1 Corinthians 11.17–33 The Lord's Supper (24 February 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters. Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

1The LORD said, “I am going to make you like God to the king, and your brother Aaron will speak to him as your prophet. 2Tell Aaron everything I command you, and he will tell the king to let the Israelites leave his country. 3-4But I will make the king stubborn, and he will not listen to you, no matter how many terrifying things I do in Egypt. Then I will bring severe punishment on Egypt and lead the tribes of my people out of the land. 5The Egyptians will then know that I am the LORD, when I raise my hand against them and bring the Israelites out of their country.” 6Moses and Aaron did what the LORD commanded. 7At the time when they spoke to the king, Moses was eighty years old, and Aaron was 83.

Aaron's Stick

8The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, 9“If the king demands that you prove yourselves by performing a miracle, tell Aaron to take his stick and throw it down in front of the king, and it will turn into a snake.” 10So Moses and Aaron went to the king and did as the LORD had commanded. Aaron threw his stick down in front of the king and his officers, and it turned into a snake. 11Then the king called for his wise men and magicians, and by their magic they did the same thing. 12They threw down their sticks, and the sticks turned into snakes. But Aaron's stick swallowed theirs. 13The king, however, remained stubborn and, just as the LORD had said, the king would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

Disasters Strike Egypt

Blood

14Then the LORD said to Moses, “The king is very stubborn and refuses to let the people go. 15So go and meet him in the morning when he goes down to the Nile. Take with you the stick that was turned into a snake, and wait for him on the bank of the river. 16Then say to the king, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to tell you to let his people go, so that they can worship him in the desert. But until now you have not listened. 17Now, Your Majesty, the LORD says that you will find out who he is by what he is going to do. Look, I am going to strike the surface of the river with this stick, and the water will be turned into blood. 18The fish will die, and the river will stink so much that the Egyptians will not be able to drink from it.’ ”

19The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron to take his stick and hold it out over all the rivers, canals, and pools in Egypt. The water will become blood, and all over the land there will be blood, even in the wooden tubs and stone jars.”

20Then Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded. In the presence of the king and his officers, Aaron raised his stick and struck the surface of the river, and all the water in it was turned into blood. 21The fish in the river died, and it smelt so bad that the Egyptians could not drink from it. There was blood everywhere in Egypt. 22Then the king's magicians did the same thing by means of their magic, and the king was as stubborn as ever. Just as the LORD had said, the king refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. 23Instead, he turned and went back to his palace without paying any attention even to this. 24All the Egyptians dug along the bank of the river for drinking water, because they were not able to drink water from the river.

25Seven days passed after the LORD struck the river.

Jesus Sends Out the 72

1After this the Lord chose another 72 men and sent them out two by two, to go ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2He said to them, “There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest. 3Go! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4Don't take a purse or a beggar's bag or shoes; don't stop to greet anyone on the road. 5Whenever you go into a house, first say, ‘Peace be with this house.’ 6If a peace-loving person lives there, let your greeting of peace remain on him; if not, take back your greeting of peace. 7Stay in that same house, eating and drinking whatever they offer you, for workers should be given their pay. Don't move round from one house to another. 8Whenever you go into a town and are made welcome, eat what is set before you, 9heal the sick in that town, and say to the people there, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you.’ 10But whenever you go into a town and are not welcomed, go out in the streets and say, 11‘Even the dust from your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you. But remember that the Kingdom of God has come near you!’ 12I assure you that on Judgement Day God will show more mercy to Sodom than to that town!

The Unbelieving Towns

13“How terrible it will be for you, Chorazin! How terrible for you too, Bethsaida! If the miracles which were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, the people there would long ago have sat down, put on sackcloth, and sprinkled ashes on themselves, to show that they had turned from their sins! 14God will show more mercy on Judgement Day to Tyre and Sidon than to you. 15And as for you, Capernaum! Did you want to lift yourself up to heaven? You will be thrown down to hell!”

16Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever listens to you listens to me; whoever rejects you rejects me; and whoever rejects me rejects the one who sent me.”

The Return of the 72

17The 72 men came back in great joy. “Lord,” they said, “even the demons obeyed us when we gave them a command in your name!”

