Notes on the Lord's Supper as a Feast of Remembrance

Matt Bruski

November 9, 2008

"Then He said to them, 'With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it UNTIL IT IS FULFILLED IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD'. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until THE KINGDOM OF GOD COMES'. And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body which is given for you; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.' Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the NEW COVENANT in my blood which is shed for you.'" Luke 22:15-20

- remembrance as *rest* and as an echo of Sabbath and Passover - proclaiming Jesus's death

Who is remembering? God or people?


Jeremias though tries another option. He looks to the Old Testament. It is frankly amazing just how opposed to the Old Testament modern biblical scholarship was/is. Whereas from a literary standpoint it would seem the obvious place to start, Bible scholars almost always leave it as a last option. Thankfully Jeremias gets it right.

He whips out his Septuagint (always a good thing to use), and voila! There are all sorts of great mnemoi! Jeremias finds that the cereal offering of Lev. 2.2 is a memorial. The frankincense with the shewbread (Lev. 24.7) is a memorial. The trumpet-blasts (Num. 10.10), the stones in Aaron’s breastplate (Ex. 28.12,29;39.7), and even prayers are memorials (Acts 10.4 New Testament! wow!).

Jeremias writes, “The reader who will take the trouble to check the references to Old Testament and Jewish remembrance formulae gathered together on pp. 244-246 from the viewpoint as to whether they are concerned with human or divine remembrance will see at once that for the most part they speak of God’s remembrance” (pg. 248).

Jeremias concludes that another important aspect of “memorial” is that it is something brought before God. Like prayers, offerings, and sacrifices, memorials are brought before God with the intention “to induce God to act” (pg. 249).

Building off 1 Cor. 11.26, Jeremias also notes that there is an eschatological aspect to memorializing the Lord’s death. He writes, “Consequently the command for repetition may be understood as: ‘This do, that God may remember me’: God remembers the Messiah in that he causes the kingdom to break in by the parousia” (pg. 252).

This makes good sense if we consider that John’s Revelation is a book about Lord’s Day worship and also that when we have the Lord’s Supper, Jesus comes to judge and recreate. The Eucharist is a memorial that we bring before God with the intention that He will remember Jesus Christ’s work. We ask that He will remember its past accomplishment and its future promise. Come Lord Jesus. And He does.

From: Basic Thoughts & Outline: This author is not dogmatic that the following 'timeline' be followed exactly as listed as the Spirit should lead each meeting. Whenever a meeting starts scripting their 'services', they script the Spirit's leading right on out of it. It would be best for the body to plan for the tone of the next meeting, not the details. However, this is the outline gleaned from the above ten passages (in their contexts) and 1 Corinthians 11-14 in paticular:

Arrive when you can for fellowship. Bring food as you can, if you can (to whom much is given much is required). The eating should not start till everyone is present (in normal circumstances, not to be legalistic though). This feasting time should be a time for fellowship and edification. As the last few are finishing up, we are to give thanks (bless) for the loaf of bread. Each member should tear off a piece of the loaf remembering the Lod's body being broken. Crackers, wafers, etc. should not be used as it misses the symbolism of the event. The loaf pictures the body of Christ and the broken pieces picture us as members of the body (1 Corinthians 12:27). After everyone has finished eating the meal and the broken loaf of bread, we are to bless (give thanks for) the cup. The cup is then to be shared in remembrance of Christ's shed blood. This can be a quiet time or be a time of talking and sharing; each week it may be different. It is preferrable to use fresh squeezed grapes (fruit of the vine) as opposed to store bought grape juice because: it is unfiltered, the taste is sweeter, and the visual appearance is symbolic (squeezed grapes have an earie resemblance to blood). Edification of the body through singing, sharing, gifting, and teaching. There is no formality to this, and no order by which each of these should be done as it should be be Spirit led. A brother can speak at will, or request us to sing a song/hymn, after another brother has finished speaking. The brethren are to "take turns" during this part of the meeting allowing all to speak. One should not speak over another as one is not more important than the other; everything is to be done "decently and in order" (1 Corinthians 14:40). This is not to say that a visiting missionary/apostle couldn't be a sole speaker on occasion as in Acts 20:7-12, but the normal meeting is led by the brethren (1 Corinthians 14:23-38, etc.). (If there are elders/overseers in the church then they are to do just that - oversee. Overseeing should not be confused with controlling, and it does not negate the role of the brethren.) Close with a joyful song. Considerations: Let us consider a few points of application:

We are to judge ourselves (self-examination) before partaking to see if we have equal regard for all the members of the body. We must make sure that the feast is not 'overpowering' the remembrance. We must make sure that this is a "love feast" showing our love for the body and its Head. The entire meeting, starting with the love-feast, is designed to be inclusive, not exclusive. We must exhibit patience in waiting to partake equally and sensitively so that all of the body experiences bonding. If the instructions are not followed they would be judged through sickness or death and loss of inheritance. The Supper is a visual remembrance of the gospel of Jesus Christ; His self-sacrifice, liberality, and return. The Greek word kataggellō is the same word normally translated "preach" (1 Corinthians 9:14, etc.). So, "ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" can also be read "ye do preach the Lord's death till he come". Our remembrance is our preaching to the Lord, the body of Christ (11:29), angels (11:10), and any unbelieving visitors (14:23-24) of the testimony of God in us. Benefits: The benefits of communion are too many for this writer to fully grasp. However, we have listed a few below:

The Supper is a time for bonding, edifying, and Christian brotherhood. When the remembrance takes place around food and fellowship, it is a happy time and easily blends into edifying the body of Christ. One should immediately experience a change of character. When one meditates on another regularly they begin to take on many of that person's characteristics, such is the case with the "thanksgiving." Breaking bread reverently and regularly also keeps us in memory of the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf. Such frequent memory is a great motivation to abstain from sin, for it is that sin that caused Christ's body to be broken and blood to be shed.