Second Sunday after Easter Morning Prayer (18 April 2021) 1 Corinthians 10:11-12
Updated: Apr 24, 2021
We know that Apostle Paul was a Jew, Pharisee and a Roman citizen. Romans ruled many parts of the world during Jesus’ death. It was easy for Paul to travel all over the Roman Dynasty. He established many churches among the gentiles when other faiths were in domination. His missionary journey was not very easy but was filled with hardships. Paul visited Athens and spread the Gospel in Greece and established the early Christian Church in Greece. Corinth was a famous harbour city in Greece. In Corinth city lived 200,000 Greek citizens and 400,000 slaves from other countries. The auditorium in the Old city had a seating capacity of 20,000. The temple of the Goddess of Love famous for lust was in Corinth. The temple had more than 1000 slaves. The city was full of lust, adultery and idolatry. ‘Not for every man is the voyage to Korinthos’ was a common and popular proverb.
The early church in Corinth was established by Apostle Paul during his second missionary journey. After establishing churches, Paul preserved the churches by writing epistles or letters to them. He addressed the issues the churches were facing and gave solutions. Paul wrote his epistle to Corinthians around 55 AD. In his epistles to Corinthians, Paul addressed issues relating to divisions, adultery, lust, family bond, taking part in the LORD’s table, gifts of the spirit, idolatry, church orders and the belief about resurrection.
Today’s meditation is based on our New Testament Reading, St. Paul’s first epistle to Corinthians, Chapter 10, verses 11 and 12: “Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall”. Verse 12 begins with “wherefore” and cautions us to be careful not to fall before the second coming of Jesus and the Great White Throne Judgement.
The Jews knew about Abraham and the Israelites’ journey from Egypt to the promised land. We do not know how much of this history was known to the Greeks. Corinth was a city in Greece and the people in were of a different faith. They were idol worshippers. They did not know about LORD Jehovah, the Father or the Son Jesus Christ. So, in his epistle, Paul tells the early church in Corinth beginning from the Israelites’ Exodus. He also addressed the impact of the sins prevalent in Corinth, like lust, idolatry and adultery, comparing incidents from Exodus. He also spoke about baptism, Holy Communion and Holy matrimony. We know that baptism, Holy Communion and Holy matrimony are the important sacraments in our Christian faith. We can find order for these sacraments in the Book of Common Prayer. God led the Israelites out of their bondage land Egypt to the promised land Canaan. Today, the Holy Spirit leads us from the bondage of sin and death to inherit eternal life in heaven. We have much to learn from the Israelites’ journey that will help us in our journey to inherit eternal life.
Following Jewish tradition, Jesus was presented on the eight day in the church for circumcision and naming. He was baptised in the river Jordan at the age of thirty before starting His ministry in this world. The holy spirit descended from heaven on Him like a dove. Today, denominations follow different practices for baptism. Evangelical churches dedicate children when they are young and baptise them when they are adults. When immersed in water, we acknowledge that we are dead and buried for our sins. When we raise again, it is a sign of us being born again for Jesus. In Anglican churches, we follow child baptism and adult confirmation. Water being sprayed on the head is a symbolic representation of us being cleansed, purified and sanctified for Christ. When the child is baptised in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, the parents and the God parents take the responsibility of growing the child in Christian faith. This faith in Jesus Christ is confirmed by the child as an adult during confirmation. Baptism or confirmation is linked with our salvation. It is the outward, symbolic representation of telling others we have been saved. We confirm our relationship with Jesus and our commitment to follow Him in our lives. We proclaim we have made a covenant with our saviour Jesus Christ. God the Father protected the Israelites in the wilderness with the pillars of fire and cloud. The Israelites’ crossing the Red Sea was a symbolic representation of salvation or sanctification. Their walking under clouds is similar to child baptism when water is sprayed on the head. When they walked through the Red Sea, they were buried and resurrected for the LORD Jehovah. This is symbolic of adult baptism. This is what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:2, “And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea”. Denominations and outward practices or processes do not give us salvation. Neither do they lead us to eternal life. Only the transformation in our hearts and our relationship with Jesus will