04 Oct COMMUNION – AN OPPURTUNITY TO REMEMBER
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave 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. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.’” Matthew 26:26-29
To truly understand what Communion means for us as believers, we must first look at the history of God’s people. The night of the first “Lord’s Supper” in the upper room occurred on Passover – an annual celebration that God instructed His people to commemorate. The significance of this goes back to Exodus. God’s love for His people is seen so evidently through His relentlessness to save them from bondage. He sent plague after plague to the Egyptians, and Pharaoh continued to refuse to let the Israelites go. The first Passover meal happened during the last plague, when an angel of the Lord killed the firstborn son of anyone in Egypt who did not have the blood of a spotless lamb sprinkled on their doorpost. Pharaoh released the Israelites, only to change his mind after their departure and pursued them with chariots. Israel escaped when God parted the Red Sea. The Passover meal, observed yearly in remembrance of this event, represented salvation and promised freedom.
As Jesus presides over the Passover table with His disciples, He introduces a new understanding of this familiar meal as He refers to the bread as His body and the wine as His blood of the covenant…poured out for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus is now referring to Himself as the spotless sacrificial Lamb of God. He is giving symbolic significance to tangible objects, which are used to help the disciples remember Jesus when His physical body and blood are no longer present.
Remembrance has always been a struggle for God’s people, from the Israelites, to the disciples, and even to us today. If we continue in Exodus, we find that after witnessing God’s relentless love as He delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh in such miraculous ways (hiding them in a cloud, parting the Red Sea, destroying their enemies, providing bread literally falling from the sky and water spilling from rocks), the Israelites began to forget God’s devotion and love for them. After all of these acts of love and deliverance, they enter into a state of waiting. It is here they forget all the things God had done for them that brought them to this point. They begin to build idols and worship them instead of remembering and relying on God’s great power and love for them. They eventually come back to God and enter the Promised Land where God miraculously gives them victory over Jericho. Yet, it doesn’t take long for them to begin another season of waiting, forgetting God – again – until He shows up in a mighty way and delivers them – again. See the trend? Forgetfulness happens in seasons of waiting.
This trend was seen in the lives of the disciples, and is still seen today. We are forgetful people. In seasons of waiting, or even in seasons when things are going well, we can be tempted to put our hope and our trust in tangible things – building idols and forgetting God.
What if instead of erecting tangible idols in our lives to replace God, we erected tangible Ebenezers in our lives to remember God? Much like Samuel did with the Ebenezer Stone after God helped the Israelites, we too can surround ourselves with physical evidence of God’s mercy and love for us, reminding us of our salvation and promised freedom. Communion is just that.
Salvation and promised freedom is what the Passover meal represented. It was an opportunity to remember, and the Church still practices this discipline of remembering through Communion. Communion is a tangible reminder of God’s grace and an opportunity for us to reorient our hearts around Jesus and His gift of grace. We too, are in a season of waiting. We are waiting on Jesus to return for us. We are waiting for His eternal promise to be realized. And as we wait on Jesus’ return, Communion provides us with an opportunity for us NOT TO FORGET, but to wait patiently, remembering and proclaiming His eternal promises. It’s an opportunity to recall what God says about who He is and what that means about who you are. And ultimately, it is an opportunity to REFLECT on where your trust currently lies and REORIENT your heart to His.
I equate it in my own life to tapping the little blue arrow on my map app. When I can no longer see where I am, I tap that arrow, and my screen toggles, zooms in, and reorients around my location. Just as tapping that arrow reorients me to where I am, partaking in Communion reorients me to WHO I am in Christ and it reminds me to come back to Him. It is a practice to be done over and over again, continuously forsaking your idols and coming back to Him.
If we continue reading in Matthew past the first Communion in the upper room, you will find that immediately after this sacred meal, the disciples forget Jesus. Judas betrays Him. Peter denies Him. And the rest abandon Him. It’s greatly frustrating, and yet it reminds me of myself. But isn’t this the point!? God NEVER gives up on us. He has perpetual grace that covers perpetual forgetfulness by perpetual sinners.
Like the Israelites. Like Peter. Like me. Like you.
It has been his M.O. since the beginning of time. Grace upon Grace. In light of this reckless love and unending grace, let us learn a lesson from the Israelites who appointed their own king while waiting for Jesus – the one true King. Don’t let Communion be just another Sunday routine. Let it be a time where we abandon our earthly kings, remember Jesus, our true King, and wait in anticipation of His return, saying “Yes, Lord, come!”
Let us not forget in the waiting.
Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:24
My soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits. Psalm 103:1-4