"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world." ~ 1 Corinthians 24-32
The Lord's Supper is a very important part of the Christian life. Though it is so important, it still is ignored by most Christians. And the ones that do, still do not understand the full implications of it. I am not an expert by any means, but I want to share with you some of the things our family has learned and practiced over the last several years.
At our church, we practice The Lord's Supper on a weekly basis. I think that most of you who have grown up in a church understand that it is an symbol of Jesus Christ's blood and body and a reminder of His sacrifice on the cross, as He explained to his disciples at the last supper (Matthew 26). If you do not fully understand this, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try our best to explain it.
What I wanted to focus on today are the verses that come after that.
"But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup."
Our family talked about this verse a lot when we were in a house church. Examining yourself means to search your inner being and ask God to reveal your sin to you. Then repent of your sins. Though Matthew 5:23-24 is not specifically talking about The Lord's Supper, the concept still applies.
"Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."
The purpose of this is that you should not partake in The Lord's Supper if you have sin harbored in your heart. If I am angry at my brother, I should not participate in the Lord's supper. Instead, I should refrain from it until I have made up with him. This concept will hopefully become more clear in a moment.
"For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep." (1 Corinthians 11:29-30)
If you are a Christian and have not been reconciled with your brother, you are drinking judgment to yourself. But more importantly, if you are a non-believer, God will judge you for taking of The Lord's Supper. It's not something you do because others are doing it. It is not something you do because you do not think it will hurt you. It is not something you do because you think it will make you look holy. God despises people who take of the cup in an unworthy manner. When Paul uses the words, "Many [of you] sleep," he is using the word sleep as in death. God does judge people that are still alive, and can kill you if He sees fit. Violating his commandment of taking the Lord's supper when you do not trust in Him alone is a huge offense in His eyes.
So, next time you partake in The Lord's Supper, make sure your heart is right and, more importantly, that you know Jesus as your personal Savior. If you do not know Him, I encourage you to get a Bible and read the book of John.