Summary: Message I preached in a service where we were sharing the Lord’s Supper. Taking "unworthily" is all about our relationship with the church - the Lord’s body.
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 1 Cor 11:27-30 (NKJV)
Today, we will be taking part in the Lord’s Supper together. We are creatures of habit and tradition, and often we do things without really even knowing why.
Illustration – Girl asks mom why she always cuts the ends off of the roast before cooking it. “My mom always did”. Girl asks grandma. “Because it wouldn’t fit in my pan otherwise”
It’s not bad, necessarily, to participate in things even though you don’t really understand why. As a matter of fact – Paul begins the chapter in which our text is found by saying, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Cor 11:1)
But we need to grow in our understanding of these things – or we may be guilty of doing the same thing that the Corinthian church did, and go astray once the example is gone.
WHAT IS THE LORD’S SUPPER?
The Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus’ last meal with his disciples before his death… There is speculation as to whether this was actually the Passover meal, or Seder, or whether it was a meal at the beginning of the Preparation day (the Jewish day begins at 6:00 pm). At this meal:
- Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, and taught on greatness
- Jesus announced that one would betray him, Jesus tells John, Judas leaves
- Jesus teaches (John chapters 13-17 dedicated to Jesus teaching at this meal)
- After the meal, Jesus foretells his death and resurrection
- He takes breaks and serves bread and wine, comparing them to his body and blood
After the resurrection and ascension, the church grew through CLOSE FELLOWSHIP.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 (NKJV)
This fellowship became an important part of the church. The book of Acts records that at least the church in Jerusalem took this fellowship seriously:
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. Acts 4:34-35 (NKJV)
Our text is taken from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, written more than 20 years after Jesus’ last supper with his disciples. It is the first indication that at some point this close fellowship between Christians began to be associated with “The Lord’s Supper”.
It is interesting that there is no mention at all in the book of Acts of participation in a communion-like ceremony. We don’t know when this began to take place – probably relatively early in the life of the church. As they broke bread together and talked about Jesus, the words that He spoke at the Last Supper would have certainly been remembered. At some point, this memory was memorialized into the practice of breaking bread from a single loaf of bread and drinking from the cup – accompanied with a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus body and blood. Paul apparently had taught this practice to the Corinthian church:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Cor 11:23-26 (NKJV)
In later years, many theologies regarding this practice developed. We do not have time in this context to discuss these – but we will do so as a part of our Wednesday night “What We Believe” series.
HOW SHOULD I PARTICIPATE IN THE LORD’S SUPPER?
What I want to do today is examine Paul’s teaching to the Corinthian church based on this short history. I especially want to look at his warning in vs 29:
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 1 Cor 11:29 (NKJV)