Holy Communion and Self Examination
He held Himself in His hands to show us physically what we perceive spiritually, to transform us in both realms with a new life through regeneration and empowerment.

Holy Communion and Self Examination

          God predestined the sacrificial offering of His Lamb on the cross one day before the Passover Festival that the Israelites celebrated in remembrance for their deliverance from the slavery of Egypt. The blood of lamb was applied by them on their doorposts to escape death and the shed blood of Lord Jesus on the cross redeems us from slavery of the devil, sin and death. The Jewish people ate the flesh of the sacrificial lamb in Egypt at night and Lord Jesus established the ritual of Holy Communion in the same manner.

         Why was Holy Communion started by Lord Jesus? – Apostle John calls the Son of God light of the earth, for during creation process He revealed His glory to light up the earth and set the whole process into motion before creating the sun, moon and the stars on the third day. ‘In the Word was life and He was the light of the earth’ (John 1:4). In light of God’s glory, the void and formless earth not only regained its shape but also its capability to partner with God to bear the trees and plants but also living beings including man. When God breathed into the pile of dust He turned what was perishable into imperishable from within. Wages of sin is death where separation from God is spiritual death followed by physical death of the body. The sin of disobedience again converted the body or the outer vessel into its perishable state through death. Through this sinful surrender the forces of darkness overpowered and resumed to itself the authority and dominion over everything from man. And with this nature also lost its glorious state and started producing ‘thorns and thistles’.

         But in all this God did not abandon man and promised Abraham ‘to be God to you and to your descendents after you’ (Genesis 17:7). Later God heard the cry of the Israelites and the first covenant of rescue and move to ‘a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey’ came about. Moses was then sent as their redeemer from Egypt (Exodus 3:7-8). And the same promise was repeated to Moses to tell the Israelites, ‘I will take you as my people, and I will be your God’ (Exodus 6:7). On the eve of departure from Egypt, LORD God told Moses to command the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb for each family and apply the blood of the lamb on the door posts and eat the meat thereof during the night and to be ready to move by daybreak. On seeing the blood the Lord would Passover that house while others would lose their firstborn child of both man and beast (Exodus 12).

        The covenant of redemption became effective with the application of the blood of the lamb and eating of its meat and Pharaoh thereafter allowed Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land. John the Baptist revealed the identity of Lord Jesus to his disciples, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29). Lord Jesus’ coming as Redeemer must impact mankind as well as the nature and the earth which suffered ‘not of its own accord’ by rescuing all from the clutches of the devil, sin and death (Romans 8:19-27). To this end God made His own Son ‘who knew no sin to be sin for us’ (2 Corinthians 5:21) and He became sin not sinner for us and our sins were transferred to Him to ‘wash us clean’ through faith in His sacrifice. Lord Jesus told Martha, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ and confirmed what was later to come (John 11:25).

         Lord Jesus rewards those who believe in Him and obey His commands. The seventy who were sent by the Lord, returned rejoicing that the demons were subject to them under Lord Jesus’ authority. The Savior Lord revealed their true reward for their labor, ‘your names are written in heaven’ (Luke 10:20). The new covenant of Lord Jesus also assures the believers the same and more. He has promised, ‘I have come that they (believers) may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10). In fulfillment of His promise to not leave the disciples and to empower them, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to be in and with the believers (Acts 2:1-4).

      As the earlier covenant of redemption from slavery and move into the Promised Land started with eating the flesh of the lamb and application of its blood, Lord Jesus being the Lamb of God commanded the disciples to ‘eat the bread and drink the wine as His body and blood’ and to do this in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:19-20).

        When and how should the Holy Communion be administered? – Apostle Paul clarifies the Holy Communion as per Lord Jesus’ intent – first, is the breaking of bread and command to ‘take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me’ and then ‘this cup is the new covenant in My blood, this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me’ (1 Corinthians 11:24-30). And then he clarifies the reason that as often as the believers ‘eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes’. There is no set time plan laid down but the Church has laid down their own guidelines as per convenience, once a month or more number of days.

       Second is about remembering the Lord during Holy Communion. The remembrance has both a backward and a forward look and we remember Lord’s death on the cross and its significance, what He has done for us. But we also look forward to His second coming and anticipate what He will do when He returns. We gratefully recall His loving sacrifice for forgiveness of sins and restoration of the broken relationship with God to get motivated to love and serve Him better.

      What happens to the cup and the bread? – Just as the Passover is about deliverance from slavery in Egypt, the Lord’s Supper is about deliverance from sin by Lord Jesus’ death. When Lord Jesus said ‘This is My body’ what happened to the bread in His hand? First, some believe that the bread and wine actually become Lord Jesus’ physical body and blood; second, others believe that the bread and wine remain unchanged but the Savior is spiritually present with the bread and wine; third, still others believe that the bread and wine symbolize the Messiah’s body and blood. There is no doubt that it is His Holy Table that we approach and reverence, humility, confession of sins and total surrender are essential. Everyone agrees that participating in the Lord’s Supper is an important element in the Christian faith and that we get spiritually strengthened through participation.

