Read Psalm 119:22-24. The joy of the day is joy in the Lord. It all centers in the Lord Jesus Christ, our risen Savior and Lord. Just as this is a day of celebration, this is also a table of celebration. This sermon is at the table; we are already gathered in a special way in the presence of God. We should begin with some matters of brief introduction. Three important things should be stressed.
1) The focus of communion is on the Lord Jesus. We are here to remember Him. He said "do this in remembrance of me." Therefore confession of sin and self-examination are not the keys to communion; they are the keys to the daily Christian life. Remembering the Lord Jesus is the key to communion. Of course, confession of sin and self-examination are a part of communion; they automatically surface in a subordinate place. A God-centeredness is appropriate; looking away from man, from ourselves, to Jesus Christ, our risen Lord.
2) The Participants in communion are sinners. We are sinners. But communion is for sinners like the gospel is for sinners. You dont clean yourself up preparing for the gospel; gospel is needed for the cleaning up. Communion points us to the gospel to aid us in our battle with sin. Furthermore, communion is for sinners but not all sinners. This is important! Communion is for sinners who acknowledge their need of the body and blood of Christ. You are invited to the table with us only if you are a believer, only if you are trusting in Jesus Christ as your prophet, priest and king. Otherwise, you ought not to partake; you eat and drink judgment to yourself. You do not have to be a voting member of this local church to be invited to the table but you do need to be a member of the church, by faith in Jesus Christ the risen Lord and obedient in baptism.
3) The guidelines are God's reminders. We do not excogitate remembrances. We do not conjure them up. We remember along the lines of the Holy Spirit's reminding. The Spirit's testimony is given in the NT (Jn. 15:26-27).
1A. First, let's recall the major events of His life
Note He was vindicated by the Spirit (1 Tim. 3:16); He was marked out as the Son of God by the Spirit of Holiness (Rom. 1:4). From these passages as a whole, we can draw the model of humiliation and exaltation to summarize the work of Christ. For His humiliation, what comes to mind? Lowly birth, baptism, temptation in the wilderness, preaching the gospel in sermon on the Mount in miracles, and in parables, upper room, communion institution, betrayal, Gethsemene, the trial, curcifixion and burial. For His exaltation what comes to mind? Resurrection, ascension, being seated at the right hand of the Father, and Pentecost (His coming as life giving Spirit). In proclaiming the gospel by word and deed he has shown us who He is as well as what he has done.
2A. Note the following pictures from the Gospels
3A. Recall His kindness
In all of the sweeping events from humiliation to exaltation and in the broad Gospel presentations, we have an awesome picture of a truly great person, the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. And there is something specific that we can remember that enhances His greatness for us even more. It is this: He is not only great but also kind. He is great in kindness. He is kind in all His greatness. Would we have any comfort or basis for celebration at this table if we knew only of His greatness and had no knowledge of His kindness? Ah! We do have a ground for comfort and a basis for celebration because the great God is our kind Savior. Let's look at one specific narrative where the Holy Spirit reminds us of the kindness of the Lord Jesus: John 1:29-39.
1B. John points to Jesus twice (1:29-36).
He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. This one "whose sandals I am not worthy to untie" is the true baptizer. Water symbol of the forerunner will be translated into present reality by the promised one, the Christ, the Messiah and anointed one. He will save the world by baptizing with the blessing of the Spirit and by baptizing with the cursing of judgment fire (Matt. 3:11-12). He will save the world by forming a new Israel.
2B. Two disciples follow John's pointing (vs. 37-39).
They follow Jesus having never met Him. He turned and looked at them following and questioned them and they kind of stumble out an answer (v. 38). Note the kind of question in comparison to John's testimony of Christ that prompted them to follow- they seem off guard. This only poorly illustrates the point but picture yourself in New York city and someone says to you, "there is Kofi Anon, the leader of the UN" and you follow him and he turns and looks at you following and says: "what do you want?" and you say, "where are you staying?" What this man does impacts the world and all you can say is "where do you live?"
Well, how does Jesus respond? He could say, "you are crowding my space, you are prying. It is none of your business. But instead, wonderfully, kindly, He says, "Come and see" (v. 39a). So they went and saw and spent the day with Him (v. 39b). Have you ever been to a home where you were not welcome? It is uncomfortable, isn't it? You can cut the air with a knife. It is suffocating. Even if it is summer and hot, it is a cold place to be. But it is not so with Jesus. He is not so private that there is no access to Him personally. He let's you in. He makes you feel at home. He let's you know what He is thinking.
Two questions/challenges come to mind immediately. 1) How long has it been since you spent the day with Jesus? Today is the Lord's Day. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath. As His disciples daily and especially on His day, do we follow the Spirit's pointing? Do we hear the Savior's invitation? Come and see. 2) How do we model this kindness, this welcome, to others?
3A. What do you now say (shaped by the nature of communion passages)(as I begin this from the floor the elders should be ready to come forward when I signal them, when I begin Stricken; they need not stand for it will take some 5 minutes or so, but perhaps seated in order in the back ready to come forward when I cue them.)
Before we take these elements, I want to mention some things that you are saying in this very action, in your very participation.
1) acknowledging of need-of the work done, the provision provided.
2) an owing where you become owned- owning your Lord.
3) an embracing of the Christian family. Granted we have differences of personality, outlook, taste and philosophy. But we have one Father, One Spirit, and one Lord.