18Jesus answered them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19Listen! I have given you authority, so that you can walk on snakes and scorpions and overcome all the power of the Enemy, and nothing will hurt you. 20But don't be glad because the evil spirits obey you; rather be glad because your names are written in heaven.”

Jesus Rejoices

21At that time Jesus was filled with joy by the Holy Spirit and said, “Father, Lord of heaven and earth! I thank you because you have shown to the unlearned what you have hidden from the wise and learned. Yes, Father, this was how you wanted it to happen.

22“My Father has given me all things. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23Then Jesus turned to the disciples and said to them privately, “How fortunate you are to see the things you see! 24I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see, but they could not, and to hear what you hear, but they did not.”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25A teacher of the Law came up and tried to trap Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to receive eternal life?”

26Jesus answered him, “What do the Scriptures say? How do you interpret them?”

27The man answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself.’ ”

28“You are right,” Jesus replied; “do this and you will live.”

29But the teacher of the Law wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbour?”

30Jesus answered, “There was once a man who was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho when robbers attacked him, stripped him, and beat him up, leaving him half dead. 31It so happened that a priest was going down that road; but when he saw the man, he walked on by, on the other side. 32In the same way a Levite also came along, went over and looked at the man, and then walked on by, on the other side. 33But a Samaritan who was travelling that way came upon the man, and when he saw him, his heart was filled with pity. 34He went over to him, poured oil and wine on his wounds and bandaged them; then he put the man on his own animal and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Take care of him,’ he told the innkeeper, ‘and when I come back this way, I will pay you whatever else you spend on him.’ ”

36And Jesus concluded, “In your opinion, which one of these three acted like a neighbour towards the man attacked by the robbers?”

37The teacher of the Law answered, “The one who was kind to him.”

Jesus replied, “You go, then, and do the same.”

Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

38As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him in her home. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching. 40Martha was upset over all the work she had to do, so she came and said, “Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!”

41The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, 42but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”

1Why doesn't God set a time for judging,

a day of justice for those who serve him?

 

2People move boundary stones to get more land;

they steal sheep and put them with their own flocks.

3They take donkeys that belong to orphans,

and keep a widow's ox till she pays her debts.

4They prevent the poor from getting their rights

and force the needy to run and hide.

 

5So the poor, like wild donkeys,

search for food in the dry wilderness;

nowhere else can they find food for their children.

6They have to harvest fields they don't own,

and gather grapes in the vineyards of the wicked.

7At night they sleep with nothing to cover them,

nothing to keep them from the cold.

8They are drenched by the rain that falls on the mountains,

and they huddle beside the rocks for shelter.

 

9Evil people make slaves of fatherless infants

and take the children of the poor in payment for debts.

10But the poor must go out with no clothes to protect them;

they must go hungry while harvesting wheat.

11They press olives for oil, and grapes for wine,

but they themselves are thirsty.

12In the cities the wounded and dying cry out,

but God ignores their prayers.

 

13There are those who reject the light;

they don't understand it or go where it leads.

14At dawn the murderer gets up

and goes out to kill the poor,

and at night he steals.

15The adulterer waits for twilight to come;

he covers his face so that no one can see him.

16At night thieves break into houses,

but by day they hide and avoid the light.

17They fear the light of day,

but darkness holds no terror for them.

[Zophar]

18The wicked are swept away by floods,

and the land they own is under God's curse;

they no longer go to work in their vineyards.

19As snow vanishes in heat and drought,

so sinners vanish from the land of the living.

20Not even their mothers remember them now;

they are eaten by worms and destroyed like fallen trees.

21That happens because they ill-treated widows

and showed no kindness to childless women.

22God, in his strength, destroys the mighty;

God acts — and the wicked die.

23God may let them live secure,

but keeps an eye on them all the time.

24For a while the wicked prosper,

but then they wither like weeds,

like ears of corn that have been cut off.

25Can anyone deny that this is so?

Can anyone prove that my words are not true?

1Imitate me, then, just as I imitate Christ.

