Andrew Fountain - 7 Things you might not know about Breaking Bread (Communion)

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Sermon notes - 7 Things you might not know about Breaking Bread (Communion)

Breaking bread

Breaking bread

Image source: Ben Wickstrom

  • so why do I not call it “Communion”, or “The Lord’s Supper”, or “The Eurachist”
    • Simply because this is the name the Bible calls it
  • So why have people changed the name?
    • because they have changed the event from what Jesus gave us (another time)

Breaking Bread

  1. Old Testament and cultural background
  2. Why do we do it?
    • Seven Reasons
  3. Who is it for?
  4. How it was done in practice?
    • The love feast
    • Why it changed
  5. How should we do it now?

1a Cultural Background

  • Eating together = public display of friendship
  • Explorer in West Asian desert captured by Arab nomads
  • Paul talks about the problem of eating temple food
  • 1 Cor 10:21 “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”
  • He said: If you don’t know where it’s come from, don’t ask!
  • story of being captured in the desert. With a flash of inspiration, he pulled out a chocolate bar and gave half to the chief, who took a bite.
    • He ate his half and said “we have shared a meal—now we are friends”

1b Old Testament Background

  • Exodus 12:
  1. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.
  • Exodus 24:
  1. Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up,
  2. and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.
  3. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
  • Feast in memory of freedom (remembering is behind what we are about to do)
  • Covenant meal
  • Jesus frequently ate with members of society who were despised, and regarded as unclean.
    • We can see the significance attached to sharing a meal by the reaction of his critics,
    1. As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him.
    2. As Jesus was having a meal in Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with Jesus and his disciples.
    3. When the Pharisees saw this they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” Mat 9:9–11
  • So, to summarize, the cultural meaning is much stronger than in our culture
    • Powerful idea of expressing unity by eating together
    • Jesus is thought of as being here and part of the unity

2. Why do we do it?

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
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  • We get this from the passage in 1 Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 11:23–26

  1. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
  2. and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
  3. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
  4. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
  • So what does it mean to “remember”?
    • Simply not to forget?
  • how can it function to proclaim?

Pliny

  • Wrote to the Emperor Trajan less than 100 years after Christ
  • Confused about Christians and asks Emperor for advice
  • “it was their custom to disperse and to come together again to partake of food, of an ordinary and harmless kind”
  • People wondered why these Christians spend so much time in each other’s houses eating together
    • They were impressed by the level of love and community
    • It was designed to demonstrate unity and community!

2.3 Why do we do it?

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
  3. Demonstrate our unity in Christ
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1 Corinthians 11:17-34

  1. But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse.
  2. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part,
  3. for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.
  4. When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat.
  5. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.
  6. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
  7. For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
  8. and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
  9. In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
  10. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
  11. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.
  12. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
  13. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.
  14. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
  15. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged.
  16. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
  17. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another—
  18. if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.

based on NET Bible


  • explain story
  • Common misunderstanding of being “worthy”
    • I recieved a magazine in the mail a couple of years ago...
    • Who is worth?
  • No, it says in an unworthy manner
    • its the way you do it
  • In fact the person who is sinless should not take part!
  • This false teaching has been a scourge of Christians for centuries
    • Months of preparation in some Presbyterian churches
  • Come across people who skip breaking bread because they feel guilty!

2.4 Why do we do it?

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
  3. Demonstrate our unity in Christ
  4. Come to Jesus as a priest who forgives our sins
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  • Celebrate forgiveness. Not a time of mourning but of joy.

2.5 Why do we do it?

  1. Obtain a blessing as by faith we receive the benefits of Christ’s death
    • Blessings such as increased assurance that we are not under condemnation but free and justified
    • Blessings of joy
    • Obedience leads to blessing

2.6 Why do we do it?

  1. Picture of depending on Jesus for sustenance
    • Living water (John 4)
    • Eat my flesh, drink my blood (John 6)
    • Vine and the branches (John 15)

2.7 Why do we do it?

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
  3. Demonstrate our unity in Christ
  4. Come to Jesus as a priest who forgives our sins
  5. Obtain a blessing as by faith we receive the benefits of Christ’s death
  6. Picture of depending on Jesus for sustenance
  7. Look forwards to feasting with Christ in glory

The Messiah will bring a new feast

Isaiah 25:6

  1. On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
  • Does it matter if it is alcoholic? —of course not! (Sri-Lanka: Coke)
  • Food samples in a store. This is a taster!
  • Jesus turned water (ceremonial washing) into wine
    • Are you stuck in the washing?

3. Who is it for?

  • Everyone who is part of the body, and not living in disunity
  • If you have an issue with someone else here, sort it out first!
  • If you have some kind of rebellious behaviour towards God, (=disunity) repent first!
  • If you are feeling very guilty for your sinfulness
    • You are in exactly the right place!
  • If you are not a Christian, then you need to decide
    • To eat is a statement that you want to follow him
  • What about children?
    • They would have been part of the feast

4. How was it done back then?

  • It was part of a meal
  • There is evidence in the Bible for this
  • There is evidence in History for this
  • This is another sermon!
  • But we should not be legalistic about how we do it now
    • It is not the form, but the reasons:

Summary—Why we do it:

  1. Look backwards as we remember Jesus’s death
  2. Proclaim what he has done as a witness to others
  3. Demonstrate our unity in Christ
  4. Come to Jesus as a priest who forgives our sins
  5. Obtain a blessing as by faith we receive the benefits of Christ’s death
  6. Picture of depending on Jesus for sustenance
  7. Look forwards to feasting with Christ in glory
  • If you are not sure if it means this to you, and want it to:
    • Go through these seven steps right now

Updated on 2015-07-06 by Andrew Fountain