As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
–1 Corinthians 11:26
Paul took the Corinthians back in time about twenty-five years to remember the original purpose of the Lord’s Supper. Look at 1 Corinthians 11:23: “I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you.” Most scholars agree that 1 Corinthians was written before the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So how did Paul know what happened that night when Jesus gathered His disciples for the first Lord’s Supper? This was direct revelation from God.
Verses 23-24 say, “The Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, ‘This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” There are some people who believe the bread is magically transformed into the actual body of Jesus Christ. No, Jesus was speaking symbolically. The bread represents God in the flesh, the incarnation. Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 3:16, “Great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”
It is a mystery, the idea that God could become flesh. We cannot begin to fathom that, but here is something we need to understand: the reason God gave up His rights as God, poured Himself into human flesh, and died on the cross was that He loved us. That is the meaning of the bread. It represents the coming of God to earth to offer Himself as a sacrifice for us.
Then Paul reminded us of the meaning of the cup. Look at 1 Corinthians 11:25: “In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’” A covenant is a contract, an agreement. The old covenant God made with Israel was simple: keep the law, and you will be blessed; disobey the law, and you will be cursed. The problem was nobody could keep the law perfectly. But that night in the upper room, Jesus instituted a new covenant. Here is how it works: God says, “I will send My Son, Jesus, to die on a cross. And in some inexplicable way, He will receive the curse you deserve for not keeping the law. All you have to do is believe He made the payment for your sin. If you do that, you will be pure and sinless in My sight.” That is the new covenant, and it is put into effect by the blood of Jesus Christ.
Verse 26 says, “As often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Every time we observe the Lord’s Supper, we are announcing the new covenant. We are proclaiming what Christ has done for us.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Sacred Supper” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.