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The Sunday Sermon – 1st Corinthians 11:23


The Night of Betrayal
1st Corinthians 11:23
(Read also Luke 22:1-6, 19-23, 39, 47-48.)

For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread.

Paul begins to lay out the pattern of the Lord’s Supper for us. It is an important passage, for it is upon this very passage that we base our modern celebration of His Supper. And there I will pause momentarily, for there is much that is imperfect about our modern usage of this ordinance. For example, we must never allow the Lord’s Supper as a ‘stand alone’ act of worship.

* These sacraments are signs and seals of the Covenant of Grace, something that we shall explore further later on. What does a sign do? It points to something! What does the Lord’s Supper point to? It points to Calvary, and to God’s wonderful grace to sinful mankind. It is God’s great Visual Aid! But it is not a saving ordinance! It cannot affect any change whatsoever in the life of a sinner! The only way that God has ordained that sinners are saved and saints are perfected is through the reading and preaching of the Word of God! Listen to God’s Word:- Luke 8:12 Those by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. 1 Cor. 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
* The Lord’s Supper requires us to examine ourselves! We cannot examine ourselves, except in the light of God’s Word! Psalm 119:10 With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. John 15:3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 1 Peter 1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently. So, you see, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper without reference to the Word of God would render the sacrament meaningless! But this is just one of the possible abuses of the Lord’s Supper that we find in the modern church. The Lord’s Supper meant to be carried out in strict conformity with His Word.

So, let us begin to examine Paul’s teaching on the correct procedures in remembering the Lord in His Supper.

Paul begins by setting this institution into context for us by reminding us that Jesus celebrated that first Communion Service on the very night of betrayal. I believe that this is very significant indeed! We cannot simply pass this by! It raises a question for us! Even as we sit down around the Lord’s Table, are we betraying the Lord? Let’s spend a few moments in this study, thinking of that context, the context of BETRAYAL!

The Perception of Betrayal!
Do you see the conjunction of verse 22 and 23? 1 Cor. 11:22-23 What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you.
Paul has spoken to the Corinthian Christians about their misuse of the Love feast which accompanied the Lord’s Supper, and which in Corinth had replaced the simple breaking of bread and drinking of wine with an orgy of eating and drinking. They were betraying the Lord by their greed and their excess! So Paul contrasts what they are doing with what the Lord has revealed directly to him! Paul was an apostle, and therefore, He had personally met the risen Christ and had been personally taught by Him! He later would make this claim for all of his teaching, denying that he owed any of it to tradition, or education! He said, Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Paul was different from today’s preachers! The Canon of Scripture was not yet complete in Paul’s time. Paul’s own writings were inspired of the Lord! There are no apostles today! He received this teaching directly from God, via the Holy Spirit.
Now he points out that there is world of difference between the Corinthian practice and the Biblical practice! These Corinthians were being utterly inconsistent with Scripture! You see, every practice of worship must conform to Scripture and this is just one example of that great principle! All of our worship, our hymns, our sermons, our readings, our prayers, our sacraments our fellowship, must conform to God’s commands! ANYTHING ELSE IS BETRAYAL!

Worship must be glorifying to God, and not to man! The Lord seeks our praise! John 4:23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. And worship must be spiritual, which of course means it must NOT be carnal, or fleshly! Only spiritual people can truly worship the Lord! Those who have never experienced God’s Grace, can never really worship Him! That is because our worship is aided by the Holy Spirit who indwells us! Worship must be Christ Centered, for He alone is worthy of our praise. Worship must be pure, that means we should worship Him with pure motives, with pure doctrine, and in line with Biblical patterns of worship! It is with that PURETY of worship that Paul is concerned here in Corinth.
Oh how much we see this contrast today, for we live in days when true Biblical worship of the Lord is sacrificed to the whims of modern man! When man is exalted instead of God that is betrayal! When our abilities and our expertise are prominent! When God’s Word is not preached and applied! When false doctrine, or the philosophies of man are presented as truth! When people are not pointed to Christ!

The Places of Betrayal.
Let us remind ourselves of the betrayal of Our Lord as we see it move from place to place in the Scriptures.

The Priest’s Court. Luke 22:1-6. In Luke’s Gospel we have an account of how the traitor Judas plotted to betray the Lord! It was the feast of unleavened bread, and the chief priests and scribes of Israel were already plotting how they might be rid of the Lord. The Bible tells us that Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples, who went to the Jewish religious leaders and entered into a covenant with them. He would betray the Lord, and they would pay him a ransom. Luke 22:5 And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. It is a startling fact that the betrayal of the Lord Jesus began in the bosom of the institutional church, the state religion of the day! I wonder has institutionalised, formalised religion betrayed the Lord today? I think that form of betrayal has continued unabated throughout the centuries! The Lord is betrayed:-
When the true Gospel is corrupted by false belief, liberal doctrine and when social action takes the place of evangelism! Galatians 1:8-9 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
When some usurper attempts to take His place as head of the church! Ephesians. 5:23, Ephesians. 1:22, Col. 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
When entertainment takes the place of worship! The purpose of the church is to feed sheep, not to entertain goats! To quote William Still, “Let the goats entertain goats, and let them do it out in goatland! The task of the church is to feed sheep!” The next event in the act of betrayal occurred in:-