        What is the right way of participation? – In 1 Corinthians 11, Apostle Paul has laid down some basic guidelines; first, we should step forward thoughtfully for we are proclaiming that the Savior died for our sins ; second, we should participate worthily, with due reverence and respect; third, we should examine ourselves for any unconfessed sin and/or resentful attitude; four,  we should be considerate of others, waiting for others and eating in an orderly and unified manner (verses 26 -33). In reality no one is worthy to come to the Lord’s Table for we are all sinners saved by grace and we must prepare ourselves through a healthy introspection.       

        Greek word ‘dokimazo’ is translated as examine but it also means to put to the test to reveal what is good and genuine but not for disproving or to show it is bad. This examination means that the right to access is not for everyone but for Lord’s people only and for His family only. For if one’s heart is not right with God, you are entering not by the ‘door’ but as a robber or a thief. It is not for conversion of sinners or lead men to salvation but for those who are already saved and washed in His precious blood for then you can meditate on His sacrifice to feed the spiritual life already received. But how is this examination carried out?

        First, Examination is not for rejection but to come there in the right spirit – It is not about perfect sanctification for then none could come. It is also not about fullness of faith but a grain size faith that has quickened into new life and is thirsting for more.

      Second, the responsibility of examination – The words let him means that the responsibility rests with man himself and he must judge himself as an individual responsible for his action, ready to obey His word all the days of your life. This will help you for it is not due to someone else’s entitlement that I come but my own as per God’s grace.

       Third, it is a solemn occasion, so don’t come thoughtlessly or flippantly but in right earnest, like Apostle Peter opening up my heart before the Lord saying, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You’. To come in humility of spirit confessing that I am not what I want or ought to be but You can, with Your grace and I stand at the foot of the cross in absolute surrender.

        Four, to come intelligently, fully aware as to why we have come. This examination is to discover soul-hunger that needs to be nourished by the Lord. It is not the bread or the wine but the mind seeing through the visible signs, that which is inwardly signified and then under the guidance of the Holy Spirit understand the whole meaning.

       Five, it is to come rejoicing that I have been blessed and chosen by God to be at His table and He has invited me and now, how can I enjoy the blessings that He has served and have a sweet conversation with Him. I may rejoice that God became man to be my Redeemer and a Good Shepherd to feed me of His flesh and blood to renew me.  

      Six, Lord’s Supper is a spiritual feast for the gladness of the soul of the partakers and I examine myself to be fully prepared for this. Am I spiritually alive? Have I been renewed in my heart and life? Has the Holy Spirit brought me into the spiritual world of the Son of God? Do I hunger after Lord Jesus? Do I long for the water of life? The dead cannot partake in a feast and dead sinners also cannot join without repentance and cleansing

       Seven, Lord Jesus invites His friends, those who obey His commands, do I follow His Word and move forward to complete His plans. Have I in faith appropriated to myself His atonement that I may be justified before God?

       Eight, am I a part of His body, the Church, and in complete union with one another? I cannot bring myself to His altar if I have an issue with my brother.  

       Nine, do I know Him whose body and blood is there on His table? Have I ever seen Him with the eyes of faith and do I commune with Him on a regular basis to share my griefs and sorrows as well as my joyful moments?

        Apostle Paul cautions us about not discerning the Lord’s body and the Greek word used is ‘diakrino’ meaning to properly judge or investigate thoroughly with close reasoning as in a mirror (1 Corinthians 11:29). It means positively to intimate reasoning and negatively to ‘over judging’. I must not only fully understand the real meaning of the Holy Communion but also assess its affect on my life about display of His love towards others. ‘By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren’ (1 John 3:16). Lord Jesus is the Tree of Life and our way of access to Him is guarded by a Cherub with a ‘flaming sword’ and anyone attempting to reach the Garden of Eden or the Tree, without proper authorization, faces punishment. Self examination is to prepare self to have access as well as to escape God’s wrath and Apostle Paul warns that many have died due to this, which could be a physical and or a spiritual death. The Savior Lord has opened the way to Himself for all believers through the torn curtain.       

Lord’s Supper is in remembrance of the Lamb of God and to move thereafter spiritually strengthened, to move as a claimant of the New Covenant and to dominate the forces of evil surrounding us and to lead others into His light. This comprises holy moments where the Lord is passing His bounties to His people but is also ready to award punishment for errant behavior. It is His grace that provides us access and not of our doing and we approach with reverence.  

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