Jesus Our Hope
December 1st, 1985 @ 7:30 PM
JESUS OUR HOPE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Corinthians 11:23
12-1-85 7:30 p.m.
The message tonight is a choice of verbs out of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. And for you who are listening on radio and finally looking on television, this evening we observe the memorial of the breaking of bread. And the passage read is the story of the institution of the memorial, as written by the apostle Paul in the eleventh chapter of the 1 Corinthians letter. And then the message that follows, a brief message, concerns the verbs our Lord used in that institution of the Lord’s Supper.
In 1 Corinthians 11, beginning at verse 23: “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you . . .” [1 Corinthians 11:23]. By direct revelation—possibly when he was in Arabia [Galatians 1:17]—by direct revelation, the Lord revealed, opened to view all of the things of His ministry: the institution of the Supper, the meaning of His death and resurrection. That is what he means:
I have received directly from the Lord—by direct revelation—all that I have 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, broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped—
when He first drank of it—
saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood: this do ye, as oft as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.
For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He come.
[1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
And just looking at the verbs our Lord uses in that institution of this memorial supper: “The same night in which He was betrayed He took bread” [1 Corinthians 1:23]. Jesus takes, Jesus chooses, Jesus elects. And that is one of the tremendous mysteries of the gospel of Christ and the kingdom of our Lord: He chooses, Jesus takes. Jesus selects, Jesus elects—He takes.
In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, verse 16: “Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you” [John 15:16]. And the nineteenth verse: “If ye were of the world, the world would love you: but you are not of the world; I have chosen you out of the world” [1 Corinthians 15:19]. The verbs used there: eklegō—I have chosen you. Eklegō means “to select out, to choose out.” That’s the verbal form. The nominative, substantive noun form is eklektos, “elect.” We are elected of the Lord. We are chosen out for the kingdom of Christ our Savior. I read that in the Bible. It is one of the doctrinal revelations of the Holy Word of God: the doctrine of election, the doctrine of God’s choice, of God’s selecting out.
But I not only read it in the Bible, I see it in all of human life and am mystified and unable to explain or enter into what I experience and what I see. I will be talking to, say, two men at a luncheon table. I will be speaking to them about our Savior, and about our Lord and about His work. One of the men will be intensely interested, and the other will show a vast and abysmal indifference. Why, I cannot understand—one is elected, selected, and chosen, and the other is not.
I called two families last night, and the wives in the home answered the phone. One of the wives, a mother in the home, the first one, seemed to be so glad that I called and rejoiced to speak with me about the things of the Lord and about her family. The second one that I called was abrupt, and I could easily see had no interest at all in the Lord, or in the call of Christ, or in His church, or in her family being taught the ways of the blessed Jesus.
How do you explain that? I cannot. I say, I am mystified before it. I cannot understand. There are some people to whom you bear the message of invitation and love and grace, and it is as water to a thirsting soul. It is as bread to a starving life. It is as light in darkness. There is immediate and wonderful response. There will be another in the same locale, in the same city, speaking the same language, living the same kind of life, without any interest whatsoever.
In the invitation every service, there will be some who are intensely interested, and there are some who could not be more indifferent or unconcerned. It lies in the elective purpose of God. It lies in the elective choice of the great Lord of all the earth. Jesus takes. Jesus chooses. Jesus selects: “You have not chosen Me,” you have not elected Me, “but I have elected you” [John 15:16].
May I say one word before leaving that? I don’t know of anything more humbling in Christian experience than that Jesus loves me, and Jesus called me, and Jesus elected me, and Jesus chose me. It does not arise out of my heart. There is nothing in me that brought me to this place of faith and commitment and service for Jesus. It’s in His love and grace extended even to me; nothing of which I can boast, nothing of which I am proud. When I get to heaven, it will be just like that: all praise and glory unto Him who loved me, and washed me from my sins in His own blood [Revelation 1:5]. The election—the grace of God that chooses us—Jesus takes.
The second verb: “And when He had given thanks . . .” [1 Corinthians 11:24], Jesus blesses. Always, inevitably, unwearyingly, Jesus blesses. He blesses children, He blesses homes, He blesses hearts, He blesses lives, He blesses the work of our hands. Jesus blesses. “And He took bread and gave thanks” [1 Corinthians 11:23-25]. Jesus blesses. The most astonishing thing to me about our Lord in this is: the next day, at nine o’clock in the morning, He was crucified [Matthew 27:32-50], yet facing that inevitable sorrow and suffering, He gave thanks; He blessed the name of God [1 Corinthians 11:23-24]. He blessed the purpose for which He came into the world—Jesus blesses.
And O Lord, how I could pray for us, that whatever the providences of life, that we could bless the name of God and be a blessing to others. Jesus gave thanks, He blesses, and whatever the sorrow, or the trial, or the trouble, or the loss, or the hurt, Jesus blesses. And out of the providences that overwhelm us in our life, God purposes always some good thing for us [Romans 8:28]. Jesus blesses.
