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Sunday, September 13, 2009

A sermon on the cross of Christ

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

1 Cor. 10:14-22: KW—09.13.09


A. Illust: The world's shortest wedding ceremony took place in a bar one Friday night at 8:00 p.m. The ceremony consisted

of only seven words: "Take her?" "Yes." "Take him?" "Yes." "Took."

1. This very brief ceremony depicts a subtle attitude underlying our culture—people everywhere are in a rush.

2. Eckerds used to advertise: "Why should you do your shopping at Eckerd's?" "Because America can't wait."

B. This cultural phenomenon has made an impact upon the way Christians perceive worship, especially the Lord's


1. Instead of being immersed in spiritual exercise, there is a preoccupation with time and procedure.

2. It is not surprising, therefore, that many brethren fail to grasp the true essence of Christian living.

a. The weekly observance of the Lord's Supper is Jesus' way of keeping us near the cross.

b. To rush through such a sacred observance is to treat it (worship) as a peripheral matter.

c. Its observance is so significant that there are instructions as to how, when and why it is to be observed.

d. But even beyond this information, our involvement in eating the Lord's Supper has a very powerful and

practical message to those of us who wear the name "Christian."

C. When the apostle Paul wanted drive home an important spiritual lesson to the church at Corinth, he referred to

the Lord's Supper. cf. 1 Cor. 10:14-22

1. Why did Paul select the LS as the means of combating spiritual compromise?

2. Because the LS keeps Christians focused.

I. We are one with CHRIST

A. The Lord's Supper is a living memorial.

1. A memorial serves as a reminder.

a. Our nation erects monuments and establishes memorials in honor of persons or events of special


b. The Jewish nation observed a memorial known as the Passover Feast once a year to remember and

reflect upon their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. "It shall be a sign to you on your hand and as a

Memorial between your eyes, that the LORD'S law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the

LORD has brought you out of Egypt." Ex. 13:9

c. Illust: I have a vivid recollection of that day. My wife came in the room, turned on the TV set and then

spoke in shaken tones. She said, "They've flown a jet-liner into one of the World Trade Center towers in

New York…" For the next several hours I sat transfixed before the television and watched in horror as

the events of 9/11 unfolded.

Eight years after that dreadful day, many Americans, like myself, look back on September 11 with

intense emotion. We recall those gaping "wounds" in the sides of the towers. We remember those illfated

flights and how they were intentionally slammed into the very icons of our nation. We remember

those thick plumes of noxious smoke as they bellowed out of the top of those lofty skyscrapers and into

our collective conscience. We remember our own anxiety and ponder what must have raced through

hearts of fellow-citizens as they contemplated the end of their earthly existence and the brevity of

human life. We remember the internal shock of watching the first, and then the second tower plummet

to the ground. We remember those feelings of helplessness and despair as lower Manhattan was

engulfed in ash and debris.

But may I suggest, brethren, that there is a far more terrible tragedy that warrants our joint

remembrance. Every first day of the week, we need to call to memory those horrific events which

transpired 2,000 years ago!

We need to remember the murderous plot against the innocent Son. We need to remember the Lord's

internal struggle as He pondered His impending death. We need to remember His betrayal at the hands

of one of His own disciples. We need to remember the ill-informed attempt to thwart His crucifixion...

We need to remember the disciples' cowardice and how they fled for their lives when He needed them

the most. We need to remember the howls of the angry mob as they shouted, "Crucify Him! Crucify

Him!" We need to remember the incredible injustice of both the Jewish and Roman courts. We need

to remember Pilate's timidity before that blood-thirsty crowd. We need to remember the brutal

flogging (e.g., the little death) at the hands of the Roman lictors. We need to remember Peter's lying

about his association with Jesus. We need to remember the slanderous mockery of the soldiers,

priests, and thieves. We need to remember the Lord's humiliation as He was stripped of His clothing

and numbered with lawless, ungodly men. We need to remember that terrible crown of thorns that

was unmercifully forced on His brow. We need to remember the spittle that was sprayed upon His

precious body. We need to remember that ruthless blow to His head. We need to remember the

heavy burden of the cross that was thrust upon His weary shoulders. We need to remember those

cruel nails that pierced His hands and feet and how that He was suspended between holy God and

sinful man. We need to remember the bitter taste of the sour wine mingled with gall. We need to

remember His desperate cry to His own Father and how that heaven itself turned away from His

mangled form. We need to remember the frightful earthquake that shook the earth the moment the

Savior died. Perhaps most importantly, we need to remember that our own sins made this barbaric

occasion necessary.

a. Illust: Back in 2004, Mel Gibson produced "The Passion of the Christ." Ironically, he didn't star in the

film. He did, however, have a small, yet significant, cameo in the actual movie. If you don't recall

seeing him, watch it again carefully. He's there. You don't see his face or body, but you do see one

of his appendages. Remember the scene when Jesus was being nailed to the cross? You don't see

the soldier who held the hammer and drove that long nail into the Lord's flesh, but you do see the

soldier's left hand. That was Gibson's hand. Gibson said he reserved that role for himself because he

wanted his audience to know that his sins made the crucifixion necessary. He said, "I'm first on line

for culpability. I did it."

b. In truth, we all did it. We're all responsible for Calvary.

