Together - wk 4 - Devoted to Breaking Bread


Devoted to Breaking Bread

Today we are continuing the “Together” series where we are looking at Luke’s description of the early church. We’ve been exploring what it means to be the “Church.” Today, when you hear the word “church,” often what comes to mind is a building with a steeple that is typically open twice on Sunday’s and sometimes Wednesday evening for preaching about God. You might think about the donuts and coffee. You might think about social events, bible studies, prayer meetings, retreats, and revivals. You probably even think about the people you go to church with.
Christianity is often associated with people who “go to church.” However, we know that’s not how God intends for His church to be viewed. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you have to be a member of a church. Jesus didn’t say, “Go and make members of all the nations, baptising them into your local congregation, teaching them your bylaws.”
Instead of becoming members of a church, we become members of THE Church. God’s Church. Members of God’s body. Paul says it best to the Ephesians…
Ephesians 2:19–22 NIV
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
As a part of His body, we meet together to:
Motivate and encourage each other, Hebrews 10:24-25 “24 Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”
Teach and council each other, as well as worship God together, Colossians 3:16-17 “16 Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Fellowship with one another in the joy that God shares with us, 1 John 1:3-4 “3 We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.”
We’ve been looking at Luke’s description of the early church. Specifically, we’ve been examining a portion of his writing where he used “inclusio” to magnify certain thoughts about the church. By using this technique, he makes the most important element in this passage stand out as the backbone of what he wants us to see. He wants us to see that when the church is being the church, God will use His body of believers to bring more and more people into His fellowship where they may fully share in His joy.
Let’s read our driving scripture for this series and then we will dive in to today’s study…
Acts 2:41–47 NLT
41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. 42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. 43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
The focus of this scripture is that people were being added to God’s body. Luke describes the early church as “extremely devoted.” We’ve already talked about how they were devoted to the apostles teaching and to fellowship. Today we are going to dive into their extreme devotion to the breaking of bread.
Acts 2:42–46 (NLT)
42 All the believers devoted themselves… to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper)… 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—
Now we are finally getting to the ice cream socials. Last week I teased about ice cream socials, but now we are finally having a serious conversation about food! If we don’t have some kind of potluck or ice cream social after this series, I have a feeling a lot of you will not be very happy with me.
Let’s talk about the Lord’s Supper. Why is it so important? To understand the significance of this meal, we need to go back. Way back. All the way back to page one. As we read through the creation story, we get to visualize God making so many amazing and wonderful things. He places humanity in a beautiful garden where they are surrounded by trees that are loaded with fruit and ready to be shared. In the center of the garden is the tree of life, where humanity has an opportunity to share in and receive God’s own goodness and life. God even tells them they can eat from any tree but the tree of knowing good and bad…
Genesis 2:16 NIV
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;
We all know what happened next. Spoiler alert, if you haven’t read it yet. They ate from the tree they weren’t supposed to and got kicked out of the garden. Some say it was the woman’s fault, but I would never say that. In fact, I am married so I happen to know that it’s never the woman’s fault. Guys, pro tip of the day… It’s not your wife’s fault. Ladies, you’re welcome.
As the story goes on, God continues to invite humanity to experience His life through meals. He partners with them and invites them to become a kingdom of priests. He establishes a cycle of feasts for them to observe throughout the year. These meals serve as a way for the Israelites to regularly praise, give thanks, remember, and repent. Engaging a person’s senses also serves as a reminder of God’s agreement with them. Connecting God’s promises to tastes, sounds, smells, sights, and even the sense of touch, regularly prompts reminders to stay faithful.
In the New Testament, Jesus continues this theme. He even connects Himself to the theme of the meal. The passover feast that retells the Exodus story with a symbolic meal of lamb, unleavened bread, and wine becomes an invitation to trust Him and be transformed by His life. Around the time of that feast, Jesus provides food for a huge crowd. When they ask Him for more Jesus told them that He is the TRUE BREAD and they will discover eternal life if they eat from Him…
John 6:58 NLT
58 I am the true bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will not die as your ancestors did (even though they ate the manna) but will live forever.”
Later, He said that He is the vine that brings God’s life into the world and His disciples are those who abide in Him and produce fruit. Jesus is drawing a mental picture of himself as a new tree of life that brings healing and transformation.
John 15:5 NLT
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
The most famous and well known meal in the bible is the Passover meal Jesus observes with His disciples on the evening before His death. At this meal, Jesus blesses, breaks, and distributes bread to His disciples. He takes a cup of wine, gives thanks, and offers it to His disciples. While He does this, He connects the bread to His body and the wine to His blood, just like He did in John chapter 6 when He fed the large crowd.
