"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.
Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup."

1 Corinthians 11:27-28, ESV

Each time we observe the Lord's Supper, the Pastoral Staff encourages our members to spend time in preparation. We often quote 1 Corinthians 11, noting the Apostle Paul's instruction for believers to examine themselves. The instruction comes with a stern warning as well: One who partakes of the supper without "discerning the body" eats and drinks judgment on himself (v29). 

Here are some thoughtful reflections on this passage that may help you prepare to come to the Lord's Table this week.

What does it mean to eat the bread or drink the cup in an unworthy manner? How do we examine ourselves? How do we "discern the body" (ESV), or "judge the body rightly" (NASB)? 

Paul's instruction in verse 27, restated, is that we must come to the table in a worthy manner. The statement follwing this, in verse 28, explains that we are found worthy by examining ourselves. What do we find when we examine ourselves? If we are honest, we should recount our sins and quickly come to the conclusion that we are spiritually deficient. But it is in that reflection that we are made ready for the bread and the cup. 

Our sin, in a general sense, is not what makes us unworthy of the Lord's Table. If that were the case, no one would be worthy. That way of thinking diminishes the meaning of the Lord's Supper. Our sinfulness and need of a savior is the whole point! Instead, it is the specific sin of unrepentance that makes one unworthy. When asked if a bad week meant abstaining from the Lord's Supper, John Piper wrote, "It depends on the transaction of the moment, not the quality of the week gone by. Nobody brings a successful week to the Lord's Table, period. Nobody."

So to eat and drink in a worthy manner is to do so with repentence: to remember our sin ("examine yourself"), to remember Christ ("this do in rememberance of me"), and to demonstrate the gospel in a visable way ("proclaim the Lord's death until He comes"). As we prepare to observe the Lord's Supper this Sunday, may the God grant us repentant hearts that make us worthy to partake- for our good, and His glory.




For more of Piper's thoughts on being worthy of the table, see this post at desiringgod.org.