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Not Just a Memorial

Regarding the Lord’s Supper, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:26, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” So by eating the bread and drinking the cup, we’re proclaiming the Lord’s death. The bread of the supper represents his body that was torn on the cross, and the wine of the supper represents his blood that was shed. And he did it for us—to pay for our sins.

To be sure, there are some similarities between the Lord’s Supper and a funeral service or memorial service, especially when the person we’re commemorating died as a hero. I think of the September 11 memorial service at ground zero just a few weeks ago, and how one group that was honored was the brave passengers of Flight 93—those men and women who collectively took action and thwarted the terrorists’ attempt to crash the plane into the capitol building. They heroically sacrificed their lives in order to save others on that day, and we remember their heroism on September 11.

And that’s similar in some ways to what we do in the Lord’s Supper as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice, but there’s also an important difference. Look at the verse again: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.” Did you get that last part? “Until he comes.

There’s a note of triumph here because Jesus is coming again. Yes, Jesus died for our sins, but he didn’t stay in the grave. He victoriously resurrected—and he’s coming again! So when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it’s not simply a memorial service like we might hold for heroes who have died. It’s actually more of a celebration as we eagerly anticipate seeing Jesus again.

And not only will we be able to see Jesus again, we’ll even be able to eat and drink with him again—and enjoy all the close fellowship that eating and drinking entails. How do we know that? Well, in Matthew 26:29, Jesus states, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.” One day, we’re going to eat and drink with Jesus again, and it’s going to be a wonderful thing.

So every time we observe the Lord’s Supper, we’re joyfully anticipating the ultimate Lord’s Supper in heaven. It’s going to be so wonderful that the Bible even compares it to a wedding feast. You see, one metaphor the New Testament commonly uses for the church is a bride, with Jesus as the groom. So when we get to have the Lord’s Supper with Jesus face to face again, it’s described as a wedding feast.

Revelation 19:6-9: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are the true words of God.

That’s what we have to look forward every time we have the Lord’s Supper. As we take the supper, we’re taking it in joyful anticipation of the day when we’ll get to eat with Jesus face to face. As wonderful as the Lord’s Supper is to celebrate here on this earth, we understand it’s just a dim shadow of the real supper we’re going to celebrate with Jesus in heaven.