“For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.”
What a weighty, uncomfortable verse.
Members of the church in Corinth were dead—not just sick, not just inconvenienced, not just troubled, but dead—because they didn’t treat the Passover service correctly.
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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
(1 Corinthians 11:27-30)
That’s an easy passage to panic about in our own lives, especially with the annual Passover service right around the corner. The context here is important—Paul began by chastising the Corinthians for their approach to the service, not because they weren’t spiritual deserving of the Passover. None of us are deserving of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and none of us can be. That’s not what “an unworthy manner” means. But the Corinthians were failing to discern the Lord’s Body:
Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you. … Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.
(1 Corinthians 11:20-22, 33-34)
The Corinthians were missing the entire point of the Passover service—they were there to have a meal, and not only were they failing to acknowledge “the body and blood of the Lord,” they were treating their fellow brethren in disrespectful and shameful ways. Through their actions, they were despising the Church of God and heaping judgment on themselves.
The symbols are important. And, Paul tells us, the brethren are important.
This year is going to be a Passover unlike any Passover in living memory—or even in recorded Church history. It’s going to take extra effort from us to treat it as the solemn, meaningful evening that it is.
We’re going to be alone. We’re not going to be with our brethren. We’ll have the symbols and the service, but we’ll be missing such an important part of the equation. And we’re going to feel it.
But the divine promises from our Passover sacrifice tell a different story: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23), and, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).
We’ll be alone, but not alone. In every household eating of the bread and drinking of the cup, Jesus and the Father promise to be there, too.
And what were we baptized into, brothers and sisters?
You heard the words. You remember them. “Not into any sect or denomination of this world, but into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” We were baptized into a spiritual Body, the family of the living God. We are bound together across the longest ages and across the farthest distances. The Jesus who promises to be in our midst is the same Jesus who sat in the midst of the disciples, explaining the bread and wine to them for the very first time. And He is the same Jesus who will be there in the home of every baptized member of the Church as they take of the symbols that remind us of the eternal bond we all share.
Passover reminds us of so many things. The cost of the forgiveness of our sins. The patience and love waiting for us at the mercy seat. The value we have in the eyes of our Creator. The undeserved hope and promise of salvation that we cling to.
It will be harder to experience this without each other. But this year, the bread and the wine will also remind us that, no matter the distance, the same body was broken for us, the same blood makes us clean, and the same God now calls us His children.
Let us examine ourselves. Let us eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
And let us discern the Lord’s Body.
Until next time,