A Table for Two – A Table for All
This is an illustrated sermon. It not only includes a message, but also involves a dramatization of two different scenarios involving a table. The first is a table for two, illustrating the personal and intimate aspect of communion as it pertains to our relationship with the Lord Jesus. The second is a table for all (more of a group, banquet type of setting), illustrating the corporate aspect of communion as it relates to the Body of Christ.
You can purchase a DVD of this message and another illustrated communion message (The Blood Still Speaks) by clicking here.
Whenever you go to a restaurant, the hostess will greet you and want to know how many are in your party. You respond by telling her how many; she then will seek to find a table to accommodate your needs.
Can you imagine going to a restaurant and being asked that question, and not being able to give the hostess an answer?
Hostess: Good evening, sir. How many are in your party?
Guest: I’m not really sure.
Hostess: How many will be will be joining you for dinner? One, two, three, or more?
Guest: I’m not really sure.
Hostess: Sir, do you know what you’re here for? Do you know why you’ve come to this restaurant?
Guest: No, I guess I really don’t.
You would think that person was quite confused.
When you go to a restaurant, you need to know:
- Why you’re there
- Who you’re going to be with
When it comes to the Lord’s Table, you need to know the same two things:
- You need to know why you’ve come to His table
- You need to know who you’re going to be there with. How many are in your party?
The very word Communion implies being with someone.
The word means:
- A having in common
- A partnership
- A fellowship recognized and enjoyed
- The share which one has in anything
Communion is related to the words common and communication.
We must see that having communion is more than eating a little wafer of bread and drinking a little cup of juice.
A person can go through the external motions without experiencing the inward sense of fellowship and partnership that this ordinance was meant to express.
Let me say it this way:
You can have communion (the ordinance) without having communion (the fellowship).
On the other hand, you can have communion (the fellowship) without necessarily having communion (the ordinance).
For example, you could sit down for a meal with your wife or family, but mentally be a million miles away, and completely ignore them.
Does this mean we should not partake of the ordinance of communion? Absolutely not!
We should come to this table and partake of these elements because Jesus said we should.
1 Corinthians 11:25-26
In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
It’s not an either/or issue.
We should maintain a continual awareness of God’s presence in our life, but we should come to this table periodically as a continuation of our ongoing fellowship, to remind ourselves of and to celebrate the very foundation of our relationship and fellowship with Him: the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus.
When we look at the first question: “Why are we here? Why are we going to be partaking of these elements?” We can answer:
We do something externally because it expresses an inward reality!
That inward reality is:
- A remembrance of Christ’s death in the past
- An awareness of His presence in our lives now
- An anticipation of His coming again!
But what about the second question: “How many people are there in your party? Who’s going to be with you?”
First of all, Communion always involves a “table for two.”
(Note to Pastor – if you want to make this an illustrated sermon, have a small, romantic table set for two – romantic background music – couple comes out with waiter in tux – they are obviously enjoying each other’s company)
This couple has come to this place to focus on each other… to rekindle the romance and nurture their relationship with each other.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Two’s company; three’s a crowd.”
Even if there are three thousand other people in the same auditorium, communion can and always should be a deeply personal time.
It can be a time when you focus on the company you keep with the Lord Jesus.
- Jesus died for you personally
- Jesus shed his blood for you personally
- You’ve been forgiven personally
- You’ve been made a child of God personally
- His Spirit has been sent to dwell in you personally
- Jesus’ body was broken for you personally
- His healing and restoring power is available to you personally.
Listen to what Paul said:
1 Corinthians 11:23-24, 27-30
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
Note these three things:
- You must know that His body was broken for you.
- You must examine yourself.
- You must discern the Lord’s body.
Let’s talk about examining yourself.
Some people read this and begin to get under all kinds of condemnation. “I’m so unworthy. I missed it this past week. I don’t deserve to take communion.”
Having sinned does not disqualify a person from taking communion. If it did, none would qualify. This table is not for perfect people!
One commentator said:
“If the table of Christ were only for perfect people none might ever approach it. The way is never closed to the repentant sinner. To the man who loves God and his fellow men the way is very open, and his sins, though they be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” (William Barclay)
Examining yourself is certainly not the same as condemning yourself.
- in the light of God’s love and mercy
- in the light of His shed blood
- in the light of His word
If you see an area where you need to make an adjustment, make it. But know that God is for you, not against you.
