Good Morning, Christmas is less than 20 days away!
Did you know that you and I share a heritage that began almost 2000 years ago? We likely do it somewhat differently then they did but the principle and practice remains some two thousand years later. And it will be a part of the church, part of HIStory, until our Saviour returns and we unite with Him in the amazing celebration planned for us by the LORD (cf. Rev. 19:6-9).
I of course am speaking of “the breaking of bread”, “The Lord’s Supper” or “Communion” as it has also become known. But how do we know this thing we do called the Lord’s Supper, was actually supposed to be done?
Well all we need to do is look at HIStory and we can see it. For example, Acts 20:7-12, today’s passage, to witness this amazing truth. Let me read it for you and see if you agree.
(Acts 20:7-12 (NIV).
You see “the first day of the week”, the day that we call Sunday, was the day they met together to amongst other things remember “the Lord’s Supper”. Luke said, they “came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7), this was a significant part of their meeting that day. It became a time of remembrance even as Christ told us it should when He set this practice in motion about 30 years earlier.
In Luke chapter 22 we read, “(14) When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. (15) And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. (16) For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.” (17) After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. (18) For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” (19) And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:14-19 (NIV).
It would be a stressful night for all the disciples. Their mentor and friend the most loving person they knew would be taken from them, beaten and tried as a criminal. One in their midst would betray Jesus to those who meant Him harm and the rest of them would scatter with some of them denying having even known Him.
Such a stressful night of their lives they had never experienced before. Parts of it would be indelibly etched into their brains with tremendous pain but would they remember? Would they remember to honour their friend as He had requested? To “…do this in remembrance of me”? The short answer is yes! They would institute His remembrance. But not without some reminders from the Master Himself!
Days later after Jesus had been hung on the cross, after His cold dead body was laid in the tomb, after rising from the dead and showing himself to Mary, Peter and John. Some of His disciples were distraught as they walked on the road to Emmaus having only witnessed His death and burial but not knowing of His resurrection.
Unbeknown to them, they actually walked and talked and debated with Jesus but they didn’t realise it was Him until Jesus broke bread with them. Suddenly the lights went on. Somehow that act of praying and breaking of bread spurred their memories. Then they couldn’t wait to tell Peter and the other disciples that “ …Jesus was recognised by them when he broke the bread.” (Luke 24:35(NIV). Their hearts confirmed Who it was that they enjoyed the company of only after their eyes witnessed this rather simple reminder.
Once again our Master emphasised how important this “breaking of bread” would become to His disciples.
Communion combined with meeting regularly, “on the first day of the week” would become one of the hallmarks of Christianity throughout HIStory. We see that in our passage for today but again it began shortly after the week of passion.
In fact, the very first, “first day of the week”, Jesus found His disciples hiding with “… the doors locked for fear of the Jews” (Jn. 20:19). The immense stress of that weekend had taken its toll. Hurt and befuddled by what had transpired they met together for fellowship. Yes they were afraid, but at least they were still together! And Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (Jn. 20:19). And then He breathed courage into them (John 20:22) and empowered them to resume their calling. The next week Jesus came on “the first day of the week” (cf. John 20:26) once again.
Again HE found those first disciples behind closed and locked doors. It was as though He was giving them a pattern to follow. But it wasn’t about meeting behind locked doors! It was as if He said, if you want to find me, come together, on the first day of the week, and remember me. Even if the doors are locked I will bring peace to you!
But they hadn’t quite remembered this practice that we are focusing on today. This Lord’s Supper! That didn’t come after their next visit either. The visit when Jesus found the discouraged disciples out on a boat, having fished all night and caught nothing. He said to them “come and have breakfast! And they knew who it was that they broke bread with that day (cf. John 21:12). They didn’t need to ask!
Exactly when the practice took hold we’re not sure but after the day of Pentecost, the day when Jesus sent the comforter, the blessed Holy Spirit, to come and to teach them all things concerning HIM, this pattern was certainly forming.
Luke tells us that the disciples, both the original ones and all the ones that were added to their midst when the Holy Spirit came. All the disciples, “…devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42 (NIV). This would become the very mark of the true Church in action. Devotion to teaching, fellowship, prayer, and most importantly honouring Jesus command to remember Him with the breaking of bread.
After the communion portion:
Let’s look now at the rest of the story for that particular first day of the week. Acts 20:7-12 (NIV)
This all-nighter meeting was not the norm but an exception for Paul. This is the only time we hear of Paul ever doing this. There is nothing wrong with going all night. But just realize that some people don’t do well with late night or even lengthy meetings. Especially if they have worked physically hard all day long!
Paul knew that he had limited time left for these folks, “…because he intended to leave the next day” Acts 20:7 (NIV). It wasn’t as if he could just Skype or Whatsapp them and carry on the conversation. He was compelled to teach them what he had come to teach them before leaving them.
But no one was holding a gun to their heads. They were free to leave. No locked doors there! But like most of the early church, “They devoted themselves to the Apostles teaching and fellowship and the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42) Even if they had to stay up all night to do so!
You and I, no matter how interesting the material may be, know there is a limit to how long we can keep our attention focused. Some can go days most people have an attention span of about 20 minutes to an hour! And if you have ADD you have already tuned out before I ended this sentence.
