The Self Examination Required During the Lord’s Supper

by Terry Wane Benton

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come" (I Corinthians 11:27-34).

The Lord’s Supper is not just to remember Jesus’ body and blood as a historical event, though it was indeed that. It is a memorial of self-reflection about what it means in my relationship with what He did for me on the cross. There is a proper manner of engagement and an improper manner of engagement. How have I appreciated and responded to this great love?

"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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body" (I Corinthians 11:27-29).

The key to proper engagement with Jesus’ body and blood is to use discernment regarding what Jesus’ body and blood should mean to me and whether I have properly shown the right spirit of love and conviction in reciprocation. Have I been “crucified with Christ” so that it is no longer I that lives but Christ living in me? (Galatians 2:20). Have I stood amazed in His presence and “wondered how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean?” Have I reflected on “how marvelous” and “how wonderful?” The “unworthy manner” is to let this memorial go by with no thought, no self-reflection at what His body and blood mean for me here and into eternity. To eat and drink with no discernment and serious reflection about how I have been delivered from the power of darkness, the shackles of sin, and condemnation by the wonderful love of Jesus on the cross is surely very offensive to God. To engage by merely eating and drinking with no serious reflection is unworthy of what this memorial is about. The manner of engagement with discerning self-examination is either worthy of the moments, or it is unworthy of the moments. We either draw near in heart, or we keep drifting away from the empowerment that could be ours through proper discerning thought and reflection.

You can be guilty of the body and blood by engaging the same indifference that some of the Jews and Romans had that day Jesus was unfairly judged and crucified. Many should have stood up for Him but didn’t want to be involved. Similarly, we may not want to be involved in His memorial Supper to show appreciation for standing up for Him now. We bring “judgment to ourselves” by being flippant, and unengaged, for we are always judged by how we show appreciation or lack of appreciation for the greatest act of love we could ever be privileged to know and discern.

"For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world" (I Corinthians 11:30-32).

The weakness or strength of a church is related to how close we keep our minds, hearts, and souls to Jesus and His great sacrifice of love for us. Many are sick in spiritual emptiness because they never learn to discern Jesus’ body and blood and reflect inwardly about what it could and should mean to us personally. It is engaged with little to no reflection, becoming an empty ritual, and this accounts for how we failed to judge ourselves concerning the cross of Jesus. Even Paul’s words are given by the Spirit to awaken us and chasten our spirits so that we are not getting closer to the world in heart but closer to the heart of God.

"Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come" (I Corinthians 11:33-34 NKJV).

This is the summary of two things to always keep in mind:

  1. wait for one another to engage the Lord’s Supper together, and
  2. leave matters of appetite for the home to address before or after the church assembly.

The church is not about feeding your bodies but about keeping our souls accountable to God and each other. You have a proper place for common meals in places other than the church assembly. This, the Lord’s Supper, is an uncommon meal for the heart. Make the moment count! Reflect on what God thinks about how you are engaged or not engaged with great adoration for Jesus and what He was doing for you on the cross. Make it count as moments of communion between your heart and the heart of God! That will keep you strong and alive with faith and love in the Lord!

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