Do This In Remembrance Of Me
1 Corinthian 11:2-34
Key Verse 11:26
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
[There is something fascinating about memory. Some can remember things from years ago as if they happened yesterday, while others cannot even remember what they did yesterday. Some say that memory is a curse. Others say that memory is a blessing. I suppose there are times where memory is a most blessed thing and times where it is a burden. Here are some verses from the Bible regarding memory. Listen and decide whether it is good to remember or better to forget. Ezekiel 36:31 “Then you will remember your evil ways and wicked deeds, and you will loathe yourselves for your sins and detestable practices.” This is a case where memory can actually lead to salvation, because in remembering your sins, you can turn your heart to God in repentance and ask his forgiveness. Listen to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 25:7: “Remember not the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me…” It’s a prayer that God not remember the sins of the Psalmist’s youth, but instead to remember the Psalmist. This is a case where memory can be divided, it is good that God forget our sins, and good that he remembers us his children. Finally, look at what Jeremiah the prophet says in Jeremiah 31:34: “No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the Lord. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’” This is a case where God promises to forget your sins and to leave you with a memory of himself.]
Memory, whether a blessing or a burden, is a powerful element in our lives. In this passage Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians of the meaning of the Lord’s Supper. Paul tells us what Jesus had done and what he had said at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me.” This kind of memory can be the most powerful force in our lives to grow as a healthy church and a healthy Christian in our times. Those who are in the habit of forgetting what the Lord had said and done are sure to come crashing down as it happened to the Corinthian Christians. While those who are in the habit of remembering what the Lord had said and done rise to spiritual heights they never imagined existed in their Christian lives. The whole chapter is not about what we ought to remember. It is about propriety in worship. Its about keeping the proper decency, holiness, and the right attitude in worship. Its about some Christians who turned worship time into a time to strut like peacocks in the church, showing off what they have. In this case, strangely enough it was showing off their hairdos. Strange as it may seem, it was a problem serious enough to warrant Paul writing half a chapter about what to do with their hair. He then also talks about worship and the Lord’s Supper. It seems that some Christians in the church paid no mind to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper and were engaging in it in a most inappropriate way. But the most important thing to remember, is what Paul reminded them of— what they ought to remember more than anything else in worship. That in whatever we do in Christian life, to do it all for the glory of God. (10:31) And that includes especially the Lord’s Supper. Let’s see what Paul is teaching in this chapter.
In his letter to the Corinthians Paul deals with practical problems in the church, and in this particular chapter he deals with practical problems in their church meetings. Fellowship is crucial to the Christian community and family. We need fellowship, because we are part of the body of Christ, and need to know how to deal with each other spiritually as well as practically. And there is no better place to learn how to do that, except from the Bible, from books such as the letter to the Corinthians where Paul exhausts the meaning of fellowship. But a fellowship that is steeped in internal problems is like a dysfunctional family. They love each other, but they do not know how to work with one another. Thus was the church at Corinth. In dealing with them, Paul teaches them necessary principles for building a healthy church. To begin with, a healthy church knows the holiness and sanctity of worship. In verses 2-16 Paul gives us some principles to help us keep the holiness and sanctity of worship service.
[After praising them for remembering him and holding on to the teachings he had passed on to them, Paul again turns to correcting them. There are those who are small minded and quick to criticize even Paul and the Bible teaching simply because some teachings do not agree with the way they think or with the way they believe things should be. And in this passage we have a perfect example. To some, this teaching may seem as if Paul was a sexist— an old fashioned man imposing church rules and regulation that kept women chained down and the salves of men. Commands for women to keep their heads covered or otherwise to shave their hair, seem outdated in a world where women have already found freedom and equality. But there is nothing further from the truth than this. Paul himself was a liberator of women, as was his Master Jesus. On the day that Jesus told Martha to leave Mary alone, so that she might study at Jesus’ feet together with the disciples was the day where women were liberated from the kitchen and set on the same level as men in the work of God. The day that Jesus said to a woman, “neither do I condemn you, go and leave your life of sin” was another day where history was being made as women were being liberated by the Savior. The day Jesus appeared first to a woman and commissioned her to go and to tell the good news of his resurrection to the disciples was the day that Jesus liberated and elevated women to their true place in the kingdom of God. No true child of God would mistake Paul for being a bigot, but like his Master Paul founded the first church in Europe by a woman’s help.]
