Summary: When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper he gave us some directives. Paul says we are to take in a worthy manner. How are we to take?
Worthy to take
1 Cor. 11:17-34
1CO 11:17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not! 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. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.
This illustration came to me and I think it will be helpful in our understanding of this passage:
The man flew airplanes in the war against Viet Nam. He was a pilot for Delta for almost 30 years. A year and a half ago he flew a small plane into Tulsa to pick me up so that we could fly together to a District Mission Board meeting in Milwaukee. When his plane was refueled and we stowed my luggage he pulled out a “pre-flight” checklist. He went over everything from seat belts, to fuel pressure, to the latch on the cockpit door. His actions surprised me. Why would a man who had flown so many planes for so many years need to go over such simple things? Before we landed in Milwaukee he pulled out another checklist. He looked at certain gauges, lights, and switches.
After we landed I asked Dave why a man with his experience as a pilot needed to check everything so thoroughly each time he flew. He told me that if you miss something simple it might cost you your life. Once you are speeding down the runway or in the air you don’t want to realize that you have forgotten something important. So every pilot no matter how experienced he is goes over a checklist for takeoffs and landings.
In the Word of God for our sermon this evening the Apostle Paul gives us inspired guidance to prepare for the Lord’s Supper. We could say it is a “pre-communion” checklist. It doesn’t matter if we have come to the Lord’s Table for one year or fifty years--one time or a thousand times. Each of us is in equal need of preparation so that we are blessed by our eating and drinking.
The early church would gather, at least once a week, for what they called “Agape feast” or “Love feast.” During which they would take of the bread and the cup remembering the Lord. But what is happening at Corinth is quite chaotic. It reminds me of teenagers and pizza. Sometimes we don’t wait for the pizza to be put down before there is some major scarffing. The Corinthian church would have the food put out, and there would be those who just grab up everything. They would gorge themselves on food and get drunk, while others had nothing. This is not what the Lord Supper is supposed to be about.