Proper Manners at the Lord’s Supper
Here was the real issue. Remember how I told you the rich hosted the events and brought most of the food.
For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.
Here is what was happening. The rich were bringing their food for the Agape meal. Before the others (the poorer folk) would arrive, they were going through the Potluck line and filling their plates and bellies. Likely sitting privately in the Triclinium while the rest of the church gathered in the courtyard looking at the special people at the cool table. (Sound like Jr. High cafeteria?). They were hoarding and gorging and all this while the rest of the church was hungry and thirsty. For many in the church, this was likely the only decent meal they had all week. Yet the rich, who ate well every day, took no regard for them.
One goes hungry, another gets drunk – he’s showing the disparity. One has so little, another has so much. How did the others feel? “Humiliated” (v. 22). It humiliated them and created a schismata within the church. Paul calls it “despising” the church of God.
I don’t know if you’ve ever had a flight in first class. I have had a few but I’ve never paid for it. Sometimes they overbook and you get an upgrade. I have to admit, it’s very nice. In those rare moments in first class, something happens. Especially as the rest of the plane files by to their seats in the back. Inside the thought is there, Yep, that’s right, I’m in first class! Move along people. Don’t stare. I know you wish you were me but you’re not. What’s so sad is that I don’t deserve to be there! It’s like a miracle when it happens.
Who of us deserves a seat at the Lord’s Supper? Can’t buy your way there. Can’t earn your way there. Can’t talk your way there. A seat at the Lord’s table is a gift of God’s grace, the ticket price is infinite righteousness. Anybody got that? Every time I take the bread and the cup it is a reminder that my place at this table was paid for by Christ and provided for me by his generosity. Are there first class seats in the church? No. The Lord’s Supper refreshes that truth to our hearts and keeps the celebration alive in the congregation. For as often as you eat of this bread and drink of this cup, you do proclaim the Lord’s death till he comes. (11:26).
It’s about Him and what He did for us.
- Jesus’ generosity – He became poor to make others rich (2 Cor. 8:9)
- Jesus’ humility – made himself nothing (Phil. 2:7)
- Jesus’ sacrifice – by his wounds we are healed (1 Pet. 2:24)
- Jesus loving for his neighbor – (Mark `1:31)
All of this is from him which levels all the normal social categories. As it is said, the ground is level at the cross. Or there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal. 3:28)
There’s no way any of us can think we’re any more deserving of the spiritual benefits of the gospel than anyone else, which keeps us from looking our noses down on anyone else and thinking we’re sitting at the cool table. There’s no place for wealth snobbery in the church. There are other forms of it. Denominational snobbery. “Me. I’m a Presbyterian. That’s right.” Or Theological snobbery, “My system is better than yours therefore I am better than you.” Or how about local church snobbery? “Where do I go? Bethel Church. That’s right.”
What do we have that we have not received? The gospel of Jesus humbles us as we view ourselves as sinners saved by grace, and opens our hearts to our fellow believers who are sinners just like us, which positions us to forgive one another, serve one another, love one another, let them through the potluck line first.
If there’s anything that proves that to us, it is when we take the bread representing his body broken and the cup representing his blood shed, and personalize the truth they represent by eating and drinking. The Lord’s Supper calls us to display the truth that we eat in the bread and drink with the cup. Relational unity. Gospel oneness. Christian charity.
Those are proper manners when we eat supper at the Lord ’s Table.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
© 2010 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address (http://www.bethelweb.org/) on the copied resource.