In Remembrance of Me
25 Feb 2006, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
Communion - 'In Remembrance of Me'
When Jesus was on earth with His disciples, it is very likely that He asked Himself the question, 'What memorial can I establish that will keep my sacrifice always fresh in the minds of my followers? What symbols can I select that will never lose their power and meaning?' So He chose two simple everyday articles of food and drink - symbols that would be understood by people in all ages, in every country, of all backgrounds, and of all cultures. As long as eating and drinking is a part of life, these symbols will not lose their meaning.
The key idea in the Lord's supper is the word 'remember'.
The events of Calvary were far too important to be forgotten. I would like to read the following three quotations to emphasize this very important truth:
'Our Lord says, Under conviction of sin, remember that I died for you.
When oppressed and persecuted and afflicted for My sake and the gospel's, remember My love, so great that for you I gave My life. When your duties appear stern and severe, and your burdens too heavy to bear, remember that for your sake I endured the cross, despising the shame. When your heart shrinks from the trying ordeal, remember that your Redeemer liveth to make intercession for you' (White, 1940: 659).
'He [Jesus] gave this simple ordinance that it might be a special season when He himself would always be present, to lead all participating in it to feel the pulse of their own conscience, to awaken them to an understanding of the lessons symbolized, to receive their memory, to convict of sin and to receive their penitential repentance' (Nichol, Vol 5, 1956: 1139).
'These are the things we are never to forget. The love of Jesus, with its constraining power, is to be kept fresh in our memory. Christ has instituted this service that it may speak to our senses of the love of God that has been expressed in our behalf' (White, 1940: 660).
It is appropriate that across the front of communion tables is often inscribed the words, In Remembrance of Me. God knows how easy it is for great spiritual truths to fade into the fringes of our consciousness. He knows how deeply and how often spiritual values need to be reinforced. This is why he directed that the Lord's Supper should be part of the Christian's life and worship.
The Lord's Supper is the high point of Christian worship. It should be 'earth's nearest approach to heaven.' This Sabbath on which the Lord's Supper is celebrated should be a special Sabbath with a special meaning for every worshiper.
It is important to recognise that when Jesus sat down with His disciples to partake of this last meal, He gave thanks before he broke the bread and drank the cup and it was only then that He instructed them to take eat and to drink all of it.
The giving of thanks at the Lord's Supper was more than a mere form. You may recall previous occasions when Jesus gave thanks before partaking of food - the feeding of the five thousand in John 6: 11 and the feeding of the four thousand in Matt 15: 36 and Mark 8: 6. We do not know what Jesus said on these two occasions, but we can assume that He thanked His Father for the blessings of life. In the case of the Last Supper, the thanksgiving prayer no doubt included thankfulness for deliverance in harmony with the theme of the Passover. But the deliverance about to be wrought by Jesus was to be far greater than the deliverance from Egypt. This is one reason why the thanksgiving phase became so prominent and why the Lord's Supper became known as the 'Eucharist', which is a term used by many churches and means 'the giving of thanks'.
Well, what can we learn from Jesus' thanksgiving prayer
We need to keep in mind that the Communion Service was not to be a time of sorrowing. This was not its purpose. The disciples, as they gathered about the table were not to remember and lament their shortcomings. They were not to dwell upon their past religious experiences, whether they be good or bad. They were not to recall their differences between themselves and their brethren. This was to be the part played by the preparatory service where self-examination, confession of sin and being reconciled one to another was to be completed.
At the table of the Lord they were to meet with Jesus. They were not to stand in the shadow of the cross, but in its saving light (White, 1940: 659). This was to be a time of celebration.
When we speak of celebrating the ordinances, what do we really mean?
This term should remind us of the joy, the freedom and the victory that comes through Christ whose sacrifice we commemorate. It is here that we celebrate the life-giving sacrifice of our Lord on Calvary, and we thank God for His provision for our salvation. This means that the Communion Service should be a joyous occasion, because it commemorates our Lord's victory over Satan. As His followers, we share His victory.
After giving thanks and partaking of the bread and the juice of the grape, He then says in Matt 26: 29 ' But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.'
What then is the relationship between our Lord's death and His Second Coming?
We need to understand that it is only because of His death that we can look with joy to His Second Coming (White, 1940: 660). (Repeat)
In 1 Cor 11: 26 it is recorded that: 'At the first feast He attended with His disciples [the wedding feast at Cana], Jesus gave them the cup that symbolized His work for their salvation. At the last supper He gave it again, in the institution of that sacred rite by which His death was to be shown forth 'till He comes' (1Cor 11: 26). And the sorrow of the disciples at parting from their Lord was comforted with the promise of reunion, as He said, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom' (Ibid: 149).
'The salvation of men depends upon a continual application to their hearts of the cleansing blood of CHRIST. Therefore, the Lord's Supper was not to be observed only occasionally or yearly, but more frequently than the annual Passover' (Nichol, Vol 6, 1956: 1090).
In the Seventh-day Adventist Church this service is celebrated quarterly to fit in with the Church organisational Calendar that follows this pattern.
This promotes and supports the key idea in the Lord's supper which revolves around the word, 'remember'.
Do this in remembrance of me
Let us recognise again this morning the importance of forgiveness and the opportunity we have to rid ourselves of pride in the preparatory service as we now break for the 'lesser baptism', the washing of the feet.
Dear friends, when Christians worship at a Communion Service, they are looking in two directions - backward to the cross and forward to the crown. It was at the Lord's Supper that Jesus said in John 14: 3, 'I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also'.
The Communion Service should especially be meaningful to Adventist believers because it anticipates the great Communion, 'The marriage supper of the Lamb' (Rev 19: 9). All but one of those in the upper room will be there. Those with whom we have taken communion on earth, will, hopefully, be there. Then we will understand fully the meaning of His broken body and His shed blood.
It is my prayer this morning, as we have participated in this service of remembrance, that we will all, one day, be able to participate in that great reunion to meet with the Lord and with each other in that earth made new.
Nichol, F. D. (1956) The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association
White, E. G. (1940) The Desire of Ages. Mountain View, California: Pacific Press Publishing Association
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