Sermon Outline On 1 Cor. 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Jeremiah 31:31-34 (NRSV)
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt–a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Paul says to the church in Corinth, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you.” Paul says this because this tradition originated with Jesus himself. Paul received the tradition that came for the Lord, and Paul is handing that tradition on to the church in Corinth. The church in Corinth handed the tradition on. The tradition pass on down through the generations. John Wesley received that which had been handed down, and Wesley handed the tradition on to Thomas Coke and Francis Asbury. Coke and Asbury brought the tradition to America and passed it on to Circuit Riders.
The Circuit Riders moved west well ahead of the trains and civilization, continuing to hand down that tradition that was received from the Lord. The people who settled this country had to wait for the circuit rider to celebrate the sacraments. It was only when those rugged preachers came through that they could receive the broken bread and cup of the covenant, remembering what Jesus had done for them.
This writing of Paul to the church in Corinth is the earliest written record of this tradition. Paul’s letter precedes the synoptic gospels by 15 to 20 years. Paul shares with you and me, as well as the church of the mid part of the first century, this tradition which calls us to remember that the breaking of Christ’s body and shedding of his blood are central elements of Christian belief and practice. He calls us to gather and to honor the one who gave his very life for you and for me.
The tradition Paul shares points to the “cup of the new covenant.” When Jesus referred to the “New Covenant” he is recalling the words of the prophet Jeremiah, who introduces us to this new covenant. A covenant in which God promises:
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their heart; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.
This new covenant we share is transformational. God’s law is not something we obey, it is something that has become apart of those who share in the covenant. God has written them on their hearts.
The covenant continues:
for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
Those who participate in this new covenant are promised that their sins are not only forgiven, but also forgotten.
Oh, what a precious tradition. Oh, what an incredible promise. Oh, what a powerful, transforming, covenant.
This cup of the new covenant was intended not only to bind believers to the Lord, but also to one another. As we share this morning in the “new covenant” are we ONE in Christ Jesus? Are we a people transformed by God’s promise?
The tradition passed on by Paul calls us to remember not just a broken body and shed blood, but to remember that Jesus died on a cross for you and me and every single person who is not sharing in the new covenant.
We are reminded today that we are a part of a long line of generations who have received the tradition and handed it on. Someone once said, “Christianity is just one generation away from extinction.” It will only take one generation to fail in handing down the tradition that began with Jesus. Only one. Will it be ours?
Jesus’ desire is for everyone to be apart of the tradition of the new covenant. Jesus didn’t die for just you and me. Jesus didn’t die for just those who have shared in the cup of the new covenant. Jesus Christ died for the least, the lost and the lonely. Jesus Christ died for those who don’t even shout “Hosanna” on Palm Sunday. Did Jesus die in vain?