The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” —1 Corinthians 11:23-25
From these verses we can discover what you might call the “ABCs” of worship at the Lord’s Table. It is amazing how we can do something for years and years and think we know so much about it, only to find suddenly that we really know so little.
The first thing we can see is that worship at the Lord’s Table was initiated by Jesus Christ Himself. It is the Lord’s own design.
The second main thing we can see is that true worship at the Lord’s Table only happens when certain conditions are in operation. Paul gives a series of sober exhortations, and whether or not we apply them will determine whether we will actually worship at the Lord’s Table.
The first thing is that the eating and drinking be done in a worthy manner.
The second thing that must happen is that there must be self-examination. Let these three words help us, then, with our self-examination: self-importance, self-isolation, and insensitivity. We will have passed the test when we refuse to claim that we are in the right over another Christian, when we are at peace with all our Christian brothers and sisters, and when we feel abiding compassion for those who don’t have as much as we have.
The third exhortation is that there should be a discerning of the Lord’s body (v. 29). What is actually meant by “the Lord’s body”? Simply, it is feeling Jesus near. It is not seeing physical bread and calling it Jesus. It is not seeing physical wine and calling it Jesus’ blood.
When we partake of the bread and the wine, Jesus draws near. We know this because He said that He would be there. And the kingdom of Jesus is here, now. As Christians we are members of it. So when we come to the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is there. The question to ask is, do we see Him?
Excerpted from Worshipping God (Hodder & Stoughton, 2004).