(Don van Ornam)
I'm going to read a few verses from John 6:35 cf. that are relevant to the Communion service tonight. You remember the people came to Jesus and said, "Moses gave us bread, what are you going to do for us? And here were some of the words He said in reply: Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry. He who believes in Me will never be thirsty." 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh which I will give the life of the world.
Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves. "How can this man gives us his flesh to eat?"
Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father, sent Me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. . . . The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and they are life.
Let's bow our head for prayer.
Father, we come to You tonight to celebrate what you have done for us. As we look at our own lives, if we truly look, when we look at You and what You have done for us we realize that without You we are nothing, but with You we are all things. And so, tonight we ask that You will help us to put self out of the picture. The we may truly understand what it means to eat You flesh and drink You blood in the way that You meant it, so that truly we will have eternal life. Take from us tonight our sins, our selfishness, whatever it is that keeps us from truly seeing You. Open our eyes, open our minds, make us willing to accept You. We love you, Lord, and tonight we invite You into our hearts as we share this service together, in Jesus' name, Amen.
(Pastor Don Gettys)
We have a short devotional thought for tonight, and I appreciate Paul Carlson leading our song service and all of you singing. I appreciate Don van Ornam having our scripture and opening prayer.
You know, food has always been important to me throughout my whole life. I've always had a desire to eat on time. I like a regular schedule. You know that if you don't eat you'll die. You know that, don't you. And so it is with deep sympathy that I read in the Bible that Jesus' last supper was a whole twenty-four hours before His death. He didn't eat or drink anything for twenty-four hours. That's amazing to me that he could do that. And, he knew that His last meal would have to last a long time. So, Jesus chose the menu for His meal.
Now, if you were choosing your last meal, if you were on death row and you got to choose the last food you would ever eat, what would you choose? It would probably be brussels sprouts and greens and fried potatoes and corn and maybe some home-made vegetable soup. I don't know what you would choose. Maybe a big roast or something.
Do you know what the menu was that Jesus chose? Bread and juice. That's it. There might have been a few little spices and things like that they had, but bread and juice, that's all. That was just a plain meal. That's what he chose. It was proceeded by the water that he used in the foot-washing, which did not go on the inside but the outside. Now, why did Jesus use bread and grape juice as elements in this last supper memorial? I thnk there were several reasons.
1. No two substances in nature better symbolized unity than bread and grape juice. In my opinion. Because bread is made from a multiplicity of many grains of wheat, and yet the bread is one. Thousands of grains of wheat and one loaf of bread. The bread is one. Any part is the same as any other part. Now, you can't convince kids of that because they won't eat the crust. But the crust has more vitamins per ounce than any other part of the bread.
Luke 22:18 says, ".... I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine..." And that's grape juice. Grape juice is made from hundreds of individual grapes, and yet every glass of grape juice is full of identical juice, because it all comes, even though it is hundreds and hundreds of grapes, it's all one.
The juice is one, the bread is one, and each Christian is one in Christ. That's a good lesson for the communion service.
2. No two substances in nature have to suffer more to become what they are than the bread and the wine. Just imagine that you are a kernel of wheat. You're not a loaf of bread yet. You're just a little kernel of wheat. You have to be buried in the cold damp earth. You have to pass through the cold rigors of winter and the snow and the freezing weather over the top of you. You're just trying to come up, you're just in your sprouting stage, and that cold weather is over the top of you. Then you have to grow through the hot summer. Then finally you're harvested with a sharp sickle. And then the hull has to be pounded off of you. Then you have to be ground under the load of that heavy mill-stone. You have to be subjected to the strong kneading, somebody just working you to death. You have to be exposed to the fire and the high heat of the oven. That's a lot, isn't it. There's a lot of suffering that goes one by the kernel of wheat tha the bread may become bread for us to eat.
\ And the grapes. A grape has to go through a lot. It has to cling to that vine all summer long. And it has to be picked and has to be tread upon by heavy feet, and must be squeezed under high pressure to be forced through a strainer or a some type of mesh to be made pure. And then it must be tested and has to be tried. You know, Jesus is like the grape juice, and, Jesus is like the bread because He suffered for the sake of our salvation. The bread suffers because that we might have nourishment. The grape juice goes through a lot of turmoil that we might receive spiritual strength. And Jesus suffered for the sake of our salvation, to nourish is spiritually, to save us. He was beaten, he was whipped, He was nailed to a rough cross, He had to bear up the load of a heavy cross. And, He suffered under a load of heavy sins. And that's what Jesus did for us.
Just like that wheat can't produce anything until it's buried in the ground and produce a wheat stalk, just so unless we die to self, we can't live in Christ. We never will.
So, today, we have three parts in our service. We have water and wheat and wine. They all begin with "W". Water is a symbol of Jesus' life, wheat is a symbol of His body, and the unfermented wine, grape juice, is a symbol of Jesus' blood. These are rich symbols. These symbols are for us. There is a lot of symbolism in the communion service. We have all these lights up and down the aisle. These candles are live candles, the living flame, symbolizing the living light of Jesus. So each part points to Jesus. See Jesus in this service. Jesus still awaits to wash your feet at this communion service here tonight. Jesus wants to give you the strength of His body and the power of His blood so that you can live for Him throughout this world, and live with Him throughout eternity.
So, come to Jesus' supper table hungry, spiritually hungry, and partake fully and you will be filled wonderfully. That's the message of the communion service. That's the message of the Bible, for Jesus said, "I am the bread of life. (John 6:35) And the grape juice is a symbol of My blood." So, as you go our and have your feet washed, you are applying Jesus to the feet of somebody else, and they are applying Jesus to your feet, because the water of life is a symbol of Jesus. And when you eat of that piece of bread, remember the suffering that it went through for you. When you drink of that grape juice, you're not eating a grape, you're drinking pure grape juice. Remember the suffering that went through for you. And remember the suffering that Jesus went through that you might live.
We're going to separate for the foot-washing at this time. The couples are going to the Fire-side Room, the men will be in the rooms adjoining the Fire-side Room. The ladies will be in the over to your left on the way out. Before we separate for the Ordinance of Humility, Foot-washing, and then reassemble back here again, we would like to have prayer together.
Dear Father in heaven, we are so thankful for the staff of life. We are so thankful for juice of the grape, that these symbols of Jesus are so tasty, so nutritious, reminding us of how Jesus is so tasty and so good for us. May we partake and get a full and wonderful washing with the highest nutrition for our spiritual lives tonight, we pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
The people are finished with the foot-washing and have now returned to the sanctuary.
1 Corinthians 10:15 - 16 says, "I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in te blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation of the body of Christ? Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all participate in the one loaf.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26 says, ....The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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." In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, whenever you drink I in remembrance of Me" For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes.
Let us pray. "Father, we are reminded that we are a part of one body, and what a blessed thing that is. Thank you for the symbols that You have provided that remind us of this, for the crushed grapes and the ground wheat. We ask for Your blessing upon these emblems, upon the wine tha symbolizes Your blood, upon the bread which symbolizes Your body. Lord, we are looking forward to when we can be reunited with You. Help us to proclaim Your death until you come as a corporate body, bound together, with love, and with a job that you've given us to do. Bless us in this church in Jesus' name, Amen."
[Now the bread is eaten, and then the wine is drunk. As the people file out of the sanctuary there are two deacons collection an offering for the poor in our church.]
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last updated December 16, 2004 by Bob Beckett.