give us salvation and lead us to inherit the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus made a new covenant on Maundy Thursday with us through His body and blood. We celebrate this sacrament when we take part in the LORD’s table. We are separated as God’s people when we celebrate this sacrament. Confirmation is the eligibility to take part in the LORD’s table. Here, confirmation refers to the salvation we have receive in our hearts. We say prayers to confess our sins and repent in the service. Being reconciled with God is the eligibility or entry permit to take part in holy communion. The Israelites were God’s chosen people separated from other nations and tribes. The Israelites eating the heavenly manna in the wilderness and drinking the water from the rock is similar to our Holy Communion today. God the Father gave Israelites heavenly manna and the rock was struck to give water. Jesus shared His body with us and made a covenant through His precious blood. Jesus the Solid Rock was struck on the Cross. When we take part in the LORD’s table, we are separated by God for the kingdom of heaven. The Israelites received manna from heaven. They found Manna under the dew. Jesus is the bread of life or manna who was given to us from heaven. Many times, Israelites quarrelled and fought with Moses and the LORD God. Most of them died in the wilderness and did not see the promise land. Paul cautions us about the consequences of taking part in Holy communion unworthily. We meditated about this on Maundy Thursday, so I am not going into that part. If you want to refresh your memory, the link is available in our church website and YouTube channel. But we must be very careful and self-examine ourselves to not take part in Holy Communion unworthily.
Another area where we must be cautious is idolatry. We do not have any idols in our church or at home. We can say we are not making any idols and worshipping any other Gods. If we greatly love, admire or give reverence to something, it becomes an idol in our lives. Anything that comes between our relationship with God or separates us from God is an idol. It may be a person, possession, hobby, our identity, our qualifications, money, entertainment, comfort, smartphones, etc. Idolatry is giving more importance to these than to God. In Colossians 3:5 Paul mentions other sins that separate us from God’s presence. Paul says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry”. In Hebrews 13:4 he says “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” When Moses was gone for 40 days, the Israelites made for themselves a golden calf. They substituted the living God with the idol. Nearly 3000 people died on that day in the wilderness. When they were not true to Lord Jehovah and turned away to worship other gods, they were taken captives and their nation was destroyed.
Although Jesus Christ ministered in and around Jerusalem and Judea, He died on the cross to redeem the whole world. The word of caution in 1 Corinthians 10: 12 is important for us. So what should we be cautious about? We are to be cautious about the sacraments that we follow. In Galatians 5:19–21 Paul warns us about the works of the flesh. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Do we have any work of the flesh that separate us from the presence of God? Are we willing to remove the idols that separate us before participating in the sacraments? We should be cautious about our relationship with Jesus. If we are not cautious, we will fall. All the sacraments, procedures and outward processes will not save us. Only our relationship with Jesus can save us and lead us to inherit eternal life.
When Jesus ministered in this world, He said in Matthew 24:13, “he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”. It is true that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak”. But 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it”. God knows that we are weak, so will not permit us to be tempted beyond our capability. He will strengthen us to overcome temptation when we seek His help to overcome temptation. Psalm 103:13 and 14 saySS “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” Even when we fall into sin, if we confess our sins and repent, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin”.
If we were to paraphrase 1 Corinthians 10: 11 and 12 to our lives today, we can say, All the things that happened to the Israelites are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let all of us who think that we stand take heed lest we fall. Yes, we know what the Israelites did and the effect of their actions. Let us self-examine ourselves and remove any idols we may have from our lives. Let us make ourselves worthy before celebrating the sacraments. The pillars of cloud and fire led the Israelites through the wilderness to Canaan. Today, let us be led by the Holy Spirit through the wilderness in this life to inherit eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. Amen.