The Lord’s Supper: Lessons from Corinth (Pt 2)

Daily Devotion | Day 331

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. . .. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep [have died]” (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29-30, NKJV).

Today we will continue our examination of what Paul said to the Corinthians about the Lord’s Supper. Basically, Paul spoke of three things. He identified a problem, stated its consequences and offered a solution to the problem. The Corinthians were treating the Lord’s Supper with contempt. They did this through division, setting ‘the haves’ against ‘the have nots.’ This division ensured that the poor were marginalized, despised and humiliated for their inability to compete with those who had abundance.

When any of Christ’s people (gathered for the Lord’s Supper) are treated with contempt, it is tantamount to treating the Lord’s Supper with contempt. Any believer who engages in such behavior at the Lord’s Supper is eating and drinking “in an unworthy manner.” This was the problem at Corinth.

Paul’s point is this: What you do to anyone at the assembly, you do to Christ Himself, because the people at the assembly make up His body. What you do to one member of that body, you do to the whole body. And what you do to the body, you do to the Head of the body, Jesus Christ. In the same letter, Paul reminded the Corinthians about this fact when he said, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually” (12:27). Failing to recognize that the people at the Lord’s Supper are the body of Christ leads to “not discerning the Lord’s body.” It is a failure to discern that the assembly is the body of Christ, and that this assembly has met to honor the Lord’s body. When believers assemble for the Lord’s Supper, it is no ordinary gathering. It is a holy convocation. Therefore, it matters how believers conduct themselves. 

Paul was concerned about people’s conduct during the Lord’s Supper, not their conduct before or after the Supper. This does not mean that a Christian’s conduct is irrelevant outside the Lord’s Supper. It just means that Paul, at this point, is not speaking of the overall conduct of a Christian. He is addressing a specific problem which takes place during a specific event (the Lord’s Supper). Therefore, he is focused on what people do at the Lord’s Supper, not what they do in their own homes or at their workplace. And it is important that we keep this context in mind; otherwise, we will read too much into what Paul is discussing or draw broad conclusions from a specific situation.

Consequences exist for our conduct whether we partake of the Lord’s Supper or not. In the preceding chapters of First Corinthians, Paul speaks at length about the importance of righteous conduct and the consequences for ungodly behavior (especially chapters 5, 6 and 10). When He gets to chapter 11, his intent is not to repeat what he has said before. His mind is now set solely on what goes on at the Lord’s Supper. The consequences for irreverent or disruptive conduct during the Lord’s Supper are severe. When the sacred is treated as something common, the people responsible suffer consequences.

The Lord’s Supper is so called for a reason. It is no ordinary eating and drinking. It is a supper in honor (and remembrance) of Jesus who redeemed us with His body and blood. This event also is the occasion to celebrate our fellowship with the body and blood of the Lord (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Therefore, whoever trivializes this kind of meeting dishonors the body and blood of the Lord. In Paul’s words, “whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord” (11: 27). 

All of heaven declares, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:11-12). At the Lord’s Supper, Christians meet to honor this Lamb who was slain. It is important, therefore, that during the Supper they conduct themselves in a manner befitting its purpose. This means treating everyone at the assembly with love and reverence, while avoiding any behavior which can hurt the assembly. Otherwise, instead of blessings people will receive judgment.

To be continued tomorrow, if God wills. Stay blessed. Amen.

For further studyMatthew 25:31-46 and Daniel 5:1-31

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