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.” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 (NIV)
I find it fascinating that in bringing correction to the divisions among the church of Corinth, Paul goes directly to the self-sacrificial death of Jesus on the Cross and Jesus’ own injunction to “do this in remembrance of me”. He points us to the Cross as the central event in all of history and we find all our meaning and motivations in that weekend. This is the glorious gospel! Everything we think, say and do as followers of Jesus finds it’s purest motivation in the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ! Everything. It is by his example and through the empowerment of his Holy Spirit that we can love and live like he does. We remember him because we want to emulate him.
So, we remember the Cross continually because:
- Jesus has paid the price in full for us to be completely reconciled to God our Creator. We are thankful recipients of his generous grace and mercy.
- It helps us stay grounded in the fact that we cannot save ourselves. We avoid fruitless religious activity like the plague! These will tire us out and bring grave dissatisfaction.
- It is impossible for us to live the life that God has ordained for us. Therefore, we are indebted to Holy Spirit for his enlightenment, empowerment and leading. He helps us flourish.
- We stay in touch with our need for God’s grace and mercy which he lavishes on us without conditions and limits.
- We get to remember what real love is.
The Ritual of it
My wife and I go through seasons when we take Communion daily. Our congregation takes Communion every Sunday. Doing it this frequently can cause me to sometimes feel like it is a dull and even ritualistic experience. This is understandable because we are circumstantial creatures subject to the vicissitudes of life. We can’t always be jazzed all the time about everything – even important things. And we do things not based on feelings but because they are the right things to do.
I find though that the occasions when taking Communion becomes uninteresting are mostly when I am distracted by the process of taking the elements. My focus is on the event itself and not on the remembering of Jesus! In other words, the actual signpost (the taking of Holy Communion) becomes smoke and mirrors that prevents me from focusing on the One to whom it is pointing. So, in fact, I am taking the Communion elements but I am not really engaging in remembering Jesus! Of course, when I am in church on Sunday I can look deeply spiritual taking the Communion even though my heart might be far from being captivated by the beauty of Jesus!
Remembering the Divine Exchange
One significant way that I have found to help me focus my wandering heart is to remember some aspect of the sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross and its ensuing benefit to those who believe. This we refer to as the Divine Exchange. Here are some for our own reflection:
- Jesus was punished so that we could have peace with God (Isaiah 53:5)
- Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness so that we could be made righteous with his righteousness. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Jesus was wounded that we might be healed – body and soul. (Isaiah 53:5d)
- Jesus died our death so that we may share his life. (Hebrews 2:9)
- Jesus was made a curse so that we might receive the blessing of the Holy Spirit.(Galatians 3:14)
- Jesus endured our poverty so that we might share his richness in every way. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
- Jesus was cut off by death so that we might be joined to God eternally. (Isaiah 53:8-9)
- Our old man was put to death in him; that the new man might come to life in us. (Romans 6:6)
Next time you take Communion I would encourage you to focus on one of these benefits of the Cross – and the price that was paid by Jesus – and I guarantee that your heart will be profoundly turned within you. Holy Communion will seem far from a ritual and will likely create within you a fresh impetus for worship and thanksgiving to our Great God and King. Amen!