Glorifying God Together
505 Courtney Way, Lafayette, CO

Self-Examination and the Lord’s Supper

Zach Putthoff Written by 
Sunday, 12 January 2014 17:19

We celebrated the Lord’s Supper as a church again this past Sunday. The Lord’s Supper is a time for us to remember the death of our Lord on our behalf in a unique way as a church family. It’s a time for us to recalibrate ourselves as a family of redeemed Christ-followers around the reality that through his substitutionary and sacrificial death, Jesus has secured forgiveness of sins and right standing with God for us.

As we prepared to eat and drink again this past Sunday, I reflected upon the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 11, where he warned a young, messy, and immature church against eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in an “unworthy manner.” Here’s what he wrote…

1 Corinthians 11:23-27 - 23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which 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 He took the cup also after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the 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, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.

Paul was concerned with how this church had been observing the Lord’s Supper. He warns them against eating the bread and drinking the cup in “an unworthy manner.” What that means is that they were not eating and drinking in a way that reflected the worth of the thing that the bread and the cup symbolized. The way they ate and drank reflected poorly upon the death of Jesus.

The reality is the Corinthians just weren’t taking it seriously. Rather than treating it as a special time in a special meal, the Corinthians were treating the Lord’s Supper with a lax and casual attitude. Instead of eating and drinking to remember Jesus’ death, at least some of them were eating and drinking to get full and even drunk. And, instead of eating and drinking as one family redeemed by a common Savior, the Corinthians were eating and drinking with great division existing in their church. The way that they ate and drank reflected poorly upon Jesus and upon his death. If you looked to the way the Corinthians observed the Lord’s Supper, you wouldn’t walk away from that experience impressed with the seriousness and significance with Christ’s death.

And that was a serious and significant problem. Harsh words are reserved for those who eat in an unworthy manner. If you eat and drink in an unworthy manner, Paul says, then you sin against the body and blood of the Lord. You disrespect Christ’s sacrifice. You dishonor Christ and his great sacrifice. Eating and drinking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner is a big deal.

So, what is one to do? How do we ensure that we do not eat and drink in an unworthy manner?

What Paul says next is instructive, though not in the way that many take him.

1 Corinthians 11:28 - 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Some take this verse almost as a call to confess every sin that you can possibly think of before you actually take the bread and cup, as if we have to confess our sins and repent of our sins in order to be worthy of Jesus and his death. As a result, the Lord’s Supper for a lot of people is a time of really intense personal examination and dark introspection and guilt. Some may not take the bread and cup because they feel that there are just too many sins in their lives to do so. They’re just not worthy.

But what we reflected on last Sunday, is that one of the primary reasons for the whole exercise of the Lord’s Supper is to remind us that we’ll never be worthy. Personal examination is not for the purpose of being or becoming worthy to eat and drink – it is about preparing the heart to proclaim the fact that the Lord Jesus is worthy of our praise and our faith and our passion and our confession and our repentance, because he has died for our sins and purchased our redemption through his death. We don’t confess our sins to be worthy for Jesus; we confess our sins because He is worthy of us. Examination doesn’t make us worthy. Jesus does.

And so, when we come to the Lord’s Table, which reminds us of his sacrificial death on our behalf and His worth as our suffering Savior and victorious King – we must examine ourselves. Not in order to be worthy to eat and drink, but to remember of how unworthy we are to share in the benefits of his salvation, and how worthy he is to have won those benefits for us through his perfect and obedient death.

This beautiful truth should shape the way we eat and drink in the Lord’s Supper. Not only should it lead us to personal examination before eating and drinking, but it should also lead us to eat and drink as an expression of our confession and our repentance; as an expression of faith in Him; as an expression of love for Him and in our pursuit of finding satisfaction and life in Him – where we alone will find our redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. Thus we confess our sins and repent of our sins by laying hold of Him afresh and taking hold of the benefits of His saving work afresh every time we eat and drink in remembrance of Him.

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.