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The Purpose of the Lord’s Supper (1)

Just before Jesus was about to be arrested, put on trial, and crucified, He took a moment while in the upper room with His disciples to establish an important reminder. There was little time left for Jesus to give more instructions about what was coming or what would be required of His disciples. Yet with the few moments He had left with the disciples, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. For Jesus to spend one of His last moments of the earth establishing this memorial ought to cause us to realize the significance of the Lord’s Supper.

What we do when we partake of the Lord’s Supper is, therefore, of the utmost importance. What exactly are we to be doing? What are we to be remembering? How should we meet the commands that our Lord Jesus Christ left for us? These are the things we will consider is a series of posts as we use 1 Corinthians 11:23-34 as our study text.

The Bread

This is My body
Jesus took the bread after giving thanks, broke it, and said, “This is My body.” As most understand, Jesus is using a simple metaphor. There is nothing in the text that would have us to believe that Jesus was saying the bread literally turned into His body. Such a statement would certainly have not made sense to the disciples in the upper room since Jesus’ body was still present with them. Jesus is saying that by taking the bread and eating it in this memorial, the bread represents the body of Jesus.

Now we must ask an important question: what did Jesus want for us to recall when He said that the bread represented His body? Did Jesus merely want us to think about His physical body? To do such would be rather difficult since no one alive on the earth has seen Jesus’ physical body. But we are able to understand historically and from the scriptures the amount of suffering Jesus undertook on our behalf. To think of the body of Christ is to think about the immense sacrifice that our Lord made. It is important that we remember the physical anguish that Christ suffered as an innocent man. Jesus was not a criminal and had done nothing wrong to deserve what He experience, as admitted by Pilate himself.

But there is more for us to consider when we remember the body of Christ. Philippians 2 reminds us that Christ was found in the appearance of man and took on the form of the slave. This is another aspect of the humiliation Christ suffered as His glory was bottled up such that no one could see the tremendous might and glory of who He really is. Instead, He took on the form of a man and had to humble Himself to do so.

To remember the body of Christ is to remember the shame that He carried for us. “He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He had no form or splendor that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like on people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds” (Isaiah 53:2-5). This is the reminder of what the body of Christ suffered.

“He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounding you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). The body represents the shame, the humiliation, and the suffering that Christ endured by coming in the form of a man and allowing His creation to put Him to death. I believe these are the key aspects we are to recall when we partake of the bread and remember the body of Jesus.

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