May 28, 2023 | Doug Sauder
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“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 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, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”—1 Corinthians 11:23–26 (NIV)
I love holidays—and yes, I view birthdays and anniversaries as holy days. But have you ever stopped and wondered why we celebrate holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries? It’s remembrance. We observe holidays and milestones so we may never forget what took place on those days, to reflect on where we are today because of these things, and to remember to live in light of these things.
Our passage today is sandwiched between the manner in which we should approach the practice of the Lord’s Supper (also known as communion) and a reminder to approach it with reverence and respect. Here, Paul reiterates the purpose of communion. So, let’s examine the two significant elements of this sacred practice:
Dating back to the fall, the shedding of blood was necessary to cover sins (Genesis 3:21; Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:13–10:18). But this was a temporary bandage as the next offense required another sacrifice. This continued until “God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin” (Romans 3:25 NLT). At the last supper, Jesus used the cup of redemption (the third of four cups used during a Passover Seder) to show how Jesus would take upon Himself all sin—past, present, and future—and shed His blood on the altar of eternity to pay the full penalty. So, we drink the wine/grape juice to remember the blood of Jesus that was poured out for our redemption.
During a Passover Seder, the matzoh (unleavened bread) is placed in a three-compartment bag called an echad, which means “one.” One piece is placed into each chamber. In Scripture, leaven symbolizes sin, thus bread without yeast represents our holy God. So, when the sinless Christ took the bread, broke it, and said, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26 NIV), He was telling them He’d be broken so we could be made clean, innocent, without leaven before God! Paul beautifully summarizes the significance of this symbolism in 2 Corinthians 5:21 (NIV) when he says, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” And God has given us the means to be made “holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time” (Hebrews 10:10 NLT).
When we respond to Christ’s call to follow Him, repent of our sins, and receive salvation, we’re consecrated—set apart to the Lord, hidden in Christ. Our debt is paid, our sins are forgiven, and we receive eternal life with God in heaven as well as the indwelling Holy Spirit. We’re redeemed and restored in that moment forever, adopted into the family of God as His son or daughter by the body and blood of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I pray the communion bread and cup would provide us with a constant opportunity to remember all that Christ did for us, to look forward to all the Father wants to do in and through us, and to renew our commitment to obey and honor Him. I pray we approach this moment with humility, gratitude, and reverence in remembrance of Christ as we remember what Christ suffered on our behalf and what He accomplished on our behalf. Also, I pray we would come to the table in celebration that because of the work of Christ, we’re saved, redeemed, and adopted into the family of God!
Pause: Why is communion such an important practice for both the church and each individual believer?
Practice: Today, you can take communion on your own or with your friends, family, small group, or any other gathering of believers. Grab some bread and grape juice and spend time in remembrance of what Jesus did for you and in celebration of how He has made you whole and new and redeemed!
Pray: Father, I thank You for the Lamb who is worthy, who took upon Himself the full penalty for my sins and the sins of the world and conquered sin and death to Your glory and my salvation. I pray I would live in constant awareness of this truth, always reminded of the power and beauty of the gospel, and that I would always approach communion with an understanding of what this holy moment means. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.