This chapter, in which Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper shows us four important things. They are Judas’s betrayal, Peter’s denial, Christ’s prayer and Christ’s covenant.
Here is a link to the livestream video:
19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.”
The practice of repeating the Lord’s Supper over and over again in church is one of the most basic and defining elements of the Christian faith. We do it, not least, because Jesus told us to do so. In other words, it’s not that some church people from long ago thought it up and kept doing it because they simply liked it. We get the idea from Jesus himself. Why did he think it was so important? It’s a question worth pondering.
The best answer I can come up with is that it forces us to review the story of the gospel time and again. This persistent retelling and, in a sense, reliving the gospel is necessary. Without it, our faith might easily degenerate into something else, which could only be something less.
We might, for example, get lost in theological speculation. Thinking about theology is good and admittedly much needed in a day like ours when theological shallowness is the norm. But Christian theology and its theologians must always come back to the gospel. Without the gospel consistently retold, theology can lose its base, its foundation or its center. What good is theology if the gospel gets lost?
Another error might be found in good works. No Christian can sanely minimize the importance of charitable activity resulting from faith. But faith in what or in whom? Faith in Christ as we see understand him through the gospel. Good works cannot just hang in midair. They are not publicity stunts or ways of adding merit to our account before God. The gospel tells us that the only merit we have is that of Christ. We need to hear that again and again.
A final error might be seen in our private devotional life. Time alone with God is basic to a lively and growing faith. This idea of intimate personal experience is sometimes lost in our cluttered and hyperactive culture. Who has time for it? And yet, as we learn the lessons we need to learn about spending time alone with God, we also need to experience the gospel with others. And we need it on a regular basis.
This week at our church we are celebrating the Lord’s Supper again. Many will do it at home while viewing a livestream service online. All of us will focus on Jesus, taking the bread and the cup, remember him and what he did for us once more.
We need to review that gospel story. We need to hear it again. We need to think about Jesus and his sacrifice, his body torn and his blood poured out. He said it to his disciples and we will say it one more time.
“Do this in remembrance of me.”