In the Old Testament account of creation, we learn that the first man and woman were in Eden where they were free to eat the fruit of any tree in the garden except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The serpent, representative of the devil, enticed the couple to eat from that tree. “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” Man and woman, equally made by God, equally disobeyed God by eating what they had been commanded not to eat. What was the consequence? “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” The first spiritual consequence of sin was division within humanity, here shown by a separation of man and woman by coverings. The intimacy this couple once knew is shattered.
We then recall, “ Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” The second spiritual consequence was worse that the first. Sin created within man and woman, equally, a desire to separate themselves from God; which is to break fellowship with God. The man and his wife were hiding from God. They who now have knowledge of evil, who have sinned, understand the majestic nature of God’s goodness and could not bring themselves to be in His presence.
We know from personal experience that broken fellowship, a broken friendship is a painful matter. The psalmist expressed the pain of broken fellowship this way, “If an enemy was insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. 13 But it is you, a man like me, my companion, my close friend, 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship.” The spiritual consequence of sin is always broken fellowship with God and someone we love.
In Genesis we would read, these words, “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’” “But the Lord God,” are important words. They mean that except for the action of God, humanity’s fellowship with Him and fellowship between man and woman would remain forever broken. God seeks to reconcile. Perhaps then, in our relationships, the person who makes the first move in repairing broken fellowship is the person closest to God.
Being in fellowship with God is what God wants. From our passage in Chapter 18 of Genesis we learned that God is always seeking to reconciliation of relationships. The passage began with these words, “The Lord appeared to Abraham.” Abraham responded to God’s presence by bowing down low, a sign of humility and said, “Let a little water be brought, and then you may all wash your feet and rest under this tree. 5 Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed.” Abraham more than anything else wanted to fellowship with God. He had a deep-seated need to do so. Everyone, those here today and even those who have vowed never to step into a church, have the same need to be in God’s presence and will at the appointed time come into God’s presence. However, those seeking God’s presence now, recognize the need and the desire to be with Him. Abraham recognized the need and wanted his time in God’s presence to be pleasant and refreshing so he suggested they dine together.
. God seeks to reconcile. The Bible tells us that at the right time, God made provision to restore fellowship with all of humanity. He sent Jesus with the mission to restore all forms of fellowship; between humanity and God and within humanity. He came to address sin, once and for all time and for all people. The wonderful experiential knowledge that restored fellowship with God was even possible came through the resurrection of Jesus. If the resurrection never happened, then the restoration of fellowship with God never happened. But the good news is Jesus did rise from the dead and, therefore, we can have fellowship with God through Him.
Jesus knew we needed ways of expressing and remembering the restoration accomplished by God. On the night Jesus was betrayed he used bread to teach and remind us our sins have been dealt with, we can have fellowship with the Almighty, and we can restore fellowship with one another. Jesus gave us the breaking of bread, a symbol of his body, as a means of reminding us that he must be central to our lives and is central to our relationships. He must be first in our lives over any passions, arguments, causes, or events. We must dine together. In our New Testament reading today we saw how central the Lord’s Supper was to the life of a reconciled church.
Please turn with me to the Book of Acts, Chapter 20, starting at verse 7. In the pew Bibles, this passage is on page 140 of the New Testament section. Our author, Luke, wrote, “On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.” Verse 7 continues, “Paul spoke to the people.” The proclamation of God’s Word was central to the early church. Now in the midst of celebrating God’s word, Luke observed, “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where they we were meeting. [No doubt those lamps were generating some added heat.] 9 Seated in a window [probably trying to get some air] was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. [You can almost see this young man, perhaps a teenager, tired from working that day, warm from the lamps, trying to listen to Paul, and all the while drifting off to sleep.] When he [Eutychus] was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. 10 Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ he said. ‘He’s alive!’” Let me make three quick points. Through Paul, the young man experienced and the congregation witnessed the power of God like few others. God, using Paul as an instrument, resuscitated and brought Eutychus back to mortal life. That is just an awesome moment from the history of the church. Second, we need to be mindful of our youth that worship services keep them engaged or at least keep them away from open windows! Third, the warning from this account offered by the great 19th century preacher Charles Spurgeon still applies, “Remember, if you go to sleep during the sermon and die, there are no apostles here to restore you!"
Finally, Luke brings us to the conclusion of this account that after the miracle, “11 Then Paul went upstairs again and broke bread and ate.” Think about this scene. Paul is giving his farewell sermon. A young man falls out of a third floor window to his death. Paul interrupted the service to rush down to the street with all the member of the church. He threw himself on the young man who was now dead and restored his life. The group of worshippers were exhilarated and overjoyed. But when they reassembled they did so not to celebrate the miracle but to break bread. Neither death nor life would keep them from fellowship with God through the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper. It seems that the Lord’s Supper, the breaking of bread, was more significant to Paul and the early church than the miracle of restoring mortal life. Take that in for a moment. What we will do here in a few moments when we share the Lord’s Supper is spiritually more profound and more significant than anything else we could do or witness today. It reminds us that Christ died for us and our separation from God is over. It means the divisions between us and within our families need to melt away. It means Christ came back to life and now sits with God speaking on our behalf. It means Christ will come again. If you have never publically acknowledged Jesus who made this possible, listen to this invitation in Jesus’ own words, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Dine with him. Jesus is inviting you into fellowship with Him, with the person seated next to you, and with me. That is the power of the Word of God and the spiritual significance of what we are about to do. Come to the table, let us break bread, let us be blessed, and reconciled to God and one another. Amen.