And “He broke the bread” [1 Corinthians 11:24], broken things: how God uses broken things. It was out of the striking of the rock at Horeb that the water of life gushed forth [Exodus 17:5-6]. It was in the breaking of the pitchers in Gideon’s little band of three hundred that God brought victory to Israel [Judges 7:16-23]. Broken things: it was by the breaking of the alabaster box that the Lord was so magnified and loved. “And the ointment filled the house with its perfume” [John 12:3]. Broken things, broken things; David said in his fifty-first Psalm: “For a broken heart God will not despise” [Psalm 51:17]. Broken things, brokenness; it’s not in our wholeness and our strength; it’s not in our personal triumphs that the Lord is so wondrously blessed. It’s in our brokenness, it’s in our bowing, it’s in our kneeling, it’s in our need. He took bread, and He broke it—broken things [1 Corinthians 11:23-24].
And “He said, Take, eat” [1 Corinthians 11:24]. He distributes: there is no end to the abounding blessings in the reservoir of our Savior’s love and grace—grace for you and abounding, grace for you and overflowing, and grace beside for me. A miracle of God’s goodness: He broke the bread, and broke the bread, and 1,000 were fed. He broke the bread, and 2,000 were fed. He broke the bread—3,000, 4,000, and 5,000 were fed [Matthew 14:15-21]. He could have broken bread for a multitude beside. There is no limit to the depth or the height or the breadth of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: distributing—sharing all the rich blessings of heaven with us.
And the last verb: “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do dramatize,” you show forth, “the Lord’s death till He come” [1 Corinthians 11:26], till He come. There is hope in Jesus, age and death are not the end of our life. The purpose of God’s goodness in us is not that we be buried in the grave. There is a wondrous hope in our blessed Lord. He is coming again, and when He comes, He brings with Him an incomparable and indescribable victory [1 Corinthians 15:57].
That could not be more poignantly or dramatically or beautifully illustrated than in the life of the aged apostle John: at one hundred years, pastor of the church in Ephesus. And in those years of the pastoral life of the sainted apostle John, the Roman government exiled him to die of exposure and starvation on the rocky island of Patmos. And while he was there—for the love and patience of the Lord Jesus [Revelation 1:9]—alone, he heard behind him a voice as of the sound of a trumpet [Revelation 1:10]. And being turned to see the voice that spake unto him, he saw our living Lord, walking in the midst of seven golden lampstands [Revelation 1:17-18]—never alone: the Lord was there. And when John saw Him in all of His presence and His glory, he fell down at His feet as one dead. And the Lord laid His right hand upon him [Revelation 1:17].
How many times in the days of His flesh had the Lord done just that? Put His right hand upon the shoulder of His beloved apostle John? He put His right hand upon him and said:
Fear not; I am the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End: I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold . . . I, I have the keys of Hell and of Death.
“I have the keys of the grave and of Hades,” our lives are in His hands. He is able and mighty to save [Isaiah 63:1].
And the next chapter: he was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day [Revelation 1:10]. And, behold, a door opened in heaven . . . and a voice saying: “Come up hither” [Revelation 4:1]. And John was wafted up through the door into heaven, in the presence of God our Savior [Revelation 4:2], and there saw all the beauty of the golden city [Revelation 21:10]: the mansions the Lord hath prepared for those who love Him [John 14:1-3], the face of the great King [Revelation 22:4], the innumerable hosts of angels—he calls them “myriads upon myriads upon myriads” [Revelation 5:11]—and the saints gathered in His presence, who with Him, someday, are coming again [Jude 1:14]. What a blessedness, what a joy divine! What a hope, what a preciousness, what a faith—Jesus our Lord.
In this moment, after the prayer and the orchestra makes way for us, I’m going to stand right there on that side of our communion table. And a somebody you, to give your heart in faith to the Lord Jesus; a family you, to put your life with us in this wonderful church, answering any call of God in your heart, in this prayer, make the decision now. Then when we stand to sing, on the first note of the first stanza, that first step will be the dearest and most precious you could ever make in your life.
First, may we pray? Our Lord, in this quiet moment, remembering the ableness of our Lord to save and the abounding grace of our Lord to bless, we pray that His goodness and love will reach into every heart tonight. And that when we stand to sing our appeal, it will be the joy of the angels in heaven [Luke 15:10] and the gladness of our hearts here in earth to see these God hath given us this blessed night. And thank You Lord, for the abounding grace [Romans 5:20], that makes our hearts overflow in love and praise to Thee. We love Thee Lord, and offer Thee the strength of the days of our lives. In Thy precious, keeping, and saving name, amen.
Now while we stand and sing, as God shall lead and open the door, answer with your life and welcome!