A Supper Unworthy of the Lord

By Not Known

The Lord’s Supper should be an occasion of spiritual delight and a rich reminder of the generous grace of God. It’s an occasion when we can all face our sinfulness with a sense of the burden that is lifted from us by the cross of Christ.

However, the Lord’s Supper can be a perilous occasion. Thus Paul speaks of people falling ill and even dying because they participate in the Lord’s Supper in an ‘unworthy’ manner (1 Cor 11:27,30). What was the problem? People were coming to the Lord’s Supper without ‘recognising the body of the Lord’. Scholars divide on what exactly that means.

We know that some people came to church in Corinth and saw only the opportunity of free food and drink. Thus some would arrive early, gorge themselves and go on their way leaving only crumbs for others. The only body they were concerned for was their own. Paul encourages such people to eat at home and only then to come to the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor 11:20-22, 33-34). There seems to be two issues. One is that they don’t see the bread and wine as symbols of the body and blood of Jesus (Matt 26:26-28). Thus they do not ‘recognise’ the symbols of the person of Jesus. The other is that they don’t ‘see’ their fellow Christians who are also described as the body of Jesus (1 Cor 12:27). Quite possibly both meanings are intended. In short, they are unmindful of both the crucified and the living body of Jesus.

Maybe none of us today come to Communion for free wafers and wine.

However, do we see Jesus and do we see our fellow-worshippers? It’s easy to sit in our corner of the church building, receive the wafers and wine with little attention to Jesus or to others and then to pass on our way. The Scripture tells us what to do: A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup (1 Cor 11:28).

This is not self-examination to see if we are in a sinless state, for we all fail that test. Rather it is self-examination to face our sinful state and to ensure that we throw ourselves on the crucified body of Jesus for relief. Arising from this we are to recognise the people who sit around us at the Communion service. Like us they are sinful, frail and needy. They too need the grace of the Cross and the care of God’s people. They are not nobodies, but are the body of Christ, It’s worth slowing down as we approach the Lord’s Table to ensure that we see Jesus and our fellow worshippers. Let’s not look at the ‘sign’ but at the one who is signified and at those who sit with us.