coming again .
For Christians, all faith and especially the Lord’s Supper is a deep expression of hope. Jesus is coming again.
We hope and wait for that and we shouldn’t forget that either.
Not our own death, not some crisis is the last thing, but the crucified and risen Jesus will surely come again.
This is our hope:
We do know, however, that all of creation is groaning under its condition, as if it were in the throes of childbirth.
And even we (who believe in Jesus), to whom God has already given His Spirit, the first part of the future inheritance, even we still groan inwardly, because the full realization of what we are destined to be as sons and daughters (of God) is yet to come are. We are waiting for our bodies to be redeemed. Our salvation includes this hope. “ (Romans 8:22+23)
Faith in Jesus means having hope.
And the closer the crises come and the bigger they get, the more we need hope and can we have hope.
When these things begin to happen, draw yourselves up and take heart, for then your salvation is at hand! (Luke 21:28)
Crises should not be a cause for discouragement and fear for us, but let our hope come alive and grow. Crises should lead us to prayer and also lead to a new discovery and celebration of the Lord’s Supper and invite those around us to this hope. Because our Savior and Lord is coming and then His victory will be visible to all.


The Last Supper as a celebration of thanks
All of this should make it clear to us: We really have every reason to be grateful to our Savior and the LORD.
That is why the Lord’s Supper is about a celebration of thanksgiving.


1.God’s covenant with us
Jesus himself connects the Lord’s Supper with God’s covenant with people. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is not the actual covenant, but a sign of it and a reminder of it.
This cup is the new covenant, sealed with my blood, which is shed for you .” (Luke 22:20)
This sentence is reminiscent of 2 passages from the OT, the second book of Moses.
First, it evokes a covenant between God and Israel that was sealed in blood.
In Exodus 24 we find this: After God gave His people the 10 commandments (chapter 20), the people of Israel declared that they wanted to be bound by the commandments of God and keep them:
We will do all that the Lord has said has .” (24:3)
And again in verse 7: “ Everything that the LORD has commanded we will do. We want to obey His commandments .” (24:7)
Here God makes a covenant with Israel based on their promise that they would do what God said.
This covenant is sealed with the blood of sacrificial animals: “ This blood seals the covenant that the LORD made with you by giving you these laws .” (24:8)
The basis of this covenant was the promise of the people: We want to live our lives with you, God!
It was a two-way contract: God promises something that will come true if people keep their promise.
show us how problematic this is, because time and again we humans have broken this promise and we continue to do so to this day.
Jesus now speaks of a completely different covenant, a one-sided covenant, the basis of which is solely HIS promise:
And Jesus makes a covenant with all who follow Him based on His promise to give His life for the people.
This covenant applies to all who follow and trust Jesus on the basis that Jesus gives His life (blood) for the people.
God works in advance and it stays that way. We humans can do nothing to this covenant, but only accept it and believe God that it is enough that Jesus died for us and saves us.
Uli Neuenhausen writes: >This contract (covenant) remains fulfilled (even if we break it and run away from God), because Jesus fulfills it completely. The consequence of the covenant (treaty) breach is death, but Jesus now suffers this death instead of His disciples. That is why Jesus adds the words ‘for the forgiveness of sins’.
This covenant is not mortal for the followers of Jesus (because the death of Jesus is the basis). The covenant brings forgiveness and reconciliation. (p.23)
The second passage from Exodus that the Lord’s Supper commemorates is found in Exodus 12
The Passover festival is a reminder that God’s vengeance and punishment for the Egyptians passed over all the houses of the Isarelites. God had said that in every house in Egypt the first born would die that night because the Egyptians refused to obey God and set the Isarites free from slavery.
The Israelites were to mark their homes with the blood of the Passover lamb and God would then spare them. And so it happened.
What a powerful picture of faith and trust: They believe that God will save them if they trust and obey Him.
And with this Paul compares what Jesus did:
For our Passover lamb has also been sacrificed, that is Christ .” (1.Cor.5, 7)
This means that God’s righteous judgment and judgment that you and I deserve will pass us by if we believe that the blood of Jesus, His dying for us, saves and protects us.
And that is exactly what we celebrate in the Lord’s Supper.


