A Solemn Warning
The Lord's Supper is awesomely special. After the Holy Spirit came upon the church, the believers remembered Jesus when they met together and shared bread and wine (Acts 2:42-46). But in Corinth, this solemn reminder of the agonising death of our Saviour had been turned into a drunken party by some, while they ignored others and would not share their food with them (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).
Having described what the Lord's Supper means (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), Paul warned the church in Corinth not to belittle its significance. He criticised their irreverent attitude, their failure to examine their relationship with Jesus and failure to honour other members of Christ's body, the church. They treated the bread and wine as playthings for their own amusement, and not as reminders of the dreadful price Christ paid for their sins. They did not repent of their past or current sins, for which Christ died. They did not honour each believer equally, despising some while welcoming others to share their food.
They assumed that their attitude and behaviour did not matter to the Lord. But they were so wrong! Instead of being grateful to God for forgiving their sins, they were adding to them. Instead of being thankful for salvation they were storing up God's wrath against them. Paul even goes so far as to say that the spate of physical sickness and premature death in the church was a sign of God's judgement: echoing Jesus words, "… unless you repent, you too will all perish" (Luke 13:3,5).
We are all at risk of abusing the sacrifice of Jesus by treating the familiar communion service with contempt. We can be careless of the meaning of the Lord's Supper, thoughtless of other believers, unprepared to confess our sins and receive His forgiveness or simply ignore Jesus as we perform a religious routine. Paul's rebuke falls on us also; as does His warning of the Lord's displeasure and implicit call to repent. The constant drone of the world may dull our hearts to God's grace. That is why we need this regular act of remembrance as a physical reminder of the depth of His love and the cost of His sacrifice (Luke 22:19). Let us be keen to please Him in this: prepare, confess, repent, and thank Him in awe and wonder.
© Dr Paul Adams