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 also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:24-25)
What is remembered
The broken bread reminds us of Christ’s body, given for us; and the cup reminds us of His shed blood. Jesus wants His followers to remember His death. Why? Because everything we have as Christians centers in that death.
We remember that He died, because this is a part of the gospel message: “Christ died … and was buried” (1 Corinthians 15:3–4). It is not the life of our Lord, or His teachings, that will save sinners—but His death.
Therefore, we also remember why He died: Christ died for our sins; He was our substitute (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 2:24), paying the debt that we could not pay.
We should also remember how He died: willingly, meekly, showing forth His love for us (Romans 5:8). He gave His body into the hands of wicked men, and He bore on His body the sins of the world.
Till he comes
While the Lord’s Supper does look back to what Jesus did on the cross, it also looks forward to the coming of Jesus. We observe the Lord’s Supper one more time till He comes. We observe the Lord’s Supper one less time till He comes.
The return of Jesus Christ is the blessed hope of the church and the individual Christian. Jesus not only died for us, but He arose again and ascended to heaven; and one day He shall return to take us to heaven. Today, we are not all that we should be; but when we see Him, “we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).
What is forgotten
For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:12-13)
The New Covenant in Jesus’ blood rests directly on the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross (which was prefigured by Israel’s system of sacrifices) and accomplishes the removal of sin and the cleansing of the conscience by faith in Him.
The blood of bulls and of goats could cover sins, but only the blood of the Lamb of God could “take away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). What a wonderful promise the New Covenant gives to the burdened sinner: his sins will be forgiven and forgotten forever.
The new covenant features transformation from within, not regulation through external law. The new covenant also features a greater intimacy with God than what was available under the old covenant. The new covenant offers a true, complete cleansing from sin, different and better than the mere “covering over” of sin in the old covenant.
So every time Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper, they remind themselves that God has fulfilled His promise: “I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more”.