By Stuart Powell
When the apostle Paul wrote his first letter to the believers in Corinth, he wanted to correct some wrong practices that tarnished their gatherings. Among the many details he called out was their disrespect toward each other when they gathered together at the Lord’s table. Paul desired that they focus less on themselves and more on the other believers who gathered to partake. He wrote,
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, and after 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, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, New English Translation).
Even though Paul wasn’t present in that upper room, God revealed to him the intensity of the fellowship that night. It was the camaraderie of those earliest disciples that our Lord used as the foundation of this memorial time. Many English translations fail to clearly convey the Greek words Paul used to communicate that this celebration is a group activity. Consider this paraphrase of verse 26: “For every time y’all eat this bread and drink the cup, y’all proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
When believers partake of the loaf and the cup, we share this message with everyone who surrounds us: Jesus died for all of us. Through Jesus’ death, God made all of us equal recipients of his grace. He granted us all joint inheritance with his Son. Jesus wants us to strive together in love for each other, helping each other, until he comes again. Don’t let this time of remembering Jesus’ sacrifice to be a time of division. Let’s proclaim our Lord’s death together.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.