Eating with God Genesis 14:17-24

Genesis 14:17-24

Introduction:  some sermons are “action” action sermons that will emphasize what you can do in response to hearing them.

  •   For instance, at missions conferences there’s often a sermon at the end that emphasizes the importance of giving for the work of missions—that’s the action required.

This sermon ain’t that.  There will be an exhortation to hear and follow, but it won’t have an outward action like “give to the cause”.   This sermon is meant to be thought provoking, meditative, even devotional, its point is to increase our appreciation of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  To see this sacramental feast as giving us what the gospel promises, “the pearl of such a great value” that when it’s discovered you will sell all that you have just for that pearl. 

  • That pearl, of course, is Jesus himself. 
  • The gospel is God giving us himself in Jesus Christ, restoring the fellowship that was lost by sin.  Jesus offered himself as our sacrifice for sins, He lived out a perfectly righteous life that we might be counted righteous. He lives in a body like ours in heaven as the first fruits of the resurrection—by doing so, he has secured our place and is preparing that place for us.  That’s the essence of the gospel.
  • The Lord’s Supper, at it’s core, sacramentalizes our fellowship with God which was lost in Eden when we sinned.

But in Genesis 14 we see the first glimpse of this feast in the Bible.

  • The mysterious Melchizedek
    • His name means “king of righteousness”
    • He is the king of Salem, shorthand for “shalom” meaning he also the king of peace
    • And priest of God Most High
    • He shows up here after Abram’s victory to spread a feast and bless God’s person
  • Abram responds with a tithe, indicating that even though he’s just defeated the 5 kings who captured his nephew Lot, it indicates that Abram considers Melchizedek to be his superior.
  • Since Melchizedek receives it, he acknowledges his place. 
  • Our takeaway from Melchizedek’s appearance:  Unlike the false gods of the world that demand us to appease them through our works and sacrifice, God shows up to his people and fills our void
    • CS Lewis, we all have a God shaped hole in our hearts
      • God filled the whole with his only begotten Son who became flesh to fill the hole
        • Made of flesh like he is now
        • And made of the soulish substance that only God understands
        • He does it perfectly
  • We don’t totally understand our makeup—we’re body and soul, but the stuff of the soul is mysterious to us.  And the union of body and soul is confusing too.  But God made us, so he knows our constitution, he knows our parts and he knows how our parts make the total
    • Psalm 103:14  “he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”
    • Psalm 78:39 “he remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.”
    • So God knows exactly how to give additional support to our failing flesh in the form of sacraments. 
    • Sacraments aren’t a different gospel, but they are the gospel given differently.
  • OT sacraments were more numerous—5 sacrifices, 3 feasts, circumcision, because they pointed to the sufficiency of Christ
    • Now God’s people are given just two sacraments—baptism and the Lord’s Supper
    • You might ask, if this covenant is better, why don’t we have more sacraments?
      • We have fewer, less elaborate sacraments because we have Christ in his fullness!
      • The OT sacraments pointed to what was to come that they hadn’t received yet at all.  The NT points to what is to come that we’ve received in seed form already.
      • And our sacraments don’t involve any blood, because Jesus shed all the blood that was needed!
  • So when Jesus tells us this my blood of the covenant poured out for you and this is my body broken for you, consider just how much OT blood and how many sacrificed bodies couldn’t compare to the little cup we drink once a month!  What an amazing symbol of God’s grace!

As we continue to consider the Lord’s Supper today, let me remind you this Supper, this sermon is first and foremost meant to bring us to love Christ and love him more as we consider his love, who he is, what he does, and his supremacy over all things.  Two points:  1.  How do you think about the sacrament?  2.  What happens when we partake of the sacrament?

