1 Corinthians 11:23-34 NKJV
23 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; 24 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.” 25 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.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
27 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. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
Communion is a sacred sacrament instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, and our Bible passage today serves as the basis for the “Words of Institution” and emphasizes the importance of self-examination and proper respect for the Lord’s Supper.
Verses 23-25 are at the heart of our liturgical “Words of Institution.” In these verses, the apostle Paul provides a concise and powerful account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper by Jesus Himself. These words are a precious reminder of Christ’s sacrificial love and the forgiveness of sins offered through His body and blood.
However, as we move further in the passage, we encounter Paul’s admonition regarding self-examination and proper respect for the Lord’s Supper. These verses emphasize the need for those partaking in the Sacrament to engage in self-examination and discernment. Confessional Lutherans hold to a “closed communion” policy, guided by the Lutheran Confessions, to ensure that those who approach the Lord’s Table have previously been properly instructed, examined, and absolved. This practice is rooted in the desire to follow the apostolic teaching and safeguard the sacredness of the Sacrament. It is an act of love and pastoral care to help believers approach the Lord’s Supper with reverence, understanding, and faith.
Thus, today we are reminded that Holy Communion is rooted in the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the importance of self-examination and proper respect for the Sacrament, which are key reasons behind our “closed communion” policy. So, we approach the Lord’s Table with hearts prepared, recognizing the incredible gift of forgiveness through Christ’s body and blood. And we continue to hold fast to the teachings of the Lutheran Confessions, which guide us in faithfully administering and receiving this blessed Sacrament.
Let us pray: O Lord God, heavenly Father, pour out your Holy Spirit on your faithful people. Keep them steadfast in your grace and truth, protect and comfort them in all temptation, defend them against all enemies of your Word, and bestow on Christ’s Church militant your saving peace; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.