Good seats were a big deal to people in the Gospels. And it was not just the Scribes and Pharisees who wanted them! You may remember that James and John famously asked Jesus for the privilege of sitting at His right and left hand in His kingdom [Mk 10:37ff], which led to Him telling them that the greatest among them would be their servant.
And this even continued on the night of the Last Supper! Jesus instituted the Supper, and immediately after, “A dispute arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” But Jesus told them, “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” He had already showed them this by Himself serving them before dinner by washing their feet—the Great One showed them how to serve.
Pride and self-importance marked the Corinthian church’s attempted celebrations of the Lord’s Supper for a time as well, and so St. Paul had to remind them that it’s not their meal. They have their own meals at home—but this meal is to be celebrated in humble deference and service to one another.
When St. Paul tells us to “examine” ourselves, and to “discern the body,” he is not calling us to morbid introspection—to thinking about “how bad we are”! He is not calling us to be able to write a 10-page paper about what happens in the Supper.
He is telling us not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. [Rom 12:3] He is telling us to consider others more important than ourselves. [Phil 2:3] That’s the whole point of the supper: Christ says “this is my body given for you” and “this is the cup of the new covenant poured out for you”—so that now you are made one body and called to die for one another.
This Table is His gracious gift to us, His Body, nourishing us body and soul.
As our Belgic Confession so beautifully sums up: “In a word, we are moved by the use of this holy sacrament to a fervent love towards God and our neighbor.”