1 Corinthians 11:23–32 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when 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 also he took the cup, 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. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
“Do this in remembrance of me.”
I love the TV show “Chopped.”
For those of you who are not familiar with this cooking competition, one of the features is how each chef is given a mystery basket with odd and mismatched ingredients each one has to figure out how to make into an appetizer, or an entree or a dessert. Sometimes the ingredients are nothing short of cruel.
But the word you hear over and over is that each one has to “Re-purpose” the ingredients.
So one episode I watched had the following items out of which they had to fashion and appetizer:
Appetizer: Durian (a fruit known for its strong, fetid odor), Lime Gelatin, Imitation Crab Meat, & Crunchy Cheese Curls.
The winner made: “Cheese Curl Encrusted Fish Sticks with Durian Coconut Sauce.” Yum.
Now re-purposing a food ingredient or re-purposing a farm implement and making it into a lamp or something may be fun and inventive – but some things ought not to be repurposed. And to do so is a travesty, a tragedy or even blasphemy.
So re-purposing human beings for instance as crash test dummies, or punching bags or slaves – sends immediate flashes of how abhorrent those ideas are. We hardly need to say such things are wrong. We know it instinctively.
And we ought to have to the same visceral and violent reaction against re-purposing the words or Word of God to suit our own interests as well. But that is what had happened in the Church at Corinth during the Apostle Paul’s day.
Instead of the Lord’s Table or communion being a remembrance of Jesus, His person and His work, and a means of unifying those who share a common saving faith in the work of Jesus Christ on Calvary – some had turned the time into a mere carnal meal to satisfy their own physical appetites, some even getting drunk – and in the process demeaning those who were poorer in the local assembly.
They were no longer having the communion Jesus had commanded – for the purpose He had given – in remembrance of Him. They had re-purposed it for their own ends.
This begs 2 questions:
1. What does it mean Biblically to partake of communion “in remembrance of Him?”
2. Why is it so important to do this in remembrance of Him?
What it MEANS to come to the table in remembrance of Jesus in short, is given to us in this text itself: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
It is important, because in doing this, we come face to face with the necessity and reality His death once again, and the promise of His return.
Paul would use that same theme in his own ministry as he notes in
1 Corinthians 15:3–4 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,”
Jesus’ Christ coming in the flesh, and dying for our sins, and rising from the dead – is what the Apostle says is of FIRST IMPORTANCE in preaching the Gospel.
And as it is all “according to the Scriptures”, these truths are what God has communicated to us all along.
But WHY is it some important to do this in remembrance of Him?
One thing: It is NOT important for Him!
But it is important FOR US!
It is vitally important that we never lose sight of the Gospel. So that as Believers we live constantly in the realization of all that He is, and what He has done for us.
We easily forget – we lose sight of things that are most eternally important for our souls – through the noetic effects of the Fall, our own busyness, distraction, and mere neglect.
So in Isaiah 53:1–12:
1a Who has believed what he has heard from us? : WE FORGET HOW UNBELIEVABLE THE TRUE GOSPEL IS
1b And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? : WE FORGET HIS INCREDIBLE POWER & HUMILITY
2 For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. : WE FORGET HE WAS GOD IN HUMAN FLESH
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. : WE FORGET HOW HE SUFFERED IN OUR REJECTION OF HIM
4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. : WE FORGET HOW WE MISUNDERSTOOD HIS MISSION AND WORK
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. : WE FORGET THE WONDER OF HIS SUBSTITUTIONARY DEATH
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. : WE FORGET THE DEPTHS OUR OWN SIN AND GUILT HE HAD TO OVERCOME:
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. : WE FORGET HIS COMPLETE SUBMISSION TO THE FATHER’S PLAN OF REDEMPTION
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? : WE FORGET HE DIED FOR OUR SINS, NOT HIS OWN
9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. : WE FORGET HIS HUMILIATION
10 Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; : WE FORGET THIS WAS THE LOVING PLAN OF THE FATHER TO PURCHASE LOST SINNERS
when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. : WE FORGET WHAT HIS DEATH HAS DONE FOR US
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. : WE FORGET THAT IT IS BY HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS THAT BELIEVERS ARE COUNTED RIGHTEOUS – NOT BECAUSE OF ANY GOODNESS OF OUR OWN:
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; : WE FORGET HE AND WE ARE STILL WAITING FOR THE DAY OF HIS RETURN AND OUR REWARD IN HIM
yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. : WE FORGET HE BORE OUR SIN – COMPLETELY – AND THAT IS WHY THOSE WHO PUT THEIR FAITH IN HIM ALONE HAVE COMPLETE RECONCILIATION TO THE FATHER.
We do it in remembrance of Him – because we need so badly to have a constant reminder that our salvation rests in His finished work on the cross. That as
Ephesians 2:8–9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
“[I]f worldly virtues could blot out sin, Christ has died in vain. He came to save his people from their sins. Angels ushered him into this world as the Savior of sinners. John told men behold in him the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world; and the whole Bible testifies, that “through this man is preached unto you the remission of sins.” But if the every-day honesties, and kindnesses, and generosities of life, could avail to take away sin, why need Christ to suffer? If anything so cheap and common as earthly virtues are, could avail to blot out sin, why give so inestimably precious a provision to be made as the blood of the Son of God? If, with all our honesties, and all our decencies and respectabilities in the world, we do not stand in need of everything, why does Christ counsel us to buy of him gold tried in the fire, that we may be rich? Nothing that is imperfect can make us perfect in the sight of God. Hence the admirable direction of an old divine; “Labor after sanctification to the utmost; but do not make a Christ of it; if you do it must come down, one way or other. Christ’s obedience and sufferings, not your sanctification, must be your justification.” The matter seems a plain one. God is yet to judge the world in righteousness; that is, by the strictest rule of his holy law. If we are to be justified in his sight on that day, we must be perfect in his sight. But we cannot be by means of our own sanctification, which is imperfect. It must be through the imputing of a perfect righteousness, then, even the perfect obedience of Christ, that we are to be justified in that day. We are complete only in Christ; we are perfect only in Christ Jesus. But ah! brethren, if our sanctification will not do for a righteousness in that day, much less will our worldly virtues do. If your honesties and worldly decencies are to be enough to cover your nakedness, and make you comely in the sight of God, why did Christ need to fulfill all righteousness, as a guarantee in the place of sinners? Why does he offer to make poor sinners the righteousness of God in him? Why does he say of his saved ones: “You were perfect in beauty, through my comeliness which I put upon you?”
Robert Murray McCheyne, The Works of the Late Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne, vol. 2 (New York: Robert Carter, 1847), 170.
Come to The Lord’s Table for the purpose it was given: In remembrance, of Him!