In the Breaking of Bread


In the Breaking of Bread

December 10th, 1944 @ 7:30 PM

Matthew 26:26-28

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
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Dr.  W. A. Criswell

Matt.  26: 26-28

December 10, 1944     7:30 p.m.

(Original shorthand transcription courtesy of Dorothy Lewis Ivey and Elizabeth Lewis Packer)



HYMNS: “Blessed Assurance,” “A Child of the King”

Led by Mr. Robert H. Coleman Organist, Mrs. J. H. Cassidy

PRAYER: Led by Mr. F. I. Boggs

HYMN:  “In The Cross Of Christ I Glory”   Sunday Evening Choir

EVENING OFFERING: Prayer led by Dr. M. O. Rouse

ANTHEM – “The Word Of God Incarnate” –  Scott; Solo Quartette:

Mrs. Madison Adams, Mrs. M. M. Myers, Glenn Lechleitner, Alvin Bean

SERMON by Pastor Dr. W. A. Criswell


This will be the order of our service tonight.  First there will be made an appeal, and then we shall sing our hymn of love and invitation, and our brethren will come for the ministry of the Lord’s Supper, and then the pastor shall speak of the memorial of the breaking of bread, and then we shall share in the Communion together.

All right, the appeal: and I seek to base it on our Baptist reception of the scriptural doctrine of this Communion table.  Our Baptist people have often been criticized for a narrow view of the Lord’s Table, but it has been altogether due to a little, simple, and humble belief that God’s Word has taught us in this way.  This is what Baptist people believe about the Lord’s Table.


And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

[Matthew 28:18-20]


That is the whole Baptist position, the alpha and omega, our whole doctrine.  Simply stated, it is this: we believe that people first should be saved, they should become Christ’s in their hearts [Matthew 28:19].  We believe second, that people should be baptized, baptized in the name of the triune God [Matthew 28:19].  And third, we believe they should observe the things that God has asked us to do: one of which is the memorial of the breaking of bread [Matthew 28:20].  That is all there is to our faith in this matter.  We believe that people should be saved; that is first.  We believe that people should be baptized in obedience to the word and the example of our Master; that is second.  And then we believe that people should obey the will of our Savior in His commandments and His precepts and in His asking that we do this in remembrance of Him [1 Corinthians 11:23-25].  That is it, and that is all of it.

Well, on the basis of that, may I make this appeal tonight?  My friend, my brother and my sister, whoever you are, God wants you to be a Christian.  That is first before anything else; He wants you to be a Christian.  How do I become a Christian?  I become a Christian, not by any outward rite nor by any outward work, I become a Christian by trusting Jesus in my heart.  Listen to this word:


But what saith it?  The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 

For the Scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed. 

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. 

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

[Romans 10:8-13]


How do I become a Christian?  I become a Christian by trusting Jesus in my heart.  I turn aside from the way of the world.  I repudiate the sin of my life.  I come out; I come out of the lost world and life in which I have lived and walked; I turn my back on it and I turn my face in trust to Jesus.  I become a Christian in my heart by looking in faith unto Him [Ephesians 2:8-9].  That is the first thing that God wants you to do.  He wants you to love Him, to turn from your sins and to trust Him, and to talk with Him, to walk with Him, to obey Him, to heed His Word, to be His child; He wants you to have faith in Him.  God’s first will and wish and want for your life is that you be a Christian.

The second thing God wants you to do is to belong to His church.  He doesn’t want you to believe in Him in your heart and then be identified out yonder in the world.  He wants you to come out of the world.  He doesn’t want you to leave the world as long as He has work for you to do, but He wants you to separate yourself from the world and belong to His people, and for that cause and purpose He gave us His church in the world [2 Corinthians 6:17], but not of the world.  And we enter that church by baptism according to the Word in the first Corinthian letter: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit” [1 Corinthians 12:13].

As I stand in the pulpit and look out over this Baptist church, I can always say that every member in it was baptized into its fellowship.  There is no exception to that.  And in every sister church like we are, I can stand in its pulpit and look out over the congregation and say that every member in this church faithfully, obediently and earnestly has done this second thing that God wants him to do: to be baptized in the name of our triune God, our Father, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit and Comforter.  That is the second thing God wants you to do.  He wants you to belong to His people, to be baptized into the fellowship of His church [Matthew 28:19].

