Before Jesus went to the cross to be crucified for our sins, He shared His last meal with His disciples in the upper room. During this meal, He communed with the disciples and explained what was going to happen to Him. He also gave instructions for them (and us today) to participate in a communion in remembrance of Him — until His return.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.” (Luke 22:19-20, KJV).
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians (a church he had planted with the Lord’s help and direction) he addresses their unique quarrels and thereby strives to teach them to always look at the big picture — which is Christ. As a church, they were (just as we are today) the body of Christ — working together for the glory of the Lord.
Paul speaks to the Corinthians as if they were professionals at a seminar. He does not address them as if they were unsaved (little children), but as intelligent people who are able to comprehend a life style in Christ. In this letter, he is not training the people on soul-winning, good works, tithes, etc., but on how to live as “one Church under God.” They had already individually professed their belief in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, had formed a church, and now needed some bylaws. The people knew that they were sanctified, in that Jesus had already fulfilled the law, redeeming us with His saving grace. New converts needed to be taught how to live (now that the law had been fulfilled). They needed everyday answers to the question, “Now what?” They understood that they were to love God with all of their hearts and to love their neighbor as themselves, but they needed instruction as to how to go about it.
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say. The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” (I Cor 10:13-21).
He reassures the people that there is no temptation that God can’t help us through. He will always give us a way out. Paul reminds us that communion is a blessing from God. Then Paul address the issue of things offered in sacrifice. In the original Greek form, this is one word that means “consecrated to the deity or sacred.” So, if the Gentiles were offering sacrifices to sacred deities, why could Christians not partake of this custom? Because the Gentiles worshipped many gods and goddesses, even to an unknown god (just to cover all their bases). This offering of sacrifices was sacrilegious in the eyes of the God. Therefore, the Corinthians (and all Christians) were forbidden to partake in the sacrifices to idols and then try to take communion with Jesus Christ. This meant that if they attended a pagan feast and participated in it, they could not partake of Holy Communion. For us today, we can view this as a chastisement against hypocrisy and superstitions as well. For instance, we cannot live for the devil during the week by drunkenness, wantonness, covetousness, love of money and power, self-centeredness or selfishness, and then show up at church unrepentant on Sunday to commune and worship God.
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (I Cor 11:27-29).
When we received salvation, we were given the greatest gift that God ever gave, and that is eternal fellowship with Him. There is no worse insult than to throw a gift of love back into the giver’s face, therefore this passage instructs us most emphatically not to do this. Anything in our daily life, or even periodically, that we figuratively (or literally) bow down to, or fear evil retaliation from (i.e. breaking a mirror equals seven years bad luck) is sacrilegious and separates us from God. How could a true Christian believe that God would allow them to be cursed for seven years for breaking an image of vanity? We are to walk a separated life from this world and now allow things, ideas, nor superstitions to separate us from communing with Christ at His table.
Holy communion directs us to the light of Christ — into our souls and stays there to keep the darkness from tempting us. We need to always cherish and reverence Holy Communion — for it is holy.
I continue to pray for each of you during this crisis.