The Lord’s Supper is one of the two ordinances of the church. It is something we do regularly, but how and why should we prepare to take the Supper?
How Should We Prepare to Take the Lord’s Supper?
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 11 that before we take the Supper we must examine and judge ourselves.
“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” (1 Cor. 11:28)
Skipping down to verse 31 Paul says,
“But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31)
Then in verse 33 Paul says,
“So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another — if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home — so that when you come together it will not be for judgment.” (1 Cor. 11:33-34)
So before we come to the table we must examine ourselves to:
- (1) Make sure that we are a believer, that we believe Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, that we have committed to following Him.
Going even further, we not only need to make sure we are believers, but we also need to:
- (2) Make sure there is no known unrepentant sin in our lives.
After examining ourselves, if we find sin in our hearts we have been unwilling to repent of, we must repent before partaking of the Supper.
Lastly, we must:
- (3) Make sure we are united with others.
Recently, I was watching a show, and in it one of the main characters reluctantly goes home for a Christmas meal. While around the table with her family, they break out into a huge argument. The scene ends with her telling her father she regrets coming, then storming out.
Now, I think it is safe to say unity didn’t exist before that meal began — that is why she was reluctant to go home in the first place. Since there was no unity, when they all sat around the table together it ended in a fight.
That, however, should not be so in the church. We are supposed to come to the table together united with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. We can’t do that if we are at odds with another in the body. So we must examine and repair our relationships before we take the Supper.
What Happens if We Don’t Examine Ourselves and Take the Supper Anyways?
We could be eating and drinking judgment on ourselves. In verse 27 Paul says,
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Cor. 11:27)
When Paul tells us that we are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord, he means that we are liable and will face the same punishment as those who crucified Jesus. In other words, we are treated as unbelievers because we show we don’t understand the point of the Supper.
We show we don’t believe what the Supper proclaims — that Jesus died in our place for our sins so that we might have a relationship with the Father and experience eternal life. For if we did, we would show reverence and honor for the Supper being observed.
Also, starting in verse 28, Paul says,
“Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drink judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judge ourselves truly, we would not be judged.” (1 Cor. 11:28-31)
Apparently, there were some in the Corinthian church who were weak, ill, and some who have even died. Paul tells the Corinthians this happened and is happening because they do not observe the Supper rightly.
The same will happen today. If we take the Supper in an unworthy manner. If we misuse it and treat others poorly at it, we too will face the same fate. We too will be treated as an unbelievers. We too will grow weak, ill, and some of us may even die.
So if we don’t examine ourselves and take the Supper anyways, we could be eating and drinking judgment on ourselves.
So before we take the Supper we need to examine ourselves: make sure we are believers, repent of the sins we are holding onto, and repair any relationship that needs to be repaired. If we do those things, we will not only avoid the Lord’s judgment, but the Supper will be what Jesus designed it to be:
A time for Jesus’ family to come together in unity to celebrate and proclaim to each other and the world what He has done and will do for us.
Question for Reflection
- Do you prepare for the taking of the Lord’s Supper?
Post developed from the sermon: The Lord’s Supper: A Family Meal of Unity, Celebration, and Proclamation which you can listen to in its entirety by clicking here.