Did Jesus guard the communion table?

Did Jesus guard the communion table?

Guarding the table on The Giving blog by Cheryl Schatz

Guarding the table

In our discussion of Jesus, Judas, and the first communion, a Calvinist pointed me to an article by a Calvinist author. The article was said to refute the idea that Judas was commanded to partake of the first Lord’s Supper. I have already answered the first challenge using the inspired words and grammar from Scripture on my post here. In this new post, I will deal with another challenge that was included in the article by the Calvinist author who claims that Jesus would have guarded the table to keep Judas away from communion.

Guarding the communion table happens when people do not believe that Jesus died for all. It also happens when people believe that leaders have the responsibility to keep the sacrifice of Jesus away from those who are not part of their denomination or from those they consider insincere.

Did Jesus guard the table?

Because of the claim that Jesus would have kept Judas away from the communion table, it is important to look at any warning that Jesus gave before He commanded His twelve disciples to partake. We can look very carefully at all four of the gospels and find nothing that would prohibit any of the disciples from partaking. Jesus did not warn them not to partake and in fact, He did the opposite. Jesus commanded them all to partake of the elements of communion. In Mark 14:22 the term “take” is an imperative. An imperative is a command.

Mark_14_22_imperative on The Giving blog by Cheryl Schatz

Did Jesus Conduct the table properly?

The article by the Calvinist author asks this question.

(3) Did Jesus conduct the Table properly?

Does Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 11 change the Lord’s supper from the way that Jesus first established it with the twelve disciples? I believe that Paul changed nothing about Communion, and instead, he upheld the original way it was given.

Jesus established that the meal was for all just as His death was for all.

Paul agrees with Jesus. Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians about Communion was primarily about the exclusion of people. The Corinthians were not coming together in unity to celebrate but were being divisive and exclusive.

Paul identifies that their coming together as a church brought divisions. 

1 Corinthians 11:18 (NASB) For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it.

Within the one body, there were divisions and factions and in celebrating the meal, they were excluding and separating themselves. 

1 Corinthians 11:20–21 (NASB) 20 Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk.

In this separation, Paul declares this is not the Lord’s Supper (verse 20.) The Lord’s Supper is for all. What the Corinthians were doing was not a remembrance in unity. It was an each-for-their-own meal without regarding the unity they have in Christ. One who has nothing is excluded from partaking, and this produces a selfish attitude from those who do have the Lord’s meal. Paul says that treating the Lord’s sacrifice in this way is eating and drinking in an unworthy manner. Note that Paul does not say that they themselves are unworthy of the celebration of the Lord’s sacrifice. He said that the MANNER they were eating it is unworthy.

1 Corinthians 11:27–28 (NASB) 27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

What is a worthy manner compared to an unworthy manner?

Paul said that the manner we take the Lord’s Supper is so important, that if we eat in an unworthy MANNER, we are guilty of sinning against the sacrifice that was made for us. What is the unworthy MANNER that the Corinthians were practicing that Paul was against? The manner was that of division and factions and withholding the symbol of the sacrifice from some as if Jesus did not die for all. Some of those who were excluded from participating were those who were slow, and the celebration was over before they arrived. For others who were on time, they were excluded because they were not given a share to eat.  Paul’s instructions are clear in the proper way to eat together Paul said:

1 Corinthians 11:33 (NASB) So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.

Paul shows what qualifies as eating and drinking in a WORTHY manner. It is to WAIT for ONE ANOTHER. Unity and including your brothers is defined as a worthy manner. Being together in unity and accepting that Jesus died for all of the “one another”s is so important.

What is an unworthy manner that brings judgment? Does judgment happen because the person is not sinless enough to partake? No! Paul said: 

1 Corinthians 11:34 (NASB) If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you will not come together for judgment. The remaining matters I will arrange when I come.

Paul said that being hungry can bring judgment! How is that possible? Because being hungry would tempt one to partake of the celebration bread and wine without waiting for one’s brother. The division that was happening was taking what is a universal symbol of Christ’s death and making it a me-only limited symbol. Paul tells the Corinthians how they can stop from experiencing judgment. He said they should eat at home first so that they can wait for one another. Paul also writes that one must examine oneself.

