Summary: This message addresses the symbols of bread and wine in their role of helping us remeber Jesus.
Jesus asked all his followers to participate in this meal in remembrance of him. I’m sure these words sounded as foreign to the Corinthians as they do to us. How could they remember someone they’d never seen? How could they remember someone they’d never talked with? How could they remember someone they’d never listened to? Jesus never made it to Corinth. The Christians there had only heard of him. What did Jesus mean by in remembrance of me?
The Christians at Corinth had a lot of problems. They were divided in their loyalty. Some of them liked Apollos better than Paul. A few of them favored Peter over Paul or Apollos. They weren’t sure what to do with food that had been offered to idols. Was it safe to eat or not? And then there was a major problem with Spiritual gifts! Some of them felt that certain demonstrative gifts were more important than others. They even had problems with their fellowship meals! Why, some people got there early and ate all the food. Others drank too much wine and staggered home. It’s a good thing that none of these problems exist in today’s church!
In chapter 11 Paul is addressing the problem of table fellowship. He tells the Corinthians of a revelation he had from Jesus. Listen again to what he wrote.
23For this is what the Lord himself said, and I pass it on to you just as I received it. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took a loaf of bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 25In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and you, sealed by the shedding of my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”
I ask you the question once again, How do you remember someone you’ve never seen, talked with, or listened to?
The best way to discover the answer to this question is to take a look at the symbols that Jesus used: body & bread, blood & wine.
Before we delve into these symbols, the first thing we must remember is the context in which Jesus first used these words – Passover. Jesus was celebrating the Passover Feast with his disciples. In a nutshell, Passover was meal, which commemorated the deliverance of God’s people out of Egypt. Every type of food on the table had symbolic meaning, especially the roasted lamb. It reminded them of the lambs’ blood that was smeared on the doorposts of the homes of the Hebrews so that the death angel would pass over them and enter only the homes of the Egyptians.
The Passover meal was a ritual. The children would ask the father certain questions and he would answer their questions by telling them about how God delivered them from Egypt and lead them to the Promised Land. The meal reminded them of God’s salvation.
When Jesus began talking about the bread being his body and the wine being his blood, the disciples knew Jesus was giving new meaning to the Passover Meal. Let’s look at what Jesus was asking them and us to remember.
Two Symbols of Holy Communion
Bread – basic nourishment for life; food in general
Just before Moses’ death, he delivered a series of messages that we have recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy. He was preparing the Israelites to enter Canaan, the Promised Land. In 8:3 he told them this…
Deuteronomy 8:3 (NLT)
Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the LORD.
When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he quoted the last phrase of this verse to resist the devil. Jesus hadn’t eaten in 40 days and he was hungry. Yet, he knew what we either don’t know or fail to remember – that God will supply all our needs, including food. So one thing we remember is God’s provision.
More importantly, we remember that God’s Word is more important than bread. God’s word feeds our soul, while bread only feeds the physical body. Doctors and psychologists are validating what Jesus and Moses knew thousands of years ago, that the health of the soul vitally affects the health of the body. So, every time you eat bread, you are to remember to feed your soul on God’s Word, the Bible.
Jesus did a startling thing during the Passover Meal when he equated the bread with his body. First of all, eating someone’s flesh is a repulsive thought to anyone, even if you consider it symbolically. So what was Jesus saying to them?