Originally scheduled for October 11
1 Corinthians 11:28 NASB
(28) But a man must
examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink
of the cup.
It is an often repeated injunction, but a
seldom explained one. We are told to examine ourselves; just what
does that mean? We might begin with a problem that Paul is trying to
solve in this passage. It seems that some of the Corinthians were
treating the Lord’s Supper more or less like a potluck. Worse, they
were exhibiting rather bad manners in doing so. Those who arrived
early seem to have been fed quite well; others went hungry. Some of
them got drunk in the process. Whatever else this might mean, it’s
obvious that these people were not taking the Lord’s Supper
seriously at all. Paul tells them that in that instance they are
guilty of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So it is that
he tells them that they should examine themselves first. It’s a
common thought in the Old Testament and the New Testament;
self-examination is a requirement so that you might produce the
fruits of repentance. The word itself in this context is often used
to mean to test something, like you might put a bar of metal to a
test. John Wesley put this fairly simply; you must know the nature
and design of the Lord’s Supper and desire to comply with both. Put
shortly, know what you’re doing and do it right. Another commentator
said that it should always be done “in loving remembrance.” You are
to remember what the Lord did for you at the Cross.
criteria exclude certain people from taking communion. For example,
most churches do not offer communion to infants, for they are not
capable of understanding what they are doing. But we might extend
that; if someone claims to be a Christian, but does not really
understand what the Lord’s Supper is, we might at that point tell
them not to participate until they do. But suppose someone comes in
to take the Lord’s Supper while he is furious and angry; a state
which does not do much for the ability to examine oneself carefully.
Should we not, in Christian charity, decline to serve such a man?
Take that little bit further. What about the man who is willing to
partake in the Lord’s Supper, but not willing to repent? We do him
no favors by offering communion to such a man.
should we do? We need to remember that communion is a sacrament: an
outward sign of your inward intentions. When you take communion you
declare the death of our Lord Jesus Christ as being the atonement
which covers your sins. Look inside yourself; do you really mean
this? If not, it is better not to partake. But if you are willing to
do so knowing what the bread and cup really mean, in full sincerity
and great love for your Savior, do so. Then go forth this week and
show the world that you are one who is in full communion with our
Lord and Savior.