The Bible says, “And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come,” (1 Corinthians 11:24-26).
A memorial is “that which serves to assist the memory; to preserve remembrance, and keep remembrance alive; to perpetuate the memory of something.”
The word memorial comes from the verb meaning “remember.” We have memorials to help us remember because as humans we tend to forget, and memorials help us remember those remarkable events that are worthy of remembrance.
The Passover was a memorial feast that served to remind Israel of their deliverance out of Egypt’s bondage by the mighty hand of God. They laid up manna (Exodus 16:32), put stones in the ephod (Exodus 28:12), sewed fringes on the garments (Numbers 15:39), used the brazen censors (Numbers 16:40), erected the 12 stones from Jordan (Joshua 4:7), the altar at Jordan (Joshua 22:9-16), Joshua’s stone of memorial (Joshua 24:27), and established the Feast of Purin (Esther 9:28) as memorials in Israel.
These memorials were to remind Israel of the great and mighty things God had done for them and as reminders to Israel to follow God’s law. They also provided teachable moments when the next generation asked what the memorial was for.
America has many memorials. Some statue, stone monument, or some plaque reminds us of some special event in America’s history.
The church has a memorial in the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper, or Communion, was instituted by Jesus and is one of the two ordinances of the church, Believer’s Baptism being the other. Baptism is observed at the beginning of the Christian life; the Lord’s Supper is taken throughout the Christian life. Baptism is the symbol of the commencing of the new life, and the Lord’s Supper is a symbol of the sustenance of that life. These are ordinances, not sacraments.
The church is commanded to observe the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of what Jesus did at Calvary, where His body was broken and His blood was shed for them.
The Lord’s Supper as a memorial is to be observed until Jesus comes again, “till he come.” This memorial is not only to remind us of the past finished work of Christ at Calvary but is also to remind us of His promise that He will come again from Heaven at the Rapture of the church. “What is our answer to the scoffer who jeers at the Second Coming of Christ, and who asks, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’ We point to the Lord’s Table and reply, ‘There is the promise of His coming.’”
As humans we tend to forget. To keep us from forgetting those national events and personal events that changed and shaped our nation and our lives we set up memorials.
The Lord’s Supper is to remind us of the past event that delivered us from the power of sin, and remind us of a future event that will deliver us from the presence of sin.
James H. Cagle lives in Ray City, Ga., and is a former Hamilton County resident.