Sermon 2699. Examination Before Communion
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, NOVEMBER 4, 1900.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, OCTOBER 2, 1881.
"But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." 1 Corinthians 11:28.
IT can never be too clearly understood that spiritual ordinances are only for spiritual persons. Baptism and the Lord's Supperbelong to Believers and to none but Believers. It is an evil thing for any church to give either the one or the other of thosetwo ordinances to those who are destitute of "repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." There wouldhave been no necessity for Paul to say, "Let a man examine himself," if the Lord's Table were free to all. If every man mightcome to it, then every man might come simply because he was a man, and he would have no occasion to examine himself at all.The very fact that there is an examination, presupposes that there are some persons who have no right to "eat of that bread,and drink of that cup." And our own personal examination is in order that we may discover whether we have a right to participatein this ordinance or not. Therefore, let every man clearly understand that the Lord's Table is for the Lord's people. As ina man's house, his table is for his family, so, in God's House, His Table is for His family, and if we do not belong to thefamily of God, we have no right to draw near to His Table at all!
I fear that there are some unconverted people who imagine that they have performed a meritorious action when, on certain daysin the year, they have, as they say, "taken the sacrament." But, my Friend, if your heart is not right with God, you werea thief and a robber when you came to His Table and took what He provided for His children alone! You did not come in by theDoor, that is, Christ, but you climbed up some other way, and you were really sinning against God in that very act which yousupposed to have some merit in it! Unless you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Unless you have been born again by the effectualoperation of the Holy Spirit. Unless you truly belong to the household of faith, as you have no part in the spiritual mystery,so you have no right to the outward and visible sign by which that mystery is set forth. All this is implied in our text,"Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
The ordinance of the Lord's Supper is not meant for the conversion of sinners. It is not intended to lead men to salvation,but it is intended for those who are already saved, those who are converted. I have heard of unconverted persons coming tothe Lord's Table and the solemn impressions experienced there have led them to repentance and faith in Christ. We must alwaysremember that God works how He pleases and, in such cases as those, He overlooked the communicants' great mistake and evenin the midst of their error He worked according to the Sovereignty of His Divine Grace. Yet this is no excuse for ungodlypersons venturing to come to the Communion Table, for they will be eating and drinking condemnation to themselves! And ifit should please God to forgive the transgression and to save their souls, this will be an exception, and a surprising workof Grace, for it is not according to the Law of the Master's House. If any of you think that by being baptized and comingto the Lord's Table, you will thereby be saved, you "err, not knowing the Scriptures." You have no right to either ordinancetill you have first come to Christ and are saved. But when you have passed from death unto life, when you have been washedin the Savior's precious blood, then is your time to come forward and, by being buried with Christ in Baptism, acknowledgeyour conversion and, by sitting with your fellow Believers at His Table and meditating upon His wondrous Sacrifice, of whichthe bread and the wine are the significant symbols, feed the spiritual life that God has imparted to you.
Having given you this plain warning, I now come to my text, which teaches us, first, the objective of the examination commandedin it-"Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." Secondly, it points out to usthe matter of that examination. And, thirdly, the duty that follows after the examination-"Let him eat of that bread, anddrink of that cup."
I. First, our text teaches us THE OBJECTIVE OF THE EXAMINATION COMMANDED IN IT-"Let a man examine himself, and so let himeat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
The distinct objective of the examination is that the communicant may eat and drink at the Lord's Table. In some churches,there is a practice which is called, "fencing the tables," defending the Table of the Lord against the approach of impropercharacters. This is a very right and necessary thing to do, but some ministers have so guarded the table that very few havedared to come to it-and those who have come have often been persons who had more conceit than Grace, while the better part-thetruly humble and broken-hearted ones-have been frightened away! It would appear, from the exhortations of these ministers,as if Paul must have said, "Let a man examine himself, but never let him eat of this bread, nor drink of this cup. Let himso examine himself that he shall come to the conclusion that he has no right to sit at the Table of the Lord and, therefore,shall go his way feeling that he is utterly unworthy of that high privilege." Beloved Friends, this is not my objective inpreaching from this text, nor should it be yours in obeying it. Examine yourselves with the hope and the strong desire thatyou may be permitted to come to the Lord's Table. Do not let the examination take so morbid and melancholy a form that youalmost look out for causes of self-suspicion, but the rather, especially as many of you have known the Lord for years, letyour examination be made in order that you may come aright to the table, that you may come there in a right spirit, and notthat you may be compelled to stay away. "Let a man examine himself," and then, in the spirit of self-examination, let himeat of this bread, and drink of this cup.
