“In Remembrance of Me”
“And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide [it] among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake [it], and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup [is] the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”
In these verses the Holy Spirit describes how our blessed Savior instituted, as a perpetual ordinance in His Church, the observance of the Lord’s Supper. This is one of those passages of Holy Scripture that ought to immediately arouse deep reverence in our hearts.
I find it utterly astonishing that this blessed ordinance of Divine worship, so beautifully simple and majestic, so delightfully unifying and blessed, has been made a matter of fear and a point of controversy and division throughout the history of the Church. How dishonoring that is to our Savior, by whom the ordinance was established and for whose honor it is to be kept!
We are specifically told that Judas was with the disciples when the Lord Jesus established this ordinance in His Church. — “And when the hour was come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Hm” (v. 14). After making his bargain with the chief priests, Scribes, and elders to betray the Son of God, Judas brazenly came and took his place with the rest of the apostles, both to cover his sin and to watch the best opportunity of betraying the Master.
This fact makes it abundantly clear that our Lord did not fence the Table to keep unbelievers from eating the bread and wine with believers. He did not give any basis for the practice of closed communion.
Let me be clearly understood. The Lord’s Supper, like baptism and Church membership, is for believers only. We must never encourage unbelievers to join us in observing this blessed ordinance of the Gospel. Yet, we must never attempt to set barriers around the Table to keep anyone away. The Holy Spirit makes it crystal clear that it is the responsibility of the person who eats the bread and drinks the wine to examine himself to be certain that he or she is a believer, one who discerns the Lord’s body, warning all those who eat and drink unworthily, that is to say without faith in Christ, that they eat and drink damnation to themselves (1 Corinthians 11:27-30).
You, and you alone can determine whether you are in the faith. If you profess faith in Christ, it is my responsibility and the responsibility of all believers to look upon your profession as genuine and to receive you “without doubtful disputations,” without suspicion (Romans 14:1).
Our Lord knew that Judas was a devil and that he was, at that time, looking for an opportunity to betray Him. Yet, when He passed out the bread and wine, He gave it to Judas, as well as to James and John, because Judas professed to be one of His.
In verse 15 our Savior expressed His heart’s ambition and desire to redeem us. — “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer.” He desired to eat this, the last passover, with His disciples because, in doing so, He had come to the end of His mission in this world. He was about to suffer all the fury of God’s holy wrath and offended justice as our Substitute and enter into His glory. Before doing so, He established this communion ordinance as a perpetual reminder to us that our union and communion with Him is based upon and arises from His sin-atoning death upon the cursed tree.
He desired to eat it with them, with His disciples, because His desire is toward us his people (2Peter 3:9). It was so from everlasting, when He desired us as His spouse and bride. It was so in time, when He became incarnate, suffered, died, and gave Himself for us. His desire is towards His people before they are called, while unregenerate, unbelieving rebels. And His desire is with us and toward us still, notwithstanding all our sin and unbelief (Song of Solomon 5:1-2).
In ourselves we are black with sin; but in Him we are comely and beautiful, robed with His righteousness, washed, pure, and made white in His precious blood; so comely and beautiful in His eyes that He declares He is ravished by us! Imagine that! The Son of God declares that we ravish His heart (Song of Solomon 4:9). Therefore, He desires our company and communion always!
The Lord Jesus delighted in us from eternity, viewing us as perfect in himself before the world was made. We were the joy set before Him, the joy that sustained Him and carried Him through His sufferings and death. You and I, child of God, are the objects of His unceasing desires and prayers!
Our blessed Savior desired with desire to eat this, the last passover, because that meant that His sufferings and death were at hand, that the eternal redemption of our souls was about to be accomplished (Romans 5:6-8; 1 John 3:16; 1 John 4:9-10). Justice would soon be satisfied. The law would soon be fulfilled. Our sins would soon be atoned for and put away. The Father would soon be glorified by His obedience unto death.
Until it be Fulfilled
The law, once it was fulfilled by Him, was about to end. The passover and all the ceremonies and rituals of the law were about to be abolished forever. Therefore, He said, “I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (v. 16). Now that it has all been fulfilled by Him, our blessed Savior girds himself with grace and serves us with all that was signified and typified in the law. And, in the glory that soon shall be ours we will eat and drink together with Him in his Father’s kingdom, and spend an endless eternity in never fading joys and pleasures, singing the song of Moses and the Lamb (Exodus 15:1-18).
“And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come” (vv. 17-18)
In the observance of the Jewish passover four cups were used. Commonly, as each cup was passed around the table, one by one, the head of the house would lead the family in prayer and thanksgiving. Then the family would drink from the cups, divided among them. Having done this, the Lord Jesus said, “For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of this vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.”
What was our Lord referring to here? Perhaps He was simply saying, “I am about to leave this world, and will never again eat and drink with you physically.” Perhaps He was talking about the new wine of grace that was to be poured out by Him in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I think He was most likely referring to the everlasting celebration of redemption with us in eternal glory, when we shall eat and drink at His table forever, as He tells us in verse 30.
The Ordinance Established
In verses 14-18 we are given a record of the Lord Jesus observing the last passover feast with His family, with His disciples. In verses 19 and 20 the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper is established.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (vv. 19-20).
