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The Most Precious Memorial

By Daphne Delay
Guest Writer

CBN.comAs I was reflecting on this day, I looked up the word "memorial" in my Bible concordance and was a little surprised at what was written in the subtitle. It said "Forgetfulness of God." As I thought about this phrase for a moment, I understood. Much like Memorial Day, biblical memorials were set up to avoid forgetting what God had done. They were reminders so people would not forget.

Passover was a reminder to God's people of the last plague of Egypt which took the first-born of every family who did not have blood applied to the doorpost of their home. This memorial was not meant to remind them of death, but of life and mercy (Exodus 12:14). God provided life when death was eminent. He was merciful to those who believed and obeyed.

There was a memorial for remembering the manna which God provided in the wilderness (Exodus 16:32). Another memorial was established to record the names of the tribes of Israel which God had established as a covenant (Exodus 28:12). As the leader of God’s people into the Promised Land, Joshua even established a memorial for God's Word. "Behold, this stone shall be a witness to us, for it has heard all the words of the Lord which He spoke to us. It shall therefore be a witness to you, lest you deny your God" (Joshua 24:27). Yet, of all memorials ever established, there is one which stands head and shoulders above all others; and that is the memorial of communion.

When it was time, {Jesus} sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God." Taking the cup, He blessed it, then said, "Take this and pass it among you. As for Me, I'll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives." Taking bread, He blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body, given for you. Eat it in My memory." He did the same with the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant written in My blood, blood poured out for you" (Luke 22:14-20, Message).

Although the disciples had little understanding of what Jesus was instituting on this night, it has since become a memorial as He said it would.

The Apostle Paul memorialized the Lord's Supper in his first letter to the Corinthians instructing them to continue this tradition as a reminder of God's love and mercy.

"For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me'" (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).

By the Holy Spirit, Paul received instruction to pass on to God's people the importance of instituting a memorial for Jesus Christ and His sacrifice.

In every memorial, something is established to put people in remembrance of certain facts. In communion, the actual bread and wine (or juice) have no real power in and of themselves. Yet because of what they represent, they have great power for the believer. The bread represents healing for the outward man. Jesus said, "This is My body which is broken for you." Isaiah prophesied regarding the sacrificial offering of the coming Messiah when he said, "And by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). Likewise, the cup represents forgiveness for the inward man. "In the same manner {Jesus} took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood.'"

When we study the different memorials set up in remembrance of God's deliverance or provision, we notice there is never a set timeline for memorials. Each one had its own guidelines. For example, the Passover was to be memorialized once a year, whereas the memorial for God's people to remember His Word was only a large stone placed under an oak tree. This memorial would be visible to all who passed by, thus establishing a regular reminder throughout the year, not just once. In the same way, the Lord's Supper (or Communion) has its own timeline. Paul said, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26). The key words here are "as often." In other words, Paul, by the Holy Spirit, was not giving instruction as to a particular day of the year, or month, or even a certain day of the week. He simply said as often as you do this (insinuating whenever it is you take communion) remember there is a purpose.

Jesus warned us about allowing traditions to rob God's Word of its power and authority. A good example is found in Mark, Chapter Seven. The Pharisees criticized Jesus' disciples for the way they washed their hands stating it was against Jewish tradition. Jesus outright said to them, "{You} make the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do" (Mark 7:13). I dare say we have done the same with the Lord's Supper. Communion can become a tradition which we partake of forgetting the real power of its memorial. So Paul said, "As often as you do this, make sure you really remember WHY you do it" (my paraphrase). It's not about only remembering the bread represents Jesus' body and the cup represents Jesus' blood. Communion is about remembering WHY the bread and cup were given. They each respectively remind us of the life we have now been given in Christ Jesus. They are true memorials - possibly the most precious of all memorials. And they are to be taken as often as we'd like... in remembrance of Him.

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Daphne Delay is the founder of Mirror Ministries in Seminole, Texas. She is the author of Facing the Mirror: Finding a Self to Live With. Daphne has written over 200 articles for subscribers to Mirror Ministries and other publications, and she blogs nuggets of spiritual growth encouragement every week. Daphne is the wife of a senior pastor and the mother of three. www.mirrorministries.org

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