“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had blessed it, broke it, saying, ‘This is My body.’ In the same manner, after supper, He took the cup and said, ‘This is My blood of the new covenant; do this as often as you drink it.’ For whenever you eat this bread or drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup in an unworthy manner shall be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. But whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup should examine himself, and in so doing he is to partake of the body and blood of the Lord… If we judged ourselves, we would not be judged by the Lord, for when we are judged by the Lord we are disciplined by Him, so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
This passage is a beautiful promise, very much like other passages, such as, “Whatever you ask in My Name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son,” and, “Until now, you have not asked for anything in My Name. Ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” When we partake of the bread that is His body and the wine that is His blood, we are pledging ourselves to Him: we are acting our desire and request to be made one with Him and in Him, as He prayed for us in John chapter 17. We are proclaiming the death of the Lord – that Christ died, and that we live by His death, and that all our hope is in the return in glory of this same Living Lord, of which we have no doubt. So, when it says, “When we are judged by the Lord we are disciplined by Him, so that we will not be condemned along with the world,” it is saying that when we seek this union with His Son, when we accept the union Jesus prayed for us, God will fulfill His promise, He will unite us with Christ, He will fulfill the desire of our hearts. Whatever in our life must go – whatever we will not let go of on our own – whatever suffering, whatever loss, earthly speaking (which is not truly speaking) is required, He will do it, that we may be united with His Son in His death and in His glorious resurrection. We who are joined to the death of Christ will not be condemned with the world, to pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from His presence and the glory of His majesty, when He comes to be glorified among those who believe on Him. Rather, He will discipline us for our holiness, the holiness without which no one will see the Lord, that we may reap the harvest of peace. He will answer our prayer. He will respond to us approaching Him in the new and living way Christ has opened through the curtain, namely, His body.
Indeed, we are able to truly partake of the body and blood of the Lord, to realize the life that is ours by His death, to the extant that we are made holy through His body and blood. Union with the Lord is holiness – holiness is union with the Lord. As someone has said, “Holiness would be the Lord Jesus counted upon as never absent.” In our examination, we are able to partake of the body and blood of Christ: in knowing Him, in repentance not because sin is hateful but because Jesus is lovely, we are able to feast on the sacrifice of the body of God. In being united to Him, we are able to be further joined to Him: in sharing in His death and life, we are able to live by His death: as He is living within us, we are able to live off His broken body and poured out blood.
This is so terrible and so beautiful. It is so good and so dreadful and awful. It is unbelievable that God, enthroned in immutable light and power, exalted infinitely above all the concerns and smallness of the creatures who live only by His will, should die for His creatures – yes, that the King of all kings, before whom all earthly majesty and pomp shrivels up and appears what it truly is, rags and filth, that the Lord of all lords, should be mocked, and spit upon, and scourged, and have nails driven through His hands and feet – this all by creatures who owe their every breath, even their every thought, to His power sustaining them, to His word giving them existence and free will, who are able to do this to Him only because He wills to suffer so – yes, in all this, that the Holy One, before whom the Seraphim veil their faces and feet, should bear the sins of those who crucified Him – all of us! – in His own crucified body! Is it believable? Is it thinkable? Unless you tremble in your soul, unless you desire to shudder, you have not heard!
Not only this – it is the out-working of this! – but we are summoned to eat the body and drink the blood of this crucified God! Read that again. Eat His body and drink His blood – whose body and blood? God’s! This is why He died and rose again: so that we could live by eating His flesh and drinking His blood! Can we dare, for who is worthy to eat the flesh of God? Who is holy to drink the blood of God? Only Christ! Only the Crucified One! Only the Lamb that was slain is worthy, for He has died and redeemed for God a people by His blood. Only Jesus is holy. Only He is worthy. Yet He commands us come and eat, without money to buy and eat food that really satisfies – His flesh which He gave for the life of the world, which a man may eat and never die, for His flesh is real food and His blood is real drink! He swallowed up death and tore the veil that is over all peoples, and summons all to the lavish banquet He set for us when He offered up His body and blood on the mountain of Calvary!
So, how can we come? We are not holy. We are not worthy. Even if we were not sinners, we could not be holy enough or worthy to eat His flesh and drink His blood! Those who see it as an abomination are much nearer the truth than those who have never been shocked out of their senses so that they feel they cannot dare to partake of the bread and the wine. One is holy, one is worthy, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He lives and lives within those who accept Him and are bound to Him by His own love. We are not worthy to untie the straps of His sandal, nor are we worthy to wash His feet, (are even Seraphim worthy to serve Him?) and it is by eating His body and drinking His blood that we are made worthy to do so. “Come, buy and eat, without money and without price.” Buy? Yes, buy, with His righteousness, not your own! Yes, this feast is bought with His righteousness! It is not free, but it is bought with nothing we can offer, with no righteousness of our own and no price extracted from us, but with what He offered in our stead, standing for us (like the first Adam did so long ago), buying the feast on our behalf – and what is this feast? It is the very price He paid to give it to us! He Himself has commanded that we come to Him and live by His death, and so, with reverence, awe, and holy fear, with unbearably gratefully hearts, we come, grateful for His sacrifice, and grateful for the command to come to Him, and grateful for His own worthiness to make us worthy! He alone, risen and glorified, is the reason we dare to come to Him.
This passage from 1st Corinthians is full of promise to the believer; its warnings are, I believe, warnings of promise, not of damnation or punishment. “Disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.” Yet, who would ever dare to approach God except in Christ? Who would ever dare to eat of the body and blood of the Lord except in Him, for only He is worthy? The promise and hope of which this passage is full does not diminish the sacredness of Communion in Christ: except washed in His blood, clothed in His own worthiness, accepted in Christ, who would dare to proclaim the death of the Lord thus? Perhaps, God will do for such an offender what his action requests, and unite Him to His Son – or He may well strike him with fire from heaven for trampling on the holy things and disregarding the body and blood of His Beloved Son: unless we are hidden in Christ, we cannot look upon the face of God and live, much less eat His flesh and drink His blood! Who would dare the wrath of the love of God, the most terrible wrath in all the world? Recall the seven sons of Seva in the Book of the Acts, who when they tried to cast out demons in the Name of the One whom they did not know were stripped and beaten, and the fear of the Lord came on all who were in the city.
Copyright 2018 Raina Nightingale