Sinners at the Sacrament?
Let a man examine himself. These words of the Apostle Paul weigh heavily upon the hearts and minds of so many believers as we prepare to the come to the Lord's Supper. These are weighty and heavy words that can nag at us at times as we consider the struggles with sin and the enemy within. Let a man examine himself.
But what if I am unworthy? What if I continue to sin against God's mercy? What if I am weak in my convictions? Surely then I ought not to go to the Supper!
Thomas Watson, a 17th century English Puritan, pastors the questioning saint as to why he or she ought to go to the Table in each of these instances. May reflection on these questions and answers lead you to Christ--and lead to you to his Table to receive the grace and mercy that you seek.
OBJECTION 1. But I am sinful and unworthy, and why should I meddle with such holy things?
ANSWER. Who did Christ die for but such? "He came into the world to save sinners," 1 Timothy 1:15. He took our sins upon Him as well as our nature. "He bare our grief’s," Isaiah 53:4. In the Hebrew it is "our sicknesses." See your sins, said Luther, upon Christ, and then they are no more yours but His. Our sins should humble us, but they must not discourage us from coming to Christ. The more diseased we are, the rather we should step into this pool of Siloam. Who does Christ invite to the supper but the poor, halted, and maimed? Luke 14:21-that is, such as see themselves unworthy and fly to Christ for sanctuary. The priest was to take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in blood, and sprinkle it upon the leper, Leviticus 14:6-7. You who have the leprosy of sin upon you, yet if, as a leper, you loathe yourself, Christ's precious blood shall be sprinkled upon you.
OBJECTION 2. But I have sinned presumptuously against mercy. I have contracted guilt after I have been at the Lord's Table, and surely Christ's blood is not for me.
ANSWER. It is, indeed, grievous to abuse mercy. It was the aggravation of Solomon's sin. His heart was turned from the Lord "who had appeared to him twice," 1 Kings 11:9. Presumptuous sins open the mouth of conscience to accuse and shut the mouth of God's Spirit, which should speak peace. Yet do not cast away your anchor. Look up to the blood of Christ. It can forgive sins against mercy. Did not Noah sin against mercy, who, though he had been so miraculously preserved in the flood; yet soon after he came out of the ark was drunk? Did not David sin against mercy when, after God had made him king, he stained his soul with lust and his robe with blood? Yet both these sins were washed away in that fountain which is set open for Judah to wash in, Zechariah 13:1.
Did not the disciples deal unkindly with Christ in the time of His suffering? Peter denied him, and all the rest fled from his colors. "Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled," Matthew 26:56. Yet Christ did not take advantage of their weakness, nor did He cast them off, but sends the joyful news of His resurrection to them, Matthew 27:7, and of His ascension. "Go to my brethren and say unto them, I ascend to My Father, and your Father," John 20:17. And, lest Peter should think he was none of the number that should be interested in Christ's love, therefore Christ dispatched away a special message to Peter to comfort him. "Go tell the disciples and Peter, that He goes before you into Galilee, there shall ye see Him," Mark 16:7. So that where our hearts are sincere and our turnings aside are rather from a defect in our power than our will, the Lord Jesus will not take advantage of every failing. Instead He will drop His blood upon us, which has a voice in it which speaks better things than the blood of Abel, Hebrews 12:24.
OBJECTION 3. But I find such a faintness and feebleness in my soul that I dare not go to the Lord's Table.
ANSWER. You have all the more need to go. Drink of this wine for your infirmities, 1 Timothy 5:23. Would it not be strange for a man to argue .thus: "My body is weak and declining; therefore, I will not go to the physician." He should the rather go! Our weakness should send us to Christ. His blood is mortal to sin and vital to grace. You say you have defects in your soul. If you had none, there would be no need of a Mediator, nor would Christ have any work to do. Oh, therefore, turn your disputing into believing. Be encouraged to come to this blessed supper. You shall find Christ giving forth His sweet influences and your grace shall flourish as an herb.
Questions and answers from: The Holy Eucharist, or , The Mystery of the Lords Supper Briefly Explained, 1668. You can procure a copy here.