Paul’s words here are not about equality or superiority. They are simply about propriety in worship. They are also about order in the house of God and in God’s family. They are about the truth of God. They are about who will submit to the truth of God or who will destroy the order in which God created the world, the family and the church. Everyone will agree that a child is the equal of his parents, that they are not his superiors. But everyone will also agree that a child must keep order in the family by being a child while parents must keep order by being parents. It is the same with the way God created and ordained the family. In the family, God created a father, a mother and children. If this order is not kept, the family is in danger of being torn apart. It is the same in the church. If order is not kept in the church, in the family of God, and order is broken, the church is also broken. Paul warned that women should not break order in their family, and consequently not break order in the church either. The church is a holy sanctuary and worship is for God and his glory. But how can we keep the sanctity of the church if women are parading their hairdos as the Corinthian Christian women were in the habit of doing? How can we keep the sanctity of worship if women lord it over their husbands, if they dictate the order in their families? Paul detailed some principles of worship not to demean women but to reestablish order in worship. To teach them that the church is for worship, and that worship is for God.
[How can we submit to the truth of God, to the order of things in the family and in the church? Paul gives us an answer in verse 3. It ends with these words: “…the head of Christ is God.” We know that Christ is not only our Lord, but also our example in everything— even in submission to God— the Lord Jesus is our example. No Christian would contest that God and Christ Jesus are equal; both are God! They dwell in a most beautiful relationship of oneness, of love and respect One for the Other, together with the Holy Spirit who is equal with them. What pleased God in Jesus-his-equal is that Jesus submitted to the order established by God, and Jesus in submission, came to this world to become the sacrificial Lamb, the one who died for our sins. Yet Paul tells us that “…the head of Christ is God.” He tells us this in context, that we too ought to keep the order. Order does not mean, control or superiority. It does not mean, wife submit to order only if your husband is worthy. Order means love and respect. And in the church setting, it is an expression of faith that God is true and his words are true. And when that is carried out in the church, in worship and all, the church is healthy. The church can glorify God.]
Now Paul goes on to mention the second problem they had in that church. And it deals with the Lord’s Supper. Before we consider the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper, we need to see why Paul was chastising these Corinthian Christians for in regards to the Lord’s Supper. In verses 17-22, we witness a distortion of what the Lord’s Supper is all about. Here is where Paul tells them that he has no praise for them because they had turned what is beautiful and holy into something ugly and selfish. They thought they were sharing the Lord’s Supper together, but what they were sharing together was something else. In verse 17 he tells them that what was intended to be for the good of the Lord and his people, was in fact destructive to both church and members. In verse 18, it seems that their fellowship of the Lord’s Supper sported division among them, meaning that rather than practicing unity with one another, some harbored malice and contempt for one another. He explains to them in verse 19 that while having some differences of opinion with one another may be constructive for a church, division and disunity are not but rather destructive. Then in verses 20-22 he paints a picture of gluttony and selfishness which they mistook to be the Lord’s Supper among them. And here we are not only talking about the actual ceremony and practice of the Lord’s Supper in the church alone, but we are talking about the general picture of what kind of relationships they had with one another, the sort of fellowship they had with one another. No fellowship can be godly when members of the same body are in conflict, contemptuous, mistrustful, and indifferent to each another’s needs. How will a fellowship survive if its members are inconsiderate and hostile towards one another! It cannot!
As we said before, such a fellowship is like a dysfunctional family destined to be torn apart by the devil who is ever prowling about to take down his prey. Just as a dysfunctional family may coexist with each other but never develop in relationships, so also a church— fellowship of believers may also live under the same roof, but never develop a love relationship with one another, and consequently destroy their relationship with the Lord. Love relationship or love bond— sharing all things with one another— caring and compassion for one another— a sense of belonging to one another as in turn they belong to the Lord— a mother’s love for her son and daughter as that mother loves her own father and mother, and turns her heart to love her fellow members as she loves herself. That is the essence of what unity and love are all about. That is the essence of what fellowship or family or relationships are all about in a church. If that is missing, even a correct theology and one’s own faith will not be enough to unite and heal that family. When a member has severed himself from fellowship in all aspects and functions as an independent member— when the concerns of his fellows brothers and sisters are no longer his concerns but he concerns himself only with himself and his own family— when he worships the Lord and prays according to his own needs and not the needs of his church family— when he becomes indifferent to the pains and struggles of others, because he is devastated by his own pains— when he allows his heart to disregard others— then fellowship is broken. That fellowship is like a dysfunctional family that resists healing and will not allow the broken and wounded parts to mend.
