Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Do This in Remembrance of Me
It is a most unfortunate thing that the ordinances that Christ gave his Church have become such a flashpoint of dispute and division. That was certainly not our Lord’s intention, and only shows that the devil goes to church to sow discord among brethren. But be that as it may, I too come from a certain faith tradition that I naturally believe to be biblical. I do not say what I say here to offend, but instead hope to elucidate some spiritual truth upon which we may all agree.
The wonder of the Lord’s Supper lies in what it foreshadowed at the moment when Jesus served his disciples. Only Jesus is fully aware of what lies ahead; the disciples, no doubt, share a sense of foreboding based upon Jesus’ words, but still cannot comprehend the deep significance of the Supper or what it portends. I have to believe that his words mystified the disciples: “Take, eat; this is my body which is given (broken) for you … Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” This was not the Passover meal the disciples had taken before, that any Jew had taken before. This Passover was not about the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt so long ago and commemorated with the sacrifice of a lamb; this Passover was about deliverance from sin commemorated by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. And so the bread and wine take on a whole new significance, a greater significance, for the Lamb of God stands before us as priest and sacrifice both at the same time.
So what the Supper foreshadowed then is what the Supper calls us to remember now. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he said. Jesus was not speaking in any nostalgic way as if he were worried the world might forget him. He commands us to remember him and his sacrifice for us for our own benefit, for when we remember him we shall think to honor him, and look with hatred upon the sins that so easily beset us, and scorn the temptations that so frequently stalk us. Remembering is our way of bringing the past into the present, and we are very much aware that our Lord is present, ever-present, keeping watch, and calls us to do the same (Mark 13:36). Thus, the Supper becomes for us a continual reminder of our Lord’s passion, inspiring us to holiness and godly living. It serves other purposes: a source of unity among believers, a foreshadowing of the great Supper we shall partake of in heaven. But all of that is made possible by what it calls us to remember: His broken body and shed blood for the forgiveness of our sins.