2. Christians observe a weekly memorial feast to remind them of their deliverance from the bondage of sin.

"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.' 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." 1 Cor. 11:23-25

B. The Lord's Supper is an active participation with Jesus.

1. The words "communion," "sharing," and "fellowship" found in 1 Cor. 10:14-22 translate the Greek word


2. The word conveys the idea of joint participation or partnership.

a. The LS serves as a re-affirmation of our true identity. "For we, being many, are one bread and one body;

for we all partake of that one bread." 1 Cor. 10:17

b. When we eat the bread we are reminded that we are the Lord's spiritual body. "Now you are the body of

Christ, and members individually." 1 Cor. 12:27

1) There is a danger throughout the normal course of our weekly activities to forget to whom we really


2) We cannot hope to be kept near the cross without the proper observance of the Lord's Supper. (For

in that memorial feast we are reminded that we are one with Christ).

II. We are one with EACH OTHER

A. The church belongs to Jesus. "Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy

Spirit has made you overseers to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts


1. Nothing, therefore, takes place in the church without Jesus being right in the middle of it.

2. Each Christian is an instrument in the Lord's hand for Him "to will and to do for His good pleasure."

Phil. 2:13b

B. We are all part of one another because we are connected to Jesus.

1. He is the head and we are His body.

a. "And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church." Eph. 1:22

b. "And He is the head of the body, the church…" Col. 1:18

2. All members of the body are important!

a. There is no "class" structure in the church diving the members of Christ according to social, economic, or

or educational levels.

b. The Lord's body is a united organism in which the various parts function harmoniously, even

complimenting each other. "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the member of that

one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one

body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one

Spirit. ...That there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care

for one another." 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 25

1) When we properly observe the LS, we are not only reminded that we are one with Christ, but that we

are also one with each other.

2) To be aware of this unity is to be near the cross!

III. We are not one with THE WORLD

A. Paul rebuked some Christians at Corinth for their wavering faith. "You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the

cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table and of the table of demons." 1 Cor. 10:21; cf.

2 Cor. 6:14-16

1. Why did the apostle use such strong language? (They needed to be reminded that they were dead to the


2. A proper understanding of the LS would have prevented such a breech of faith.

B. We are reminded in the observance of the LS that we are dead to ourselves. "And do not present your

members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead,

and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you…" Rom.


1. The LS is like a wedding ring.

a. Illust: A wedding ring is an external, silent reminder of the truths involved in marriage. Although it is

silent, it loudly proclaims, "Hey, you're married."

b. The LS reminds us that we are married to and belong to Christ.

2. A Christian who belongs to the Lord cannot belong to someone else without committing spiritual adultery.


A. We must not devalue the LS.

B. Jesus can keep us near the cross—He has given us a living and abiding memorial feast in which we are invited by

Him to participate.

C. As we commune together with Jesus each Lord's day we are reminded: 1) we are one with Christ, 2) we are one

with another, and 3) we are not one with the world.

D. Illust: I read the story about a family who left their Christmas lights up and kept them burning through the entire

month of January. The colorful, luminous decorations were always aglow. Whether it was night or day, the family kept

the lights on 24/7. The neighbors began to complain, "Why don't they turn those things off? If they're too lazy to take

them down, they why bother to put them up in the first place?!" The criticism continued, but the lights kept gleaming

through February. Locals invariably spoke in derision each time they drive by the house. Then one day in early March

the neighbors noticed a large, home-made banner hanging outside of the house, it read simply, "Welcome home,

Jimmy!" As it turned out, Jimmy was in the military; he had been fighting overseas during the Vietnam War. When his

parents, wife, and children found out that he would be coming home from his tour of duty, they delayed observing the

Christmas holiday so that they could all share it together with him. They left their lights on because they wanted everybody

in the community to know that their beloved Jimmy was coming home. Each Sunday ( Acts 20:7; cf. Luke 24:1-3,

21, 46), children of God observe the Lord's Supper ( 1 Corinthians 11:2), and in so doing, announce to the world that

Jesus is coming back ( 1 Thessalonians 5:2). Paul made this very point when he wrote through inspiration, "For as often

as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you PROCLAIM THE LORD'S DEATH TILL HE COMES" ( 1 Corinthians 11:26; emphasis

mine--mb; cf. Hebrews 9:28). The Greek word for "proclaim"--kataggello--means, "to make a solemn announcement...

to promulgate, preach, or show." In a non-verbal sort of way, Communion ( 1 Corinthians 10:16) is a well-lit

declaration that Jesus lived, died, returned to heaven, and will--on some unspecified occasion--come to claim His own

( Matthew 25:31-33). Remember the words of the song that we sometimes sing in the worship assembly?

"By Christ redeemed, in Christ restored,

We keep the memory adored,

And show the death of our dear Lord,

Until he come!"

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