And when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:24–26)
The bread that had represented the Exodus now came to represent the body of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. To the Jewish mind the body represented the whole person, not just his physical body. Jesus’ body represents the great mystery of His whole incarnate life, His whole teaching, ministry, and work—all He was and all He did.
This is My body, which is for you. For you are two of the most beautiful words in all of Scripture. Jesus gave His body, His entire incarnate life, for us who believe in Him. “I became a man for you; I gave the gospel to you; I suffered for you; and I died for you.” Our gracious, loving, magnanimous, merciful God became incarnate not for Himself but for us. Whether a person wants and receives the benefit of that sacrifice is his choice; but Jesus made it and offers it for every person. He paid the ransom for everyone who will be freed.
The cup that had represented the lamb’s blood smeared on the doorposts and lintels now came to represent the blood of the Lamb of God, shed for the salvation of the world. The Old Covenant was ratified repeatedly by the blood of animals offered by men; but the New Covenant has been ratified once and for all by the blood of Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:28), which God Himself has offered. The old deliverance was merely from Egypt to Canaan. So Jesus took the cup and said it is the new covenant in My blood. It is important to realize that this was not new in the sense that it was a covenant of grace replacing one of works. It is new in that it is the saving covenant to which all the Old Testament shadows pointed. The new deliverance is from sin to salvation, from death to life, from Satan’s realm to God’s heaven. Passover was transformed into the Lord’s Supper. We now eat the bread and drink the cup not to remember the Red Sea and the Exodus but to remember the cross and the Savior.
Do this in remembrance of Me is a command from the lips of our Lord Himself. Sharing in the Lord’s Supper is therefore not an option for believers. We must have Communion on a regular basis if we are to be faithful to the Lord who bought us through the act we are called to remember. Not to partake of the Lord’s Supper is disobedience and a sin.
For the Hebrew to remember meant much more than simply to bring something to mind, merely to recall that it happened. To truly remember is to go back in one’s mind and recapture as much of the reality and significance of an event or experience as one possibly can. To remember Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross is to relive with Him His life, agony, suffering, and death as much as is humanly possible. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper we do not offer a sacrifice again; we remember His once–for–all sacrifice for us and rededicate ourselves to His obedient service.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. As often as we are willing to remember and to proclaim the death of Christ, we will celebrate Communion. No frequency is given, but it is a permanent feast. It is more than a remembrance for our own sakes; it is also a proclamation for the world’s sake. It is a testimony to the world that we are not ashamed of our Lord or of His blood, that we belong to Him and are obedient to Him.
Communion is also a reminder of the Lord’s coming again, for He tells us to proclaim His death by this means until He comes. It helps keep us looking forward to the day when we will be with Him. It is a celebration of His present life and of His future return in glory.
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