This is the first day of my current series, From Hurting to Hopeful: The Path of Peter. You can still sign up here if you want to receive future devotions!
The question Peter asked at the first Lord’s Supper is one we may still be asking now.
Our family is currently church planting outside of Houston, TX. Right now our church (Journey) is meeting with another new church plant in the area. They had more people than they had space to hold them, and we had more space than we had people to fill it. So we came together.
This morning we took the Lord’s Supper together. I’ve take then Lord’s Supper in different churches, even with different denominations over the years. Each church family has their own style and method. Because the church we’re meeting with is larger than our church, they took the lead this morning for communion as we listened and learned from them.
In Luke 22, we read about the first Lord’s Supper, celebrated as the Passover celebration with the disciples. “This is my body …” Christ said, followed by “This cup that is poured out for you in the new covenant in my blood.”
As Peter and the disciples sat together around the table, they not only looked at Christ, but also at each other. Verse 24 says, “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
Years later, Paul talked about how Christians observed the Lord’s Supper when together. And what was their struggle? ” … when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you” (1 Cor. 11:18). Just as the disciples had divisions based on jealousy, so did the early church.
Do we still look around our church family and compare ourselves to others, even as we join together at the table?
Paul told us to examine ourselves before we partake of the wine and bread (1 Cor. 11:27). But often when I examine myself, I do so in comparison to those around me. I may have walked into church that morning still angry from the stress of getting everyone ready. Or I may not have been completely honest when asked, “How are you this morning?” and answered with, “Great! Everything is great!” But as long as I think I’m sinning less (or differently) than those around me, I can approach the table feeling like I deserve to be there.
Peter sat around that table with his friends—those he had been walking, living, talking, and serving with for the last few years. He wanted to know who was the greatest. Jesus corrected them then, Paul corrected the early church years later, and the Holy Spirit convicts our hearts now. There is no room for jealousy when we approach the table together.
The church we’re meeting with now is a predominately African-American church. When we read about divisions and factions, we’re acutely aware of what that means, even in 2017 in the United States. We can look around and ask, “Who’s the greatest?” or we can see ourselves as God sees us—as sons and daughters forgiven through Christ and growing in His likeness. We can confess to Him the ways we fall short, and then come together with our brothers and sisters in celebration, serving each other with gladness and appreciation.
Isn’t that what Jesus wanted for Peter, Andrew, John, and the rest of his friends that Passover supper? We can learn from how they eventually came together to spread the gospel message throughout the area as we follow their example.
When we’re focused on the same mission, there’s no time for division!