Distinctly remember that the qualification for a place at the Lord's Table is notperfect sanctification. If it were, I amafraid that there would not be a soul here so qualified. And if there should be one who declared that he had attained to sucha state, I should expect that he would prove to be the biggest hypocrite in the place! Recollect, also, that the qualificationfor coming to the Lord's Table is not the full assurance of faith. There might be some genuine believers in Christ who wouldnot be able to commune if that were the qualification, but, happily, it is not. The least grain of true faith in Christ qualifiesyou! You are not to examine to see whether it is full noontide with your soul-have you even a little twilight? Have you beenquickened into new life so much as to have a holy hunger and thirst for more of the Christ who is already yours? If so, youmay come to His Table. Do not arrange the examination in such a way as to exclude yourselves unnecessarily. I will not, ifI can help it, put it in such a style as to exclude one of you who ought to be admitted. On the contrary, my soul longs thatthe whole of you might truly feel and say, "Yes, we do love the Lord, and we are anxious to come and obey His command, andthus show His death in remembrance of Him."
Well, that is the first great objective of this examination-not that you may be made to stay away, but that you may come,if you are really entitled to sit at the Table of your Lord!
Note, next, that another objective of this examination is that every man may know that the responsibility of his coming tothe Lord's Table rests wholly with himself ' 'Let a man examine himself, and so let him come." Not, "Let a man go to his ministerand be examined." Or, "Let him go to his priest and make confession." No, no! "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat."I can give no man a certificate which really entitles him to come to the Communion Table. In my office as pastor, it is myprivilege to receive members into this Church. But, by so doing, we never mean to imply that we thereby certify that theyare really converted. That is a matter which must rest with each man and his judgment of himself, if he is a wise man, willnot be the opinion of his minister, but the verdict of his own conscience in the sight of God. Come to this Communion Table,Brothers and Sisters, as individuals! Come, each one, feeling, "I alone am responsible to God for what I am about to do. Takingthe Word of God as my guide, I judge myself to be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, I am about to sit atthis table."
I think that of all abominations, the idea of sponsors, either in Baptism or the Lord's Supper, is the most detestable. Noman can be a sponsor for another! Everyone of you must individually stand before God and no godfathers or godmothers can,without telling a lie, promise for you that you shall keep God's holy Commandments, and walk in the same all the days of yourlife. It is not in their power, neither is it in the power of any minister to give you the right to come to the Lord's Tableor to the other Christian ordinance-"Let a man examine himself." Take the responsibility upon your-
self, each one of you, for so the Apostle puts it, and this will help you to come aright to the Table of the Lord. You arebidden to examine yourself, in order that you may come under an overwhelming sense that it is your own act and deed- thatyou are not here because your mother came or your father came-that you are nothere because you are entitled to come by virtueof your church membership, but you are here, each woman, each man, each one of you, for himself or herself, having searchedyour own heart and asked God to search it, to see whether you ought to come, or not!
In the next place, the objective of this examination is that everyone may come to the Lord's Table most solemnly- not flippantly,thoughtlessly, heedlessly-but that each communicant may say, "I am going to eat of that bread and drink of that cup in resemblanceof my dear Lord whom I really know and trust. There is no mockery or mere formality in this act. I come in downright earnest,bringing my heart with me, for I have looked into my heart, I have examined myself, and I take upon myself the responsibilityof saying, 'Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.'" So this examination means that you are to come to the Lord'sTable with deep solemnity.