[The Corinthian church members came to worship and have Lord’s Supper together. They sat together in groups divided by ideas, thoughts, emotions, concerns, and such, while the whole time unconcerned and unknowing of the others’ situation. Paul mentions just one of these dis-concerns. The most obvious was that while they ate together, some ate too much while others had barely anything to eat. It may have been unintentional, for even a selfish Christian would notice if his brother has nothing to eat and is hungry. But intentional of or not, Paul is distressed over the condition of their fellowship. It was not supposed to be this way. This is not what Jesus intended for his disciples and the church. It was not what the Lord envisioned when he called his disciples together on the last evening and instructed them in matters of fellowship, in matters of love, in matters of unity and in matters of his hope for them to be one. Granted they were selfish and young, but Jesus hoped they would defy the world and rise above their own humanity to show the world that Jesus is Lord. How could they possibly do so, if they allow mundane things to govern their lives rather than let their hearts be governed by the Lord.]
So Paul taught them again the meaning of the Lord’s Supper, the meaning of fellowship, of love and all that which unites a fellowship in a love relationship that can outlive any differences among them, love which can overcome the world, and allow them to be the powerful church God intended for them to be to bring the world to Christ. Paul taught them the Lord’s Supper, and the power it holds to conquer anything, simply because it is rooted in Christ Jesus himself and what he has done for them and for us.
Read verses 23-26. “For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: 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.’ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” As we said in the beginning there are things that are crucial and critical to remember in our lives form day to day— things we cannot afford to forget them because if we forge them we forfeit life. Jesus sat down with his disciples the night before his crucifixion and had what we call the Last Supper with them. And he urged them to remember him in this. What exactly did Jesus want us to remember when we get together?
First, Jesus is the source and sustenance of our lives. Jesus “took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you.” Jesus once taught his disciples these eternal truths. He said to them: “I am the bread of life.” It is hard to understand this fully, but Jesus is the source and sustenance of our lives. Without him, there would be no life, neither physical nor spiritual. But Jesus came to this world in order to provide bread for our souls. He fed us through his words, and in the end he fed us through his very own life. He, the bread of life, was broken on the cross. He freely gave his body to be broken on the cross. On the cross Jesus gave his life so that we may not die but live. After Jesus died and rose again form the dead, eternal life was given to those who believe. When Jesus said to his disciple “This is my body, which is for you” he was offering his very life to anyone who would accept the gift of God— the gift of eternal life. This is what the Lord’s Supper means. We share in the same body and life that was broken on the cross. Jesus was broken on the cross so that we may no longer be broken but be healed and mended and united in his body. No one can truly share in the body of Christ in the Lord’s Supper and not be mindful of his brother and sister. It is part of the beauty of the Lord’s Supper. Remember this. And do this in remembrance of me.
Second, Jesus blood spilled for our sins. Jesus also said: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” When Jesus was crucified his blessed and holy and righteous blood was spilled. It was not enough that Jesus was giving his body to be broken for us, Jesus was also shedding his blood for us. There are some people who do not understand the concept of sin, how a life of sin will end in hell, how every human being will pay for the sins they had committed. The world scoffs at this. But the truth of God is different. God tells us that we are sinners who need redemption. He tells that us that there is nothing that can pay for our sins and deliver us from hell than the blood of Jesus. Jesus spilled his blood on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. When Jesus offered the cup to his disciples, he was offering them the best gift human beings can ever receive— the forgiveness of sins. Every human being burdened by his or her sins must come to the Lord and accept the gift of forgiveness. Jesus offered the cup to his disciples. He offered them the opportunity to acknowledge their sins, to repent of them, and to ask for forgiveness. When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, and offered his body and blood, it was the most sacrificial act in human history. It is not something to forget while we carry on our daily affairs. It is something to remember, because it was done for us. Do this in remembrance of me.
