Human beings have a tendency to sacralize time and space. In other words, there is something within us that seeks to commemorate and set apart certain places and dates that have been important in our lives. We build monuments in areas where battles were fought that changed the course of a nation’s destiny. Days are marked on the calendar to celebrate the birth of a country and even our own entrance into the world. We are driven by an almost insatiable desire to remember the past, and we associate special memories and feelings with places and dates.
The sacralizing of time and space is approved by the Lord, at least when it comes to the landmark events of redemptive history. God commanded the celebration of the Passover to recall and proclaim His great redemption of the Israelites from Egyptian slavery (Ex. 12). Later on, the feast of Purim was established so that the Israel might never forget Yahweh’s dramatic intervention to defeat the Persian enemies of His people in the days of Esther and Mordecai (Est. 9:20–32). Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper, we see in today’s passage, in order that we would remember His death on our behalf (Luke 22:19).
Undoubtedly, our Father marks out these occasions of remembrance because it is when we forget Him and His great work that we break His covenant. Apostasy, that act in which a professing believer abandons his confession of faith and leaves the covenant community, happens when we forget all the goodness of the Lord toward us. Consciously reminding ourselves of His great salvation is one way that we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12–13) and thereby persevere in faith until the end of our lives.
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper is one way in which we recall God’s sacrifice of His Son. The bread and wine visibly depict the broken body and shed blood of Christ Jesus and help us remember His death, although the remembering of His death is not all that happens at His table, as we will see in the days ahead. Nevertheless, the Lord’s Supper is tied inextricably to the past, orienting us to the death of Christ for His people, the single greatest event in world history.
Dr. R.C. Sproul says that the Lord’s Supper helps us realize just how important Jesus understands His death to be in the grand narrative of God’s redemption. He paraphrases Jesus’ words to His disciples: “My disciples, I know that in these past three years you have seen and heard many things, much of which you will forget. But whatever you do, do not forget my death!” As you partake of the Lord’s Supper, consciously recall His great sacrifice on our behalf.
For further study:
The Bible in a year: