FIVE OBSERVATIONS IN THE LORD'S SUPPER
"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself " (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
We are commanded to test (examine) ourselves and approve ourselves before eating of the bread and drinking of the cup. This test assures the correct manner in which we are to eat and drink the Supper.
The Corinthian Christians and we should examine ourselves by looking in five directions: inside of us, outside of us, in the back of us, in the front of us, and above us.
1. Look inside of us.
Examine ourselves when observing the Lord's Supper.
Greek: dokimazo 1. to test (by implication) to approve.
We should not interpret the Spirit's directive here as saying that we must be sinless before we partake of the bread and cup. This is not what is said. The requirement is not the adjective "worthy" but rather the adverb "worthily." "Worthily" means "in the manner of" the eating and is not whether the partaker is sinless. The church gathered together were in covenant relationship with the Lord; i.e., they have been sanctified by the blood of the covenant and washed (Hebrews 10:29; 1 Corinthians 6:11b).
The Corinthians had been cleaned by the blood but were in their behavior desecrating the Lord's Supper. "To be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord" are solemn words. Those that violated the Law of Moses died without mercy (Hebrews 10:28). How much sorer punishment is deserved for anyone that "profane[s] the blood of the covenant by which [we were] sanctified, and [have] outraged the Spirit of grace" (verse 29b, ESV2011)? Surely this should check any carelessness and the levity of hearts on our part as we approach the Lord's Supper, something which in the eyes of God is most sacred and most holy.
1 Corinthians 11:18 states, "...when you come together as a church." There was that "coming together." There is the intention and purpose in the Supper to gather as a church. They would come together to worship. They would come together and were supposed to eat the Lord's Supper together. The Spirit didn't say "come apart," but rather, "come together." There are to be no divisions among us (verse 18).
"For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26, ESV2011). When one takes of the Lord's Supper, he or she is proclaiming the Lord's death to others. To proclaim or "shew forth" (KJV) is Greek Kataggello (Thayer: "1. to announce, declare, promulgate, make known; 2. to proclaim publicly, publish"). The proverb "a picture is worth a thousand words" is appropriate here because others are taught by our action. The Corinthian church in mixing their common meal with the Lord's Table were not letting their light of the death of Christ shine to one another.
3. Look “behind us” in time
Look “behind us” in time to when Jesus died for us. "You proclaim the Lord's death” (1 Corinthians 11:26). When the supper is eaten together, attention to all must be directed to the Lord's sacrifice 2000 years ago . The Supper is a teaching instrument for our faith to the congregation and to the world. There are those that would invent ways to celebrate Jesus, His birth and His passion. “I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). The Lord's Supper request is from our Lord Jesus. This is the “real thing.” This is what pleases Jesus. “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). No where has Jesus said, "Please remember my birth" or "Please remember my ascension."
We are remembering the death of Christ when we discern (judge) the Lord's sacrifice of His body when we partake of the bread. This bread is not food to fill our bellies both of which will be "destroyed" at the Lord's coming (1 Corinthians 6:13). We are to judge it by our reverence for Jesus' sacrificial body. God the Father went to the trouble of preparing Jesus' special body for the sacrifice (Hebrews 10:5). Our worship is commemorating the body and blood of Jesus (this is not the metaphor of the church being a body used in chapters 10 and 12, but to remember the real body of Jesus that was sacrificed for us, 1 Corinthian 11:27,29).
Therefore in our minds we look back to the cross of Jesus.
4. Look before us into the future
Look before us into the future when Jesus comes again which is our hope. "You proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." That means that Jesus is alive and well and He's returning. He's preparing a place for us (John 14:1-3). Many seem to preach only "Abraham's bosom" as our hope. Jesus does tell us that when the righteous die they like Lazarus are separated into a comfort waiting space (Luke 16:22). But the real Christian's hope is when Jesus comes again and gives our spirit a new body. The grace of God teaches us that we are "waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). In our minds we look forward to the Live Savior's returning for us.
5. Look above us.
Jesus promised that He would eat of the Supper with us in the Kingdom (Matthew 26:29). He reigns today (Acts 2:36). We are subjects in His kingdom (Colossians 1:13). He will deliver the kingdom to the Father at the end when He returns and destroys death (1 Corinthians 15:24-26).
The Supper is called the Lord's Table; we are communing with the Savior (1 Corinthians 10:16). He is "eating with us" is the figure used. The table is what the Spirit uses in a figurative way to represent the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 10:21). This expression is called metonomy in language. The whole is given for the parts. Another example of metonomy is the "cup" which stands for its contents. The table represents both the bread and the cup set on it. Just like the idolater does not eat of the altar but what is on the altar. So it is, that the table represents what's on the table.
Like other acts of worship, we are "throwing a respectful kiss" as we "give thanks" to our Father for the bread and the cup (1 Corinthians 11:26). We are thereby looking up in our minds to our Heavenly Father from whom the blessings of Jesus' sacrifice flows.
Five directions: (1) remember to judge yourself in properly observing the Supper; (2) remember to eat the Supper together; (3) remember to proclaim Christ's past sacrifice; (4) remember that Jesus is raised and alive and coming again; and (5) worship God with thanksgiving for His Son's salvation.
"Throw Out the Lifeline"