Celebrating Our Faith

KEY VERSE: “As often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.” —I Corinthians 11:26

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: I Corinthians 11:17-29

THE SCRIPTURES REVEAL dearly that the slaying of Israel’s Passover lamb prefigured the death of Jesus as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) It was appropriate, therefore, that Jesus should give his life on the same day appointed for the typical Passover lamb to be slain, and it was on the “evening” of that day—which began at sundown the night before—that Jesus partook of the Passover Supper with his disciples for the last time.

It was on this occasion that Jesus instituted the only recurring rite, or ceremonial, enjoined upon his followers; namely, the Memorial Supper—called by some “communion,” and by others “the Eucharist.” As Jesus outlined it to his disciples, it vas a very simple ceremony, in which were used unleavened bread and wine—or “fruit of the vine.” Paul explained the significance of this ceremony, saying, “as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.”—I Cor. 11:26

The phrase, ‘as often’, has been taken by some to mean that it is appropriate to partake of the Memorial Supper almost any time, and as frequently as deemed practical. We doubt, however, that this is what Paul had in mind. The ceremony is in memory of the death of Jesus, and we believe that the only proper time to partake of the bread and the cup is on the anniversary of his death. If one should say, “As often as you commemorate the birth of Jesus,” we would not understand him to mean as many times in the year as we feel disposed to commemorate the Savior’s birth.

The fact that Jesus instituted the Memorial Supper while he and his apostles were partaking of the Passover Supper does not imply that this new ceremony is simply a revision of the old, although there is a close relationship between the two. Jesus was the antitypical Passover Lamb, so with his death, the yearly sacrifice of the typical Passover lamb officially ended. The true Lamb which it prefigured had come, and would shed his blood so that all who come under its protection might have life.

The new rite was intended to be, not a revision of the old, but a commemoration of that which the old prefigured —that is, a memorial of the antitype. As Paul explained, it is to “show the Lord’s death.” In this ceremony we ‘show’ or proclaim the Lord’s death by partaking of the bread which represents his sacrificed body, and the cup which symbolizes his shed blood. Concerning the bread, Jesus said, “Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”—I Cor. 11:24

Jesus did not mean by this that the bread was actually his body, as taught by some, for his literal body of flesh was still living when he gave this command. Clearly, Jesus meant that it represented his body. On a previous occasion the Master had taught his disciples that he would give his flesh for the life of the world. (John 6:51) “The blood is the life,” the Lord told the Israelites. (Deut. 12:23) Thus, in partaking of that which represents Jesus’ blood, it is with the thought that we receive life from him.

Each year on the 14th day of Nisan, corresponding with the Jewish calendar, after 6:00 p.m., would be the appropriate time to partake of the Memorial Supper commemorating the death of Jesus as our Redeemer, and the whole world. This was the event to which the Passover, celebrated once a year, pointed forward, and the accomplishment of Jesus’ death is the event properly celebrated as a memorial once a year.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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