1 Corinthians 11:17-34

The two Sacraments of the church that you see practiced in churches are the Lord’s Supper and baptism. We are in a passage of Scripture that teaches about the Lord’s Supper and how we are supposed to observe it, so we are talking about the significance of the Lord’s Supper and how to do.

Lord’s Supper is a meal. You may think it’s not much of a meal. But that is what it originally was. A time to eat together. Who likes to eat? Who likes to eat with others? Thanksgiving is my favorite. It reminds you that you are connected with others, that you are accepted by others, that you belong, that you are a part of something. 

But what would happen if you stood on the table and ate your dinner? What if I ate out of the gravy bowl. That would show a lack of care for my family. They wouldn’t like it. They might ask me to leave. So eating together is significant, but there is also a right way to do it, an appropriate way to observe. This is the case with the Lord’s Supper, too. 

The Corinithians were observing the Lord’s Supper, but they were not doing it the right way. They were eating together. Some would go over here and some would go over there. And some would have more food than the others. Some would eat too much and some wouldn’t get anything. That’s messed up, Right? You are going to see church get things wrong. But one thing is that God doesn’t quit on his church. Paul doesn’t quit on the church. You don’t quit on the church either. But also don’t stop trying to help the church see how to do things the right way. 

Big Idea:

We proclaim faith in Jesus through the Lord’s Supper

So we ought to prepare and eat the right way.


But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. 18 For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, 19 for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. 20 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. 21 For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. 23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. 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. 33 So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 34 if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home–so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (1 Corinthians 11:17-34 ESV)

This is amazing. This encourages me as a pastor. He says that when this church comes together it is not for the better but for the worse! Your meetings do more harm than good! I have had meetings not go the way I wanted, but I don’t think I have had one go so bad that I was worse off for going to it. It’s strangely encouraging.

But there is a sobering side, too. It shows that just because you go to church it does not mean you are right with God or are doing what pleases him. If you come and sit here and ignore God’s word and go out and do nothing with it you are no better off. We need to hear the word and do what it says. 

V19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. (1Co 11:19) Isn’t that amazing! God knows there are problems in the church. People do crazy things and lose it. And you, as a church, need to learn how to deal with it in a right manner. The way to make the church right is for the people to do what they are supposed to! Follow God’s word.

Let’s focus on some things about the Lord’s Supper. 

  1. The Lord’s Supper Displays Unity as Believers

V18  I hear that when you come together as a church there are divisions among you, (1Cor 11:18)” 

Their divisions are being challenged. Be united in Christ. 

When you eat together as a family you show a commonality. You don’t have different rooms with different food. The good food for the good people here. It’s not like how we treat our dog. I don’t let Roscoe come in the dining room when we are eating. He stays out in the kitchen. We are to be one with each other. We don’t discriminate based on gender, race, socio-economic status, or anything else. We are one with God through Christ. That is what our relationship to Christ does. It brings us together with other people.

Each is to be provided for. The Corinthians were not doing this. They were only caring about themselves. 

For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others, and one person is hungry while another is drunk! (1Co 11:21)

A good sign people are not doing what they are supposed to. Problem of V21 is each is doing their own thing. Deny self for good of all. 

We need to care about others. See ourselves as connected to others. Vital connection to the body of Christ. Most churches today have down the distribution of food, but I think we often lack conviction about being together because we are doing our own thing. We laugh at the Corinthians for having divisions but we often divide ourselves by not even participating in this meal. In suburban America we remove most of the opportunities to be around people that are in a different place than us. Part of going to church is to help others and connect with them. We don’t even eat with them. We don’t celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This is a powerful sacrament that reminds us of our union in Christ and our commonality with others. We ought to feel the need to care for others and be with them.

When we gather as a church be reminded this is your family. Sometimes we worship and I like to look around and see people worshipping. It’s a reminder that people are with me. You need to be reminded of this. We eat with people we like. Maybe we should make this feel more like a meal, more substantive, a feast. But we eat together because of Christ, because of his work for us. We are heirs of the kingdom. Brothers and sisters. Don’t come in and hide, be reminded that others are walking the same walk you are, have the same challenges as you have, and experiencing the same grace you are. It’s amazing. 

  1. The Lord’s Supper is about Faith in the Work of Christ. 

The significance of this meal connects to what Christ has done for us. It’s like Thanksgiving derives from and points back to the pilgrims. 

V23 “The Lord Jesus on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke and said,…

Jesus instituted, that’s a big word to start something, but it also gets at that just because you started doesn’t mean you stop. 

V24 “This is my body, which is for you.”

V25 “This cup is the new covenant in my blood”

Remember. in offering sacrifices there is a remembrance of sins, i. e. the memory of sins committed is revived by the sacrifices. Different sacrifices in the OT that were a memorial offering. A way to remember what God had done for them. We don’t sacrifice animals because the perfect lamb has been sacrificed. Jesus was fully God, fully man.

