Some people still tie a knot in a handkerchief and most of us still write a list of some kind to help our memories. It might be an old photograph, the whiff of a familiar smell, the lines of a poem or the sound of an old tune and our memories can be triggered. They might just conjure up a face from the past, an event that happened, a past friendship or they could unlock a dam so that you are flooded with powerful emotions. Why do we remember and what value is there in remembering? How could a glass of wine and a bread roll have such profound significance for remembering? The simple Forget-me-not flowers provide the clue!
- ‘Perhaps nothing helps us make the movement from our little selves to a larger world than remembering God in gratitude. Such a perspective puts God in view in all of life, not just in the moments we set aside for worship or spiritual disciplines. Not just in the moments when life seems easy’ – Henri Nouwen
- ‘Blessed are those who give without remembering. And blessed are those who take without forgetting’ – Bernard Meltzer
- ‘Remembering in an honest way means admitting the truth’ – Sebastian Kurz
- ‘Every person's remembering will be different. That engagement is important, I think’ – Christian Marclay
People want to forget some things – regrets, failures, wrong-doing. Is it not ironic that before we can truly forget these things to find true freedom that we first need to remember the one who effectively said ‘forget me not’? Heroes are remembered with statues, poppies, medals and road names – Jesus simply gave us bread and wine. Statues crumble or are toppled; ceremonies come and go; medals go into glass boxes for auction; road names get changed. Bread and wine are enduring signposts.
- ‘While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” – Mark 14:22-25
The bread was not a casual choice – it could be torn, broken, shared. It pointed back to the ‘manna’ of the Old Testament but this bread bridges the gap between heaven and man in the bringer of the New Covenant.
- ‘I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live for ever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world’ – John 6:51
The grape yields the wine as it is crushed. The Lamb of God gives not just a blood donation or an organ transplant; he gives his life blood as remission for our sin – the penalty ticket due to us is cancelled. Hunger is met, thirst is quenched and new life begins.
- ‘In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness’ – Hebrews 9:22
- ‘Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”’ – John 6:35
The Last Supper comes before the Wedding Feast. Isolation is replaced by communion. Bread and wine are harvested, made and consumed at a point in time. They are temporary symbols pointing to an eternal truth – that there is forgiveness in and through the sacrifice of Christ Jesus.
- ‘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’ – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
- ‘But we believe it was for us he hung and suffered there’ – Cecil F Alexander
This old hymn, ‘There is a Green Hill Far Away’, reminds us we are saved by his precious blood. This is a temporary meal for when he comes we will no longer need to have reminders of our faith demonstrated in bread and wine for we shall see the risen Christ as he is. We shall never be separated, never need another sacrifice and never be in doubt. In remembering, let us not forget the immensity of what our Saviour did for us as we take the simplest elements – a bit of bread and a sip of wine. So then, until he comes, let us remember often, joyfully, thankfully and soberly.
TAGS – atonement, propitiation, justification, love, heaven, judgement, justice, substitution