1 Corinthians 11:23-25 – For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." (NRSV)
The evening that Jesus shared His last Passover meal with His disciples was an evening full of remarkable events. From the washing of feet to the treachery of Judas, it was an evening that would change lives, and change history. One of the most remarkable parts of that evening occurred when Jesus gave us the gift of Holy Communion.
Every Christian denomination that I'm aware of celebrates Holy Communion in some way. Over the course of my life, I have attended congregations that celebrate it only once or twice a year, and at the other end of the spectrum, I have attended congregations that celebrate it every week. In fact, there was a time in university when a Roman Catholic friend and I attended mass every morning before class — though in that case, I didn't partake of the Eucharist myself, out of deference to the dictates of the Catholic church. Whatever the ritual, whatever the frequency, and whatever the liturgy, I find the sacrament to be truly powerful.
I often think about what was going through Jesus' mind on the night of the Last Supper — the night that we now recognize as Maundy Thursday. Jesus knew that His heavenly Father was watching over Him and guiding Him; He knew that He had the power of Almighty God at His side. But He also knew, all too well, how weak and fallible human beings are. He knew that His disciples, and all His followers for centuries to come, would be tried and tested. He knew that some would be strong and up to the task, while others would be weak and would stumble. He knew that we would need something tangible to hold on to — something that would help us to feel the presence and strength of our Father in heaven.
He also knew that in times to come, His followers would be truly diverse, coming from all walks of life and from all over the world. He knew that they would be the poor and the rich, the clever and the simple, the meek and the powerful. His followers would embody the full range of abilities, frailties, strengths, and weaknesses. He knew that we would need some things in common to help us in our faith.
And so, on that last night with His friends, Jesus instituted a sacrament that would bind together all Christians for all time. He built one of His most powerful institutions around the simplest of rituals: sharing a piece of bread and a sip of wine.
I am so grateful to Jesus for giving us this amazing gift! Whenever I participate in Holy Communion, I am awestruck as I feel the Holy Spirit within me and amongst all of those partaking. Whenever that happens — however frequently or rarely — I think back to that last meal that Jesus and His friends had together in the Upper Room, and I am grateful.
Prayer: Loving God, thank You for all the gifts of Your ministry on earth. You demonstrated Your love for us in so many ways. Please help us to be mindful of You, prayerful, and worshipful, through all the rituals of our daily lives. In Jesus' holy and precious name, we pray. Amen.
Listen to this devotional
Listen while you read: "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded" (Lyrics)