‘But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat that bread, and drink of that cup’
(1 Corinthians 11:28)
Partaking at the Lord’s Table is a privilege reserved for honoured guests. Who are they? Those honoured because the Lord has chosen, redeemed and called them to himself (Revelation 4:11).
They are honoured to be identified spiritually with Christ in his death, burial and resurrection, an identity professed in baptism (Colossians 2:12).
They are honoured to walk with Christ in faith, hope, and love in a world of unbelief, self-righteousness, and hatred toward him and his glorious gospel of grace (2 Thessalonians 1:11). This is a privilege, therefore, that none must take for granted.
It is the Lord’s Table because he is the welcoming host, and all its elements speak of him. The unleavened bread is a symbol of his blameless character as God in the flesh — the Lamb without spot or blemish (1 Corinthians 11:24).
The wine is a symbol of his shed blood, signifying his expiatory death before God the Father, to satisfy the penalty of sin on behalf of his people (1 Corinthians 11:25).
While the table is a place of rejoicing, it is not one of levity. While the Lord invites all his redeemed to come to the table, we cannot come without self-examination. The Scripture says: ‘let a man examine himself, and so let him eat…’
Here again we need clear instruction. Do not examine yourself in the mirror of the law. This can only lead to despair. For ‘by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified’ (Galatians 2:16).
Nor should you examine yourself in the light of your neighbour. All flesh is grass. To compare yourself with another mortal sinner can only lead to false hope and a deceptive sense of spirituality.
Do not examine yourself in light of feelings and emotion. Feelings come and feelings go, and are as useless as the morning dew to a thirsty man.
Rather, examine yourself in light of the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Do not ask whether you are perfect in yourself, but ask ‘Am I perfect in Christ Jesus? Do I rest in his perfect righteousness alone?’
Do not ask whether you are without sin in yourself. You know the answer to that. The question is: ‘Have I been washed in the blood of the Lamb?’ Not ‘Am I well-pleasing to God?’ but rather: ‘Am I accepted in the Beloved?’
Do not look to your faith to save you, but rather to the object of your faith, the Lord Jesus, the only Saviour and Substitute.
As an old writer aptly exclaimed: ‘Examine yourselves, but let it be in the light of Calvary — not by the blazing fires of Sinai’s lightning, but by the milder radiance of the Saviour’s grief’.