(1 Corinthians 11:27-34)
There are a few traditions defined in the New Testament that the Lord gave us to follow. These are all actions and acts of praise or worship that define the methods of our worship of the Lord.
The primary few, and there are not many, are:
- Baptism in water
- Laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit
- Anointing with oil for healing
- Breaking of bread or communion
In this section of scripture, Paul is concerned with people who carry out the act of breaking bread in an unworthy manner. But the principle of following any of the traditions of the Lord in an unworthy manner will likewise incur judgment.
Paul shows us that in the church at Corinth, when the people came together to break bread, they were treating it as an opportunity for a feast. Some were acting in gluttony, others were drunk with wine and so on.
But while this was happening, others who were less well off suffered hunger because they did not have sufficient food or drink. And so in the actions of the gluttons and drunks, the breaking of bread tradition was made unworthy.
These people were also not walking in love with their less well of brethren for they were flaunting their abundance while others suffered from want. This too is a problematic issue that needed to be addressed.
Such behaviour is not befitting of Christian brothers and sisters. Such behaviour causes people to be envious, angry, upset and generally not uplifted in a place where they should feel the comfort, care and compassion of the Lord and His people.
So Paul instructs the people to consider what they are doing and to repent of their ways. He tells them in no uncertain terms that such behaviour is not appropriate in the house of the Lord.
And the implications of this behaviour are quite serious. They were behaving in an unworthy manner and this is not what the Lord wanted in following this tradition.
In my last post I covered the purpose of the breaking of bread in more detail, and it was not for the purpose of a feast or to get drunk. It is part of the process of praise and worship, remembering the suffering and death of the Lord who died so that we may live. And it goes deeper than that too, which you can read in that previous post.
But here we see that the Lord takes a very dim view of those who do not follow this tradition in a worthy manner. Paul describes how the Lord has carried out judgment on some who were acting in an unworthy way with regard to the breaking of bread.
28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. – (1 Corinthians 11:28-32)
We see that the Lord struck down some of the people who were taking the bread and cup in an unworthy manner. Some were weak, some ill and others had died as a result of their unworthy behaviour.
Should we be surprised at this? No. In many circumstances God struck people in the old covenant who behaved badly. Also look at Jesus when He was on earth who constantly upbraided the proud and arrogant Pharisees and scribes who administered the laws of Moses and the temple worship in an unworthy manner.
As Paul told the Corinthians to judge their own actions and so rectify their behaviour, so too we need to be somewhat circumspect about how we observe these traditions. Let us be sure to follow the instructions of the Lord and enter the breaking of the bread tradition with a right mind and a right heart so that we do not incur the wrath of God.
So how should we follow this tradition? Basically as it was taught by Jesus first at the last supper, and then as Paul describes it in the earlier verses of this chapter of 1 Corinthians.
We should not have so much of the bread that we are gluttonous. We should not have so much of the cup that we become drunk, indeed it is better not to have an alcoholic wine for the sake of those who may have a weakness for alcohol.
We need to examine ourselves and so take of the bread and the cup remembering why we take it and more importantly, remembering the sacrifice of Jesus who died so that we may live. This is the point of the tradition; to remember Jesus Christ who died for us so that we may live.
Nor do we need all the pomp and ceremony of communion as witnessed in some places. They fill the tradition with so much pomp and ceremony that the carrying out of the tradition becomes more important than the meaning of it.
Judge for yourself and be wise in the way you take the bread and the cup so that you do not fall under the judgment of God. Be respectful and walk in love with your brethren as you take part in this tradition, remembering why you are doing it and what it means.
You might also like:
Traditions Of Men Versus The Word Of God
What Comes Out Defiles A Man
Cleanse The Inside Of The Cup First
Breaking Of Bread In Communion
Traditions Of The Elders
What Defiles A Man
Breaking Bread In Remembrance
The Last Supper 2
The Voice Of One Crying Out In The Wilderness
Eating Bread Is the Will Of God