Saturday, November 12, 2011

Do This in Remembrance of Me - A Reflection on the Lord's Supper

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. (1 Cor. 11:23-26)

When we celebrate Holy Communion we are proclaiming that Jesus died. Specifically, He died for our sins. No longer do we need to take animals and slaughter them. But why did we have to do that to begin with? Because without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22) A body cannot survive without blood (Lev. 17:11) Since Adam's disobedience, we have carried the consequences of his sin. That consequence is that we die. (Romans 5:12-13) Until that appointment with death, God called us to make sacrifices of living creatures, innocent of our sin for each time we did not fulfill the laws of God. (Heb. 5:1-3, 9:7) This reminds us that life is not cheap. A price must be paid. So out of one’s flock or herd, a gift is given to God for His mercy.  Blood is shed in place of our own, a life is taken in our place.

But Jesus changed all that. At the last supper with His disciples, He took bread and wine and identified Himself with it. What once had been signs of God’s people’s escape from slavery has now become for us signs of our escape from sin and its consequences. He became the Passover lamb. His blood was poured out for the forgiveness of sins. (Mt. 26:28) He identified His passion that had yet to happen with our release from the captivity of sin which His death will satisfy! And it was satisfied! A perfect man, one with God, offered Himself fulfilling the Law and it’s demands. ( Col. 2:13-15)

So when Jesus commands us that we are to remember Him in a particular way, we are to remember His death and why He died. It is a proclamation (1 Cor. 11:26) And we should not forget that He died for each and everyone of us personally. We are to examine our conscience acknowledging our need for Jesus' sacrifice. If we don’t we bring judgment on ourselves. (1 Cor. 11:29)  Therefore, when Jesus says, “Do this...” we are to know exactly what we are doing and why! It is a reminder of our forgiveness through His death upon the cross! (Heb. 10:14)

Article 28 of the Articles of Religion expresses the teaching of the Anglican Faith regarding Holy Communion.

28. Of the Lord's Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ's death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
Transubstantiation (or the change of the substance of Bread and Wine) in the Supper of the Lord, cannot be proved by Holy Writ; but is repugnant to the plain words of Scripture, overthroweth the nature of a Sacrament, and hath given occasion to many superstitions.
The Body of Christ is given, taken, and eaten, in the Supper, only after an heavenly and spiritual manner. And the mean whereby the Body of Christ is received and eaten in the Supper, is Faith.
The Sacrament of the Lord's Supper was not by Christ's ordinance reserved, carried about, lifted up, or worshipped.