He wants to help you overcome, not condemn you, for having fallen short!
What about understanding that Jesus’ body was broken for you and discerning the Lord’s body?
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
1 Peter 2:24
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.
This is all part of discerning the Lord’s body—discerning and understanding what Jesus accomplished when He was afflicted for us.
We’ve been talking about the fact that communion is a time when you and God can fellowship personally. It is a “Table for Two.”
This is consistent with understanding that His body was broken for you.
But we must also establish another fact that has to do with “discerning the Lord’s body”, or this message would be very incomplete. This table is not exclusively a Table for Two.
Second, communion also always involves “a table for all.”
(Note to Pastor – if you’re doing this message as an illustrated sermon, you can also have a Banquet Table set up… pre-assigned people would come to the table at this point in the message. It lends to the message if those coming to the table can be a diverse group – age, dress, nationality, etc.)
A table for all—imagine a great banqueting table with room for many—everyone who responds to the invitation is accepted—no one is turned away—there is plenty for everyone.
There is also a certain unity that is established by our partaking together, not only of these elements, but of everything pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ—our common inheritance.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.
The Message Version reads:
Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in Him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is.
We spoke earlier of our need to discern the Lord’s body, and we can rightly say that we need to understand what Jesus did for us in His own body.
But we must also discern, or recognize the Body of Christ—the Church.
We must recognize the Universal Church that is comprised of every truly born-again person on earth and in heaven.
This is not…
- A Charismatic Table
- A Pentecostal Table
- A Protestant Table
- A Methodist Table
- A Baptist Table
- A Presbyterian or a Lutheran Table
This is the Lord’s Table, and everyone who belongs to him, regardless of other labels that may be ascribed, has a right to partake here. We have equal access. This is an equal opportunity table.
And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy to take the scroll,
And to open its seals;
For You were slain,
And have redeemed us to God by Your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation…
1 Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually…
When Paul said we need to discern the Lord’s body lest we bring judgment upon ourselves resulting in people being weak, sick, and dying prematurely, he was in all likelihood including the idea of believers recognizing and honoring other believers, other members of the Body of Christ.
As Paul described the Corinthians conduct in their worship, he was very honest about the fact that they were not in unity and they were not walking in love toward each other.
1 Corinthians 11:17
Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse.
(NIV) …Your meetings do more harm than good.
Paul went on to describe a situation in the Corinthian church of strife and division that even affected the way the believers approached the Lord’s Table.
If you are going to enjoy communion as a “Table for Two” (you and Jesus), you must also make sure you are enjoying it as a “Table for All.”
A person will never fully enjoy his or her relationship with God and receive all of the blessings of God if that person is harboring…
- a critical nature
- a rebellious attitude
Our attitude and our actions toward others has much to do with what we receive from God.
And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.
Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
1 Peter 3:7
Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.
In just a few moments, the elements are going to be distributed, and you will receive a wafer and a cup
Because that wafer represents the Body of Christ, you will handle it and treat it respectfully. You would be grieved if I took this wafer and threw it on the ground or stepped on it, because of what it represents.
But that wafer only represents the Body of Christ.
If you treat a symbol of the Body of Christ respectfully, how respectfully should you treat the actual Body of Christ?
The person sitting to your left and right is the Body of Christ—they are members individually.
They may be the little toe, but they’re still part of the Body of Christ.
If you step on my little toe, you’ve hurt me.
…’Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’
The bottom line is this:
You can’t honor a piece of bread while dishonoring and mistreating brothers and sisters in the Lord—if you do this, you are certainly not “discerning the Lord’s body.”
This is where the Corinthians missed it—in taking communion they were claiming to be honoring the Lord’s body, but their careless and selfish behavior was actually dishonoring the Body of Christ.
Before us today is a table.
You need to know why you’ve come, and you need to know how many are in your party.
It is a table for two.
It is a place where you and Jesus can fellowship together in remembrance of all that He’s done for you.
It is a place where you can celebrate all of the benefits provided for you by His shed blood and broken body.
It is also a table for all.
It is a place where all natural barriers cease to exist.
It is a place where we recognize, honor, and respect all others who are also part of the Body of Christ.
It is a place where we acknowledge and give thanks to God for what He’s done for us all through the Lord Jesus Christ.