The Upper Room. Luke 22:19-23 Having entered into an agreement to betray the Lord, the traitor now shamefacedly and brazenly made an appearance at the Upper Room, the place where the Lord was meeting with His disciples, to celebrate the Passover. The events of the Upper Room are of the greatest possible importance for our understanding of the Lord’s Supper John Stott, writing in ‘The Cross of Christ’ says, Here then are the lessons of the upper room about the death of Christ. First, it was central to his own thinking about himself and his mission, and he desired it to be central to ours. Secondly, it took place in order to establish the new covenant and procure its promised forgiveness. Thirdly, it needs to be appropriated individually if its benefits (the covenant and the forgiveness) are to be enjoyed. The Lord’s Supper which Jesus instituted was not meant to be a slightly sentimental ‘forget-me-not’, but rather a service rich in spiritual significance. There is a very interesting rendering of 11:23 in the Amplified Version. It reads “The Lord Jesus on the night when he was treacherously delivered up, and while his betrayal was in progress, took bread.” This is utterly amazing! During that very first Lord’s Supper, when Christ was physically present, an act of betrayal, no, the supreme act of betrayal was already taking place! Luke 22:21 But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.

The Garden of Prayer. Luke 22:47-48 Here the act of betrayal came to fruition. Jesus had gone to the place of prayer, the Garden of Gethsemane, to pray. It was in the place of prayer that the act of betrayal took place! Judas appeared with a group of armed men to arrest the Saviour. He walked up to the master, and he kissed him. In eastern society, a kiss is an act of greeting, and act of peace and trust and friendship. Notice what Jesus said, Luke 22:48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? It is not an accusation, it is not a rebuke, it is a searching question. Is that what you are doing Judas? Oh Judas, what are you doing? Here we are in the very place of prayer. Here you are, giving the symbol of peace and love. Oh Judas! What an awful betrayal!

The Purposes of Betrayal.
Why was Jesus betrayed?

* The Purpose of Judas – Was it to force events, so that Messiah would have to show his hand and make a military stand?

* The Purpose of the Priests – to be rid of Jesus, so that they could continue their traditional religious system without having to examine their consciences or look to their souls? There was a greater purpose in this act of betrayal:-

* The Purpose of God – To deliver His Son up for us! Luke 22:22 And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! We could preach a series on that verse! Here we see the sovereignty of God, and the responsibility of man! Here we see God sending His Son into the world to accomplish His divine purpose and save man, while mankind in his sin is in open rebellion, even against that very act of love! Here we see the purposes of God in redeeming His elect, pre ordained from before the foundation of the world, and the will of man, corrupted by the fall going his own way and always choosing the wrong path!

The Procedures of Betrayal.
Well, it would be useful for us to notice how this betrayal occurred, lest we also should be tempted to betray the Lord.

It was suggested by Hell! Satan himself planted it in the heart of the betrayer!
It was planted in the heart! There it began as a thought, a suggestion, and it grew! How often does Satan plant wicked thoughts in our hearts, and how often do we allow them to develop and to grow and to come to fruition as acts of betrayal!
It was schemed in secret! Much betrayal is! You think that God will never know! I know so many Christians who have betrayed the Lord, and who thought that their wicked deeds could be kept secret from the Lord. How foolish! How naïve! He searches our hearts!
It was executed in the dark! Ephesians. 5:11-12. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

It was contrasted by Christ’s Submission and Healing! See the reaction of Jesus to the awful deeds of Judas! He fully submitted to God’s over-riding Sovereign purposes, and willingly gave Himself up to be crucified, and even healed the servant of the high priest, one of his enemies!

The Persons of Betrayal.
Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed.
We know the persons involved in that great betrayal. But what of us? perhaps even now there are some who sit at the Lord’s Table, and as they do so they are involved in an act of betrayal. Judas betrayed him with a kiss, the symbol of love. As we take our places around the Lord’s Table, we see the symbols of His great love. But what of us? Is there a betrayer? Is there one who would take the bread and wine, and join in the Communion, and yet our lives are not right before the Lord. Perhaps we are not truly His? Perhaps we are believers who have betrayed Him this very week? Betrayed Him by inconsistent lives, unforgiving hearts, unloving attitudes, worldly involvement, hypocrisy, unforgiven sin. We have betrayed Him, and woe unto that man, by whom he is betrayed!

It is time to catch ourselves on! We are far from perfect. We cannot approach the Table of the Lord without much heart searching and much humility. May God’s Word search our hearts and minds and wills, and so make our communion with Him closer and more effectual.

From → Sermon Notes

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