And, surely, it also means that every communicant must come most humbly, for the result of any true examination of ourselvesmush be deep humiliation of spirit. As for myself, I must confess that I am not what I want to be, and I am not what I oughtto be. I can only come to the table declaring myself to be an unworthy one in whom the Grace of God is indeed magnified. ThatHe should ever have put me among His children and permitted me to call Him, my Father, will be a wonder to me throughout eternity!See, then, the blessed result of this self-examination when it lays you low at the foot of the Cross, and makes you come tothe Lord's Table, not boasting, "I have a right to be here," but humbly and gratefully saying, "I do indeed adore the Graceof God which has made it possible that such an one as I am should be allowed to sit down with the family of God at His banquetingtable of love."
Another result of the examination which is aimed at is that we may come to the Lord's Supper intelligently, knowing why wecome and what reason we have to come, and on what footing we come. Examining yourself you will discover your soul-hunger andlearn that you come to be fed. Examining yourself, you will discover spiritual life and understand that you come that it maybe nourished by your meditation upon the Person of your Lord. You know, in holy ordinances, almost everything depends uponthe right understanding of them. There is no efficacy in water, whether it is applied by immersion or by aspersion-the valueof the ordinance depends upon the conviction which the man has when he is baptized-that it is the will of his Lord that heshould thus confess his faith. There is nothing efficacious in that bread or that wine. The bread has no more virtue in itthan there is in any other bread which the baker ever made. The wine is, in itself, no more a means of Grace than any otherwine that ever was pressed out from the vintage. It is the thought that shall be excited by that bread and that wine thatwill be the benefit-it is the mind seeing through the visible sign that which is inwardly signified. Hence it is that ourLord calls us to this self-examination, that our intellect may be stirred and our mind may be prepared, under the influenceof the Divine Spirit, to understand the meaning of that which He puts upon the table for us to feed upon.
And, just once more, this examination is intended that we may come to the table with an appreciative joy. Let me explain thatrather long word. You know if you come to the Communion Table saying, "I do not know whether I have a right to be here," youcannot enjoy yourself. If I were sitting at a man's table, and I said to myself, "I am afraid I have made a mistake. I donot believe he ever invited me," I should feel very uncomfortable while I was there, and I should be wonderfully glad whenthe dinner was over. But if, as I sat at the table, I said, "I know the gentleman invited me. I have his invitation with meand he is smiling upon me, for he is glad that I am here." That is how I like to feel at the Lord's Table-to know, after examination,that I am in my right place. Then I soon forget all about my right to be there and all I think of is that which is on theTable, and about my Lord who has invited me, and how I can enjoy the sweetest communion with Him, and partake of the daintieswhich He has put before me.
I want you, Brothers and Sisters, to examine yourselves till you come to this conclusion, "We are not perfect, but we believein Jesus. We are not yet fully assured, but we have a humble hope in Him. We are not the strongest of His warriors, but wehave His life in us-we do know Him, and trust Him." Then you will feel, "The Good Shepherd feeds the lambs as well as thefull-grown sheep of His flock, so we may come to Him for all we need." Then you will have nothing to think about as to yourself,but all you will have to do will be to say, "My Lord here gives me His flesh to eat, and His blood to drink, after a spiritualfashion. In these outward types, I will now feed upon Him. The fact that God took our nature upon Himself shall be as foodto my soul. The equally blessed fact that being found in fashion as a Man, He took
my sins upon Himself and suffered in my place shall be like generous wine to me. I will drink it down! I will feed upon it!I will live by it!" Then you will have joy and gladness in your soul and this supper will be what it really is-no funeralfeast, but a banquet of delight for all the friends of Christ! "Let a man examine himself with the view that he may so eatand so drink when he comes to the Table of the Lord.
II. Now, very briefly, I must dwell upon the second point which is this-THE MATTER OF THE EXAMINATION. "Let a man examinehimself." Listen, Brothers and Sisters, while I ask you a few questions which will help you to examine yourselves.
