For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:26)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You can take communion wrong. It’s not just that it’s rude to party in front of starving people. To eat or drink unworthily is to be guilty before Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead on the Last Day. That probably warrants more than a halfhearted hope that someone reads the fine print on a communion card hidden in the back of the pew. If we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. That says something about those who, misjudging, leave the gates wide open. Shall the apostle commend you in this? Nah.
Instead, he gives them the gift anyway. “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, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you…'” I’d have taken the gifts away. Paul only reinforces what the Sacrament is, what it does, and who it’s for.
It’s still Jesus for sinners. The Lord doesn’t dangle the forgiveness of sin in front of the worthy. To a church full of sinners, He gives a gift so powerful that it warrants care. This is not a chapter about withholding the Sacrament. It’s a promise that God won’t withhold His presence from His Church, even if there are wicked people there. That’s good news. God will not stand back from you. He meets you at the altar in Body and Blood to forgive your sins. If you would stand before Him in unbelief, woe to you, but your unbelief cannot deter Him from standing before you.
It shapes the proclamation you make of the Lord’s death. It’s not for the worthy. Jesus died for sinners. Jesus died for you. Your proclamation at the Supper is that your worth is found in the price paid for you: the very blood you drink for the forgiveness of your sins. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Unworthy though I am, O Savior, Because I have a sinful heart, Yet Thou Thy lamb wilt banish never, For Thou my faithful shepherd art: Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood Be for my soul the highest good! (“I Come O Savior, To Thy Table” LSB 618, st.3)
-Rev. Harrison Goodman is content executive for Higher Things.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.