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.” (1 Corinthians 11:24—NKJV)

As long as I can remember every church I have worshipped in has had a communion table with the words “This Do in Remembrance of Me” emblazoned across the front. Yet, I wonder, just what are we to remember about Him as we partake of His table?

The words come from the verse before us. Paul is giving instructions detailing the observance of communion just as he had received instruction from the Lord. Communion was instituted by our Lord on the eve of His crucifixion before those who were to found His church. Communion is an ordinance (command, as opposed to a sacrament indicating some measure of dispensed grace) uniquely entrusted to the local church, as the preceding context displays (verses 17–22). Similarly we observe that it is “the Lord’s Supper” meaning He is the Master of the table and the Provider of the feast.

The two elements of the symbolic communion meal are unleavened bread and unleavened grape juice. They are unleavened because the Passover meal, during which the first communion was introduced, was a meal prepared with haste and leaven is often a symbol in the Scriptures of sin. Sin has no part in our sinless Lord.

The bread is symbolic of our Lord’s body given for the redeemed (“this is my body” our Lord stated, while he held what was obviously bread in His hand, and can only be taken symbolically). The bread bespeaks the substitutionary death of our Lord. He took the place of judgment which we justly deserved. He died as the innocent on behalf of the guilty. The emphasis of the Greek language is upon the words “for you,” on your behalf.

The grape juice is symbolic of our Lord’s blood offered in ransom for the redeemed. He calls that which is symbolized, His blood, the purchase price of the “new covenant.” “Without the shedding of blood there is no remission,” the Scriptures teach. His blood was required that we may be heirs of a new (unworn quality) covenant to be ratified and immovably established between God the Father and His elect. His blood bought our complete redemption out of the slave market of sin.

These profound teachings being illustrated require that the partaker go through a bit of personal, spiritual evaluation concerning his progress in godliness and devotion to the One who bought him. Thus Jesus commands: “This do in remembrance of Me.” To forget His command would mean to be casual toward the meaning of the symbolic meal by being insensitive to the truth illustrated by the church body and by eating in a manner which is not worthy of the true meaning. To partake of communion while continuing in known, willful sin, whether toward God or toward men, is to partake in an unworthy manner. The consequences of which are proclaimed later in the chapter.

Consider six questions to assist you in preparing your heart to take communion: 1) Am I born again solely through faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross? 2) Am I partaking with a fresh awareness of Christ’s death and its provisions? 3) Am I desiring to show forth His death by my participation? 4) Am I purposing to fellowship with Christ and with others present by faithful obedience to His commands? 5) Am I honoring Him as Lord of my life, yielding to Him, living upon Him, thirsting after Him? 6) Am I anticipating His soon return or do I have unfinished business?

Make every opportunity you have to participate in communion a reminder of the great communion service our Lord will host for all the church age saints in glory! Think of standing among the saints, clad in the gleaming righteousness of Christ, your heart humbly overwhelmed with the fullest sense of meaning, and tears of joyful gratitude streaming down your glorified face as our nail-scarred Lord breaks the bread, pours the grape juice and leads us in worship! Trust and obey!