THE BLESSING OF THE
Once upon a mountaintop, three little trees stood and dreamed of what they wanted to become when they grew up.
The first little tree looked up at the stars twinkling like diamonds above him. "I want to hold treasure," he said. "I want to be covered with gold and filled with precious stones. I will be the most beautiful treasure chest in the world!"
The second little tree looked out at the small stream trickling by on its way to the ocean. "I want to be a strong sailing ship," he said. "I want to travel mighty waters and carry powerful kings. I will be the strongest ship in the world!"
The third little tree looked down into the valley below where busy men and busy women worked in a busy town. "I don't want to leave this mountaintop at all," she said. "I want to grow so tall that when people stop to look at me they will raise their eyes to heaven and think of the Lord. I will be the tallest tree in the world!"
Years passed. The rains came, the sun shone, and the little trees grew tall. One day three woodcutters climbed the mountain. The first woodcutter looked at the first tree and said, "This tree is beautiful. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the first tree fell. "Now I shall be made into a beautiful chest," thought the first tree. "I shall hold wonderful treasure."
The second woodcutter looked at the second tree and said, "This tree is strong. It is perfect for me." With a swoop of his shining axe, the second tree fell. "Now I shall sail mighty waters," thought the second tree. "I shall be a strong ship fit for kings!"
The third tree felt her heart sink when the last woodcutter looked her way. She stood straight and tall and pointed bravely to heaven. But the woodcutter never even looked up. "Any king of tree will do for me," he muttered. With a swoop of his shining axe, the third tree fell
The first tree rejoiced when the woodcutter brought him to a carpenter's shop, but the busy carpenter was not thinking about treasure chests. Instead, his work-worn hands fashioned the tree into a feed box for animals. The once-beautiful tree was not covered with gold or filled with treasure. He was coated with sawdust and filled with hay for hungry farm animals.
The second tree smiled when the woodcutter took him to a shipyard, but no mighty sailing ships were being made that day. Instead, the once-strong tree was hammered and sawed into a simple fishing boat. Too small and too weak to sail an ocean or even a river, he was taken to a little lake. Every day he brought in loads of dead, smelly fish.
The third tree was confused when the woodcutter cut her into strong beams and left her in a lumberyard. "What happened?" the once-tall tree wondered. "All I ever wanted to do was stay on the mountaintop and point to God."
Many, many days and nights passed. The three trees nearly forgot their dreams. But one night golden starlight poured over the first tree as a young woman placed her newborn baby in a feed box. "I wish I could make a cradle for him," her husband whispered. The mother squeezed his hand and smiled as the starlight shone on the smooth and sturdy wood. "This manger is beautiful," she said. And suddenly the first tree knew he was holding the greatest treasure in the world.
One evening a tired traveler and his friends crowded into the old fishing boat. The traveler fell asleep as the second tree quietly sailed out in the lake. Soon a thrashing storm arose. The little tree shuddered. He knew he did not have the strength to carry so many passengers safely through the wind and rain. The tired man awakened. He stood up, stretched out his hand, and said, "Peace." The storm stopped as quickly as it had begun. And suddenly the second tree knew he was carrying the King of heaven and earth.
One Friday morning, the third tree was startled when her beams were yanked from the forgotten woodpile. She flinched as she was carried through an angry, scornful crowd. She shuddered when soldiers nailed a man's hands to her. She felt ugly, harsh, and cruel.
But on Sunday morning, when the sun rose and the earth trembled with joy beneath her, the third tree knew that God's love had changed everything. The tree witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And every time people focused on the tree or the cross, they would think of the Lord.
2. Brethren, in that story, all the third tree wanted in life was to grow tall so that when people stopped to look at it they would raise their eyes to heaven and think of the Lord. The cross that Jesus hung on and died on some two thousand years ago does point to the heavens and to our Lord. And every time we reflect upon the cross, our minds should focus, not on the tree itself, but on the one who died on that tree--our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
3. Every first day of the week, we come together as a Christian family to remember the cross. We reflect upon the death of Jesus that brought us life and freedom from sin. We praise God for sending His Son to die for us. We do all of these wonderful things when we partake of the Lord's Supper.
THIS MORNING, BEFORE WE PARTAKE COMMUNION, I WILL PRESENT A FEW POINTS ON THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER. IT IS MY PRAYER THAT THE INFORMATION THAT I PRESENT WILL HELP US TO UNDERSTAND AND APPRECIATE A LITTLE BETTER THE WONDERFUL BLESSING OF THE LORD'S SUPPER.
I. FIRST, WHAT IS THE LORD'S SUPPER?
1. In (Mt. 26:17-30), Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper during the Jewish Passover meal. I feel that for us to truly understand the meaning of the Lord's Supper, we must first comprehend the significance of the Passover.
2. Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper during the Passover meal for a reason and once we understand the meaning of the Passover, we will discover the reason--which will help us to better understand the Lord's Supper.
3. What was the Passover?
(1) Every year on the 15th day of Nisan (our April), the Jewish people observed a feast known as the Passover.
(2) The Passover was a time for the Jewish people to remember two important events:
a. First, the Passover was a time for the people to remember how God's death plague passed over the houses that had the blood of the lamb on the sides and tops of the doorframes (Ex. 12:12).
a. Second, the Passover, which by the way is also linked with the Feast of the unleavened bread, was also a time for the people to remember how God delivered the Israelites from slavery.
