When I was young I remember being in church, it was communion time and I was lost in a boy’s imagination, mesmerised by the idea that I was holding Christ’s body in my hand. Spellbound by the cup of juice, I’m standing there wondering ‘if this is Christ’s blood, will it spill? Can it spill? What does it mean if it does spill?’ I certainly didn’t want to spill God on the ground but it seemed in my young brain to be a legitimate question. So, I tested it, in a very measured careful way I slowly angled the cup. Full of anticipation, fear and trembling I paused to see what would happen. This moment was cut dramatically short when my mother’s palm connected with my head in an attempt to stop my Tom foolery. As I’ve matured I’ve learnt it’s just juice and a dry biscuit but what it represents is significant beyond words. And so, we consider 1 Corinthians 11:23-29
For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.” For every time, you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.
Verse 23 starts with Paul’s knowledge sharing; “for I received from the Lord what I also passed onto you.” Often the greatest things God gives, are our greatest gifts to others. Our lessons, many of them learned in hardship and difficulty become our ministry. Those unbelievable moments that we thought we may not survive become hope for others in similar situations.
We also see what leaders do when difficult times come; ‘on the night he was betrayed He gave thanks…’ There is a constant scriptural context of shifting focus from the storm to the Saviour — can you imagine the spiritual fortitude and faith that Jesus had in order to give thanks knowing what laid ahead of Him. It’s no wonder that He would pray only hours later in Gethsemane, “not my will but yours be done.”
But it’s verse 26 that brings me to my title. “For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again.” Notice what we do when we take communion, we make an announcement. It’s a statement that Jesus came, born in a manger, for that’s where a lamb ought to be born. He lived a life in order to give life back — more than just another start up prophet wanna be, this one spoke like He actually knew the Father. In living He loved, in dying He saved. Three days later the stone was rolled away and everything He told them came to pass.
Next time you get to receive communion, remember that what you do speaks volumes, it makes a declaration, that one day He’s coming back.