27Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.
It is interesting how the above seems to get confused in some people’s minds. I actually spoke to someone a couple of years back who believed he was unworthy to partake of the Passover. Naturally, I asked him what he meant. He felt that some recent problems of his were so sinful that he should not participate in the Passover ceremony. “In that case,” I answered, “No one should be partaking of the Passover.”
My friend was confused. He had actually come to the opposite conclusion that he should have. This is one reason I want to hammer on self-examination before Passover this year. The above passage, read correctly, should show how important it is.
First, Paul says that taking the bread and the cup unworthily makes one guilty of killing Jesus. Think about that, however. He died for our sins. We did kill Christ by our sins. If no one ever sinned, then there would be no need for an atoning sacrifice.
You know, much of what passes for Christianity actually downplays the importance of sin. “It’s all about relationship,” is often their cry. That may be true, but what separates us from God? Sin (Isa 59:2)! By minimizing their own sins, they are in effect severing any possible relationship with the God they claim to worship.
Unfortunately, none of us are immune from the carnal tendency to minimize our own sins and faults. That’s why Jesus used such exaggerations as beams one’s own eye vs the speck in another’s.
Paul goes on to say each person must “examine himself”. We must put our own spiritual states under the microscope.
Notice the conjunction is “but”. Don’t take it unworthily but examine yourself. How do you take it unworthily, then? By not examining yourself. How do you take it worthily? By examining yourself.
Paul goes on to say that by partaking of it unworthily, that is by not examining yourself, you are condemning yourself. You are not “discerning the Lord’s body.” Discerning is the spiritual discipline of differentiating between right and wrong, good and evil, and the things of God vs the things of the flesh.
By not examining yourself, then, you are doing two things:
1. You are not discerning what Christ’s sacrifice was all about. Sin was the cause for which Christ died. By minimizing sin, you are minimizing His sacrifice. That sacrifice is represented by the wine and the bread.
2. You are not discerning of where God is working. The Church is often described as Christ’s body. By not recognizing your own sin, but not repenting, by trivializing Christ’s sacrifice, you lose the ability to see where Christ is working and where His called out ones are.
This is serious stuff! Yet, some of the comments I’ve received since talking about Passover, repentance, tearing down idols and self-examination make me believe that there are some who just don’t get it. I fear some will take it unworthily because their pride will not allow them to view themselves in light of clear and plain Scriptures.
Yes, it is about relationship. God wants that relationship so badly that He sent Jesus to die a humiliating and painful death that few of us can comprehend. Jesus wants that relationship so badly that He was willing to go through with it, even checking His own fears just prior to the event. Remember, it was our sins He died to cover because without them being covered over, that relationship just wasn’t going to occur.
Do not underestimate what Jesus did for you and I.