2. Worthy or unworthy?
In the tradition of many congregations, this question is a very difficult one, and it was the same in our congregational history.
Who is allowed to celebrate supper? Do we need certain conditions that we have to meet for this?
Is communion for the “good” Christians who are masters and in control of their lives?
Do people deserve to celebrate the Lord’s Supper?
Are we allowed to exclude people from celebrating the Lord’s Supper? Are there Christians of the 1st and 2nd category?
In my church formation, whether or not people partake of the sacrament was critical to how their week went. Have I cleared all relationships? Are all sins forgiven?
What did I watch on TV Saturday night? A classic western (who knows them anymore) didn’t work at all.
And what about what we look at today and allow into our lives?
What was it like at the first supper and thus the only supper that Jesus himself celebrated?
Very surprising and frightening for some:
Jesus didn’t send Judas out before the celebration of Communion, but he was allowed to join in the celebration and then he betrayed Jesus for money.
Why? Perhaps as a last chance to turn back, which Judas, however, did not use?
Jesus doesn’t send Peter out either, who obviously even celebrated with his arms, because then he cuts off the ear of one of the men who take Jesus prisoner and betrays Jesus a short time later.
Jesus also does not send out John and James, who have nothing more important in these difficult hours of Jesus than to negotiate who is the greatest and most important of them.
Communion with Jesus was not exclusive at all – not exclusive, not for heroes and the good guys.
Communion is for sinners and those who have failed, who have recognized and understood it. Who therefore seek forgiveness of their guilt from Jesus and experience it again and again.
Communion is neither a place nor a reason for exclusion and disinvitation, but for invitation.
Some look through the rows at communion to see if the person will be attending or not.
I’ve gotten into the habit of either closing my eyes and focusing on Jesus, or consciously looking around and blessing the people who are there, whether I really like them or not.
Who is unworthy to take the sacrament: (11:17-22 and 11:27-32)

Unworthy is “he who does not judge the body of the LORD aright” (1 Cor.11:29) – what does that mean?
Another translation reads:
For whoever eats and drinks without realizing that this meal is for the body of the LORD, he draws upon himself the judgment of God with his eating and drinking .”
The situation in the church in Corinth, you got it right: in the church, was this:
Regular feasts were organized in Corinth, where people got drunk and ate, especially the rich. They forgot the arms and pushed them to the edge!!
And then at some point they also celebrated communion – what a grotesque contradiction?!
Such behavior despises Jesus and His Word.
And anyone who rejects the fact that Jesus died and rose again for our guilt cannot and does not want to celebrate communion at all.
Everyone examine himself – and so he eats… and he drinks…!
The Lord’s Supper is an invitation of grace. It is an invitation to all who feel unworthy to come face to face with God because their life and discipleship are not succeeding as they would like.
Communion is grace to touch, feel and taste. It is an invitation to sinners to rely on Jesus instead of their own righteousness. (U. Neuenhausen p.32)
If you feel “unworthy” in this sense, then Communion is just for you, then you are “worthy”.
Then come and celebrate with us and praise God!
In response to this and in preparation for communion we sing the hymn: How deep must God’s love be?!
How deep must God’s love be?
He loves us beyond measureHas made his Son in our placeAtone for everythingWhen all sin lay upon himThe Father hid his faceWhen he, the chosen one, diedGave us new life
I look at the man on the cross
Can see my guilt there And in shame I see myself standing with the scoffers For my sins he hung there They killed him His dying blotted them out I know I’m forgiven, yes
I will not trust any power in the world
and no wisdom On Jesus’ death and resurrection
I want to build my life I do not deserve all this I live by his grace His blood paid for my debt So that I have life
I didn’t deserve any of this.
I live by his grace. His blood paid for my debts. So that I may have life