************ Sermon on Luke 22:19 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on September 12, 2004
"In Remembrance of Me"
"Do this in remembrance of me." These words are written across the front of our communion table. I think this is true for every church I have served as pastor – inscribed into the communion table are the words, "Do this in remembrance of me."
We know these words are important. Luke records them on the lips of Jesus in our Bible reading for this evening. And, they are also to be found in Paul's account of the institution of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:
(1Cor 11:23-25) For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, (24) 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." (25) 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."
"Do this in remembrance of me." What do these words mean? What is the Lord saying to us this evening as we come to the table of Christ?
I A Commanded Remembrance
A "Do this in remembrance of me." Take note that this is a command. And, I consider it amazing that Jesus commands us to remember Him. Why do I say that? It is amazing that Jesus commands us to "remember" Him as if it were even possible for us to forget Him and His cross. How can we possibly forget Him Who died for us and rose for us? How can we possibly forget Him Who redeemed us and saved us? How can we possibly forget Him who changed us and planted new life in us? You would think the moon would sooner forget the sun then we would forget the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet, we do forget. We so easily forget the centrality of Jesus to our faith. We so easily forget that the message of the cross and the grave lies at the center of our faith. We so easily forget that Christ in our only hope and our only comfort in life and in death. We so easily forget that Christ is the only way to the Father's throne. We so easily think other things are more important. We so easily become distracted from first things. We let issues and work and family problems and things push Jesus and the Gospel aside. It is so easy for our hearts to wander away from Jesus because our hearts are prone to wander.
And, of course, Satan loves to distract us. Again and again he tries to turn our attention away from Christ. He wants us to water down the Gospel and its command to repent and believe. He wants us to deny that Christ is the only way to eternal life. He wants us to concentrate on other things.
"Do this in remembrance of me." Our Lord Jesus has given us a way to always remember Him. He has made provision so we do not forget the cross. He has given us what we celebrate this evening – the Lord's Supper.
So, this evening, we come. We come to do what Jesus commanded. We come to remember. We come to not forget.
B "Do this in remembrance of me." The Lord commands us to remember Him in the Lord's Supper. There was a time when Lord's Supper Sunday was the most important Sunday of the month or quarter. Today, many take the attitude that they can skip it or miss it. That it is not necessary to show up. That their souls and their spiritual life can get along perfectly well without this memorial meal. So they put off professing their faith. Or, they skip church that Sunday. Or, they go out of town for the weekend.
That is not the approach Jesus takes. He gives a command – not a suggestion. He gives an order – not a wish list. He sends out an invitation without enclosing an RSVP card because He expects everyone to attend. "Do this in remembrance of me." He wants us to come together for the Lord's Supper. So how dare we think or act like the Lord's Supper is not important!
C "Do this in remembrance of me." When we look through the New Testament we see that the early church took Jesus' words literally and seriously. Consider this passage:
(Acts 2:42) They [that is, the early believers] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.Did you catch that? The early believers devoted themselves "to the breaking of bread." The book of Acts is not just talking about a fellowship luncheon here. It is talking about the broken bread of the Lord's Supper.
A little bit further in the same passage in the book of Acts we read that,
(Acts 2:46) Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts ...This seems to suggest that the breaking of bread in the Lord's Supper was a daily occurrence.
In Acts 20 it seems that the celebration of the Lord's Supper was a weekly part of Paul's ministry:
(Acts 20:7) On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.
Finally, consider the words of our text: "Do this in remembrance of me." The Greek expresses continuing action – "do this and do this and keep doing this." Not a one time act. Not an occasional act. But something that must be done often.
Notice, too, how Paul introduces the subject in 1 Corinthians 11. He says,
(1Cor 11:23) For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread ...Paul received a trust from the Lord. And this command or trust from the Lord he is now passing on to the Corinthian church and to you and me. In other words, the Lord's Supper is something we must celebrate.
Our fallen and straying and wayward hearts and minds need the Lord's Supper because we are so prone to forget the centrality of Christ and His cross and His grave to our faith and our life and our eternal well-being.
