Summary: Communion is a dangerous encounter with the Living God.
High Voltage Communion
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32 When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
I remember taking a bike trip through the country as a small boy. As we traveled back roads we came upon one of those small electrice sub stations. You have seen the them, surrounded by chain like fence and barbed wire around the top. And a big red sign with white sign with white letters saying “Danger High Voltage”. It is warning us not to enter unless we are a properly prepared power company employee with a key. Although the power plants are extremely useful for our daily lives, they are also deadly if we don’t respect them. It seems to me that Holy Communion that Christ instituted has been striped of all its power and danger by much of the modern American church. We can flippantly take communion without much thought or fear of what might happen. It is to be a holy God encounter unlike any other among God’s people. We have reduced it to religious ritual we go through by habit, without much thought. The longer we are Christians the easier it is to slip our minds into automatic piolet during communion. We can even be harboring bitterness in our heart toward a family member, or fellow church member who hurt us, but we take communion anyway without fear. We assume God will overlook it because we have been a Christian for a long time. We have unconfessed sin like lust, adultery, pornography, love for the world, and yet we march right up and take communion without a second thought. Our only thought is what will people think of me if I don’t take it, and never what will God think of me if I do in a careless way. In the Old Testament the High Priest went into the Holy of Holy’s with a rope attached to his leg and bells on his robe so that if he had sin on him and God struck him dead they could drag him out. If you knew this morning that you would die immediately if you took communion in an unworthy matter would you take it? We largely ignore the warning here in God’s Word, and don’t really believe it. We have bought all the God is only love theology of today. However, the plain meaning of this passage is still in affect today, whether we believe it or not. We need to get serious about it.
However, our modern scientific minds silently scoff at God bringing sickness and death as judgement, because to us, that is just superstitious thinking of ancient people. We know germs, viruses, etc, causes sickness and death, it is all cause and effect. So if we get sick we have an explanation and not a confession of our sins and a plea for healing mercy. The Word of God says that many of them got sick, and some died because of the way they treated the Blood and Body of the Lord. The book of Corinthians shows the kinds of sin he was referring to: selfishness, carnality, jealousy, divisions, etc. And even at the love feast preceding the Lord’s Supper it was going on. When the church shows no reverent fear of God, why should the world. This is not meant to keep you from taking communion, but to seriously examine yourself and confess your sins before you do.
I believe there is not only a danger to avoid, but there is also a deliverance to believe. If Jesus is there so powerfully that sickness and death can come to those who mistreat it. How much more is he there to heal and deliver. What is a better incubator for miracles than at a God encounter at Holy Communion. First, Jesus promised his glorious presence when only two or three met together in his name. How much more is his presence manifest when we meet to celebrate his victory at the cross. This is not just a memorial for a dead man. He is alive and is here through his Holy Spirit. His presence can produce miracles if we have faith. Reach out to him. Where is there a better opportunity for our faith to rise than when we meditate on the cross. Isaiah 53:5 says by his stripes we are healed. Matthew interprets it this way.