Lauren has provided the notes this week. The passage can be read here.
“Lest we forget” is a phrase we have probably all seen on war memorials and surrounding the centenary of the start of the First World War last year. What does it mean? Among other things, it means that these reminders and memorials exist so that the extraordinary human cost and sacrifice of that war may never be forgotten – so that we never forget the lessons we learned and don’t lightly tread down the same road.
It is an excellent idea to learn from the past. Having seen the outcome of an action once, we can learn whether it is good to pursue that course or to avoid it. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if humanity only made each mistake once!
Of course that is not the case. We forget things. We are so capable of absorbing ourselves in our busy lives, and the hustle and bustle that we are capable of forgetting any and every lesson, no matter how important. That’s why we have things set up as reminders. It’s why we have memorials to remember the wars.
Jesus knows what we are like, and here on the eve of his arrest, he speaks to his disciples and to every Christian who will follow, and commands a reminder, a memorial, a remembrance. There is something we must not forget.
The remembrance: break and eat bread as a reminder of Jesus body given for us. Drink the wine as a reminder of Jesus shed blood which ushers us into a New Covenant.
We see that this is a personal remembrance – we remember not just that Jesus died, but that he died for us. And it is a positive remembrance – we remember that Jesus brokenness and blood bring about the New Covenant – the new way for us to come to God which is by grace and not by us following the law.
What if we were to forget this? Then we forget the foundation of our faith, everything that we stand on to come before God. Without Jesus death on the cross, and it’s meaning for our lives – what do we have left?
Jesus commands us to remember. He commands us to remind ourselves regularly. He commands us to do this by breaking bread and drinking wine as a physical reminder. We take these “emblems” as a statement to ourselves and to anyone watching us that Jesus death was for us and we stand in the salvation he brings.
I wonder how Jesus felt as he broke that bread. I wonder how he felt as he watched the wine poured out of that cup. We have these emblems as symbols of what Jesus did. What a poignant moment, when Jesus breaks the bread this first time, shortly before his body was broken, and his blood poured out. How achingly sad it is, that the disciples then argue again about who is the greatest. How unworthy we are of our saviour – his love, commitment, generosity, sacrifice are unwavering, and we are as failed as the disciples. How wonderful it is that we don’t read “Jesus was ticked off with his disciples for completely missing the point, and changed his mind”. How wonderful that we will never see or hear that.
Something I wondered reading this, which people may have thoughts on: Jesus commands a communal activity of Christians sharing bread and wine together. Do people think there is a place for any gathering of Christians any time to do this – to do it as a group of friends as part of sharing a meal, or as a family? Or is it proper that this be reserved for church?
Lord we thank you for offering yourself – your body and your blood – as a sacrifice for us. Thank you for giving us such a simple way of reminding ourselves and each other.