In the night in which Jesus was handed over, he prepared his disciples for their days and life ahead. There is no way they could have known the events that were about to unfold; that Jesus would be arrested and put to death. There is also no way that they could know that at their master’s darkest hour, they would all abandon him. However, Jesus knew this. He knew exactly what the coming hours would bring; pain, agony, death. Jesus knew the fear and anxiety they would feel, the sorrow at the loss of their master, and the grief that would pierce their hearts. And so Jesus prepared his friends. Jesus gave of himself once more in the breaking of the bread and pouring of the cup.
Tonight, we also need such preparation. Burdened by the weight of our sin, we come to the table where Christ offers us this same bread and cup. As we stretch out our empty hands filled with the shortcomings of human life, God lifts the burden of sin and places life, love and grace in our very palm. Eating this bread and drinking this wine is the means by which Jesus comes to us spiritually and physically in order that we may feel the power of God’s love. The bread that is broken and wine that is poured provide forgiveness of our sins and nourishment for our faith so that we may live for God alone.
This is not a memorial meal. It is not simply a means by which to remember how Jesus offered himself up for the sake of God’s people. It is real just as God’s grace is real. It is physical just as Christ’s body and blood is physical. Jesus continues to offer his body and blood because he knows we need it. He feeds us the bread of life because without it we have no life in us. This is the power of God’s love made manifest through Christ Jesus, that he would send his only begotten Son to die for the sake of his people.
In the night in which he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it. Again after supper he took the cup, gave thanks and gave it for all to drink. Even as we gather and hear these words again, our Lord Jesus comes into our midst, stands among us and says, “Given and shed for you…Do this.”