For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 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.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23–26)
I have celebrated the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, since my youth when I first confessed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. When I was 27, however, I was called to my first pastorate and was in charge of leading the celebration of Communion.
I remember reading Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 11 in preparation to lead. Although I had read the passage dozens of times before that day, and had literally participated in hundreds of Communion services, I was taken aback by Paul’s words, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” You proclaim the Lord’s death? The Lord’s death? Death? Not his resurrection? Not his ascension? Not his victory? We proclaim his death?
I want to proclaim life, not death.
I want to proclaim the empty tomb, not the cross.
I want to proclaim light, not shadows.
Nevertheless, it is the shadow of the cross, the death of Christ, that the world desperately needs to hear. God was willing to die so that we might live. God was willing to experience pain so that we might experience true joy. God was willing to lose so that we might win.
It’s the type of proclamation that comes with built-in humility: “Let me tell you about my God. He died, for you.”
It’s true that he didn’t stay dead, but he died for a world that hated him. I’m not sure that I proclaim that message all that well. My pride gets in the way. My need to win gets in the way. My sin that just won’t stay dead gets in the way.
It’s no wonder God gave us a reminder. “Hey, Child. Remember, when you eat this bread and drink this cup, I died for you. Are you willing to proclaim that to a world that needs to hear? It takes a lot of humility. The kind of humility that leads to death of yourself.”
Heavenly Father, thank you for the your willingness to send your Son to take my punishment and to free me from sin, and guilt, and death. God, give me the strength to proclaim this message to a world that needs to hear of your great self-sacrificing love. Give me the strength to proclaim with a self-sacrificing humility. In the name of Jesus, my Savior, amen.