Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #226 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 1 Corinthians 11 today and our focus is on Why is the Lord’s Supper Dangerous? We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new in listeners in Thanks for listening! Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Perez Uzzah – that place name sends chills down my spine, because it commemorates the place where a man named Uzzah, unthinkingly reached out to steady the Ark of the Covenant, and he was instantly killed for touching something that is utterly holy. This happened in the Old Testament, of course, and many people would assume that such things only happened in the Old Testament, but that would actually be far from the truth. In the book of Acts, we find both Ananias and his wife dropping dead when they told a lie to the church leadership in the presence of the Holy Spirit. And then we have 1 Corinthians 11:
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 This is why many are sick and ill among you, and many have fallen asleep. 31 If we were properly judging ourselves, we would not be judged, 32 but when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined, so that we may not be condemned with the world.
1 Corinthians 11:27-32
When you understand that ‘fallen asleep’ is a biblical metaphor used to indicate death, then you understand how serious Paul is being here. He is saying that some in the Corinthian church have become weak, sick and some have even died because of the way they handled the communion. Pause and let that sink in for just a moment. The New Testament is telling us here that, if we partake of communion in an improper way on Sunday morning, then we are running the risk of weakness, sickness or death. When I first read that in the Bible many years ago, I was quite shocked – especially so because I don’t recall having ever been warned about such a thing in the churches I grew up in. It might surprise you to hear that communion is such a serious matter, but we should know that it was at the very center of Christian practice in the first few centuries of the church. I believe the modern church takes the practice of communion far too lightly, and probably far too infrequently.
So communion is not merely a quarterly snack of crackers and juice that the church sometimes does. Rather, it is a life-giving, Gospel-proclaiming, faith-building, thankful heart-producing, Christ-focusing act that causes us to remember and proclaim that central truth of Christianity – that the body of Jesus was broken (instead of ours!) for sin; and the blood of Jesus was violently spilled out (instead of ours!) for our sin. When we eat and drink the bread and fruit of the vine, we proclaim the Lord’s death and resurrection and return together.
How can such an act be dangerous? I believe the answer to that question lies in the very importance of the act itself. Though some churches treat it as such, communion is no light matter, or peripheral issue. Listen again to Paul’s instructions on the matter:
17 Now in giving this instruction I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse…. 20 When you come together, then, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For at the meal, each one eats his own supper. So one person is hungry while another gets drunk! 22 Don’t you have homes in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I do not praise you in this matter!
1 Corinthians 11:17-22
It would appear that the central trouble to communion in the Corinthian church was related to disunity. Something was causing disunity – a lack of unity so profound that Paul is suggesting that they would be better off to not even have church on Sunday! What was the exact nature of this disunity? Apparently people were selfishly seeking to eat and drink and not allowing the whole church to eat and drink! Some were overeating, and some were getting drunk, while others were going hungry and thirsty. (which tells us that communion was more akin to a meal in the early church) Verses 33-34 confirm that this dynamic is going on:
33 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, welcome one another. 34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you gather together you will not come under judgment.
1 Corinthians 11:33-34
Thus the purpose of communion was not necessarily to eat a full meal and receive nutritional sustenance, it was more of an act of worship and remembrance – but some people were taking the opportunity to ‘pig-out’ and, in doing so, were being unwelcoming, rude, inhospitable and downright selfish.
The kind of pride and selfishness that characterized some of the Corinthians’ practice of eating and drinking all of the food before others could eat seems fairly innocuous to us, but it was deadly serious (literally!) to the Lord. There is no place in the Body of Christ for a ‘me-first’ kind of selfishness. And that gets us to the antidote and proper approach for communion, which was, according to Paul:
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself; in this way let him eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For whoever eats and drinks without recognizing the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29
Before communion happens, we must examine ourselves and reflect on the rest of the church, considering our place in the Body of Christ. As members/body parts – we are no more or less important than anybody else. We must honor them above ourselves, and we must put their needs ahead of our own. They must do the same for us, and when we are doing that in union – we become the beautiful, radiant, sweet-smelling Body of Christ – lovingly caring for each other in a kind of unity that proclaims the gospel of Jesus to a lost and dying world. (see John 17)
Bible Memory verses for the month of August: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, 5 is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. 6 Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-6
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