  1. How do you think about the sacrament?
    1. We don’t want to get to the point where we accidentally make the Lord’s Supper the object of our worship instead of Jesus, but it’s profitable to think about what the sacrament is.
    1. Back to basics—it’s a symbol, the bread and juice in our case, represent Jesus’ body and blood
    1. The Holy Spirit forms a union between the symbols of bread and juice and Jesus’ body and blood, so that we rightly consider these ordinary elements to be heavenly, spiritual food when we eat and drink in faith.
      1. Faith is necessary for the true participation in the Lord’s Supper, without faith you’re not ingesting Jesus’ body and blood, without faith you’re not communing with God.
      1. When the faithful person eats and drinks they are given rest in their soul, it is a participation in the eternal life Jesus earned for you and in that way you are nourished and refreshed for the trials of life.  Jesus said “if you abide in me, I will abide in you” the supper accomplishes this.
    1. One difficulty with thinking about the Lord’s Supper is that to fully appreciate it you really need to understand all the doctrines of the Bible.
      1. But we have to say that, while we can’t fully appreciate it, we do our best to grow, and to improve our appreciation for it
    1. With that in mind.  We’re saying that you can import as much biblical truth into the Lord’s Supper as you’d like and it can hold it, you won’t crush it under any of that weight. 
    1. But all that weight just might crush our ability to understand it.  So, we’ll start with just three things today.  All three are about Christ’s work:  his incarnation, his atonement, and his session.
      1. His incarnationJesus veiled his divinity by becoming human, he didn’t give it up, but he did veil it.  The world didn’t see him as God, he gave up his ontological rights as God to become our slave to earn our righteousness.  This is only possible because he was born to the virgin Mary in a body like ours.  God who is a spirit and not physical in being like us, became physical so that we might be saved.  The Supper in a similar way takes the spiritual food of heaven and makes it physical to feed us in our flesh and our souls.
      1. HIs atonement—the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation” sings of Jesus “from heaven he came and sought her”, meaning Jesus knew you before you were anything to be known, and he knew your sin, he knew your sins you love so much that you don’t want to let them go, and yet He sought you.  He died for you knowing your sin, and knowing it was your sin that caused his death.  The Lord’s Supper is the symbol that Jesus came, sought out, and died for his sinful people!
      1. His session—it’s the latin word for sitting, referring to Jesus’ ascent to heaven to take his seat at the right hand of the Father.  This is the reason that the Lord’s Supper feeds us with heavenly food, because Jesus said this is my body and this is my blood, but he’s not on earth, He’s in heaven!  In our eating and in our drinking we are communing with each other and, even though they don’t eat with us, we commune with the great cloud of witnesses from every age of believers who have died before us.  And all of us are looking forward to that day when we be clothed with the new body and seated in heaven with our living Lord.  For now, we have a sacrament, an hors d’oeuvre that gives us this spiritual hope in physical food.
  2. What happens when we partake of the Lord’s Supper?
    1. Subjectively:  what we feel, what each of us might think or experience in the Lord’s Supper
      1. For some there might be an emotional experience.
        1. This is understandable—like visiting the grave of a loved one when you grieve their loss, you might grieve over your remaining sinfulness, you might grieve that even though you’ve been justified you’re still lacking in your sanctification. 
        1. Instead of grief, you might also feel joy, because the reality of heaven is brought close in the Supper!  Instead of it being like visiting a grave, it’s like looking forward to vacation.  Similar to me adding the countdown app to vacation on my phone. 
        1. Emotions are often a part of the experience, and that’s a good thing.
      1. Or it could be a spiritual experience, something beyond explanation.
        1. Often it will have an emotional side effect, but not necessarily. 
        1. In these spiritual experiences we’re reminded that God ministers to his people exactly the way they need it, so our spiritual experiences can be so varied it’s not helpful to put a description to it. God works in individual unique ways with his unique individuals; that reality sometimes shows up at the Lord’s Table.
        1. One thing to remember, though, is that for God’s truth to reach your heart has to go through your mind first.  You have to hear it, to assimilate it, and to understand it.  That’s why you shouldn’t expect spiritual experiences without some knowledge of the truth behind it.
    1. Objectively:  what happens in the Lord’s Supper?  We call it communion because in the supper we commune with Jesus, but how?
      1. Catholics and Lutherans believe we do it because the elements themselves either become the literal body and blood or they contain the body and blood, so that’s their answer.
      1. The problem with that is, Jesus is seated bodily in heaven.   He is physically present in a confined place within his body, as Dr. Thomas would say “he has a zipcode”.  The point being you can’t have the physical body of Jesus spread throughout the world in the sacramental bread. 
      1. Let’s consider this from viewpoint of Jesus’ incarnation and session as revealed in Ephesians 2.
        1. Eph. 2:4-6  But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
        1. Jesus remains in heaven, and that’s exactly where we want him!  So, he stays there until he returns in the same body that he ascended with.
        1. But, as Eph. 2:4-6 says The Holy Spirit unites believers to Christ so, in some sense, we are seated in heaven with him.  Of course, we’re still here.
        1. In the Lord’s Supper, then the Holy Spirit mystically, in the same way we are united to Christ, takes us spiritually to heaven and we sit with our risen savior to be fed a foretaste of the marriage supper of the lamb.
        1. But this truth is too lofty for us to explain—it is a truth to be experienced, to be ingested, a truth to be believed and hoped in, and made a part of us as we eat the flesh and drink the blood of our savior.

I pray that these truths of Jesus and his supper will help us all to appreciate him more and grow more to love him for his love lavished on us.  Amen.

347  The Church’s One Foundation  1-4

The Lord’s Supper

347  The Church’s One Foundation 5-6

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.