26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.”
22 As they were eating, He took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them, and so they all drank from it. 24 He said to them, “This is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many. 25 I assure you: I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you, from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 In the same way He also took the cup after supper and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood; it is shed for you.
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, 24 gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: On the night when He was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way, after supper He also took the cup and said, “This cup is the new covenant established by 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 11:23-26
As we continue our devotional journey to know the personality and deeds of Jesus Christ we come to passages focusing on The Lord’s Supper.
The Lord’s Supper was instituted by the command of Christ and by His example as well. On the night before His death, Christ gathered with His disciples to eat the Passover meal (see Matt 26:26–29; Mark 14:22–25; Luke 22:17–20).
Since the Supper was celebrated in connection with the Passover, we may assume the bread was unleavened. Jesus gave thanks (eucharisteo, from which the idea of Eucharist comes) for the meal. That the institution of the Lord’s Supper was connected with the Passover meal is clear in the phrase “after the Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:25), meaning after the Passover meal. It is practically certain that 1 Corinthians was written before the completion of the Gospels, which means that Paul’s account is the earliest record we have of the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper is identified six different ways in the NT: (1) Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20); (2) Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 10:21); (3) Breaking of Bread (Acts 2:42; 20:7); (4) Communion (1 Corinthians 10:16); (5) Eucharist (1 Corinthians 11:24); and (6) Love Feast (some manuscript readings of 2 Peter 2:13; Jude 12).
The Supper’s initial focus was table fellowship around a common meal. As the bread and wine were taken, the Lord’s presence was to be recalled in the words “in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:24). To recall means to transport an action that is buried in the past in such a way that its original potency and vitality are not lost but are carried over into the present. It is a remembrance of the life and death of the Lord.
Just as the Passover was the means that dynamically allowed Jews to relive the past experience of their forebears in the land of Egypt, the Lord’s Supper takes believers back to the scenes of the Lord’s redemption, leading them again to receive the blessings of the Lord’s passion.
The bread symbolizes His sinless life that qualified Him to be a perfect sacrifice for sin. It represents His body in which He actually bore our sin on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). His shed blood is represented by the wine. Believers are to look upon these elements as taking them back to the scenes of the Lord’s death.
The believers’ participation in the Supper represents their response to the Lord’s love that bore the cross.
The Supper is a basic announcing of the gospel (1 Corinthians 11:26), a sermon by the entire church in silence. The Supper tends to quicken the anticipation for the second coming (see Matthew 26:29). It thus points beyond itself to a future hope in the kingdom of God.
As believers participate in the Supper, they are reminded of the oneness within the body of Christ and of the fellowship that is shared among fellow believers. The observance is one that is so simple a believing child can partake with a sense of understanding. Yet it also contains so many doctrinal ramifications that even the most mature believer will not fully comprehend its meaning.
The church is commanded to continue the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24). The Supper provides a needed emphasis on the death and resurrection of the Lord that established the new covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25; see Jeremiah 31:31–34).
There are no specific guidelines about how and when the Supper should be observed. Yet the implications from the NT teach us that the Supper should be regular, frequent (1 Corinthians11:20), and normally on the first day of the week (see Acts 20:7).
Past, present, and future are thus gathered up in one sacred and joyful festival of the Lord’s Supper in apostolic practice and teaching. Indeed, in this ordinance the whole of what Christianity means is expressed. One Lord, incarnate, atoning, and triumphant is the sum and substance of the observance.
Here is seen a dramatic interrelationship between human relationships and relationship with God. The essence of the experience is fellowship and worship, eating together, while at the same time remembering the death of the Lord Jesus Christ in our behalf.[i]
In 29 years of ministry I lead congregations in observing the Lord’s Supper many times. But it was worshipping as a guest at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL that God used this ordnance in a powerful way to teach me that the Supper was to remember Jesus. It was instituted by Him for worship, fellowship, remembrance and proclamation.
On this particular evening while worshipping at Brook Hills the time came for observance of The Lord’s Supper. As the pastor called for those serving the supper to come forward a lady dressed in black jeans, black motorcycle boots and a black “biker” t-shirt stepped forward, moved to the isle and stood by the side of the table containing the elements. When directed, she, a church member, served my wife and me the sacred elements of communion.
In all honesty, I was shocked that I was not being served the bread and cup by an ordained Deacon; in a coat and tie, who had received the elements directly from the Pastor, in the front of the room. This was “my tradition” and the way that The Lord’s Supper “had always been served”. This was the way that I had led congregations to observe the supper. My wife and I were so shocked by the moment that we actually wondered if we should even participate in the observance.
But then the voice of God spoke to me with one simple question “Is this about you, the biker lady, or Me?” (Bam! My heart was broken by my arrogance and lack of understanding.) This simple question from God drove me to my knees and taught me what I thought I already knew; The Lord’s Supper is about Him! Nothing more; Simply Jesus! Not me, not the biker lady; but about remembering Him, worshipping Him and proclaiming Him as my Lord and Savior until He returns.
To this day I still contemplate God’s powerful lesson. I can still hear Him say, Remember Me!
[i] Dockery, D. S., Butler, T. C., Church, C. L., Scott, L. L., Ellis Smith, M. A., White, J. E., & Holman Bible Publishers (Nashville, T. (1992). Holman Bible Handbook (691). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- When I observe The Lord’s Supper do I observe it with a proper understanding and attitude both personally and corporately?
- When I observe The Lord’s Supper do I sincerely take time to reflect on the cross and the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf?
- What changes do I need to make in my life based on my understanding of and reflection on this devotional?