The Cup

When Christ said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood,” he meant that his death guaranteed not only forgiveness, but His own indwelling presence. The new covenant guarantees that God is not simply way up there [though he is], but resides also in the very core of everyone who trusts in Christ. What Paul said of himself is true for every believer – “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”

~Excerpt, The Blackie Pulpit, 2012

In 1 Corinthians 11:17-32, the apostle Paul states:

“17 But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk.22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

27 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. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.”

Made clear is the importance and neccesity of self-examination prior to participation in the Lord’s Supper. So, what is it to heed apostolic instruction prior to the commemoration and proclamation of Christ’s death in eating a symbol of His body and drinking the sign of the New Covenant? This is my answer in light of contextual considerations:

To examine oneself before the Lord’s Supper is to ensure one ‘discerns the body.’ To ‘discern the body’ is to appraise and thus value the church in light of Christ and his work on the cross. So, fitting questions for self-examination are “Do I love those with whom I worship, or am I indifferent towards them?” “Am I more interested in being served, being phoned, being prayed for, etc. than serving, phoning, praying, giving, etc.” “Have I sinned against the body (or any member of it) and thus need to reconcile before I eat and drink?”  “Do I exalt myself over my brethren?” If ‘yes,’ then don’t eat and drink. “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

Holy Communion 2

As a dear elder friend once said to me, if there is ever a time when Christians should pray with eyes open and heads up, it should be in preparation for the Supper. With the reality of the body in view, both Christ and His church, we should embrace our brothers and sisters with our minds and hearts. After all, though there be many in the body, we share in one bread (1 Cor. 10:17).

On The Lord’s Supper: Christ Loves the Church & So Does His Body