1 Corinthians 11:28 (NASB) But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

Paul said that a man must examine himself. Notice that one is to examine oneself, not a judgment call on the part of another person to examine your worthiness. No one is told to “guard the table!” They are told to examine themselves. Why? So that they can partake in a worthy MANNER. What makes their manner unworthy? Are they excluding others? Are they leaving others out and going ahead as if Jesus did not die for the ones that they had divided themselves against? These are issues in partaking in a worthy MANNER. Notice also that the purpose of the examination is so that “he is to eat of the bread.” The purpose is not to stop a man from eating and drinking. The purpose is so that he can partake without incurring judgment on himself. The purpose is to keep the unity with all and not exclude anyone from the sacrifice of Jesus.

Paul said that a man must examine himself. Notice that one is to examine himself. It is not a judgment call on the part of another person to examine your worthiness. No one is told to “guard the table!” They are told to examine themselves. Why? So that they can partake in a worthy MANNER. What are they to examine? Are they excluding others? Are they leaving others out and going ahead as if Jesus did not die for the ones that they had divided themselves against? These are issues that must be considered in partaking in a worthy MANNER. Notice also that the purpose of the examination is so that “he is to eat of the bread.” The purpose is not to stop a man from eating and drinking. The purpose is so that he can partake without incurring judgment on himself. The purpose is to keep the unity with all and to exclude no one from the sacrifice of Jesus.

Jesus treated His Lord’s Supper this same way. Jesus did not exclude anyone, not even Judas. And Jesus made it clear that He would give His life as a ransom sacrifice for sinners, even Judas, the very one who would betray Him.

Paul said that the worthy manner of taking the Lord’s Supper is to do it in unity and to wait for one another. Paul said that taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner is eating on your own and not waiting for one another. The unworthy manner is allowing others to have nothing to partake of the Communion elements. This despises the church of God and shames those who are not able to partake.

1 Corinthians 11:22 (NASB) What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? 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 will not praise you.

The Lord’s Supper is not set up to separate people and exclude some as unworthy. The Lord’s Supper is set up just as Jesus set it up. It is to honor the sacrifice of His death for the world, and Jesus included Judas.

Are you a sinner? Do you feel unworthy of Jesus? If so, you qualify as one for whom Jesus died. Jesus’ death was for sinners, and it is His desire that the church shows the universality of that sacrifice and lift it up so that we do not guard the table and keep people away from His atonement. Jesus did not send Judas away so that he was not qualified to receive the sign of the new covenant in Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ death was for ALL sinners.

Questions for Calvinists:

1. Can you give me a single Scripture that says the Church is to guard the Communion Table to keep people away?

2. Can you give me a single Scripture that says people are themselves unworthy to partake of communion rather than the MANNER that they partake?

3. If Jesus died for Judas (see my article here), and He commanded Judas to partake of the sign of the new covenant in His blood, who is unworthy enough that you would exclude and keep them away from the communion table? 

16 thoughts on “Did Jesus guard the communion table?

  1. Hmmm… In my church, it is REQUESTED, but not an issue, (I don’t think) that those who don’t confess Christ as Savior don’t participate in The Lord’s table. Like those who might go to church during holidays (Christmas, Easter). Is this a problem?

  2. I do have a lot of patience and I am willing to read, listen to and pour over their material. I feel that it is very important to understand their position because I do not want to misrepresent it.

  3. Gillian, it is a tradition that it was only believers that are to take communion, because only believers (it is thought) were at the first Lord’s Supper that Jesus initiated. Even the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Judas had left before the Lord’s Supper so that he did not partake. I did not research on this issue many years ago and I presented the evidence at a conference for apologetic ministries and ex-JWs. I showed them that Judas was not only still there with Jesus and the disciples after the Lord’s Supper, but that he was commanded to eat and drink and that all of the disciples partook. I gave all the Scriptures and their eyes popped open as they had never seen this before. I never thought I would have to use the same information about Judas with a Calvinist. The training I had for 16 years working with Jehovah’s Witnesses has come in handy in helping Calvinists see some of their blind spots.

    The fact is that tradition blinds us. We are never told to keep people away from Communion but tradition says Communion is only for Christians even though Jesus died for all. The facts about Judas blow that tradition out of the water.

    But many people have been raised with the tradition and people do not easily change. In India, many pastors do not take communion even though they are pastors. They have been taught that if they have an addiction (many of them struggle with an addiction to tobacco) they are taught that they do not qualify to take communion. I find this practice so sad in that Jesus died for us as even as we were sinners so that we can come to Him just as we are. To keep people away from the sign of God’s covenant with us because they feel they are unworthy is just not right. If Jesus died for Judas and called Himself the friend of Judas, and Judas was commanded to take the first Lord’s meal, how can we tell people they cannot partake?