Covering the Head in Worship

2I praise you because you always remember me and follow the teachings that I have handed on to you. 3But I want you to understand that Christ is supreme over every man, the husband is supreme over his wife, and God is supreme over Christ. 4So a man who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with his head covered disgraces Christ. 5And any woman who prays or proclaims God's message in public worship with nothing on her head disgraces her husband; there is no difference between her and a woman whose head has been shaved. 6If the woman does not cover her head, she might as well cut her hair. And since it is a shameful thing for a woman to shave her head or cut her hair, she should cover her head. 7A man has no need to cover his head, because he reflects the image and glory of God. But woman reflects the glory of man; 8for man was not created from woman, but woman from man. 9Nor was man created for woman's sake, but woman was created for man's sake. 10On account of the angels, then, a woman should have a covering over her head to show that she is under her husband's authority. 11In our life in the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12For as woman was made from man, in the same way man is born of woman; and it is God who brings everything into existence.

13Judge for yourselves whether it is proper for a woman to pray to God in public worship with nothing on her head. 14Why, nature itself teaches you that long hair on a man is a disgrace, 15but on a woman it is a thing of beauty. Her long hair has been given her to serve as a covering. 16But if anyone wants to argue about it, all I have to say is that neither we nor the churches of God have any other custom in worship.

The Lord's Supper

17In the following instructions, however, I do not praise you, because your meetings for worship actually do more harm than good. 18In the first place, I have been told that there are opposing groups in your meetings; and this I believe is partly true. 19(No doubt there must be divisions among you so that the ones who are in the right may be clearly seen.) 20When you meet together as a group, it is not the Lord's Supper that you eat. 21For as you eat, you each go ahead with your own meal, so that some are hungry while others get drunk. 22Haven't you got your own homes in which to eat and drink? Or would you rather despise the church of God and put to shame the people who are in need? What do you expect me to say to you about this? Shall I praise you? Of course I don't!

23For I received from the Lord the teaching that I passed on to you: that the Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took a piece of bread, 24gave thanks to God, broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in memory of me.” 25In the same way, after the supper he took the cup and said, “This cup is God's new covenant, sealed with my blood. Whenever you drink it, do so in memory of me.”

26This means that every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27It follows that if anyone eats the Lord's bread or drinks from his cup in a way that dishonours him, he or she is guilty of sin against the Lord's body and blood. 28So then, you should all examine yourselves first, and then eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29For if people do not recognize the meaning of the Lord's body when they eat the bread and drink from the cup, they bring judgement on themselves as they eat and drink. 30That is why many of you are weak and ill, and several have died. 31If we would examine ourselves first, we would not come under God's judgement. 32But we are judged and punished by the Lord, so that we shall not be condemned together with the world.

33So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather together to eat the Lord's Supper, wait for one another. 34Anyone who is hungry should eat at home, so that you will not come under God's judgement as you meet together. As for the other matters, I will settle them when I come.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: 1 Corinthians 11

The Lord's Supper, or Communion, Eucharist or Mass, is meant to be the point at which the whole Church comes together. The number of names for it indicate that it's often the point at which we're most divided, as different traditions and theologies have grown up around it.

In Corinth they faced a particular problem: the Lord's Supper was part of a communal meal. Those who could arrive early – perhaps the wealthier Christians – ate and drank everything before the late-comers, who might have been slaves or labourers, had finished. This isn't the Lord's Supper at all, says Paul (verse 20): it doesn't unite, it divides.

His words are powerful and challenging, recalling those of Amos: 'The Lord says, "I hate your religious festivals; I cannot stand them!"' (5.21). They tell us that no matter how devout we might appear, how perfectly composed our services might be and how beautifully we might sing, if we are not living lovingly with our sisters and brothers in Christ our worship is fundamentally compromised.

It's very easy to go through the motions of churchgoing without really acknowledging the implications of being a disciple of Jesus. Paul tells us to be careful, because if we do that we'll bring 'judgement' on ourselves (verse 29).

Whatever we call it, when we share bread and wine together we are meant to be deeply aware of Christ, and deeply aware of one another.

Pray

Pray

God, thank you for people with whom I belong. Forgive me when I find them irritating or when I take them for granted, and help me to accept them as your gracious gift to me.

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