Take a moment and think about the most special meals of your life. Think back to your childhood to those special family dinners. Think more recently about a lunch or dinner you had with a good friend, with your spouse, or with extended family.
I’m guessing that your capacity to remember such occasions has little to do with the food you actually ate that day. What made that lunch, or dinner, particularly special were the people gathered there. It was the relationships that drove the spirit of the meal.
There is a sense in which this is also true when Christians gather to celebrate The Lord’s Supper. We know this because of the way the apostle Paul responded to the Corinthians when they persisted with the ordinance amid much strife and division. Quite simply, they were making a mess of The Lord’s Supper to such an extent that Paul tells them “your meetings do more harm than good” (1Cor. 11:17).
Thankfully, Paul does more than merely scold the Corinthians—he instructs them toward a better way. After reviewing with them the words of institution which our Lord gave (11:23-26), he challenges them, “A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup” (11:28).
‘Why should we do this Paul?’ Because “anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself” (11:29).
I used to think that the call to “recognize the body of the Lord” meant that we had to concentrate on an image in our mind of Jesus hanging on the cross for our sins. That’s not what Paul is asking of us. The context makes Paul’s point clear—we are to be mindful of, we are to “recognize”, the body of believers present at the ordinance.
In other words, human relationships are a huge part of this gathering. The Corinthians missed this point entirely. The ordinance of Holy Communion is not simply intended to draw us closer to our Saviour, but it is designed to draw us closer to one another. The ordinance is designed to promote unity.
As we gather then at the Table, to remember the love of Christ poured out for us, may it inspire within us a deeper love and affection for the body of Christ—His people.
On Sunday, June 7, we will be celebrating The Lord’s Supper at