    I can’t say how close we are to crossing the line where the Corinthians had crossed and they were sinning against the Lord’s sacrifice. What I can say is that we are to proclaim that Jesus died for everyone and each are invited to partake of what He did on their behalf.

  4. I should add that the information about Judas has changed the way our own church handles communion. We no longer tell people that it is for believers alone. We say that if they would like to celebrate with us the sacrifice of Jesus, they are welcome to participate.

  5. No argument there. (re: Communion). Is this something I should bring up to my pastor? If so, how? Maybe just ask about Judas and communion. That way, I leave it to Pastor Jim to do the investigating.

    Thing about JW’s and communion is that they don’t even partake. Something about the New Covenant only for the ‘anointed class’, or something to that effect.

    I LOVE what you said about J.W.’s and Calvinists, though. Sadly, there IS common ground there. Both are COUNTERFEITS of the TRUE Christ, but Calvinism is SOOO close that you would almost need a microscope to see the difference. They have all the bedrock theology in place, ( Trinity, deity of Christ, resurrection). It’s like the perfect clone, but, the Calvinist version of Jesus is what you might call a STEPFORD Christ. The body is there but the personality and HEART are missing.

    While the J.W. Jesus is NOT God, the Calvinist Christ is a god who doesn’t love everyone. That’s almost worse. The JW. Christ CAN’T save anyone, but the Calvinist Christ WON’T save everyone. The J.W. Christ might be ineffectual, but the Calvinist Jesus is cold. He does almost, if not MORE, harm than the Watchtower. Many J.W.’s have gone from the watchtower to Christ, but what happens to those who leave the Calvinist Christ?

    Tom MacGovern is a Calvinist. I talked to him a few years ago on facebook. All was going well until I mentioned 2 Peter 3:9 and he replied, “I hate when that verse is ‘MISinterpreted’. It only applies to the ‘elect’. ”

    In BOTH cases (J.W.’s and Calvinists) there is doctrinal confusion and, when push comes to shove, a tragic lack of LOVE.

    Foolish question time (and with this, I’ll close) but is it easier to talk to a JW or a Calvinist? 😮

    I’m gonna email my pastor and ask about Judas and Communion.

    Thanks, again, for your help and patience. I’m jealous. My blood pressure would be on MARS already.

  6. You are right about the JWs that they do not participate in communion. It is only for the special 144,000 class and this class should be all dead by now.

    Calvinists would say that God loves everyone. They just define the kind of love as different. God loves the unelect by giving them rain, etc. But He only loves in a saving way the ones He has chosen from all eternity. In their reasoning He did not love everyone enough to send Jesus to die for all.

    I know Tom and I have a love for him as a friend. He is open enough to agree to view my DVD The Giving, when it is finished. I agree that there is a lack of love with many Calvinists, but not all. Tom has been very kind to me and open enough to listen. I am very happy to get that agreement!

    As far as who is harder to talk to, I would say it is JWs. JWs have no basis of agreement with us at all and they have not experienced a conversion so we talk from two different world views.

    I do think that it is a good idea to give your pastor the information on Judas and communion. I would recommend copying the info from my article here https://www.mmoutreach.org/tg/juda-2/ This one deals with the most information from communion to predestination. If he can understand that Judas was at communion and partook with the others, then you can ask why we won’t allow others to partake if they want.

    Thank you for your encouragement! God has given me a great amount of grace to have patience and low blood pressure! I give Him all the glory for the work He has done in me! 🙂

  7. Hi Cheryl 🙂

    Last things first.. I posed the issue to my pastor as a question, related to Judas and genuinely expressed confusion on the matter, which I kinda am. So he said he would deal with the the issue during the week. This weekend’s been a bit nuts, with the Annual General Meeting. So I’ll find out what goes from there. Pastor Jim is a good guy. Like you said, it’s more an issue of tradition.

    :/ Okay, confession time. I have to admit that, when it comes to Calvinists, I view them the same way I used to view JWs. I avoid them like poison Oak. I have to learn how to talk to them with the same love I would share for JWs. But with JW’s, their god is soooo off that it’s like we’re talking about two different people. With the Calvinist, it’s like someone defaming a friend of mine, and I just lash out!

    i.e. “Who are YOU to say that you are better than anyone else?! How is it LOVE to save only one of your children from a burning building when there are two kids in the house?!”

