Did you observe Memorial Day, our celebration of the sacrifices Military people have made for our country this past weekend? Did it culminate in a meal, perhaps a barbecue? We should always remember and honor our military. God bless everyone who serves and all those who have served in the past!
The third Saturday of the month, at a Prison nearby, we carry “The Lords Table” inside to join with inmates in remembrance of the sacrifice God made in sending His son Jesus to die for us.
‘And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” ‘ Lu. 2219
Nearly every month — owing I suppose to the ever-present interference of cult teachers exerting their influence — we hear an argument about this or that regarding those who eat the meal “unworthily.”
‘So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.’ 1 Cor. 11:27
… Or that prayers of ‘consecration’ over the bread and juice transmute the meal into the actual body and blood of Christ. What could be less biblical? You must know in your heart this isn’t true! (There I’ve just offended great swaths of Christian Tradition … well, so did Jesus offend the Jews.)
Being fed in a temporal sense (bread and juice) is a picture of being sustained in the spiritual realm. It’s a metaphor. If I give you a photo of my family and I say “This is my family, these are their names” — you’re not confused. You don’t think it’s actually my family. You know its a picture. Christ gave this picture for us to help remember the awesome sacrifice He was about to make. I remember my family by looking at their photo. I remember Christ’s sacrifice by eating His meal.
What we cannot do for ourselves, Jesus has done once and for all. We were starving, deprived — and Jesus saved us from the agony of death in sin. When we join together observing “The Lords Table” we remember that “all of it” — that the Gospel of Christ is true. It’s true: That His death and resurrection happened and that He has promised to come again.
But an important part of this remembrance is that it binds us together — as a Church. The body of Christ. By meeting to receive this meal we can recognize our brothers.
Those verses in 1 Corinthians 11 – where the word “unworthily” appears twice — are extremely important. This is the only place the word is used, and if you follow them back through translation to the Greek meaning you’ll discover the direct inference is “unenlightened.”
There is no status, no preparation, no catechism, no pronouncement of man, priest or prophet — that can confer on me any kind of worthiness to receive the body and blood of Christ. I was never worthy, I am not worthy. I will never be worthy.
‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.’ Eph. 2:8
The only thing I can do is believe. I can let the light of Christ live in me. And I can remember the sacrifice, the great price paid for my freedom.
If I eat this meal, thinking I’m worthy owing to membership, or my denomination or that by performing the ritual I’ll be saved? Then I do so in an “unenlightened” manner and the consequences are explicit. It’s the ultimate sin really — truly blasphemy — to refuse the Grace of God by ignoring the message Jesus brought from His Father.
‘ “Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.’ Mark 10:52
Blasphemy is a private matter between God and man. It’s personal. A matter of relationship. Blasphemy cannot result from eating a piece of bread and few sips of juice.
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” Matthew 7:21-23