Maundy Thursday Evening Prayer (1 April 2021) 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
We are celebrating Maundy Thursday today. This evening, we remember Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples. Today’s meditation is based on our Epistle reading, St. Paul’s first Epistle to Corinthians, chapter 11, verses 23–26. “For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come”. This is a familiar passage to everyone. We read this passage during our Holy Communion services. We can read a similar passage in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 22. I’d like to meditate on two questions based on today’s epistle portion:
- What did Paul receive of the Lord and deliver to the early Corinth Church?
- What does Paul say about our attitude when taking part in the Lord’s Supper?
Matthew 26:28 clearly explains the principles of the new covenant. All through the Bible, we read that God the Father making a covenant. He made a covenant with Noah after the flood. He made a covenant with Abraham when God separated Abraham from his family. He made a covenant with Jacob and changed his name Israel. God made a covenant with Israelites and gave them laws and commandments. When the Israelites were in their bondage land, God asked them to celebrate Passover. They were asked to apply the blood of the Passover lamb on the doors. Those who obeyed and celebrated Passover were saved from death. God made a covenant with Israelites through the blood of the Passover lamb. When people sinned against God, they offered sacrifices for the remission of their sins according to the laws. Committing sin and offering sacrifices were a routine practice. The Old Testament Laws and Commandments did not save people from eternal death. God the Father did not want His creations to be tormented forever in the lake of fire and brimstone. God the Father Almighty sent His only begotten son Jesus Christ as the Passover Lamb to die on the cross for us. Jesus Christ offered Himself as the one-time sacrifice to give salvation to everyone. This fulfilled what the angel of the LORD told Joseph in Matthew 1:21: that “he shall save his people from their sins”.
In Luke 22:15 Jesus said “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer”. He shared His body and blood with His disciples and made a new covenant with the church. Jesus said, “this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins”. The New Testament or the new covenant was established when Jesus was crucified on the cross. The new covenant or the testament was made and established by the grace of our LORD Jesus Christ and the Love of the Father Almighty.
What did Paul receive of the Lord and deliver to the early Corinth Church?
After Jesus’s death and resurrection, Paul troubled the early Christian Church. As a Phariseee, he was under the law of Old Testament. He received God’s grace, love and salvation when Jesus met him on his way to Damascus. He founded the early Christian churches among the gentiles. Paul received the New Testament covenant that he wanted to pass on to the early Christian Church in Corinth. Paul is referring to this covenant in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 when he said “I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you”.
What does Paul say about our attitude when taking part in the Lord’s Supper?
We received the salvation through the blood of the lamb of God and purely by the grace of Jesus Christ. In our church, we regularly celebrate the Holy Eucharist. We remember and acknowledge the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins. But what should our attitude be when we come to the Lord’s Table?
- Bear witness: 2 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come”. We bear witness for the purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus when we partake in Holy Communion.
- Be worthy: Paul cautions in 1 Corinthians 11:27 and 28 saying, “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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup”. We must not come to LORD’s table trusting in our own righteousness but by His manifold great mercies. We are not worthy to gather up the crumbs under His table, but He has made us worthy by His grace and precious blood. We must confess our sins before God and repent for our wrong doings before partaking in the Lord’s Table. We must be washed with His precious blood every time. We do this by saying the confession prayer from our heart and humbling ourselves before God. If we partake unworthily without being repenting, reconciling and being cleansed of our sins, as the verse says, we “shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.”
- Self-examine and judge own self: 1 Corinthians 11:28 says “let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.” We must self-examine and judge our own self before partaking in Holy Communion. If not, verse 29 says “he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.” If we judge ourselves this way, we will not be judged. If we are judged and chastened of the Lord, He does it so we are not condemned with the world.
The purpose of the first advent, passion and death of Jesus is to save us from eternal death and condemnation. Jesus made a new covenant with us during His Last Supper. He established it by His death and resurrection. Today we have come together to remember Jesus’s Last Supper with His disciples. What is our attitude to this covenant? Do we repent, reconcile and re-establish our covenant with our Lord Jesus before coming to the Lord’s Table? Are we washed by the blood of the lamb of God before taking part in Holy Communion? Do we have assurance that we have received our salvation?
If our answer is no to these questions, we will be judged with the world on judgement day. “We are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.” In Proverbs 3:11-12 we read “My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the Lord loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” Let us give heed to the Lord’s chastening and repent when convicted. We who have received the New Covenant, let us bear witness to His death and resurrection. Let us be worthy of this new covenant. Let us self-examine and judge ourselves before partaking in the Lord’s Table. Amen!