    I LOSE it. So it’s good that Tom McGovern is willing to at least hear you out. If you email him, feel free to share those verses of BIBLICAL Election. Esp. Re: Messiah.

    It dawns on me, though, that there are similarities between Calvinists and JW’s, in their double mindedness. Or, at the VERY least, confused. In the Watchtower, God will save ONLY JW’s. In Calvinism, Christ came to save ONLY the (Calvinist) ‘elect’. There is EXCLUSIVISM in both groups. I mean, any good parent would not play favors. If they buy one child school clothes, they buy both children school clothes. And both in the same store. They don’t go to Old Navy for one child and then a Salvation Army Thrift store for the other. Love of NO kind saves ONE child from drowning while letting the other kid go under. Giving the ‘non elect’ the best job, best house in the best neighborhood isn’t worth a hill of beans when the end result is eternal torment. AT GOD’S HAND. How is that even JUST, let alone LOVING.

    At the end of my new chapter on Unconditional Election, I wrote, Dear Calvinist; If God does NOT love the whole world, then how do you know He loves YOU?

    Thanks for listening,

    Joanna

  8. Gillian,
    You said:

    With the Calvinist, it’s like someone defaming a friend of mine, and I just lash out!

    I do understand this and I can feel the same. But perhaps I want to try to see it through God’s eyes, for He knows their hearts. They genuinely believe that they have found the truth on the issue of the Sovereignty of God and they feel that nonCalvinists are defaming the Sovereign God of the universe. And God….He is patiently waiting to give His truth to those who want truth more than they want to be right…and those who want to please Him more than they want to be in the favoured class. Paul even said that he would give up his salvation for his brethren if he could. This is the heart of Jesus, a heart of surrender and sacrifice. We come close to the heart of God when we too can love those who are following a false system, and we are willing to give up our own right to be right, so that we can let them off the hook sometimes so they can have their dignity. No one likes to have truth thrown at them as if it is a weapon and a badge of honor. I want to continually check my heart so that I can have at least a small amount of God’s patience who does not smoke any of us who have wrong notions of who He is. If He was not patient with me, I think I would have been smoked a long time ago, save for His amazing patience and grace. Sometimes I truly think that God allows disagreements on doctrine so that some of us can learn patience and sacrificial love and others can learn to set aside their pride and learn humility, and that all of us will desire the unity of the body in both spirit and truth. There has to be a balance and the valley of trouble and sorrow is the best place to learn the fruit of the Spirit.

    I think I am rambling now myself! What I am trying to say is that if there is an area where I might be wrong, I want God’s truth as much as I want God’s truth to be given to those who have been deceived by error. I want to love truth and embrace it without setting aside dignity and respect for my brother or sister in the Lord. And if they are not my brother or sister in the Lord yet, I want to model Jesus for them in a very small way that I am able.
    I am a peace maker at heart and I want to see the Church end our time on this earth fulfilling Jesus’ prayer that we may be one even as He is one with the Father. Our unity is so important and if we will practice love in everything we do and remember that our enemy is not our brother or sister in Christ, but spiritual enemies in the heavens, we will be one step closer to seeing Jesus’ prayer fulfilled in our lifetime. I do not believe that it is an impossibility. What is impossible with man is possible with God.

    So while I contend earnestly for the truth of the inspired Scriptures, I want to contend with patience and love for those who have been fed something that is not truth, just as I sincerely wish that someone would do for me if I was in error. I want to fulfill the law of love as far as I am capable and with God’s enabling me to be obedient.

    As far as the question you wrote about how a Calvinist would know that God loves them…there are many Calvinists who have felt doubt at times, troubling doubt, whether they are of the elect or not. Calvin taught that God has allowed some of the reprobate to receive enough of the spirit to be convinced they are believers when they are not and this is all the more to judge them. So they know that there will be false believers and many have been plagued with doubt at one time or another because of this doctrine. So what do we do? We preach the true gospel of God’s love for all and that Jesus loved Judas so much that He was even a friend to Judas and died for him. If Jesus’ love was that great toward someone who was an enemy, how much more can we be sure of His love for us? He will not deceive us. He truly wants us all to be saved and to come to know Him.

