A warning about the Lord’s Supper
The warning signs of a heart attack include chest pains or tightness, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, shortness of breath, sweating, fatigue, lightheadedness, indigestion, nausea, and vomiting. If you think you are having a heart attack, someone should call emergency services immediately. Did you know that there is also a warning in the Bible about the Lord’s Supper?
The best description of the Lord’s Supper is in 1 Corinthians 11. It gives two reasons for celebrating the Lord’s Supper. The first reason was to remember what Jesus has done for us – it was to be done “in remembrance of me”, as Jesus said. The second reason to celebrate the Lord’s Supper is to “proclaim the Lord’s death”. As we partake of the bread and wine, we are declaring the importance of the Lord’s death. That Christ’s death on our behalf provides forgiveness of our sin.
And we are to carry out this remembrance and proclamation in this way “until He (Jesus) comes” again and believers will be with the Lord forever.
Next there is a warning about how not to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The reason the Lord’s Supper is mentioned in this letter is because of the unworthy manner that it was being celebrated in Corinth.
1 Cor. 11:27-32 (NIV): “So then, 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 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup.
29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.
31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.
32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.”
It says, “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” (v.27). What could be an unworthy manner of observing the Lord’s Supper?
It could be without ever trusting in Christ for our salvation. This person can’t discern the body of Christ (v.29). Or understand the reason why He died.
It could be without recognizing the seriousness and importance of the event we are remembering. It’s a solemn occasion that demands our respect and reverence. In Corinth, some treated it as a common meal and were getting drunk. They were irreverent and greedy, and treated it as an ordinary meal.
And it could be without recognizing the unity of believers in Christ. In Corinth, the rich were discriminating against the poor.
When we look at how Paul uses the word “worthy” (Strongs #515, #516 ), in Romans 16:2; Ephesians 4:1; Philemon 1:27; Col. 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; and 1 Timothy 5:17, the unworthy manner could be any attitude or action that would: harm or hinder other believers, or impede the work of believers to be salt and light in the world; or impede the message of the gospel – the good news about Jesus; or that promotes disobedience.
The warning is strengthened by the addition of the phrase, “guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord” to those who partake in an unworthy manner. This is a serious offence against the Lord. Charles Hodge noted “the relationship between the Lord’s Supper and His sacrifice on the cross is like the relationship between the symbol of a nation, such as its flag, and the nation itself. If one were to desecrate the flag, it would be as if they had disrespected the country which it represented. In a similar fashion, disrespecting the Lord’s Supper brings the guilt of disrespecting the sacrifice that Christ made on the cross.”
Father, we thank you for sending Jesus to die so that our sins might be put away and we can remember you in a worthy manner. Help us to confess our sins and change our ways to remain in fellowship with you when we remember Jesus in this special way.
Written, June 2022
Also see: The original context of the Lord’s Supper
Synonyms of the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial, not a transubstaniation
The command to keep the Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper – a visible sermon
The Lord’s Supper – until Jesus returns