1 Corinthians 11:23-26
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that 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.
Each church practices their Lord’s Supper remembrance a little differently. Some use regular bread while others use unleavened bread. Some use grape juice while others use wine. Some churches conduct it weekly and others monthly. The Lord’s Supper can also be called Communion and others call it the Eucharist. In some churches, only the pastor or priest can handle and serve the elements while in others it is passed from participant to participant.
Regardless of all the variations on how the ritual is performed, the core of its meaning is remembering what our Lord Jesus has done for us. Think about how many facets of the Christian story is embodied in this practice?
We see the humanity of Jesus. He dwelt among us. He ate food. For the disciples and various followers who knew Jesus, he was as real as real can be. They heard the sound of his voice, they could see his facial expressions, they could feel his hands when he touched them to bless them or heal them. They could taste the water that he had turned into wine, they could enjoy the five loaves and two fish he multiplied. The aroma of the ointment used to anoint his feet would float through the room. He was as real as real can be.
And he died. That is ultimate expression of the human condition. He was as real as real can be.
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes…
Let’s lean into this. In this statement is bundled a whole lot. A whole slew of “theological” SAT words can be used to unpack this simple phrase:
Christology – the humanity of Jesus in the incarnation, the divinity of Jesus in his title as Lord
soteriology – salvation is the mission of Jesus of which death, resurrection, and return is included
ecclesiology – the story of the church that is to remember Jesus and to proclaim Jesus to the world
eschatology – future things as Jesus is coming back
All of this meaning built around the simple act of taking some bread and some wine. Getting down into the very basics, we eat food and drink fluids to survive. But the Lord Supper points to life abundant and not mere survival. And so Jesus has invested into this simple ceremony a way for us to remember the reality that eternal living – a relationship with God – is possible because of the free, complete, and costly work of Jesus.