Taking the Lord’s Supper in an Unworthy Manner

Taking the Lord’s Supper in an Unworthy Manner

Today I’m starting our communion by reciting the Words of Institution. They are the words the Apostle Paul uses to explain the Lord’s Supper, which we continue to use today.

1 Corinthians 11:23-24 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (ESV)

1 Corinthians 11:25-26 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (ESV)

After Paul explains what the Lord Supper is, he explains how to take the Lord’s Supper.

1 Corinthians 11:27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. (ESV)

This means there is a worthy manner and an unworthy manner to take the Lord’s Supper. What does Paul mean by an unworthy manner? In chapter 11, we see several examples of the early church taking the supper in an unworthy manner:1

    • In a manner that causes division (vs. 18-19, 22)
    • In a manner that is self-indulgent (vs. 21).
    • In a manner which is not in remembrance of Him (vs. 23-25)
    • In a manner that does not proclaim His death (vs. 26).
    • In a manner that does not discern (honor) the body and blood of Christ (vs. 29).

So if we’re not doing one of these things, chances are we may take the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner. But of course, this list isn’t exhaustive. So Paul gives us the next verse:

1 Corinthians 11:28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (ESV)

We should examine our hearts and repent of our sins. And if we find unrepentant sin, we should bring it to Jesus, receive forgiveness, and then take communion. If you’re afraid you’ve sinned, but can’t remember what you did, confess your general sinfulness and partake. We should not let fear of unknown sins keep us from the table. That kind of fear drives us away from Christ, not to him.

1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (NIV®)

Remember, at the end of the day, none of us are worthy in ourselves. We only find our worthiness in Christ, and empowered and enabled by the Holy Spirit, we can take communion in a worthy manner. So if you know Christ, you are worthy and may partake.

After I pray, and we begin to serve, please use this time to examine yourself but also as a time to remember your worthiness is found in Jesus Christ. *Let me pray.

Pastor Jonathan wrote this reflection on the Lord’s Supper.

  1. McAdams, Wes. Should You Take the Lord’s Supper if You Feel Unworthy? http://www.radicallychristian.com/should-you-take-the-lords-supper-if-you-feel-unworthy Published March 11, 2015. Accessed November 1, 2017.