He invites the disciples to eat and drink in remembrance of Him. Just like eating from the tree of life, this is an invitation to receive life. Jesus introduces a new covenant at this meal. In this new covenant, through Jesus, God’s eternal life would be made available once again.
Later, Jesus was killed on a different kind of tree. Roman soldiers killed Him on a wooden cross where they broke His body and poured out His blood. On top of that hill, they thought they could destroy Him, but Jesus willfully gave His life as a sacrifice to cover the sins of the entire world. He went through death and defeated it. Three days later He is resurrected. A new kind of sacrificial lamb who was slain for a new kind of covenant.
Just as Adam and Eve stood before the trees and made a decision, today we are presented with a new tree of life. Jesus presents us with a new choice between life or death. We can keep doing what humans have always done and choose the way we think is best. Or we can take the bread and remember what Jesus provided for us. We can take the cup that Jesus offers as a sacrifice and partner with Him in this new covenant.
We can eat and drink, but it will mean allowing our old way of being human to die. Passing through death like Jesus and taking hold of true life. Embracing God’s new covenant and living in Jesus’ way. This new covenant is remembered and celebrated with a new kind of meal.
Pass out crackers and juice.
Before we continue, I want to pause to remember and celebrate this new covenant with you this morning. As followers of Jesus, we take part in the Lord’s Supper, or Communion to remember and participate in the power of Jesus’ life. It is a celebration of the new covenant and connection to our new life source.
In the same way the Israelite’s celebrated with meals that connected them through all of their senses to God and the amazing power He displayed when rescuing them, we celebrate with Jesus’ new meal to connect through all of our senses to God and the amazing power He displayed with rescuing us.
We celebrate with Him that the same power that brought Jesus back from the dead can heal corruption in our hearts, transforming us into people of God’s truth, beauty and goodness. As we join in this meal with Jesus, we remember the humble gift that He became in His sacrifice and the new life we receive from Him.
Luke 22:19 NLT
19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Pray & Eat
Luke 22:20 NLT
20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
Pray & Drink
This meal invites us to remember Jesus. It represents the life and death of Jesus to our senses. This isn’t something that we do FOR Jesus, rather, it reminds us of what Jesus HAS DONE for us. It becomes something we do WITH Jesus.
On page one of scripture, humanity is invited to a meal that gives life. Throughout the bible, God uses meals to mark covenant promises that He makes with His people as He invites them to remember His love and faithfulness toward them. Jesus uses the meal as an opportunity for humanity to recognize and remember what God is willing to do to show us that He alone is our one true source of life.
Then on the last page of the bible, humanity is invited to another meal. Revelation talks about a garden with a crystal clear river flowing with the water of life. Humanity will once again have access to the tree of life. This time, instead of two trees in the middle of the garden, there is one tree growing on both sides of that river. This tree bears crops of fruit and produces a monthly rotation of fresh fruit…
Revelation 22:1–2 NLT
1 Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2 It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
Jesus will gather up His people from every nation and bring them to the meal that He has prepared. There we will all get to celebrate together and enjoy the meal in His presence…
Revelation 19:6–9 NLT
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder: “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. 8 She has been given the finest of pure white linen to wear.” For the fine linen represents the good deeds of God’s holy people. 9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” And he added, “These are true words that come from God.”
The Lord’s Supper reminds us of the life and work of Jesus. It marks us as people of His new covenant. It also anticipates that final feast with Him. It engages the senses and serves as a taste of what is to come. Sets our minds to the focus of true life. It stirs up hope and excitement for what is to come. It fills us with thankfulness for who He is and what He has done.
Similar to pot lucks and ice cream socials, thinking of this feast with Jesus stirs us to invite people. “Come to the cookout!” The first believers were devoted to it. They worshiped together each day. They met in homes for the Lord’s Supper. They shared their meals with great joy and generosity. “Come to the cookout! Come to the cookout!
Why? They may have been worshiping together every day, but they weren’t just GOING to church. They WERE God’s Church. They were living it. They were extremely devoted to it. They shared in the meals because they were devoted to sharing the joy they had in Christ and inviting people into God’s family.
Revelation 22:17 NLT
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.
The hope for His return. The thankfulness for what He has done and who He is. The joy that He gives us. The joy that we get to share. The fullness we get to experience from the fruit of the tree of life. How can being the church mean anything less than welcoming people to God’s table?
Thank you, God, for providing the bread and the wine! The fruit from Your tree!
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