For many people, it’s the most exciting day of their lives. Yes, there are the births of babies, baptisms, graduations, holidays, but there’s one celebration that usually stands out above all the rest. A wedding!
The bride has anticipated this moment for years. The dreaming and planning can be almost endless. What’s the most beautiful dress she can wear? What about jewelry? And shoes? And flowers? Oh yes, her hair and her nails. Nothing is too insignificant to give attention to.
In her most shining moment, the bride will stand before friends and family. She’s queen for a day and wants to be as beautiful as possible. Most of all, she can’t wait to look into her groom’s adoring face, hoping he will be wowed even more by her stunning appearance as she walks down the aisle.
And then there’s the reception. Wedding cake, of course; beverages, indeed; music and dancing, yes; hors d’oeuvres, that would be nice; entrée, if possible. Smiles, hugs, kisses, best wishes, stories, laughter, gifts.
Now, imagine that kind of celebration to the highest level, even higher than a royal, gilded wedding of the richest bride and groom on earth. Imagine a divine wedding inside the pearly gates of heaven.
It’s a word picture, an extended metaphor, a wedding feast in heaven! (See Isaiah 25:6). None of us have ever been there and done that, making it impossible to imagine what it will really be like. But we try. The lyrics of “I Can Only Imagine” by the musical group, MercyMe, say it well:
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by Your side
I can only imagine what my eyes would see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus, or in awe of You be still?
Will I stand in Your presence, or to my knees, will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah? Will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
The bride has anticipated this moment for centuries. The multitudes of heaven announce the event with the greatest “shout out” ever heard: The wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready! (Rev 19:7). The very King and Groom of heaven welcomes his bride into his arms, consummating forever the most important relationship since the beginning of time and for all of time.
I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Rev 21:2-3)
Life Application Questions
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
The origin of Communion blossoms from Jesus. He models an adapted Passover evening. Acknowledging this transition, the Apostle writes, “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: 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 it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
To disciples who would celebrate Christ’s instruction our brother Paul adds a serious caution. “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:26-27). These are blessed and ominous words.
https://wlgbc.com/ba97bed3-2b3a-4384-ac22-0c1c6ed0afe4" alt="" width="127" height="84" />According to Scripture participating in “the Lord’s Supper,” has the potential to be a heavenly authorized, joyous proclamation. Conversely it could be a time of judgment—not a radiant flower in the Garden of our Lord but a thistle-laced parasite of poison oak. The difference resides not in the bread and cup, but within the soul of a disciple.
Some groups of disciples share Communion every week. Other groups offer Communion once a month or once a quarter. Special events such as Christmas Eve, even weddings are times when Communion may be offered.
Across the globe and throughout many ranges of Christian faith there is not a consistent pattern of observance. Communion can be an event of wonder and majesty. Conversely, communion intensifies our spiritual incompetence. The words of caution: “For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves” (1 Corinthians 11:29).
When do you find Communion to be meaningful?
Do you believe Communion helps you?
The earliest practices of the first believes are described in Acts 2:42-47. One of their regular habits was eating together and celebrating communion. Luke, the historian, wrote: “They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.”
There is no redundancy in that sentence. “Broke bread” and “ate together” are two different activities, although they always happened together in the Bible.
“The breaking of bread” (verse 42) referred to celebration of the Eucharist (the bread and cup of communion). The earliest believers “devoted themselves” to a handful of things, including “the breaking of bread.” What does it mean to devote yourself to something? At the least, it means to observe it regularly.
These verses were written before any church buildings had been constructed. The Temple still existed at that time. Although they could gather in the Temple to hear teaching and preaching from the Hebrew scriptures, they were certainly not allowed to eat and observe Christian communion there. So, they met in homes. Sharing what they had with each other was more than just part of their culture; it was part of their faith.
We Brethren generally take the bread and cup along with a meal, which we call the Love Feast. There is a good reason for this. Try to find a New Testament description of believers taking the bread and cup apart from a meal.
The Passover Seder, which was the Jewish precursor to Christian communion, involved a meal. Jesus told his disciples, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15).
