37 And as He spoke, a certain Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. So He went in and sat down to eat. 38 When the Pharisee saw it, he marveled that He had not first washed before dinner. 39 Then the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees make the outside of the cup and dish clean, but your inward part is full of greed and wickedness. 40 Foolish ones! Did not He who made the outside make the inside also?” (Luke 11:37–40, NKJV)
Jesus did not concern Himself with the traditional ceremonial washing of hands which the Pharisees and all the Jews held as binding (Mk. 7:1-3). Just as the Pharisees found fault with the Lord’s disciples on the matter, so this Pharisee disapproved of Jesus. Whether the man verbalized his astonishment is unclear. Still, Jesus spoke directly to him of the hypocrisy on display by demanding the washing the outside of a cup or dish while leaving the inside filthy. Of course, these are metaphors of a heart “full of greed and wickedness” (v. 39). A corrupt heart is not concealed from God by external religious rituals and displays of purity. We must first cleanse the inside of our cup – our heart – so the outside (our conduct) can be pure. Otherwise, we are hypocrites like the Pharisees, pretending to be pure yet having defiled hearts. James explained the purification God accepts, “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (Jas. 4:8). Repentance produces purity of heart and life. But without heart conversion, religiosity is feeble, futile, and false (Jas. 1:26-27).
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. (1 Corinthians 11:27–29, NKJV)
Some read this verse, and upon examining their spiritual life they conclude themselves to be unworthy to eat the Lord’s supper. But look closer. The point of this verse is not one’s character, but one’s conduct while eating the supper. (If a Christian has sins preventing proper worship, then repentance and confessional prayer assures God’s forgiveness, Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jno. 1:9. When one’s sins are forgiven he or she is indeed worthy to eat the supper and to offer other worship to God.) Today’s verse requires us to examine ourselves concerning the manner in which we eat the supper. It warns us against eating it “in an unworthy manner.” This happens when we fail to eat the supper as a memorial of Christ’s body and blood (v. 23-26). The Corinthians had turned it into a selfish meal that provoked division in the church. This perverted the purpose of the Lord’s supper made their worship vain (1 Cor. 1:18-21). If we do not remember Christ’s body and blood when we eat the bread and drink the cup, we are guilty crucifying the Lord. Such a damning judgment reflects how serious it is to eat the Lord’s Supper in a worthy manner.
25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:25–26, NKJV)
After the Passover meal, Jesus continued inaugurating His supper by telling His apostles to drink “this cup” which “is the new covenant in My blood.” He explained that the “fruit of the vine” (“the cup”) signifies His blood “which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The bread, symbolizing His body, and the juice of the grape, symbolizing His blood, constitute the elements of the Lord’s supper. His supper was not an extension of the Passover meal (a feast of the old covenant). Neither did Jesus institute His supper as part of a larger “fellowship meal” or “table fellowship” as some has contrived. It is a memorial meal during which unleavened bread and the juice of the grape are eaten in memory of the Lord’s death that dedicated His new covenant (by which the remission of sins is offered to all, Heb. 9:16-22). Until Christ returns, Christians proclaim His death each time they eat His supper. This simple and solemn memorial meal calls us back to Golgotha and the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world. We must reverently and always partake of it as the Lord intended – as a memorial and a proclamation of His death.
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–25, NKJV)
Does the church of which you are a member eat the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week? In the days of the early church, every first day of the week was “as often as” the disciples ate and drank the supper (Acts 20:7). We should follow the example of the apostles, including Paul, who ate the Lord’s Supper with the Troas church on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 4:16). Why do you eat the Lord’s Supper? Jesus said it is for the express purpose of remembering Him. When Christians eat the bread, we remember His body that was put to death for us. When Christians drink the cup (the fruit of the vine, Lk. 22:18), we remember His blood that dedicated the new covenant. The Lord’s Supper is a solemn memorial of Jesus’ death. We just observed Memorial Day by remembering those who gave their lives for our freedom. How much more then, ought we to honor Jesus by following His teaching with a weekly remembrance of His death, which gives us freedom from sin.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. (Psalm 23:5, NKJV)
David sees the Lord as his Shepherd who leads, feeds and protects him through life’s dangers and delights. He also sees God as his Sovereign who hosts a banquet at which David is a guest. The Lord prepares a bountiful feast of hopeful, peaceful repose even as David’s enemies surround him. This host perfectly protects His guests. David is refreshed and filled by the good and constant blessings that come from the hand of the Lord. When you and I are tempted to yield to the enemies of faith, let us remember the One who guards us, sustaining and supplying us with a spiritual feast like none other. Abundant spiritual nourishment and sure hope sustains those who trust the Lord.