28 February 2015

1 Corinthians 11:23-34

“Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” (v. 28)

Psalm: Psalm 119:1-16


The theme of preparation and self-examination today is particularly focused in encouraging Christians to consider how they approach and participate in the Lord's Supper.

The church in Corinth was rife with tensions. The way in which its members behaved at times was questionable, and Paul has previously argued that there can be no Eucharist in a community whose members do not love one another. In these verses, he draws the attention of the Corinthians to the meaning of the Eucharist in which Jesus' death, an act of love, is proclaimed. Authentic remembering of this act is an imitation of Christ whereby God's saving love is made effectively present in the world until Jesus returns in glory.

Paul's challenge to the Corinthians is stark: if they are not united in love then they class themselves amongst those who murdered Jesus (verse 27). He stresses the importance of self-examination leading to reconciliation before receiving the Eucharist. Are those who eat the bread and wine together clear about their motives for doing so? Have they truthfully reflected on their relationships with others, and sought to act out of love? Self-evaluation and honesty before God is vital, but so is the quality and nature of their relationships with each other.

To Ponder

  • How do you prepare to share in the bread and wine of Holy Communion?
  • If you think of the community within which you most regularly participate in sharing the bread and wine, are there any of your relationships that may require some healing? If so, what might you do to begin to bring this about?

Bible notes author

The Revd Nicola Price-Tebbutt

Nicola Price-Tebbutt is a presbyter in the Methodist Church. She has previously served in circuit in Sheffield and as a tutor at Hartley Victoria College in Manchester.