Remember This in the Lord's Supper
Each week we imitate first century disciples in remembering the death of Jesus with the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-34). While this memorial has tremendous significance to the disciples of Jesus, the ceremony described in the New Testament is striking for its simplicity.
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘Take, eat, this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:23-28).
The ceremony or ritual described here could not be considered in anyway elaborate, and it is not staged in such a way as to artificially and superficially play on the emotions of the worshiper; instead, the call is to look at oneself and make certain Jesus is being remembered. Though some seem intent on coming up with a way to improve the memorial and “enhance the experience,” there should be no need for the lights to be lowered while we eat the Lord’s Supper or for someone to share their subjective feelings about what Jesus has meant to him; instead, we simply need to focus on Jesus and His death. Rather than have uninspired people share their thoughts, wouldn’t it be better to allow inspired writers to guide our remembrance? There are many good passages we speak to us of why Jesus died and in the remainder of this article we will take a look at one of the many inspired Scriptures we can use to stir our remembrance.
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
Without Strength; Ungodly; Sinners; Enemies
In this brief reading we see these four different terms employed to remind us the cross is the most amazing display of grace imaginable. The body of Jesus was nailed to the cross and His blood was spilled for us though we had done nothing to deserve His goodness and had in fact made ourselves His enemies through sin—sin we had chosen to commit (Rom. 3:23). When we eat the Lord’s Supper we should remember the One who died for us when we lacked the strength to save ourselves from the condemnation we deserved.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us….” We often find it difficult to love those we don’t have a lot in common with us, but God loved us when our thoughts and actions were repulsive to His holy and just nature. Will the simple remembrance of how “God so loved the world” (John 3:16) when we seemed to be unlovable cause us to live for Him? “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again” (2 Cor. 5:14-15).
Justified; Saved from Wrath; Reconciled
The first three chapters of Romans paint a solemn picture of a world guilty of sin (Rom. 3:19, 23) and facing God’s wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18; 2:5, 8-9). Yet, our sorrow can be turned to joy (Rom. 5:1-2, 11) with the realization God’s wrath is no longer directed at us because the cross reconciles us to God and causes us to be pronounced not guilty (i.e. justified).
If by faith we have obeyed from the heart, been united with the death of Christ in baptism, and been set free from sin (Rom. 5:1-2; 6:3-4, 17; cf. Acts 2:38), we should eat the Lord’s Supper each week with a deep appreciation for where we once were, where we are now, and the love which changed everything. But if you are reading this and have never been baptized into the death of Christ—that life-changing death—why not make this the day you go from being a sinner, an enemy of God with no strength to a reconciled child of God?
All quotations from the New Kings James Version , copyright 1994, Thomas Nelson, Inc.