How and Why Should We Prepare to Take the Lord’s Supper?

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.

Conclusion

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

  1. Do you prepare for the taking of the Lord’s Supper?

Resources

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.

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The Lord’s Supper: A Family Meal of Remembrance, Proclamation, and Unity

The Lord’s Supper is one of the two ordinances of the church. It is something we do regularly, but what does it represent? Is it just a time for us to sit quietly and receive a pez size unleavened wafer along with a shot of grape juice or wine? Or is there something more to it?

What Does the Lord’s Supper Represent?

(1) The Lord’s Supper is a Meal of Remembrance

It is a time for us to remember what Jesus has done for us and will do for us. Because of that it is a time of celebration, a time of joy.

What do the elements of the supper tell us that Jesus did for us?

About the bread, Paul quotes Jesus as saying,

This is my body which is for you.” (1 Cor 11:24)

By this, we know that Jesus physically died in our place. His body was broken for our sins, as He took the punishment on Himself that we deserve.

Then about the cup, Paul quotes Jesus as saying,

This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (1 Cor. 11:25)

By this, we know that Jesus’ blood was spilt for us. It was spilt to cover our sins. Just like the blood in the Old Testament sacrifices, although imperfect, covered the sins of the Israelites, making them holy, Jesus’ blood covers us, making us holy and righteous, which allows us a relationship with the Father.

As Jesus suffered the pain of the cross and the weight of the Father’s wrath, He did so gladly, knowing that His sacrifice provides us with a way of escape and the ability to once again experience a relationship with the Father.

What do the elements of the supper tell us that Jesus will do for us?

They remind us a time is coming when we will once again sit around the table with Jesus.

In 1 Corinthians 11:26 Paul writes,

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)

In Savannah, there are a lot really good restaurants. For our birthdays’, my Dad would take my sister and I to the restaurant of our choice. One year, my sister decided she wanted to go Elizabeth’s on 37th street, which is a five star restaurant. Definitely, not a place we went often, but a place that lived up to the hype.

While the meal was small — I had to go to McDonald’s afterwards to get full — it was amazing. It was so good I still remember it 15 years later.

As good as our meal was that night, it doesn’t hold a candle to the meal we will have with Jesus one day in the recreated garden as we celebrate His second coming, His defeat of our enemies, and the ushering in of the New Heavens and New Earth, which is exactly what the Lord’s Supper points toward. The time after Jesus’ return when we will sit around the table with Him once again in the New Heavens and New Earth.

(2) The Lord’s Supper is a Meal of Proclamation

Have you ever noticed when watching the Olympics after a runner wins the race he takes it upon himself to do one more lap with his countries flag in hand? We call what he does a victory lap.

In some sense that is what we are doing as Christians when we take the Lord’s Supper. We are taking a victory lap to proclaim our Savior’s victory.

Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:26 says,

…as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26)

By partaking of the Lord’s Supper, Christians proclaim Jesus’ victory.

  • We proclaim that we believe Jesus’ death on the cross was sufficient to pay the price for our sins and bring about a New Covenant with God.
  • We proclaim that Jesus will return and defeat our enemy Satan, rid sin from the world, and bring in a New Heavens and New Earth.

Every time we take the Lord’s Supper we not only proclaim these truths to each other, but we also proclaim them to the watching world. We take a victory lap for our Savior.

(3) The Lord’s Supper is a Meal of Unity

On the idea of meal time as unity, one commentator says,

“Mealtimes [in the 1st century] were far more than occasions for individuals to consume nourishment. Being welcomed at a table for the purpose of eating food with another person had become a ceremony richly symbolic of friendship, intimacy, and unity.” [1]

As Jesus gathered around the table with His disciples, they were unified. They were a family. They were brothers and sisters in Christ.

Likewise, when we take the Supper, we are to be unified, because we too are all brothers and sisters in the Lord united with one another through one head — Jesus Christ (Col. 1:18).

When we come to the table, there shouldn’t be any bad blood, disputes, or conflict between us. We all should be in one accord, united with one another. We should be one happy family.

Question for Reflection

  1. Is this how you think of the Lord’s Supper?

Resources

[1]  A Meal with Jesus, 19

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.

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