D "Do this in remembrance of me." Scripture uses different terms to describe the meal in front of us this evening. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 11, calls it the "Lord's Supper" (1 Cor 11:20). This Supper belongs to the Lord Jesus. It was ordained by the Lord Jesus. It is not just supper that we are having tonight. It is not just grape juice and bread for Christians. This is the Lord's Supper. It belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is His; not yours, not mine, not the church's, but His. As an aside, the only other time the possessive is used with Jesus is with the "Lord's Day" – a day that belongs to Him and is ordained by Him and is set aside by Him and for Him; in other words, not a day that belongs to you or to me to do with as we please, but a day that belongs to Him for His honor and His glory. The Lord's Day like the Lord's Supper belongs to the Lord Jesus. The more common and ordinary and trivial we make this table and the more common and ordinary and trivial we make this day the faster we lose what is central to our faith.
We notice that the Bible also calls it "communion" (NKJV) or "a participation in the blood of Christ" (1 Cor 10:16). This is a translation of the Greek word "koinonia." It is a koinonia, a sharing. But we aren't just communing with each other. Rather, we are first of all communing with the Lord Jesus. So this is not just an ordinary meal – like a fellowship luncheon – because in the Lord's Supper we are entering into koinonia, into fellowship, into communion, with Christ Himself. In the Lord's Supper, Christ is with us in a way He is not with us when we go to In-N-Out Burger or Hometown Buffet or Karl's Jr. He has said "This is my Supper. You are my people. And I promise to commune with you when you come in faith and eat and drink in remembrance of me."
So, the Lord commands us to remember Him in the Lord's Supper, in this communion with His body and His blood.
II A Visible Remembrance
A "Do this in remembrance of me." I think we all realize that the Lord's Supper, this communion with Jesus, appeals to the senses. It is a visible remembrance that impacts sight, touch, taste, and smell. Why is this important?
God has made us in such a way that to see or taste or touch or smell something helps us to remember. I can never smell a lilac bush, for instance, without remembering the home I grew up in. The smoke and smell of cigars makes me remember my grandfather. The sound of a train's wheels and the blowing of its whistle makes me think of the railroad a half mile from my parent's old farm. Or, think of the covenant God made with Noah and mankind. God promised to never again destroy the world with a flood. And the visible sign or seal of this covenant is the rainbow. Every time we Christians see a rainbow we are reminded of God's covenant and covenant promise. Or, think of the Passover. Lots of appeals to the senses in this meal: the blood and bleating of sheep, bitter herbs, unleavened bread, wine, a certain kind of clothing. All of this a reminder of how God rescued Israel from Egypt. Or, think of Israel's memorial stones – in the Jordan, at Jericho, at various altars – to visibly remind Israel of God's great and mighty acts.
There is nothing fancy about the Lord's Supper. It is simple and basic. Yet, this visible proclamation of Jesus' death helps us to remember.
Our world likes drama. And, some churches buy into this and try to turn worship and ministry and even the Lord's Supper into big productions. But we don't need to do this because we could end up hiding or losing what is basic: the Lord Jesus, His death, His cross, His suffering. The reason the Supper is so simple and so basic is so our attention is focused solely on Christ and what He has done to save us from our sins.
"Do this in remembrance of me." This Supper is a means of grace that strengthens and confirms our faith when we remember Christ. We are nourished and fed in the faith by this Supper.
This doesn't happen automatically. This doesn't happen just because we eat and drink. Eating and drinking at the Lord's Table doesn't turn you into a Christian nor does it guarantee you eternal life. You all know that.
As we eat from the loaf and drink from the cup we need to eat and drink from Christ in faith, remembering what He has done for us upon the cross and in the grave. Then our faith is fed. Then our spiritual life is strengthened. Then our soul is nourished unto life eternal.
"Do this in remembrance of me." Come, eat, drink, taste, smell, see, hear. Remember and believe. Remember that Jesus suffered. Remember that Jesus died. Remember that Jesus bled. Remember what is of first importance to you and to me.
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