Coming to communion to remember the death of Jesus on our behalf is special and serious observance. We are instructed in 1 Corinthians 11 to examine ourselves before partaking of the bread and wine or grape juice.
Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup
In 2 Corinthians 13 Paul again instructs to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith.
This can lead to us feeling we need to come to communion having been nearly perfect before we can partake of the elements. However, when I reflect on who was at the first Lord’s Supper, it sheds some light on who can come into his presence during communion.
There was a former tax collector, rugged fishermen, and among them was one who would betray Jesus and one who would deny Jesus.
Judas was there. We read in John 13:
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus
Judas would go on to betray Jesus with a kiss as Judas led the soldiers and religious leaders to the garden where Jesus was arrested.
Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him.
Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him.
So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.”
Jesus also knew that Peter would deny him three times and told Peter it would happen.
Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!
So what is the difference between Judas and Peter? They were both sinful and flawed. One betrayed Jesus and the other denied Jesus out of fear. The difference was in how the two responded after they sinned.
Judas only felt remorse and hanged himself but his remorse did not lead to repentance.
In contrast, Peter felt regret and guilt when the rooster crowed. His regret led to repentance. He came into the presence of Jesus after his resurrection even though it meant at least one awkward moment when Jesus asked Peter three times in front of the other disciples if Peter loved him.
King David expressed something in Psalm 51.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
and in Psalm 34
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Peter was broken in his spirit. He knew his need for Jesus’s forgiveness and grace. He came to Jesus seeking that. Judas never did.
We are all flawed. No one is perfect. No one comes into the presence of Jesus, whether in prayer, reading the bible, or during communion, with a spotless record.
When I partake of communion, before partaking of the elements, I come to Jesus in prayer. He knows all about me, so there is nothing to hide. He knows all about us and loves us even though we have sin in our lives. What he is looking for is a broken spirit and a contrite heart.
Thank you for reading. God Bless.