The third thing God wants you to do is to walk in the pilgrim way, observing the things He has given us to keep [Matthew 28:20].  What are some of those things?  They are the sweetest things in the world.  He wants us to love Him; that is the first and greatest commandment [Matthew 22:37-38].  He wants us to love one another [Matthew 22:39].  When we come to church, all prejudices left behind.  All things that make miserable our lives, He wants us to leave behind.  He wants us to love one another.  He wants us to love the unlovely.  I am not always lovely.  You are not always lovely.  None of us are lovely all the time; some have more trouble than others being lovely.  Whether we are lovely or not, God wants us to cheer and love one another.  You can do that; you can do it in His Spirit.

He wants us to pray to Him and to talk to Him [1 Thessalonians 5:16-17].  Oh, how He encourages us to pray in His name.  My brother, you can do it.  My brother, when you become a Christian it should be the simplest thing to talk to God.

“Lord, I want to talk to You about my son, about my father, about my friend.”  He wants you to talk to Him.  You can do that. 

He wants you to be a Christian before the world, that your light might cast glory upon Him [Matthew 5:16].  You can do that.  You might say that it is a hard thing, but He will help you.  When you have become a Christian and have been baptized and belong to His people, you will find more than fellowship of His people and more than the spirit in your heart; you will find His power to wage war against sin that you will never find in the world [Romans 6:11-14].  

And of course, another thing is this observance of this memorial here tonight.  He says you may forget; you may have temptation to forget that it was through His blood that your sins were washed away [1 John 1:7; Revelation 1:5], and it was His sacrifice that made it possible for you to become a child of God [John 1:12].  And one of the things He wants us to do is to break bread in a communion service together, sharing the cup [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26].  We can do that, can’t we?

My friend, there is not a commandment, an appeal that God has made that you cannot do.  You can do it; we can do it.  He wants me to trust Him [Acts 16:30-31].  I can do that; maybe in a very childlike way [Matthew 18:3], but we can do it.  I can take Him joyfully here tonight as my Lord and Savior [Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9], and He wants me to be baptized [Acts 2:38]; I can do that.  And He wants me to belong to His people [Hebrews 10:25]; I can do that.  And He wants me to walk in His way [Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10].  I may stumble and stagger and falter, but by His help, I can try.  I can try.  My friend, that is what it is to be a Christian.  “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” [Philippians. 3:12].

Will you come and pray with us?  Will you come and work by our sides?  We may be a feeble folk, but we have built our houses on the rock.  Yes, we have.  We are not pleading our own righteousness [Titus 3:5].  Will you come by our sides?  Will you trust Him tonight? [Acts 16:31]. Will you come into the fellowship tonight? [1 John 1:3, 6-7]. Would you break bread in the communion service? [Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26].  Will you come while we sing?


INVITATION HYMN: “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord.”

(Four came by letter from other churches.  One came upon confession of faith in Christ, asking baptism.)



The burden of the message tonight, and the greater part of my brief sharing in the service, will be an attempt to place the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper in its original setting.  I dare say that as we read the account of the breaking of bread, we so largely, so very largely lose its setting in the Word of God.  As nearly as men who have studied the Scriptures can harmonize the account, the story is this: on Thursday afternoon of Passion week, our Master called to Himself Peter and John, and sent them into the city to prepare for the Passover to be served that night [Luke 22:8].  And Peter and John were given a sign by which they would find the place prepared.  It was this: they were to go into the city, and as they went, they would meet a man bearing a pitcher of water [Luke 22:10].  Now, if you know anything about Oriental custom at all, you know this: that no man would carry water.  That was a woman’s job; no man carried a pitcher of water, women carried it without exception in the Orient.  Therefore, it seems that Jesus had prearranged all of these meeting places and He told His two disciples that when they came into the city, they would find that man at that hour, bearing a pitcher of water.  And they were to follow him to his home. And when they came to the home, they were to ask the goodman of the house where the guest chamber was that the Master might eat the Passover with His disciples [Luke 22:11].

Peter and John then left Bethany and went into Jerusalem, and as they went into the city, they found this man.  They followed him and asked the goodman of the house, where the man turned in, where the guest chamber was that the Master might observe the Passover with His disciples.  And the man there showed them the upper room with the table set and everything prepared, and they made ready the Passover [Luke 22:12-13].  That night our Master came from Bethany into the city of Jerusalem, and with His disciples, twelve of them, He made His way to that home, to the upper room, and then the men began to sit down to observe the Passover [Luke 22:14].

As they began to seat themselves, “there arose a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest” [Luke 22:24].  That thing arose over the seating arrangements of the disciples.  You see, they had the idea that the kingdom Jesus was to establish was to be a material and a worldly kingdom, and they thought that one of them was to be prime minister; another one was to be head of the army, and the other Chancellor of the Exchequer and so on.  Each man had picked out for himself a glorious place in the kingdom Jesus was to establish.  That was Thursday night, before He died the next day; they were arguing about who was to be the greatest [Luke 22:24], who was to sit on His right hand, who on His left? [Mark 10:35-41].

