For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (verses 23-26)
This chapter spills over with contention from the church at Corinth. In a way that is unclear to us (we’re simply not given enough information) some of the women appear to be flaunting their freedom, creating awkwardness in the gathered congregation and dishonouring others and the Lord. Similarly, the factions of the church were impacting worship, exposing, among other things, divisions between rich and poor, haves and have-nots.
In the midst of these storms, the passage above provides a centring moment of calm. Peace settles. The focus is on Jesus.
Paul reminds us that on the brink of his own intense storm, the Lord Jesus took in hand the unleavened bread of the Passover meal, gave thanks, broke it, and infused it with new meaning. “This is my body, which is for you.” The disciples, at that moment, couldn’t know what was coming. But Jesus did. As the bread cracked and crumbled in his hands, so, too, his own body would be fractured and broken, racked with pain, all his bones out of joint, his heart turned to wax within him, his strength dried up, his whole being reduced to the dust of death (see Psalm 22:14-15).
He took the cup also and invested it with new meaning. “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” That would have made the disciples sit up. The image, initially, would be entirely offensive. By command of the Law, they were to avoid any consumption of blood. And yet, from the heritage of their own experience, there was the over-riding imagery of sacrifice – the blood of the lamb on the doorframes of the house, the sacrifices of atonement, the sin-offerings. “The life is in the blood,” Leviticus says. “It is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life” (Leviticus 17:11). Again, though they didn’t know it, they were directed to the cross.
Remember. Don’t forget. “Do this in remembrance.” Meditate on it. Live into it. Experience it as though you yourself were there. The bread, his body, is for you. The cup, his blood, atones for you.
“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” To yourself. To your sisters and brothers. To the world.
Lord Jesus, thank you for this costly gift. Your body. Your blood. Your life. You have given it all for me. Thank you. Praise your name.
Reflect: Take a few moments to “remember into” the Last Supper, as if you yourself were there. See Jesus break the bread. Hear him speak the words, “This is my body, which is for you.” Similarly with the cup. Receive his gift. Give thanks.