Paul firmly addresses his readers in today’s section. He has heard of how they have been treating each other in regards to the Lord’s Supper, communion. Their actions and attitudes have brought about judgement.
For those of us who have been raised in the church this may be one of our most familiar passages. Verses 23—26 are the standard communion reading. It is the beautiful reminder of Jesus’ work on the cross for us.
Before Jesus even went to the cross He gave His disciples a physical reminder to hold onto for the rest of their lives. I wonder what the mood was like in the room when Jesus said those words to His disciples. Did they question His meaning? Did they joyfully participate? Did they hold the belief in their heart that they were going to step in and protect Him from death? Were the words Jesus used familiar references or completely new to them? Did His words bring joy or pain on that night?
For those who heard those words AFTER that first night, Jesus’ words bring both joy and sadness. The joy comes from knowing that everything He did He did for each of us. Not one of us was left out in His plan. Jesus’ blood was poured out as a sacrifice for each one of us. His body was broken so all of us can receive healing physically and spiritually.
But the words also bring sadness recounting what Jesus had to suffer in order to purchase those gifts for us. We remember the whipping that tore flesh from His back. We consider how many times He was spit upon or mocked. We cringe as we contemplate the nails being pounded into His hands and feet. We catch our breath as we visualize how His breath was robbed from Him by the weight of His hanging body. We cry as we watch the crown of cruel thorns being driven onto His head. But worse than all of that was the heartbreaking moment when even His own Father turned away. The abject abandonment Jesus felt at that moment breaks our hearts. And to think He did it all for me and you. That is love!
The Corinthian church had forgotten the story behind the gathering. When they met together they had a “pot luck” instead of communion. When I was growing up the joke was that a “pot luck” was if you were lucky enough to get to the pot before everything was gone. This church followed that rational but they took it even further. Any pot luck I ever attended, people were polite and took small servings to ensure there would be plenty for others. They also brought something to share. In the group Paul is correcting those in the head of the line cared nothing about those following them. Their only concern was for themselves. That attitude is completely opposite of Jesus’ intentions.
Jesus came to serve those who followed Him. He made sure each and every person was cared for before tending to His own needs. He would willingly go without to ensure others didn’t. THAT is the attitude He calls us to have.
Paul tells his readers that their behavior is so egregious that they are receiving just punishment for it. They don’t even have to wait until judgement day. They are reaping their “reward” immediately. God takes Jesus’ final act with His disciples very seriously and those who dishonor Jesus dishonor Him. He WILL bring them back in line.
Lord Jesus, thank You for giving me this tangible reminder of all You did that day. Forgive me for every time I didn’t take the time to fully appreciate Your gifts. It has been so long since I have taken communion since I don’t have a church body any longer. I miss gathering together to learn about You and sing Your praise. My husband’s health prevents us from attending. Thank You for being with me even in my home though. Please forgive me for not giving You my full attention when my husband is saying grace. Help me stop and take time to reflect on ALL You have done in my life. Help me serve others as You served me.