(Part 3 of a 3 Part Series on Holy Communion)
When Jesus broke bread and shared wine at his last supper, did he really envision a daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly ceremony with little wafers and wine? I don’t think so. I believe that he was encouraging his followers to remember him whenever they ate or drank. To illustrate his point, he used what was on the table at that time. Since Jesus and his disciples were eating the Passover dinner; there was unleavened bread and wine possibly along with lamb and some other items like seasonal fruits and veggies.
Matthew 26: 26-28 reads, “While they were eating [the Passover dinner, AKA the last supper], Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." [The parallel verse in Luke 22:19 adds, “this do in remembrance of me”.] Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”
We tend to focus too much on the medium rather than the message. The fact that bread and wine were used is not entirely crucial. Yes it is important to understand that unleavened bread is symbolic for spiritual purity and wine is symbolic of blood. But the main message is that it’s food, and to think of him every time you eat or drink something.
Why did Jesus ask his disciples to think of him every time they eat or drink? Because too often, it seems, “life” consumes us. I don’t know about you, but my mind is constantly distracted from the things of God. But has anything ever stolen my thoughts about food? Maybe for a couple of hours, but certainly never for longer than a whole day! How many times a day do our thoughts and activities revolve around eating and drinking? At least 3 times a day if not more.
Many of us do pause to give thanks for our food before we eat a meal. But what if we add to that and make it a habit to think of our Lord’s request to remember him and his sacrifice for us? How about thinking of the Lord whenever we eat a snack or even take a sip of water? Do you think that in the split second you focus on him, you might be blessed? I think so. There’s certainly more chance of that happening than if you’re not thinking about him at all, right?
It's very edifying to dwell upon the love Jesus showed for each of us by going to the Cross and laying down his life for us so that the law could be fulfilled. That the wrong done by Adam could be made right. So that the law could be held in abeyance for those who believe on him, and instead enjoy the goodness of God’s grace. So that the comforter could come and the gift of holy spirit could be inside each of us. So that we could have the promise of salvation from evil and the hope of living an eternal life in the kingdom of God.
It's wonderful to remember, during all of life’s pressures, that we each belong to the Lord as a vital part of his figurative body. What a joy it can be to “eat up” the life-giving Word of God and savor its nourishment. Eating is a total commitment to make that food part of you. Remembering Jesus every time we eat or drink will remind us that we can always make a total commitment to the Word by chewing, swallowing, and digesting it to the end that it not only sustains us, but makes us healthy and strong.
If your body needs to be fed 3 times a day, don’t you think your spirit also needs to be fed at least as much?
“Food for thought,” huh?
Back to Part 2: Truth vs. Tradition: What Jesus Really Meant at the Last Supper
Back to Part 1: Holy Communion History - Where it All Began
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Author Daniel Sweet, Minister of Christ