(3) Lets look at what took place during the Passover Meal. In (Ex. 12 & Dt. 16), God tells His people exactly what they were to do during the feast. Here is a brief summary of what took place.
a. Toward mid afternoon on Thursday, the 14th of April, the lamb (one per household) would be brought to the temple court where the priest would sacrifice them. The priest took the blood and passed it in basins along a line till it was poured out at the foot of the altar. He also burned the lamb's fat on the altar of burnt offerings. While this took place, they sang the Great Hallel which is recorded in (Ps. 113-18).
b. After sunset, Friday, the 15th of April, the household would gather in a home to eat the Passover lamb, which by this time would have been roasted with bitter herbs.
c. Next, the head of the household would hold in his hand a loaf of unleavened bread and recite a traditional formula: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth." After giving thanks for the unleavened bread, the head of the household then broke the bread, and distributed it to the others.
d. After the blessing of the bread, the head of the household during the Passover next would hold in his hand a cup of the fruit of the vine and recite a traditional formula: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Creator of the fruit of the vine." After the blessing, they all drank from the cup. After the drinking of the fruit of the vine, the head of the household retold the story of the Passover (Ex. 13:8).
(4) In (Mt. 26:26), while Jesus was passing out the unleavened bread, He said to His disciples "Take and eat; this is my body." In (1 Cor. 11:24), Paul said that after Jesus handed out the bread, He said "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me."
(5) Now, in (Mt. 26:27), the Bible says that Jesus "took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
(6) So Brethren, during the Lord's Supper, when we partake of the unleavened bread which represents the body of Jesus, we need to reflect upon Jesus' death. Why? Because His sacrifice and death delivers us from the slavery of sin. That my friends is good news! When we partake of the unleavened bread, we shouldn't be mourning the death of Jesus, instead, we should be celebrating. When the Israelites were marching out of Egypt, do you think that they were sad and depressed? Heavens no! They were happy. They were praising God for His deliverance. Likewise, when we observe the Lord's Supper, we should inwardly be celebrating and praising God for delivering us from the slavery of sin. Amen!
(7) When we partake of the fruit of the vine, which represents the blood of Jesus, we should realize that His precious blood is delivering us from spiritual death just like the blood of the Lamb delivered the Israelites from the death plague. This is also good news. This should bring extreme joy and happiness in our hearts. When the Jewish people observed the Passover, it was a time of great praise and celebration for what God did for them. I think that when we partake of the Lord's Supper, we need to praise the Lord for what He has done for us. Jesus doesn't want us to mourn His death, instead, He wants us to celebrate it! Why? Because He is not dead. He arose from the grave. He brought us deliverance from sin and eternal life. Jesus wants us to celebrate the Lord's Supper, just like the Israelites celebrated the Passover. When we bow our heads during the Lord's Supper, we should reflect upon Jesus and praise Him for the great sacrifice He made for us on the cross. We shouldn't act as though we are at a funeral, instead, we should act as though we have seen the risen Lord.
(8) Parking of the Lord's Supper is a central part of our Christian faith. It is an honor and a blessing to share in the Supper with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is a part of worship that we observe every first day of the week (Sunday). We do it at this time because the early disciples did it every first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
II. SECOND, BEFORE WE PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER, WE SHOULD CONDUCT A RIGOROUS SELF-EXAMINATION?
1. We must not take the Lord's Supper lightly.
2. In (1 Cor. 11:27-28), the Bible says,
a. In the church in Corinth, the brethren had many problems. One problem that they struggled with is recorded in chapter 11. It is apparent that when they came together as a church they were more interested in having a social gala then they were in partaking the Lord's Supper. The Bible says that they were partaking the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner!
b. In (1 Cor. 11:30-32), the text explains that God disciplined some of the people who were for partaking of the Supper in an unworthy manner.
3. What does it mean to partake in an unworthy manner?
4. How can we get caught up today observing the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner?
a. During the Lord's Supper, if we do not think about Jesus and His death and sacrifice, then we are observing in an unworthy manner.
b. During the Lord's Supper, if we have our minds totally focused on (1) what we are going to have for lunch after church services; (2) football games; or shopping; then we are observing the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner!
c. If we have blatant sin reigning in our lives, and observe the Lord's Supper, I think we do so in unworthy manner.
5. Before we partake of the Lord's Supper, we should conduct a rigorous self-examination. Because we do not want to fall into any type of spiritual or physical judgment.
6. Here at this church, no one is refused the privilege of observing the Lord's Supper. It is an individual choice whether or not you partake. We do not have a closed communion. However, I would strongly encourage you not to partake of the Lord's Supper until you are a baptized Christian, and until you understand what the supper means.
1. Parking of the Lord's Supper is one of the greatest privileges that we have as Christians. It is a time to remember what Jesus did for us on the cross. By our participation in the communion, we proclaim Christ's death until He returns (1 Cor. 11:26).
2. In a few minutes, we will partake of the Lord's Supper. We must lovingly focus all of our attention on Jesus and His death on the cross. We must strive to block out every thought that does not reflect upon Jesus.
3. At this time, we are going to be led in an invitation song. If you would like to become a Christian this morning, by (believing, repenting, confessing, and be baptized in Christ), please come down during the invitation. Maybe, you are living in blatant sin, and you want to come forward and ask God to forgive you so that you will not partake of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner. Maybe, you have been taking the Lord's Supper as serious as you should, and you would like to come forward and ask God to forgive you. Whatever your need may be, please come now as we stand and sing.