Luke tells us one person was sitting in the windowsill trying to stay awake. Being a physician Luke gives us an extra clue as to why “Eutychus” was sitting near the open window in verse 8-9.
You’ve likely tried a similar technique! Your on a long drive and find your eyes getting real heavy. What do you do? You open the car window to get lots of fresh air in right? Why? It gives you more oxygen and helps you stay awake a little longer right? But that only works for a little while. And if you don’t willingly pull over you may find yourself waking up in the ditch or worse. It’s best to pull over and take a nap when needed.
Luke tells us, “There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting” (8). So combine that natural tiredness with an increasing lack of oxygen and it’s only a matter of time before you drift off into lala land. The burning flames eat oxygen from the air and give off CO2 and smoke in return and poor Eutychus doesn’t stand a chance.
Eutychus mesmerised by the flickering light and Paul’s voice takes a header out the third story window to the stone ladened ground below.
While it is possible to fall three stories and live the likely best case scenario is that you would be very broken, perhaps suffering a traumatic brain injury. But this man was indeed dead.
Paul then does something weird but not completely unheard of to the Jewish folks there. He runs downstairs and throws himself on top of a man who just fell three stories and gave him a big hug! Now if Eutychus was only injured in the fall having another full grown man jump on top of him and hug him would have certainly been painful. But fortunately for him he was already dead when Paul landed. Weird huh?
One similar to what we witnessed as we went through Elijah’s story in 1st Kings earlier this year. That’s why I said what Paul did may be weird to us but not unheard of to the Jewish people who knew HIStory well.
Elijah like Paul was used by God to raise the widow’s son from the dead. Elijah went into the room where the dead child lay and “Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the LORD, “O LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” (1 Kings 17:21). The boy revived and lived for many years to come.
And Elisha, also experienced a similar extraordinary movement of God’s power. That’s found in 2 Kings Chapter 4 as we saw in September. There we find the Shunammite’s son who suddenly took gravely ill and died. Elisha heard about it and God sent him to raise that child from the dead.
2 Kings 4:34-35, “Then Elisha got on the bed and lay upon the boy, mouth to mouth, eyes to eyes, hands to hands. As he stretched himself out upon him, the boy’s body grew warm. Elisha turned away and walked back and forth in the room and then got on the bed and stretched out upon him once more. The boy sneezed seven times and opened his eyes” (2 Kings 4:34-35 (NIV). By the mercy of God, this young one had been restored to his mother.
So when Paul threw himself on Eutychus, and the young man rose from the dead, Paul’s story was in good company with HIStory having been used by God to do an extraordinary miracle that very few have been given the pleasure off.
So what does Paul do immediately after that amazing miracle? Well, he’s a preacher! He goes back upstairs has a bite to eat and continues where he left off. About 6 more hours of preaching and teaching until daybreak! Hallelujah!
Luke finished this part of HIStory telling us that “The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted” (Acts 20:12). There’s an understatement! Who wouldn’t be? I suspect they felt similar to the parents of this Abbotsford toddler who survived a 3rd story fall last summer. This too was a miracle worthy to be celebrated.
CBC reports, “Sgt. Marcus Senft said the child was airlifted to the B.C. Children’s Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. “The child is very fortunate,” …
He was fortunate but the young man in our passage today was truly double blessed! He not only was raised back to life but continued to be a cameo in HIStory.
This too can remind us of the Christ of Christmas who was born to die and yet rose to life bringing comfort to all who know HIStory.
We remember on the first day of the week not only His great sacrifice but the rest of HIStory too.
Let’s Dig Deeper into HIStory:
Remember the Christ of Christmas with Communion Acts 20:7-12
- Why do you celebrate Christmas?
- What do you like best about it? Gifts? Music? Time off with family? Other?
- Why should the celebration of Christmas be remembered in light of what Jesus did on Easter?
- What was the longest sermon you ever listened to? How long was it?
- Read Acts 20:7-12 is several versions.
- What day of the week did the early church meet on? (Acts 20:7) (see also: Luke 24:1; Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:1-2; John 20:1, 19; 20:26; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 1:10) An article that quotes early church fathers speaking on the day of the week which Christians met can be found here: http://www.bible.ca/H-sunday.htm .
- What time was it that they met in Acts 20:7-8?
- What does it mean “to break bread”? Why did they meet to do that? (Acts 20:7; Acts 2:42; Isaiah 53:5; * Matthew 26:26-28; * Luke 22:19-20; 24:30; * John 6:33-35; 48-58; * 1 Cor. 11:17-34; 1 Peter 3:18)
- Why was Eutychus sitting by an open window? (Acts 20:8-9; Matthew 26:40-41; Mark 13:36)
- Can you think of a time when have you used fresh air to stay awake?
- What happened to Eutychus when he fell out the window? (Acts 20:9) Was he like Paul in Acts 14:19? Or more like (2 Kings 4:32; Acts 9:37; John 19:30)
- What did Paul do to Eutychus? (Acts 20:10) How is this like or dislike (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-37; John 11:38-53).
- What did you learn from Paul’s experience? (2 Cor. 4:16-18; 1 Thes. 4:13-18)
- What did Paul do after raising Eutychus from the dead? How did the people react? (Acts 20:11-12)
- How can you be more attentive during church?