Once when I was a young boy, my family visited a church service where an invitation was given to participate in the Lord’s Supper. I don’t remember the exact words of the invitation. But I do remember being apprehensive as I went forward and thinking to myself, “Am I really worthy to receive the bread and cup? Is there something else I need to do before I take communion?”
Paul’s words of instructions in today’s passage from Corinthians reminded me of this boyhood experience. They are certainly appropriate for this day when we remember Christ’s celebration of the Last Supper with his disciples.
“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. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.” (1 Cor. 11:27-29.)
Since there is nothing that we can do to make ourselves worthy of Christ’s sacrifice, I don’t believe that these words were written with the thought of excluding us from the table, but more for helping us to prepare ourselves with a right heart. John Piper, pastor and author, said it this way.
“[W]hen we eat the bread and drink the cup, we may nourish our souls by faith on the spiritual presence of Christ. When we remember and proclaim his death, he manifests himself to us as infinitely precious. He shows us all that God promises to be for us in Christ. This is the food of our souls. With this we are nourished and find strength to live as Christians. The Lord’s Supper is worship because it expresses the infinite worth of Christ. No one is more worthy to be remembered. No one is more worthy to be proclaimed. And no one can nourish our souls with eternal life but Christ. So let us come and remember, and proclaim and eat.”1
1John Piper at Desiring God. Website: www.desiringGod.org.