Chapter 29 In Remembrance

This do in remembrance of Me (1 Corinthians 11:24).

It is an astonishing thing that we who have been redeemed need a reminder of our Lord’s death upon the cross. Yet it is so! If we search our hearts and examine our ways, we shall find it is easy to forget. Our Lord, who knows well the weakness and treachery of our human hearts, has made provision for us to be constantly reminded. Thus He has established the memorial feast with this intent, “This do in remembrance of Me.”

The Lord’s things are sublime in their simplicity. This feast is so—“simple bread and simple wine, sweet memorials of our Lord.” Faith alone can interpret these elements and in them catch the image of our beloved Lord. Faith has learned the sound principle that natural things reflect the beauties and glories and even the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. It is seen in the elements upon the table, the testimony of the true bread and true wine, and how He became food and drink for our souls.

It is most inspiring to read church history and witness the many strange places where the saints have set up a table of sorts and used these simple memorials to remember their Lord, as, for instance, in the catacombs of Rome, in the Scottish moorlands, in concentration camps, in exiles’ lonely prisons, on battlefields, yea, in every kind of place.

A Commanded Remembrance

There is the Lord’s own authority for observing this feast. It is no sentimental arrangement by some specially devoted believers. In these words of our text, which had been communicated to the Apostle Paul, the permanence of this service was established. It was instituted by the Lord Himself in Matthew 26:26-28. Acts 2:42 records the first occasion of believers’ obedience to His command; and in Acts 20:7 we see that it became the general practice of the church to observe this on “the first day of the week.”

The words, “this do” and “as oft as,” contain the idea of repetition; that the feast is to be observed again and again. It is a command, as it were, written by our Lord’s own pen. It is the decree of His own mouth, the fruit of His own omniscient mind, the perfection of His thought. All He commands is surely designed by His wisdom and laid down by His grace. “I have received of the Lord,” said Paul—which means a clear communication from the Lord. The observance, therefore, has never to be one of mere impulse or of natural inclination, but observed because the Lord has ordained that we should keep it.

A Visible Remembrance

The form of the remembrance matches our weakness. We need to see something to aid our faith. We must handle things. It almost seems that pure faith is so feeble in most men that we need help through the physical senses. The Lord has provided for this need and given us these elements which can be seen and handled.

The history of God’s dealings with man, especially in communicating profound truth, is full of visible and tangible objects for the bodily senses to contemplate: the rainbow, the passover meal, the booths at the feast of tabernacles, the rod of Aaron, the pot of manna, the stones of witness from the river Jordan, and hundreds more.

The bread and the wine are but emblems—commemorative emblems. “This is My body”—not that the bread is His actual body, but that it represents His body. “This cup is the new testament in My blood”—not that the cup is the testament, but that the wine in it is a token of the covenant. It is metaphorical language which all of us use every day. Is not our Lord’s purport clear as day? We are not to read mystical things into these simple emblems, and either make them or change them into something other than they are. They picture Christ. They are models of His saving work. They are there with one design: to set forth Christ and proclaim His redeeming love.

A Strengthening Remembrance

This remembrance feast is a means of grace. While the elements on the table are but emblems, the feast is not a bare commemoration. We rise above the elements. We gaze at our Lord Himself, and it is upon Him that our souls feed. The faith of the believer must look beyond the elements. All that our Lord is in Himself is the believer’s grand portion. Now that we are in Him, His wisdom is ours to guide; His power is ours to uphold; His faithfulness and truth are our shield and buckler; His Spirit is given us to teach, solace, and bless us; His righteousness is ours to make us walk uprightly; His Heaven is ours to be our home. It is meditation upon such blessed realities which is the strengthening portion of this feast.

A Personal Remembrance

“This do ye.” Our remembrance of the Lord is more than a mere remembrance of the historical event of His dying. It is the remembrance that it was for each of us personally— for me, even me! He does not ask that we remember the date or even the place of His sacrifice, but that we remember Him. Our eyes must focus, not upon the tree (on bits of wood supposedly from His cross, or bits of the napkin once wound around His head) but upon the Lord Himself. In the same way we are not to remember the Lord’s supper as a doctrine, or a precept, or an event; but we are to remember the Lord Himself. Our thought must not stray from Him. We are not to magnify a man who distributes the elements. We are not to magnify the ordinance. We are not to make superstition out of this feast. We are to remember only the Lord Jesus Himself.

A Spiritual Remembrance

This gathering to partake of the Lord’s Supper is more than a ceremony. We are to come to it with spiritual affections. The spirit of the believer must be exercised. The heart must go out to Him. This means a sense of reverence and godly fear. We are to examine ourselves and so partake worthily; that is, we are to have regard to the true worth of the feast. We are not to come here complacently, or lightheartedly, or with outlandish clothes, but with deep searchings of heart and great appreciation of the wondrous Lord and Saviour, who is present in the midst. May God help us so to come.

According to Thy gracious word,
In meek humility,
This will I do, my dying Lord;
I will remember Thee.

Thy body, broken for my sake,
My bread from Heaven shall be;
Thy blood my peace, this cup I take,
And thus remember Thee.

When to the cross I turn my eyes,
And rest on Calvary,
O Lamb of God, my sacrifice,
I must remember Thee!

James Montgomery