First, then, here is a spiritual feast. Am I spiritually alive to partake of it? Dead men have no right to come to a banquet.Am I, then, spiritually alive? Have I ever been quickened and renewed in heart and life? Has the Holy Spirit brought me intothe spiritual world? If so, have I an appetite for this sacred feast? Do I hunger after Christ? Do I long for the Water ofLife? Then I may come to this table, for here my Lord supplies the needs of those who are the living in Zion. The dead cannotfeed on the richest dainties-corpses can neither eat nor drink. And dead sinners may not come to this festival for the living.But, if there is even a spark of spiritual life in you, though you are faint and sick, come along, for you have a right tocome!
The next question is-Here is a feast, but am I a friend of the Lord who is the Host at this table? The Lord Jesus invitesall His friends to come to His banquets. Am I, then, His friend? And is He mine? Have I ever taken Him to be my Savior andam I trusting in His precious blood for my salvation? And then, in return, do I love Him and love His cause, and love Hispeople? Do I commune with Him as friend communes with friend? Do I talk familiarly with Him? Am I on intimate terms with Him?Does He know me, and do I truly know Him? If so, I need not be afraid to come to His Table, for every friend of His is welcomethere. Ask yourself these three questions. Am I alive? Have I a spiritual appetite? Is Christ my friend?
Next, this feast is meant to set forth the death of Christ. That fact suggests another question. Do I really believe in Hisdeath? Of course, I believe that He died, but do I really, myself, trust Christ's death to save me? Do I believe that by Hisdying, He offered to God such an Atonement for the sins of men that whoever believes in Him is justified from all things?And have I, by faith, appropriated to myself His Atonement so that I am thereby justified in the sight of God? If so, I maycome to His Table, for I am only doing, then, in outward sign, what I am really also doing in my inward spirit.
Further, our Lord Jesus bids us "do this" in union with all His people. That suggests the question-Am I one of His people,and one with them? Do I really love them? The Apostle Paul says, "We being many are one bread"-"one loaf-and "one body." Isour union as close as this? I think, Brothers and Sisters, that if you have any malice or ill-will towards any of your fellowChristians, or towards anyone else, you ought not to come to the Lord's Table while you are in that condition of heart. Youremember that Christ said, "If you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has anything againstyou; leave there your gift before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offeryour gift."
The same rule applies to those who would be guests at this sacred feast. It is a hard thing for men to sit at the same tableand all the while to be, as it were, eating one another's hearts out. No, no-there must be true love among the brotherhood-andif I have not love to all the people of God, I have no right to come to the Table of the Lord. Once more, this cup is theNew Covenant in Christ's blood. That Truth of God leads me to ask another question-Am I in covenant with God in Christ Jesus?Have I accepted the Covenant of Grace? Have I yielded myself up to God by bringing to the great Father the Sacrifice of Christwhich is the seal and ratification of the Covenant? Do I regard myself, at this moment, as one of the covenanted ones to whomthe promises of God belongs? If so, I may certainly drink of the cup of the Covenant!
Moreover, Jesus bids us observe this ordinance in remembrance of Him. Now, a man cannot remember what he never knew. Here,then, is another question-Do I know Christ? Have I ever seen Him with the eye of faith? Did I ever behold Him hanging on thetree and feel the burden of sin roll off my shoulders as I witnessed His amazing sufferings? In a word, do I really know Christ?Do I speak with Him in prayer? Do I commune with Him and tell Him my griefs and sorrows? Or, am I a stranger to Him? A strangerto Christ may not eat of this feast, but he who is acquainted with the great Lord who sits at the head of the Table may freelycome and eat and drink that which is set before him.
These are some very plain and simple questions which I beg you to put to yourselves. And if you do not know Christ, if youdo not love Him, if you do not love His people, if you are not trusting in His blood, if you have never been born again, ifyou have nothing of the Grace of God in you, get far away from His Table, I pray you, for you would only be eating and drinkingcondemnation to yourselves if you partook of the emblems of Christ's broken body and shed blood! But if you have the leastevidence of a work of Grace within your soul. If you have the feeblest faith-as long as it is true faith-if you are reallyresting in Jesus for salvation, come and welcome to His Table-
"How happy are Your servants, Lord,
Who thus remember You!"
