Relish and Remember
I’m what you might call a “foodie.” Having lived in both the East and the West, I love food that introduces me to new tastes and smells. I’m also fascinated by how culinary experiences can bring back memories of the past. While I lived in North America, Indian food reminded me of my mom’s cooking and life back home in South India. As I now live in the Middle East, hamburgers remind me of my time in America. Food evokes feelings. Meals bring back memories. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives us a meal to evoke memories—to remember what he has done for us.
Do you remember Jesus’s last night with his disciples? He shared one last Passover meal with his closest friends before he was betrayed, beaten, and crucified. In these final moments, Jesus gave them a meal to remember him as they celebrated God’s rescue of his chosen people in the Passover. A quick flashback will help us understand.
In Genesis, God promised to bless Abraham and his family and all nations through them (Genesis 12; 15; 17; 22). Yet Exodus begins with this family—the people of Israel—living under back-breaking slavery in Egypt.
For a new Christian, or even someone who has followed the Lord for years, the Lord’s Supper can feel somewhat mysterious. In this short booklet, pastor Aubrey Sequeira unpacks what the Bible says about the Lord’s Supper, exploring 5 ways the Lord’s Supper is important for the local church.
The Israelites cried out to God, and he heard their cry. He sent nine plagues to show he was the one true God, and he then sent a tenth, climactic act of judgment. He would pass through the land of Egypt and judge the Egyptians by killing every firstborn. But he would protect the firstborn of the Israelites if each household sacrificed a lamb and spread its blood around the entrances of their homes (Ex. 12:12–13).
Inside the Israelite homes, families gathered for a meal. They ate the sacrificed lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread, a meal that would be remembered for years to come as the Passover.
Passover became an annual event for the Israelites. God himself instituted it to remind them that he spared Israel not because they were without sin, but because of his mercy and the blood of the lamb (Ex. 12:23). Every year, generation after generation, the people of Israel remembered God’s act of salvation by eating a meal (Ex. 12:24–27).
Now let’s return to Passover night with Jesus and his disciples. As they celebrated the Passover one last time, commemorating God’s act of salvation in the past, Jesus gave his disciples a new meal to remember:
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matt. 26:26–28)
The next day, Jesus died on a cross as a substitute for his people, bearing God’s wrath against sinners. God then raised Jesus from the dead in glory, and now he reigns in heaven, offering forgiveness and eternal life to all who trust in him. If you are reading this and haven’t trusted in Jesus, this offer applies to you too! Turn from your sin, trust in Jesus today, and you will receive forgiveness and your life will be transformed forever.
Just like the Passover meal recalled God’s rescue of Israel, the Lord’s Supper reminds Jesus’s people of how he’s rescued us. Yet this meal commemorates a far greater salvation. The rescue from Egypt and the Passover were previews of a greater salvation. Through the death of Christ, God rescued his people from slavery to sin.
Let your heart be filled with thankfulness for the life that Jesus purchased for you through his death.
Jesus used a Passover meal to point his disciples to a new and greater Passover sacrifice—the bread representing his body and the wine representing his blood. Jesus is the Passover Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). And his Supper helps us remember his great act of salvation.
As we eat the bread and drink the cup, we remember him, just as he told us to: “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). We look back with thankful hearts to the cross.1
We don’t need to repeat Jesus’s sacrifice; it is perfect and needs no improvement. We need instead to remember what he’s done and relish what his perfect sacrifice means for us. The bread symbolizes Jesus’s body and the wine symbolizes Jesus’s blood. As we eat and drink these symbols, they point us to Jesus’s loving and life-giving sacrifice. The Lord’s Supper, then, helps us remember the gospel tangibly with our senses:
- As you taste the bread, remember that as real as that bread is in your mouth, so real is the fact that the Son of God became a man and gave up his body for you so that you might have eternal life.
- As you taste the sweetness of the wine or grape juice, remember the sweetness of having your sins forgiven because Jesus poured out his blood for you.
As you take the Lord’s Supper, remember:
- You were an enemy of God, but now you’ve been adopted into his family.
- You stood condemned in your sin, but now you’re counted righteous.
- You were a slave to sin, but now you’ve been set free to serve God.
- You were dead in your sin, but now you’ve been made alive.
- You were headed for hell, but now you’re a citizen of God’s heavenly kingdom.
. . . and all of this is because of Jesus!
This act of remembering is not some mere mental activity. It’s a remembering that redefines and shapes who we are. It cancels our self-centered life stories and places us inside a new and far grander narrative. It’s a training exercise in living inside our new identities. Let your heart be filled with thankfulness for the life that Jesus purchased for you through his death. That’s why the Lord’s Supper is sometimes called the “Eucharist”—“eucharist” comes from a Greek word that means “thanksgiving.” At the Lord’s Supper, we look backward with thankful hearts to the cross of our Lord Jesus.
This article is adapted from Why Is the Lord’s Supper So Important? by Aubrey M. Sequeria.
The Communion meal involves us in and embraces us in God’s grace. We are not mere observers. We do something. We eat something. We become participants in the story.
Before we can have communion (or fellowship) with Christ, we must first be in a right relationship with him. That relationship can only come from our being in union with Christ.
The Lord’ Supper is an ordinance of remembrance, and recipients must turn their minds to the cross as they approach the Table.
Do evangelical churches undervalue communion? What's the significance of the fact that Jesus gave us the physical elements of bread and wine?