In the Last Supper – a Passover celebration – Jesus took a loaf of bread and gave thanks to God. As He broke it and gave it to His disciples, He said, “’This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:19-21). He concluded the feast by singing a hymn (Matthew 26:30), and they went out into the night to the Mount of Olives. It was there that Jesus was betrayed, as predicted, by Judas. The following day He was crucified.
The Lord’s Supper was ordained for us to “do ... in remembrance of me.” There are no specific instructions regarding how frequently we are to do this, except for the apostle Paul’s advice to do it “often” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
In that epistle Paul also warned believers not to eat and drink the Lord’s Supper unworthily:
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. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Cor 11:27-29)
The Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus Himself during the age-old celebration of the Passover on the eve of His death. Thus, He instituted a significant new fellowship meal that we observe to this day. It is an integral part of Christian worship. Its purpose is: to cause us to remember our Lord’s death and resurrection and to look for His glorious return in the future.
We may ask what it means to partake of the bread and the cup “in an unworthy manner.” It may mean to disregard the true meaning of the bread and cup and to forget the tremendous price our Saviour paid for our salvation. Or it may mean to allow the ceremony to become a dead and formal ritual or to come to the Lord’s Supper with unconfessed sin.
So, in keeping with Paul’s instruction, we should examine ourselves before eating the bread and drinking the cup.