The Apostle Paul was more than a little unhappy with the Corinthian believers for not sharing their food with each other when they came together to celebrate communion (see 1 Corinthians 11). Clearly, the church of Corinth celebrated the bread and cup in conjunction with a meal.
Jude mentions the “love feasts” (verse 12) of the church, likely referring to the meal during which the bread and cup which were celebrated.
There is something about a shared meal that binds people together. The best fellowship takes place around the table. An angel told John: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19:9). This meal represents the union of Jesus with his Bride, the church. It’s our future. And it was made possible by the body and blood of Jesus. So, it makes sense to “break bread” and eat together at the same time. Let’s do it this Sunday!
Did you notice that Jesus shared two cups with his disciples in Luke 22?
Before the meal, Jesus had the disciples divide a cup between them (verse 17). Then, “after the supper” he took another cup and passed it around (verse 20).
Today we only take one cup at communion. What’s up with the two cups? I never understood what was likely going on there until I experienced a Messianic Jewish Seder (Passover Meal).
Typically, four cups are consumed at a Jewish Passover celebration. The four cups represent four promises God made to Israel in Exodus 6:5-7.
It is uncertain how far back the tradition of the four cups of Passover goes. However, Luke’s description of the meal as “the Passover” (verse 13), as well as his representation of the cups before and after the meal, seems to fit the pattern. If the tradition was already in place in the time of Christ, then the cup we take at communion is the third cup, the Cup of Redemption, which was taken after the meal.
Originally, this third cup reminded the Israelites of the blood of the slaughtered lambs on the doorposts, which was the cost of their redemption from slavery in Egypt. Of course, Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was about to shed his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. In doing so, he would inaugurate New Covenant blessings on all, both Jew and Gentile, who believe and follow Him.
Luke doesn’t say anything about the fourth cup--the Cup of Restoration. However, Jesus does say, “I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes” (verse 18). This is likely a reference to the Second Coming of Jesus described in Revelation 19.
Until Christ returns to establish his kingdom in all its fullness and glory, we take the cup as a reminder of Christ’s blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins and the establishment of a New Covenant. In taking the cup, we proclaim Christ’s death until he returns.
We proclaim Christ’s death first to ourselves. We need to hear the truth of redemption over and over and over again. It is the foundation of our identity, the source of our life.
When asked why he was reading the Bible on his deathbed, the late comedian W.C. Fields, answered, “I’m looking for loopholes.”
Author Edgar Allen Poe lived a life of lies and drunkenness., but when found dying on the street, he said, "Lord, help my poor soul."
In contrast, John Knox, Reformation leader, cried out from his deathbed, "Live in Christ, die in Christ, and the flesh need not fear death."
We may have heard sermons on the last seven words Jesus uttered on the cross, but in the 13th chapter of John, we read some more very important words of our Lord. These include life principles for each of his followers--from the disciples gathered around the table with him the night before his death to you and me today.
Read the passage and ask yourself, “How do Jesus’ words apply to me today?”
Perhaps the first principle we can learn from these verses is that it's not only important what you say but how you live. In short, "Actions speak louder than words." When Jesus washed his disciples' feet, he was demonstrating humility. Jesus said, "And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you."
When is the last time you stooped low to serve someone?
Another truth almost hidden in this scene is that the devil was in attendance at the same dinner as Jesus. When he shows up, you can be sure he's up to no good. Later in the chapter, Jesus' last words to Judas were, "What you are going to do, do quickly." Sadly, the rest of the disciples didn't have a clue.
Are you aware of the influence Satan has in your circle of friends? If so, what are you doing to overcome it?
A third lesson Jesus taught at dinner that night illustrated doctrines of salvation and sanctification. When Peter objected to having his feet washed, Jesus said, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me." What a wonderful picture of our salvation! We are washed in the blood of Jesus. And when Peter misunderstands and asks to be washed from head to toe, Jesus teaches the very important principle that one bath (salvation) is all we need. But we must constantly be confessing and renouncing our daily sins (i.e., washing our feet from the daily dust of the world), which is a vivid picture of sanctification.
Are you up to date on your personal daily "foot-washing"?
Jesus’s benediction that evening was a wonderful promise. "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." What great last words from our Savior! gmd & jbd