“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.”
(1 Corinthians 11:27)
When I was younger, I was afraid to partake in the communion ceremony until I had spent a considerable amount of time on the altar, “taking care of” any and all sinful deeds and thoughts that I had committed. I believed that if I put the bread in my mouth and drank of the cup without properly purging my heart of all sin then I would get sick or diseased, having dared to put God’s holiness in an unclean vessel. Due to this fear, communion didn’t represent anything lovely to me. In fact, I kind of wondered why we would even bother!
As God began to open up the revelation of His grace and favor to me, communion was one of the first things that took on a whole new meaning. If I was truly made the righteousness of God, independent of my works, then I was ALWAYS the righteousness of God, even when bad thoughts crossed my mind, or I did something wrong. If I am always righteous, then I am always qualified to partake of the body and the blood of Jesus through Holy Communion. Then what does Paul mean when he writes about eating and drinking “unworthily” (1 Corinthians 11:27).
The answer is found within the passage, but in two separate ways. The first way is the most obvious: Paul never says “unworthy”; he says “unworthily”. These are two different words with two entirely different meanings. To partake of communion “unworthy” would mean that we are not worthy to take in His body and blood because of our lifestyle. To partake of communion “unworthily” means that we are eating and drinking without knowing why.
The second way to find the answer is to read on just a bit further. Paul says in verse 29, “For he that eats and drinks unworthily, eats and drinks damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body”.The definition of “unworthily” is found in the last part of that verse:“not discerning the Lord’s body”. When we do not realize that Jesus bore our sicknesses and diseases in His body on the tree; and we do not know that we are eating into us His health and wholeness, then we are partaking “unworthily”.
This does not mean that God then puts cancer and disease on us to teach us a lesson. The “damnation” that we eat and drink to ourselves (verse 29) is what is already in the earth as a result of the curse. Anytime that you think that God is in the business of putting disease and pain onto people, just remember how many people that Jesus touched and GAVE leprosy to. NONE! Jesus was not in the business of taking men’s lives, but saving them.
The broken body of Jesus and His shed blood has been given to all believers through the finished work of the cross. The communion ceremony is ours, whenever we need it, to observe that broken body and shed blood. Just as Israel ate all of the lamb and there were none feeble among their tribes (Psalms 105:37), we have His body, broken for us (Mark 14:22). We have His blood as our justification (Romans 5:9) and it is the seal of the New Covenant. Partake of Holy Communion as often as you like, observing that Jesus bore your suffering so that you could bear His health.