He did this on your behalf. He gave himself for you. The words reflect a  transaction. You will give money to another to purchase something. Your sins separated you from God. People say oh, that is so harsh. The Bible says it is good news. You don’t have to pretend to be something you are not. You get mad at others. You live with anxiety. You ignore God’s word. You are selfish. And you can be forgiven. People live their lives saying the Bible is harsh and then they waste away because of stuff they have done or others have done to them. Jesus gave his body and blood that the power of sin and evil might be overcome. 

The blood of Jesus makes it possible for us to come together. Eat at a nice restaurant and you have to pay a lot of money. Wear a suit. Club Member. If you don’t you can’t come in. Well, what do we have to do to eat this meal? Trust in Jesus. You don’t have to have a perfect record. No major sins. Jesus shed his blood so you could be forgiven. He was perfect. He is infinite. He can cover any sin: adultery, murder, abortion, . You can be washed clean. Made whole. Made new. 

V26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Co 11:26)

Proclaim. That is to shout something. We proclaim the Lord Jesus. We identify with him.

Just as we need a mouth to receive the bread and wine we need faith to receive Jesus. 

  1. Prepare by examining ourselves.

Warning: When you grandma invites you over for Thanksgiving you know you can eat as much as you want, right? She is not going to stop you from eating anything. It is a good day. But would she let you stand on the table and eat that way? Would she let you eat out of the gravy bowl? If you did that she wouldn’t be happy with you. There are certain things you have to do the right way. Same with the Lord’s supper. 

V28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (1Co 11:28)

Examine means to test, examine, prove, scrutinize (to see whether a thing is genuine or not), as metals. You want to see what is really in there. Are we really following Christ? Don’t eat thanksgiving with your shoes on the table – well don’t eat this meal if you are not walking with Christ.

What do you examine? LIfe with God’s word. Are we comfortable living in the lifestyle that caused Jesus to give his body and blood?

Also, this call to examine yourself is why the church has encouraged kids to not take communion until they are a little older, or old enough to know how to read God’s word and discern if they are following Christ. 

Also, the two sacraments in the church are baptism. That is done when one believes and is done once. The Lord’s Supper is an ongoing proclamation of trust in Christ. Most have said don’t take the Lord’s Supper until you have been baptized. If you are walking with Christ I want to invite you to participate. But if you have not been baptized then you should go do that. That is something to examine. 

 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. (1Co 11:30 ESV)

 (1Co 11:30 ESV)

 People are weak and sick because they are disregarding Christ when they participate in the Lord’s Supper. That is sobering. This meal is a remembrance of Christ but there is also a spiritual connection to it. I’ts significant that the bread and wine are used. These nourish people. 

I have no doubt this continues today. There is healing when you confess your sins. And Scripture calls us to confess it to God and to others. A lack of confessing sin is a sign of spiritual deadness. If you have not confessed your sins to your friends, spouse, kids, the people you are around, then you may be spiritually dead. You see no need to conform your life to God or reconform your life to him. We need Jesus everyday. If you believe you are a sinner, as the Bible says you are, then you need Jesus everyday. This meal reminds us of what we have in Christ, why he died for us, and why we need to examine ourselves. It reminds you of your purpose of reaching others, too. 

Your problems in life may be due to not following Christ. I’m convinced that if you are in a church doing what the Lord called it to do and with others who are doing what it calls us to do then our health and mental health would be significantly different. Pray for others, carry the burdens of others, Share your prayer requests with them. 

This is where we take time to confess our sins. Repent. 

He is warning them here so that they might repent and not be condemned with the world (v32). God’s people need to be in a constant state of turning back to him. Our hearts are prone to wander, we need to keep coming back. That is repentance. It is healing and beautiful. 

It’s different from today’s Cancel Culture. I don’t like what you did so I will not buy your stuff, watch your tv. Paul never canceled the Corinthians. God didn’t cancel them either. You shouldn’t cancel others. Say what people did isn’t right. But do it with arms wide open. Do it with a smile. 

This meal reminds us. If you have strayed you can come back. Like grandma’s thanksgiving. You may have messed up, but you can come back. Confess your mistakes. Recognize the gravity of it. And behold the lamb of God

Prone to wonder Lord I feel it, 

prone to leave the God I love. 

take my heart, oh, take and seal it

  With Thy Spirit from above.

Rescued thus from sin and danger,

  Purchased by the Savior’s blood,

May I walk on earth a stranger,

  As a son and heir of God.

We do this “until he comes.”  v26

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1Co 11:26)

We don’t do it forever. Because one day we are going to be in the presence of the Lamb. We will eat of the tree of life that is nourished by the river of life. We will walk on streets of gold where the sun is not needed because the Lord is its light.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does this passage say? What are some points, truths, highlights that encourage or guide you?
  2. What do you need to obey in this passage? (what is one thing you could do in the next week, what is something you need to change in your life)  
  3. Who do you need to share this with? (Who is one person you could tell what you learned or where you feel God changing, redirecting, or giving you hope?