We know that these words refer to the establishing of the Lord’s Supper, because the Holy Spirit tells us that in 1 Corinthians 11:23-29. Read the last line of verse 19 again. — “This do in remembrance of me.” How many times have we read this command, without pausing to consider its implications? The first implication of this command is that this ordinance, as I stated in the beginning, is for believers only. In order to remember Christ you must first know Him. I hope that you do know the Savior. If you do, the Lord’s Table is spread for you. But if you do not know Him, you must not eat the bread and drink the wine. Second, this command reveals the love of Christ for us. Our Savior would not care for us to remember Him, if He did not love us. Love wants to be remembered. And our Lord Jesus, as He was leaving this world, whispered into the ear of His bride, “Remember me.” And, third, this command implies a horrible tendency in us to forget our Redeemer. Because our Lord remembers that we are dust, He graciously established this ordinance that we might, in observing it, remember Him.
In our assembly we gather around the Lord’s Table every Sunday night to observe the Lord’s Supper, according to His commandment. The Table is our Lord’s memorial. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, we should earnestly pray that God the Holy Spirit will graciously enable us to remember Christ, our Beloved.
In these two verses of Scripture we have complete directions for observing the Lord’s Supper. Here we see what it is and how it is to be done. The directions are plain, clear, and definite. We must “this do.” It would not be right to do something else. It would not be right to do this for some other purpose. And it would not be right to do this in some other way.
This blessed ordinance is to be observed with simplicity. There is nothing here that is ornate, mysterious, or even visibly impressive. The ordinances of the Gospel are simple, like Christ himself, transparent, and unpretentious. There is nothing here but bread and wine.
This is an ordinance to be frequently observed. Paul said, “As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death ‘til he come.” Because we have a constant need to be reminded of our Lord and His work of redemption, He has given us an ordinance to frequently aid our memory.
This is an ordinance to be observed by all the Lord’s people. Around this Table, as in the kingdom of God, we are all equal. Our needs are the same. Our grounds of acceptance are the same. Our acceptance with our God is the same. We are “accepted in the Beloved,” by the merits of Hid righteousness and shed blood, in union with Him, as one with Him.
This ordinance is a token of God’s everlasting covenant of grace. Every time we eat the bread and drink the wine, we should be reminded of that covenant God made with his Son on our behalf before the worlds were made. It is a covenant of grace (Romans 9:16-18). It is ordered in all things and sure (2 Samuel 23:5). It is a covenant ratified by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 13:20).
This blessed ordinance is a picture sermon of our Redeemer’s death. We remember Christ best when we remember His death. The unleavened bread is the symbol of His body, His holy humanity, His accomplished righteousness as our God-man Representative. The wine represents His precious blood, His accomplished redemption as our Substitute and covenant Surety.
And our observance of this ordinance is a picture of our salvation by faith in Christ. To trust Christ is to receive Him, to eat His flesh and drink His blood (John 6:51-56). By faith in Him, we take to ourselves all that Christ is and all that He accomplished as our God-man Mediator, receiving the atonement He performed for us (Romans 5:11).
We are commanded to keep this ordinance. Our Savior said, “This do.” Therefore, we may reasonably and safely infer that it is always proper for us do it. It is always proper for God’s people to observe the Lord’s Supper, to keep the ordinance, and never proper not to do it. We may eat the Lord’s Supper, though we often sadly forget Him. In fact, our forgetfulness is a reason to come to this ordinance.
We may come to the Table, though others forget our Savior. We come not to judge others, but to remember Christ. And if some of our brethren are out of sorts, that does not bar us from the privilege of this ordinance. We may come to this ordinance no matter how weak, cold, and sinful we are. Our worthiness is Christ. We keep the ordinance to remember His goodness and grace.
It will be sweet, refreshing and comforting to you to eat the Lord’s Table. What can be sweeter than the remembrance of Christ? What can be more refreshing to your soul? What can be so comforting to your heart?
The object of this ordinance is that we may remember our dear Savior. — “This do in remembrance of Me.” We are to observe this ordinance in remembrance of Christ himself, not His doctrines, but himself, not His precepts, but himself. As we eat the bread and drink the wine, let us remember the Lord Jesus. Remember Him as the only Object of your faith and the mighty Representative of your soul: past, present, and future. Remember the Lord Jesus as the Joy of your heart, the Rewarder of your hope, and the Lord of your life.
Remember Christ. Remember who He is. Remember what He has done. Remember why He did it. Remember what He is to you (1 Corinthians 1:30). Remember Him with sincere gratitude. Remember Him with deep love. Remember Him with confident faith.
“Remember Thee, and all Thy pains,
And all Thy love to me—
Yes, while a pulse or breath remains,
I will remember Thee.
And when these failing lips grow dumb,
And thought and memory flee;
When Thou shalt in Thy kingdom come,
Jesus, remember me!”
Let me remind you of four things clearly set before us in this passage.
1. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to perpetually remind us of Christ’s death for us, to remind us of the cost of our redemption. The bread represents His body, his holy humanity sacrificed for us. The wine represents His precious, sin-atoning blood.
2. This is not an optional ordinance, any more than believer’s baptism is an optional ordinance. It is the privilege and responsibility of every believer to observe the Lord’s Supper, in remembrance of Christ.
3. There will always be betrayers in our midst. The words of verses 21 and 22 are recorded here so plainly that it is obvious that the Holy Spirit intended for us to be reminded that tares always grow side by side with wheat. Our Savior said, — “Behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!” We are never justified in separating ourselves from God’s Church and people because some among us are devils. And we are never justified in refusing to observe the Lord’s Supper because we imagine that some at the Table might be unbelievers.
4. It is your own responsibility, and no one else’s, to examine yourself (1 Corinthians 11:23-29). You alone must determine whether you are or are not a believer, trusting Christ alone as your Savior, whether you discern the Lord’s body, the purpose of His incarnation, obedience, and death as the sinner’s Substitute.
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