III. This brings me to the third head, which is THE DUTY AFTER THE EXAMINATION-"Let a man examine himself, and so let himeat of that bread, and drink of that cup."
If you can satisfactorily answer all the questions I have given you, it is your duty to come to the Table of your Lord andto eat of the bread and drink of the cup! I know some professing Christians-I hope they are really Christians, it is not myplace to judge them-but the commands of Christ seem to be very trifling and inconsiderable things with them. What would youthink of anyone who said that he was a disciple of a certain teacher, but he did not care to observe his teacher's commands?Why, you would say that he was trifling with his master! Now, the Lord Jesus Christ spoke thus plainly concerning one of thetwo ordinances which He instituted-"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved." Yet we have met with a number of Hisprofessed followers who say, "Well, that Baptism is not a saving ordinance." Who said that it was? Would you attend to itif it were? Then, if you only mean to do what will pay you, your obedience will be selfish and of small value! Are you reallya disciple of Christ? It should be the delight of a disciple to do what his Master bids him, whether there is any visiblebenefit to him in it, or not. It is not for you or me, Beloved, to question or quibble at anything which our Lord has commanded,but promptly to obey it.
Another person says, "Well, I never come to the Communion Table, but I am just as good as those people who do." My dear Friend,I will not quarrel with you about your own goodness, but I generally find that those who think that they are good are notas good as they think they are. However, if the Lord Jesus Christ has given you this plain command, "This do in remembranceof Me," I ask you, believing it to be commanded by Christ, how can you call yourself His servant when you refuse to do whatHe bids you? I am not putting the question too strongly. You know that I have no faith in the saving power of ordinances.Do I not, as clearly as I can speak, constantly warn you against that error? Still, if it were only the picking up of a straw,and if Christ had commanded it, I do not see how a man could be sure that he was the servant of Christ if he did not pickup that straw when his Master told him to do it! The less the thing is in itself, the more does it become the test of ourobedience. If these ordinances were essential to salvation, then everybody would observe them with the view of being savedby them, but, inasmuch as they do not save, and were never meant to save, but are, in fact, only the privileges of those whoare saved, the observance of them becomes a test of a man's true discipleship, for it makes it clear whether he will obeyChrist or not.
"Well," says one, "I have examined myself and I do not feel that I have a right to come to the Lord's Table." Then, do notcome, my Friend, as you are. Still, it is your duty to get into such a state that when you again examine yourself, you shallbe able to say, "Now I have a right to come," for, if you have not a right to come to the Lord's Table, then you have no rightto enter Heaven! If you are not fit to commune with the saints on earth, you certainly are not fit to commune with the saintsabove! So look to that matter at once, I pray you. And look to it very carefully.
After examination, it appears from the text that it is the duty of every man who has examined himself to eat of the breadanddrink of the cup. I t is very noteworthy that the Holy Spirit should have moved the mind of Paul to put it in this shape-"lethim eat of that bread, and drink of that cup." Especially observe that he mentions the cup. "No," says the Roman Catholicpriest, "it is not for you. When I go up to the altar, as a priest, I drink the wine in that cup. It is not for you, you mustnot meddle with it. The cup does not belong to the laity."
What shall I say to such a man? With what burning words shall I express the indignation that I feel against the apostate churchthat dares to withhold what Christ has so freely given? "There," says He to His disciples, "all of you drink of that cup"-butin comes a man who pretends to be a priest, and he says, "You shall not touch it." By that mark, as by many more, can thebeast and the antichrist still be discovered this day, even as of old! Still does the cry ring out from Heaven, "Come outof her, My people, that you be not partakers of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues," for
plagues must come upon the arrogant priesthood that dares to take away from God's people that which Christ puts on His Table,and of which He says, "Drink you all of it."
It is your duty, as Christians, to see to it that you eat of this bread, and drink of this cup, after you have examined yourselvesand proved that you are really on the Lord's side!
