“For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night 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, 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.”-1 Corinthians 11:23-24.
“The night Jesus was betrayed.” That phrase, taken from 1 Corinthians 11:23, always grabs my attention. So much happens the night prior to Jesus’ execution it is hard to narrow down what to focus on. For me, this year, I have been meditating on the prayers that Jesus prayed leading up to his crucifixion; each of them point to various themes of our Christian faith that I feel are important for us to acknowledge including thankfulness, sacrifice, submission, unity and forgiveness.
The first prayer we come to in Luke 22:17-19 recounts for us the prayer Jesus prayed during the final Passover meal he shared with his disciples:
“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Two times in the passage Jesus stops to give thanks; once over the bread the other over the fruit of the vine. In fact the cup from which they drank is often referred to as the cup of thanksgiving. By this Jesus announced the initiation of a new covenant based on his sacrificial death; the bread representative of his body broken for our healing and the fruit of the vine representing his blood shed for the forgiveness of sins.
This passage captures two important elements of our faith: thankfulness and sacrifice. Jesus stops two times to offer thanks to God for His provision and grace. By doing this Jesus modeled the significance of thankfulness in the daily life of every believer. Thanksgiving is not relegated to a single day of the year, but is a demonstration of our daily dependence on God. By giving thanks we communicate the goodness of God and our reliance upon Him to meet our needs. It is a form of praise that recalls God’s mighty hand at work in our lives. It recounts His faithfulness, longsuffering, provision, and mercy; thereby strengthening our faith and trust in Him.
Jesus’ prayer also communicated the significance of sacrifice. Through the blessing of the bread and the fruit of the vine; Jesus communicated the price he was willing to pay in order to secure eternal salvation for those who would trust in him. In this way Jesus modeled for us the importance of living sacrificially for others. Communion became not simply a lasting memorial of Christ’s sacrificial work on the cross on our behalf, but a continuous reminder of our responsibility to live sacrificially for others.
Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church