Last night I dreamt I was at an ‘all you can eat’ buffet with friends. We were carrying around books, looking for a place to study. Everyone around us was piling food on their plates and stuffing their faces. Then a man appeared, and he shouted to everyone as he walked, “The Lord will no longer take your rebellion! Jesus saves!” I heard him shout this three times to the people. Then I woke up.
As I prayed about that dream this morning, I realised that what Paul is doing in 1 Corinthians 11 is a bit like what that man was doing in my dream. Paul was reminding the people of Corinth of a deeper reality that they were missing out on. Yes, they were meeting with each other. Yes there was bread and wine at the banquet. But they weren’t “discerning the body” (v29). The people in my dream were just meeting together and stuffing their faces, and so were the people in Corinth. They weren’t thinking about each other, nor were they thinking about the one who sponsors it and makes the meal possible – Jesus. “The Lord will no longer take your rebellion. Jesus saves!”
Jesus saves. Not the person who let all the people share the Lord’s supper in their house. Not the person who can bring the most food to the table. Not the person who can draw the most attention to themselves by bragging. No.
Jesus saves. The broken bread is his body. The cup is the new covenant – the new agreement between God and people – sealed with his blood.
Jesus made the meal possible, regardless of whose house it was in. It’s all God’s. When we do not share the bread and wine with each other fairly, when we forget that the table belongs to Jesus, we are not “discerning the body”. Paul writes:
“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord. Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. If you are hungry, eat at home, so that when you come together, it will not be for your condemnation. About the other things I will give instructions when I come.” – 1 Corinthians 11:27-34 NRSV
Paul is clearly talking about the Lord’s Supper in this passage, and not every meal we eat. But perhaps there is something I can learn from this passage that I could apply to every meal I eat?
This week of the Mean Bean Challenge has been about the millions of people who live off of a bland diet of beans and rice. This week has also been about raising awareness of how Tearfund work to empower local people to help each other. Today begins day 5 of the Mean Bean Challenge, the final day. Starting tomorrow I have a choice again as to what I will eat and in what manner I will eat it. Who provides the meal? Who sponsors my food? How will I respond? In what ways have I been rebelling and forgetting that it is Jesus who saves? In what ways is Jesus not condemning me, but rather is trying to discipline me? (v32)
God bless you, and thank you for joining me on this journey.