More than bread
By Derrick Johnson
Taking communion is an important part of the Christian faith. It is a ceremony that is shared throughout the world in many Christian denominations. In 1 Corinthians Chapter 11 Paul is writing to the Corinthian church concerning their conduct during the Lord’s Supper. He goes on to say that anyone who eats this bread and drinks this cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. (v27)
So how does someone who is a part of the Body eat or drink in an unworthy manner? Now we understand from the scripture (Romans 4) that our worthiness and our righteousness is not based on works but faith. So, what does Paul mean by unworthy manner? The answer is found in verse 29 where Paul is referring to someone not discerningthe Lord’s Body.
To discern means to identify, recognized, or distinguish. When Paul talks about not discerning the Lord’s Body, he means not recognizing the symbolism behind the bread and the cup. In other words, members of the Corinthian church were supposed to be assembling for the purpose of communion, instead some of them were coming together just to eat.
In most churches when communion is served, it is often served with a small piece of bread and a small cup. However, in Paul’s day when communion was served, the participants received a large piece of bread and a large cup of wine. The portions that was served were considered meal sizes, so some of the participants were in a hurry eat, not discerning the true purpose of the assembly.
When a person was in a hurry to eat, they were not discerning the Lord’s sacrifice therefore taking communion in an unworthy manner. This is why Paul said in verse 33 “If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.”
In verse 24 Jesus talks about His Body being broken for us… why was His Body broken? Isaiah 53:5 says He was wounded for our transgression and bruised for our iniquities… and by His stripes we are healed. The purpose of communion is to discern the Lord’s Body. When we do this, we are applying health and healing to our bodies, and acknowledging Jesus’s sacrifice for us.