I will not prolong this exhortation further than to remind you that it is not only our duty to eat and drink, but "so to eatand drink as to discern the Lord's body. "Let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.""So." That is one of the biggest little words in the English language! You remember one text where it is very big-"God soloved the world"-measure that word if you can-"God so l oved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believesin Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Here, in our text, is another instance in which the word, "so," is verybig, indeed. After examination of himself, a man is "so" to eat-in the spirit which that examination produces, which I haveshown you is one of solemnity, humiliation and earnest delight in Christ-"so let him eat," so as to discern the Lord's body,which means just this. I take that bread, and I say, "This represents to me the great Truth of God that God was made flesh,and dwelt among us and that, today, He is one with men as well as one with God. I eat that bread and I feed spiritually onthat Truth."
Then I take the cup and I say, "This cup represents to me the blood of Christ, and I see in this cup the symbol that He died,'the Just for the unjust,' to bring me to God. I take this wine to represent the blood of His Atonement, the great fact thatHe died as my Substitute. And as I drink the wine and it goes into my inward parts, I take the precious Truth of Substitution-Christdying instead of me-and I put it into my very soul to nourish, to cherish and to delight me."
Now that is the way to discern the Lord's body and that is the way, "so," to eat of that bread, and to drink of that cup,as to be spiritually profited! May God, the Holy Spirit, help you to enter into the spirit of the ordinance, and to observeit as Christ ordained it, for His dear name's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: MATTHEW26:17-39; 1 CORINTHIANS11:20-34.
Matthew 26:17, 18. Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto Him, Where do You wantus to prepare for You to eat the Passover? And He said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master says,My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My discip1es. See here the blending of Christ's humiliationand His Godhead. The Master had no room of His own in which He could keep the Passover. He had not even where to lay His head,yet such was His power that He had only to send messengers to one whom He knew, though perhaps the man did not know Him-andas soon as ever the message was delivered, the large upper room, furnished and prepared, was at once freely tendered for thecelebration of the supper! Jesus Christ, even in His lowest estate, had the hearts of all men beneath His control.
19-21. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover Now when the evening had come,He sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me. This wasa very unpleasant thought to bring into the midst of those who were gathered there for the memorial feast, yet it was mostsuitable for such a message to be spoken at the Passover, for at its institution, the Lord said to Moses, "With bitter herbsthey shall eat it." And here was something bitter enough. I hope we shall have our Master's Presence at the Communion Table,yet it will be well for our joy to be sobered with such a painful thought as this-there may be a traitor with us even here.
22. And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and began, each one of them, to say unto Him, Lord, is it I? The habit of self-suspicion,rather than suspecting somebody else, is a good one. If there is anyone in this place who is going to commit a gross sin,why may it not be myself? The natural tendency of each one of us is to say, "I shall never do such a thing as that, I am sure."Ah, me, if Grace were truly reigning in our heart, we would, each one, be suspicious of himself and not of others, and thequestion of each one would be, "Lord, is it I?" Not one of the Apostles asked, "Lord, is it Judas?" or, "Is it So-and-So?"But everyone of them began to say to Him, "Lord, is it I?"
23, 24. And He answered and said, He that dips his hand with Me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of Man goesas it is written of Him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It had been good for that
man if he had not been born. Remember, this "woe" applies not only to Judas Iscariot, but to anyone else who betrays Christ.Oh, if, under the pressure of persecution, or if being bribed by some present pleasure, or if through our own natural ficklenesswe should betray our Master, woe unto us! May the Lord, by His almighty Grace, keep us from committing such a sin as that!If we do betray our Lord, it would have been better for us that we had not been born.
25, 26. Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, You have said it. And as theywere eating. While yet the paschal supper was proceeding. "As they were eating"-
26. Jesus took bread, and blessed it. Or, as the marginal reading says, "gave thanks for it"-
26. And broke it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. That is to say, "This represents Mybody." Our Lord could not possibly have meant that the bread was His body, for there was His body sitting whole and entireat the table-and they would have been astonished beyond measure if they had understood Him literally! But they did not doso, for they were well used too the Oriental custom of leaving out the word for, "like," and just saying, "It is so-and-so."Besides, Christ had also said, "I am the Door," "I am the Way," "I am the Good Shepherd." And there is also that strikingsentence, "I am the Rose of Sharon." No idiot ever understood these passages literally! And those are more foolish than idiotswho render literally these words-"This is My body." They are wickedly, wantonly and willfully foolish in thus misrepresentingour Savior's meaning!
27. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink you all of it. That is, "Drink from it, everyoneof you." Was this the institution of the Lord's Supper? Yes, but what do the Romanists say? Why, that the people may not drinkof the cup and so they keep it away from them! But our Savior says to this representative company of all His disciples, "Drinkyou all of it."
28. 29. For this is My blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you. Iwill not drink of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's Kingdom. "In that joyousday, that day of days when the battle will have been fought, and the victory won forever-then will I pledge you in My Father'sKingdom, and keep the feast with you forever!
30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Oh, how brave it was on the Master's part to singa Psalm just before He went out to be betrayed and to be crucified! Our second reading is also concerning the Lord's Supper.Turn to the first Epistle to the Corinthians, Chapter 11, verse 20. The Corinthian church, as I have often explained to you,was one that had no pastor. They had what is called "open" worship-everybody speaking who pleased, and there being no kindof government or discipline. They fell into every sort of conceivable disorder, and even the ordinance of the Lord's Supperwas utterly degraded among them. Here is what Paul wrote to them.
1 Corinthians 11:20, 21. When you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord's Supper. For in eating, everyone takes his own supper beforeothers, and one is hungry, and another is drunken. They had such low notions of the communion that they seemed to think thatif they ate together, each one bringing his own provision, they would be celebrating the Lord's Supper! But Paul would notagree to that. What did he say?
22. What? Have you not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not? Whatshall I say to you?Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. They may not have meant to do so ill, but they had falleninto all sorts of disorder and Paul, therefore, first rebuked them, and then explained to them the right observance of theordinance.
23-27. For I have received from the Lord that which I also delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in whichHe was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, Take, eat: this is My body which is brokenfor you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the newcovenant in My blood; this do you, as oft asyou drink it, in remembrance ofMe. For as often as you eat this bread, and drinkthis cup, you do show the Lord's death till He comes. Therefore whoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord,unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. Note carefully the wording of this verse; it is not, "Whoever,being unworthy, shall eat and drink." It is not an adjective, it is an adverb and relates, not so much to the person, as tothe way in which he came to the communion. Those who came to the Lord's Table in a half-drunken fashion. Those who regardedit merely as a common meal. Those who came there under false pretences. Those who came there not thinking of Christ's bodyat all-they would all be guilty of not discerning the Lord's body, and so of prostituting His ordinance, robbing it of itsdignity and solemnity by coming there in such a condition.
28, 29. But let a man examine himself, andso let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eats and drinksunworthily. We are all unworthy to come to the Table of our Lord. Who among us can possibly be thought to be worthy to cometo such a feast as this? But the Apostle is writing concerning those who came there carelessly, or without thought, or witha wrong motive. Years ago, you know, nobody could hold certain government or municipal offices without taking what was called"the sacrament." That was making the Lord's Supper a picklock to office! That was, indeed, to eat and drink it unworthily!Such, also, as come merely for the sake of getting alms, or out of custom or formality, but leave their hearts behind them,eat and drink unworthily and shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord"-as guilty as they were who actually crucifiedthe Savior. "For he that eats and drinks unworthily."
29. Eats and drinks "condemnation" to himself For that is how the Word of God should be rendered. 29, 30. Not discerning theLord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, andmany sleep. God
is always carrying out a system of discipline in His Church. To a large extent, He lets the world, for the present, sin asit pleases, but in His own family He uses the rod. And when the Lord's Supper is dishonored, there is no doubt that the sicknessand sleep here mentioned will follow. "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." Many even die-notthat they are lost-not that this sickness is sent as a curse, but as fatherly chastisement. And the death of many of its membersis often a chastisement to the church which is thus weakened by losing its best helpers.
31-34. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, thatwe should not be condemned with the world. Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat: tarry one for another Andif any man is hungry, let him eat at home; thatyou come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order whenI come.