Sermon Notes & Slides
We Proclaim the Lord’s Death
1 Corinthians 11:17-34
Tony Chute, Interim Pastor
Overview: The institution of the Lord’s Supper occurred on the night Jesus was betrayed and was subsequently observed by the early church on a regular basis. The symbolism of the bread and cup were visible reminders of the great price Jesus paid to save sinners from the wrath of God, and the recurring observance was designed to keep the gospel message central to the church’s identity and mission. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians indicates that their selfish behavior threatened to detract from the gospel message. He thus rebukes them for serving themselves instead of one another; he reminds them of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper; he calls them to reflection before participating; and he instructs them to value the relationships made possible through the gospel.
01. We proclaim the Lord’s death primarily through the gospel message, secondarily with approved symbols, and incidentally with our lives.
02. We remember the Lord’s death by recalling the reason He died, reiterating our need to respond by faith, and repenting of ongoing sin.
03. We honor the Lord’s death by restricting the Table to believers only, refusing to be divided from one another, and anticipating His return together.
Questions for Discussion and Discovery
1. Paul references divisions in the church at Corinth (v. 18). Reading through 1 Corinthians, what examples of divisions can you find? (See 1:10-13; 3:1-4; 5:9-13; and 6:1-8 as initial examples.) What do such divisions communicate to the world about the death of Christ? How should we work to resolve similar divisions for the sake of the gospel?
2. How does the practice of the Lord’s Supper in this text differ from the way in which we observe the Lord’s Supper in a church setting today? What do these differences suggest about worship in the early church? What commonalities can you find in the text? What do these similarities suggest about continuity from the first century until now?
3. What does Scripture teach about how often we should observe the Lord’s Supper? What is the chief benefit of having the Lord’s Supper scheduled at regular intervals? What are the possible benefits of observing the Lord’s Supper more frequently? What are the possible benefits of observing the Lord’s Supper less frequently?
4. Do you have a plan or process by which you examine yourself before partaking of the Lord’s Supper? What dangers does Paul list regarding those who fail to examine themselves? What dangers might arise if we become too introspective and thus decide that we are never worthy to partake of the Lord’s Supper?
5. How does the expectation of the Lord’s return help us to place His death in perspective? What comforts can we derive from the Lord’s Supper as we consider our own morality? Do you find the Lord’s Supper to be not only a command but also a gracious means of assurance, reminding us that our sins have been forgiven?
For Further Reading: Thomas Schreiner and Matthew Crawford, The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes (B&H, 2010).