August 17, 2012 Leave a comment
Paul told the Corinthians that “a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” There has been a lot of confusion over this examination. Many, based on some older translations of verse 27, have taken this examination to be a test of whether we personally are worthy to take part in the Lord’s Supper. This is a bit of a stretch, as no one could hope to measure up to such a standard; none of us are worthy of anything related to Jesus Christ. So what are we examining?
We are examining our manner of partaking. This gets to the issue that prompted Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians. They were not giving the memorial the reverence it deserved. They were treating the Supper as a common meal. We need to examine ourselves that we are treating the memorial with respect and holding it in a place of honor as the God-given remembrance of our Savior’s death.
We are examining our relationship to the church. Paul has previously talked about the church being the body of Christ, and has been criticizing them for the disunity of this local group of disciples. This memorial is to be a communion or a sharing in the body and blood of the Lord (the physical body and blood, given as a sacrifice for us). We must make sure that when we partake, we are united in spirit and in the Spirit (Ephesians 4:3) with those partaking.
We are examining our priority on Christ’s death. One of the things seen in a survey of this letter is the effect that confusion over the centrality of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was having on these Christians. We see in this chapter how it is affecting their partaking of the Supper itself. In chapter 15, Paul has to deal with those who somehow thought there was no resurrection. It was affecting the unity of the group, as disciples did not feel strongly enough to unite under Christ rather than flocking to those who had taught them the gospel.
When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, let us examine ourselves, so that we will not bring judgement upon ourselves.