Remembering Jesus

By Steven Chan

1. During this weekend, many in the world remember the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. Should we follow the practice of the world? Did Jesus ask His disciples to remember Him? How did Jesus want to be remembered? What did Jesus wish to be remembered for?

2. The Bible says in Luke 22:14-20: “When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”

3. The accounts of Matthew and Mark did not say that Jesus told His disciples to do it remembrance of Him. The gospel account by John did not mention this event. Only the account of Luke stated that Jesus told His disciples to “do this in remembrance of Me”. Even though it was only mentioned in one account, it is still adequate authority.

The guiding principle of the Scriptures is that the “sum (totality) of God’s Word is truth” (Psa 119:160 ASV), “the word of the Lord was to them, “Precept upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little,” (Isa 28:10,13). So, reading all the three accounts together (the sum of God’s Word on the subject matter), we learn that Jesus asked His disciples to remember Him through the partaking of the unleavened bread and drinking the cup of the fruit of the vine.

4. Some years later, the apostle Paul found it necessary to write to the church at Corinth to remind them of the proper manner of remembering Jesus when they were gathered together.

a. In 1 Cor 11:20-22, Paul rebuked them for the unacceptable manner of eating the Lord’s Supper – that was the term used by Paul to refer to what Jesus had asked His disciples to remember Him by: “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.”

They had turned the Lord’s Supper into a common meal – eating to satisfy their appetite, turning it into a feasting event.

b. He then reminded them of what Jesus said when He instituted the observance of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor11:23-26):

“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in Myblood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.”

Paul highlighted that he was merely “delivering” to them what he “received” from the Lord. The observance of the Lord’s Supper was not Paul’s own idea. That’s what we ought to do with all the teachings of the apostles: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim 2:2). It is not for us to teach our own ideas.

When we partake the Lord’s Supper, we remember the Lord that He had sacrificed Himself for man so that we can have forgiveness of sins: “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt 26:28).

As often as we eat this unleavened bread and drink the fruit of the vine (the cup), we proclaim His death (for the sins of the world – 1 John 2:2) till He comes (“to receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” – John 14:3; Heb 9:28)

5. When did the early Christians partake the Lord’s Supper? The Bible tells us when: “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). So, on every first day of the week, the early Christians came together to remember Jesus in the manner desired by Him. The first day of the week (Sunday, not Saturday which is the Jewish Sabbath), was also the day the Christians were told to make their offerings to help in the work of the church such as helping brethren in need (1 Cor 16:1-2).  

Justin Martyr who lived around AD 150 recorded that the Christians during his time came together to partake the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. 

6. While the world remembers the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, once a year, Christians remember His death, resurrection and His promise to come again to receive us to be with Him, on every first day of the week. This was the wish of Jesus Christ Himself. We need to respect His wish.

7. Christians remember Him and His sacrifice for the redemption of man, as we eat the unleavened bread and drink the cup of the fruit of the vine (representing His blood that was shed for the sins of the world). Paul warned the church at Corinth that the improper observance of the Lord’s Supper brings judgement/condemnation:

“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.” (1 Cor 11:27-29) 

8. The practice of the world to remember His death and resurrection once a year with “bunnies and eggs”, has no Bible precedent and deviates significantly from how our Lord Jesus Christ wanted us to remember His death, resurrection and coming again. 

One popular denominational website observed thus: “Biblically speaking, there is absolutely no connection between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the common modern traditions related to Easter Sunday… Essentially, what occurred is that in order to make Christianity more attractive to non-Christians, the ancient Roman Catholic Church mixed the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection with celebrations that involved spring fertility rituals. These spring fertility rituals are the source of the egg and bunny traditions.”

Notwithstanding the afore-stated acknowledgement that the “egg and bunny” traditions are no where found in the Bible, the commentator in that same website thinks that one could still go ahead with the “egg and bunny” traditions. Implicitly, they believe that the traditions of men are equally acceptable as the commandments of God. The Bible declares that man’s way is not God’s way (Isa 55:8-9). Jesus warned in Matt 15:3,9: ““Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?… And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’” 

If we truly want to honor Jesus, then let’s remember Jesus Christ in the manner desired by Him.