  9. TOTALLY AGREED! 🙂

    Even as I work on that project, I have to remember that the Calvinist, like the JW is deceived by false doctrine, and try to deal with the issues with QUESTIONS rather than an IN YOU FACE screech-fest. I wouldn’t want that done to me, so I have to remember how to approach even my writing with a less cranky attitude. With two exceptions (turning over the tables of the money changers/ His rant against the Scribes, Pharisees as HYPOCRITES) . Tactful He was NOT. 😀 Most of the time, though, Jesus met people where they were. He knew the human heart. I’m guessing He may have even prayed to the Father for patience with the Pharisees, on one of the times the Bible says Jesus went off to a solitary place to pray.

    Long story short ( ’bout time, huh? 😉 ) I do have to watch my attitude that I don’t do the right things with the wrong attitude, which will do as much harm as giving them wrong doctrine. At the very least, it won’t do any good. SO, I need to pray and count to 100… backward if that will help. Because I don’t want to be ‘smoked’ 😀 so I won’t ‘smoke’ others.

    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels this way. I have read the same thing (Re: Doubts) in Dave’s book. Sproul and even Calvin talked about their ‘doubts’ about being one of the ‘elect’.

    Now, even ASSUMING that there is a modicum of truth to the Calvinist version of ‘Election’, I can’t help but wonder… when Barak Obama was referred to as ‘President Elect’, the Democratic party didn’t just grab him out of his home and say, “Buddy, you’re gonna run for president of the United States’. Didn’t he have to decide to run for the office?

    In the most basic way possible, the late Adrian Rogers said, “Who are the ‘elect’? Whosoever WILL.” (See John 7:17)

    As always, thanks for listening.

    ~Joanna~

  10. Joanna, You are right about Jesus’ attitude. He did turn over tables in His Father’s house and He called the Pharisees white-washed tombs and other names. He had an advantage, though, because He could see who they were on the inside that they were keeping hidden from others.

    I think the best way for us to act and react is that all of us need mercy and grace. We will be judged with the mercy and grace that we show to others so it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra past what we ourselves need from others.

    And it is a pleasure to listen. I am very passionate on the subject of the Sovereignty of God and Calvinism. It has my attention.

  11. Hi Cheryl; 😀

    First things first…the name confusion. Gillian is my online name. My middle name. But most of the time, and with most people I’m Joanna. Sorry about that.

    And you’re quite right about approach and ATTITUDE which will determine how we respond to people caught in any deception. There, but for the Grace of God, go I. I just have to learn to operate brain and heart before engaging tongue.

    Not easy with some. With the word ‘Sovereignty’ as devout Calvinists use it, to me, it’s like that reflex hammer doctors used to use. As soon as he/she hits that nerve, the knee reacts. It doesn’t wonder if it should or shouldn’t, it just does. A suitable analogy, when kicking leg and a loosened tongue can do the same sort of damage.

    Thankfully, I now know what that word means and what questions I can possibly ask, to make the Calvinist think. First, there’s the matter of training, what Josephine March (Little Women) called, “My tongue. My abominable tongue!”

    Joanna GILLIAN.

  12. Joanna,
    Thanks for clearing up the confusion for me on your name. So Joanna it is at this place because here we are just Christian brethren so real names will do just fine.

    The thing for me about Calvinist buzz words, they are things that push me to understand what they mean, and then they are words that I can use to help a Calvinist understand me. Sometimes I will substitute a word that has a clearer meaning and sometimes I just use what they have already set up in their mind. Either way, I believe that God wants us to dialog and to understand each other so that we can hold fast to what is true and to set aside that which is a lie. It is a pattern we should have all our lives because none of us is likely to be 100% correct on everything here on this earth. But in the essentials we can be united and show love and grace in areas that we disagree so that we can be united there too. Grace covers over a lot of sticky issues when we set our minds to love Jesus more than we dislike our brothers who push Calvinism. I know they are so often arrogant towards nonCalvinists (their humility seems to be only towards God) but my desire to have patience is because if I can’t influence them for good, then maybe, just maybe I can learn from them how better to share the true balance Sovereignty of God!

  13. I’ve said it before and I will say it again; You’ve got the patience of Job. 🙂 I will try.

    Thankfully, today’s post op follow up (Breast Health Care center) gives me nearly a clean bill of health. Three radiation treatments and all should be well and I’ll be back to work in August. THAT said, I will be spending my recuperation time finish up and polishing up my project and posting it to my blog. I plan to use that time wisely.

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