Third, Jesus made a new covenant with us. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” Covenant! The most beautiful and powerful element of the Lord’s Supper. We were severed from God. we were like orphans who had to live our lives alone and without God. we had no protector. We had no friend. Even in a tightly knit family, the reality is that each person is alone, and stands alone in life. How dreadful our destiny to be born alone and to die alone. But God did not leave us as orphans. He sent Jesus to bring us back home to God. Jesus sealed that bond of love and relationship with God in that Last Supper. He bound us to himself forever, a relationship that can never be broken because it was sealed with his blood. Human relationships can severe and fray and dissolve because we are selfish and unfaithful for the most part. But Jesus bonded us with himself, and with God. He sealed that bond, so that nothing can ever sever that relationship we have with him and with God. How beautiful is Jesus who made an indissoluble covenant with us in his blood. Paul tells us in Romans, that nothing can separate us form the Love of God— nothing. And that is because Jesus made that covenant of love, of protection, of peace and fellowship with us. And as he bonded himself to us, he also sealed us together in his blood so that we are a family. Do this in remembrance of me, he said. How can we forget what he has done! We cannot.
Fourth, The Last Supper is a testimony of the grace and mercy of God to each of us. When Jesus broke the bread and passed the cup between his disciples, he was proclaiming the covenant of grace that he would shed on all people. No one can save himself. No one can reach God even if we tried to. We can live, and we can work, we can love and we can bear children, and we can retire in a nice place. But we cannot secure the one thing that really matters in life. Who will save our souls. What will happen to us after we die. Where will we go in death? But Jesus broke his body and spilled his blood in an act of severe grace to assure us life and forgiveness and a home in eternity. That is grace and mercy beyond our imagining. Do this in remembrance of me. Remember what I have done for you from day to day. Never forget that the life you enjoy and the assurance of eternal life and the kingdom is my grace to you. Thank you Lord for your grace. I do not want to ever forget that it was your grace that found me, and rescued me form a meaningless life of drudgery in this world. Do this in remembrance of me, Jesus said.
Fifth, proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns. The Last Supper, the Lord’s Supper was to remember the grace of our Lord, to remember his body broken for us, and his blood spilled for the forgiveness of our sins. But the Last Supper was also a testimony that the Lord who died and rose again from the dead will come again. Jesus’ second coming is imminent. Jesus wants us to remember that he will surely come again. If we forget that, we may be tempted to stray form the life God would have us live. We may be tempted not to concern ourselves with the Lord’s concerns— to continue in division, in struggle, in a broken fellowship. The Corinthian Christian had received the Lord’s grace and had become a fellowship of believers living for the glory of God. But life sometimes, and the struggles of life robbed them of what the Lord’s Supper means. We must live in the hope of the Lord’s return. As we remember the Lord’s life and works we must also remember that we have been entrusted with a great trust. The Gospel, our lives, our duties as Christians, our relationships, what we do from day to day to heal and to mend those who are broken, how we love and who we love, how we overcome, how we pray and how we endure everything— is related to whether we live by faith in his second coming or not. Do this in remembrance of me, he said. He told us to remember that he will return someday. And that the Lord’s Supper we enjoin together is a witness and testimony to his blessed return. Remember this.
Sometimes we lose the sense of who we really are, and we get all tangled up in worldly affairs, and mundane concerns. But we are the Lord’s people. We are Christians, a people bonded to Christ, and to each other. We are a people who can do what no other people can, who can stand when we fall, a people who can forgive even the unforgivable, a people destined to bring the whole world to Christ. In our daily struggles we must remember who we are. The Lord’s Supper binds us with the Lord and sets us apart as his children called to serve his own purpose rather than our own. When Paul brought the Lord’s Supper to their attention he warned them in verse 27 not to make light of it, not to abuse it. And in verse 28 he calls us all examine our hearts. Let us examine our hearts, and look deeply to see what sins are there to be repented, what decisions need to be made, what is broken that needs restoration, for in sharing the Lord’s Supper together we need to come before him to newly receive his forgiveness, and be united in his love. May God help us remember what Jesus had done for us, what he does for us every day, what he will do for us now and forever. That is something we must remember.