The Supper – Gospel in Life
Sermon

The Supper

Tim Keller |  May 4, 2008

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Topics:
  • Communion and Baptism
  • Redemption
  • Jesus' Death & Resurrection
Duration:
29:18
Scripture:
1 Corinthians 11:18-34
SKU:
RS 202-05

Overview

The belief that God loves you ought to make an enormous difference. But in so many cases, it does not. Beliefs don’t automatically produce changed character. Beliefs must be turned into changed character through Christian practices, through spiritual disciplines.

Maybe the Christian discipline par excellence is observing the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Corinthians 11, there’s a Greek word that shows up five times: synerchomai, which means to bring together, to come together, to unite, or to connect together. It’s translated in different ways through the text, so when you’re reading it in English, it’s not as striking. But the theme is that the Lord’s Supper connects things that otherwise would be fragmented.

In order to understand what it means to observe the Lord’s Supper and to have it really change your life, you need to know what some of those connections are. Let’s look at four ways the Lord’s Supper connects things: 1) it connects the present to the past, 2) it connects your soul to God, 3) it connects the individual to community, and 4) it connects your life story to the future.

1 Corinthians 11:18–34

Believing in God’s love is crucial, but it doesn’t instantly change our personality or actions. People can still struggle with worry and selfishness. True change comes from practicing Christian habits or spiritual disciplines, one of which is the Lord’s Supper. This ritual brings together different parts of our lives: it connects us to the past, helps us experience God in the present, unites us as a community, and gives us hope about the future. In doing so, it helps change our character and our lives.

1. It connects the present to the past

The Lord’s Supper links us back to the night Jesus was betrayed, which was also the Passover, a celebration of God freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. During his last Passover, Jesus did something new: he said that the bread was his body, making himself the true Lamb whose sacrifice washes away sins. When we share in the bread and the cup, we’re connecting with that special night when Jesus fought sin and death, the high point in the story of how God saves us.

2. It connects your soul to God

When Jesus said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood,” he was showing us a deep, spiritual connection. Catholics and Protestants see this in different ways, but either way, the Lord’s Supper is about a special and powerful connection. It’s about letting the reality of Christ’s sacrifice soak deep into us, changing our thoughts and our lives.

3. It connects the individual to community

The Lord’s Supper is really important in a church where people are divided and not getting along, like the church in Corinth. It reminds us that God saves us by grace, not because of what we do or who we are. If we take part in the Lord’s Supper without recognizing that we’re all one in Christ, we’re asking for trouble. We need to turn away from our wrongs, fix our relationships, and really understand the power of the gospel to change us.

4. It connects your life story to the future

When we take part in the Lord’s Supper, we’re saying that we’ll keep remembering Jesus’ death until he comes back, and that will be the start of a great celebration with no more pain or sadness. This meal is like a sample of the happiness that’s coming, and it shows that God is committed to leading us to that promised future. It’s like when Pippin hears a horn in The Lord of the Rings and is filled with emotion: the Lord’s Supper reminds us of God’s grace and the joyful moments in our lives, leading up to a great celebration for everyone who’s been saved by grace.

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