How much of our life is like that!  How much of our church life is like that!  Who is to have honor?  Who is to be greatest?  How much of our church life is like that!  Who shall head this group and who this group? That same spirit has always been in God’s poor people, in us all.  That night they were arguing among themselves. 

This was the thing that Jesus did.  When He saw their spirit, and their strife, and their contention, and foolish pride, and ambition—when Jesus saw that, He took off His garments and laid them aside.  If you want to humble yourself, do that.  A man may be a power in his uniform with his brass buttons and ornaments; that is the reason soldiers are dressed so.  But how it humbles a man to take off his garments—Jesus took off His garments and laid them aside and girded Himself with a towel [John 13:4].  In the Oriental day, the servant washed the feet of the guest who came in the door.  It was the courtesy of the Oriental servant.  Today your maid might take his coat or whatever he possessed, while you went into the guest chamber.  In the Oriental day, they washed feet as the guests came into the door.  It was the place of the servant. 

And He took a basin of water and filled it, and started over here and began to wash the disciples’ feet [John 13:5].  He came to Nathanael, He came to John, He came to Judas and began to wash the feet of Judas.  Judas, just the day before, had already bargained to sell his Master for thirty pieces of silver [Matthew 26:14-16].  No wonder he cried when Jesus died, “I have betrayed innocent blood!” [Matthew 27:4].  He washed the feet of Judas.  He came to Simon Peter and when the Master knelt to wash the feet of Simon Peter, he said, “Lord, are You going to wash my feet?”  And when Jesus avowed His intention, Peter said, “Lord, You shall never wash my feet, no, not mine.”  The Master said: “Simon, if I do not wash you, you will have no part with Me.”  Then he said, “Lord, if that is it, if that is it—if it is washing of feet, Lord, if it is being humble, not only my feet, Lord, but wash my hands and wash my head” [John 13:6-9].

After He had done washing the disciples’ feet, then He stood up and laid aside the towel and put back on His garments.  And He said, “Do you know what I have done? [John 13:12].  You have just been contending who is going to be greatest and who is going to be first.  Do you know what I have done? You call me Master and Lord; and so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, you ought also to wash one another’s feet [John 13:13-14].  For the servant is not greater than the lord; nor he that is sent greater than he that sent him” [John 13:16]. 

Not that you wash feet, but that in heart and soul you can depend on one another.   Oh, my soul, think of it!  Think of it!  What people we would be and what spirit we would have if we were like our Master, ready to wash one another’s feet!

I met an old gray-headed man one time in Kentucky, a preacher.  He was talking about an old infidel who lived in his community.  He had come to be the pastor of the church, a country church.  And next door to it, on the next farm to him lived an old, hardened, disreputable farmer.  He was invalided now and aged, but all of his life, he had cursed God and cursed the church and hated the preachers.  This good man, after he moved into the community, went over there to the house and knocked at the door.  And the man glowered at him when he came into the door, and the pastor said, “I have just come to offer you any help that I am able to bring.  I see that you are sick.  Is there a chore I can do?  Is there an errand that I can run?  Do you have cows I can milk or hogs I can feed?  If I can help at all, I will be glad to help.” 

The days passed, and the preacher noticed that, in the evening before the invalid went to bed, it seemed to help him for his wife to bathe his feet in warm water.  One evening the pastor was there and bedtime came, and he turned to the wife and said, “Do you mind if I fill the basin with water and if I wash his feet?”  She let him, and he took his bowl and his towel and his water and knelt down there at the feet of the old hardened sinner.  He placed one foot in the bowl, carefully washed it and dried it.  He placed the other foot in the bowl and washed and dried it.  He looked up into the face of the old infidel and the tears were dropping off his face as he said, “My brother, no minister before ever washed my feet.”  That is our heart and our spirit when we are most like Christ.

“After He had washed their feet . . . He gave the sop to Judas . . . he went out into the night” [John 13:21,  26-30].   And the Lord established the memorial of the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup.  That was its spirit, and that is ours as we assemble now around the table.  You will come.


SCRIPTURE READING: 1 Cor. 11:23-24.

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: And when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.


PRAYER led by Deacon F. M. Ryburn.  (Followed by serving of the bread.)

After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me.  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:25-26].


PRAYER led by Deacon Robert H. Coleman.  (Followed by taking of the cup.)

And when they had sung an hymn, they went out [Matthew 26:30]


HYMN: “Blessed Be the Name”