I was reading again the passage in Luke where The Last Supper is described (Luke 22:7-38) and was struck by how dreadful the response was from Jesus’ disciples.
Having reminded His disciples of His impending suffering, Jesus held out to His friends the expectation of the coming of the kingdom of God (Luke 22:16). And then Jesus yoked these two realities with the elements set before them on the table. The bread, broken and distributed, “This is My body…do this in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). With a cup of wine Jesus announces the new covenant, sealed in His blood, “poured out for you” (Luke 22:20).
The disciples are urged to remember this. They are urged to remember Jesus. They are urged to remember that the advancement of the kingdom of God is inextricably linked to Jesus’ death.
It strikes me, in a meal centred upon remembering, how quickly we forget. The disciples were easily distracted from the main thing. During the meal Jesus predicted that he would be betrayed by one of them and, evidently, that’s what captured their attention the most (Luke 22:23). This was followed by a dispute about which of them “would be the greatest” in the kingdom of heaven (Luke 22:24). Not long after that, Jesus was arrested and Mark explains that “everyone deserted Him and fled” (Mark 14:50).
The disciples were urged to remember…but how quickly they forgot.
I wish it were the case that this was exceptional. I wish it were the case that the ability to so quickly forget the primary things of God was a problem for the apostles only. But of course, this is our struggle too, isn’t it?
Celebrating the Lord’s Supper does not guarantee that I will remain focused on the kingdom of God, but I nonetheless need it. It does help me to remember. The Lord’s Supper is a profound reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus. At the Table I am reminded that I am a great sinner, but I serve a great Saviour. I am reminded at the Table of my connection to Jesus and my role in the advancement of His kingdom. At the Table, I remember that my purpose and direction in life is bound up in Him. At the Table, I receive a fresh portion of His strength and grace.
We are urged to remember.
Remembering seems so much easier when we are at the Table, and forgetting seems all too common when we return to our daily routine.
What can be done? What remedy is there for we who forget to remember?
I believe the remedy is, in part, the people of God.
If we spend abundant time with people who are committed to Jesus; if we spend much time with people who are committed to the priority of the kingdom of God, we will not easily forget that which we are called to remember.
Fellow Christians, let us resolve then to encourage one another to remember. Let us encourage one another to remember who we are, and whose we are. And may the grace we experience at the Table extend to every part of our lives.