Lest We Forget

Luke 22:14-16

And when the hour came, He reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And He said to them, ‘I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’

 When I lived in Canada, every November 11, our little town gathered in front of a memorial dedicated to the men and women who died in war. In Canada, November 11 is appropriately celebrated as Remembrance Day – the day when the armistice was signed ending World War 1 in 1918. The motto of Remembrance Day is a simple phrase: “Lest we forget.”

Why do we memorialize the night Jesus was betrayed?

Why do we remember Gethsemane with such solemnity?

Why encourage such serious reflection on the remembrance of Christ’s trial and crucifixion?

Three words. Lest we forget.

If the sacrifice of men and women who died in war is worthy of remembrance, how much more the suffering and death of Jesus Christ? If the sacrifice of men and women who died to preserve our liberty is worthy of remembrance, how much more the crucifixion suffering of Jesus Christ for our salvation?

Yes. Resurrection Sunday is coming. Yes. We know the joy that awaits us three days from now. But lest we forget, that was information the disciples who sat around the table in the upper room did not have.

Well, almost.

Three times before this night, Jesus told His disciples He would be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes and be killed, and on the third day He would be raised.

Apparently, they forgot. And if they forgot, who heard it straight from the mouth of Jesus, what makes us think we will fare any better at remembering what He said or what He did.

That’s why we memorialize the night Jesus was betrayed. That’s why we memorialize the events in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve said, “Not Your will, but our will be done.” In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said, “Not My will, but Your will be done.” However, before Jesus prays Gethsemane, He has one last meal with the apostles in the Upper Room.

Luke 22:17-20

And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.’

Jesus earnestly desired to eat this Passover with His disciples because it would be the last Passover celebrated under the Old Covenant. On the last night of His life, Jesus chose the Passover meal to inaugurate the New Covenant. With the use of two simple yet profound declarations, Jesus transformed the Passover meal from a remembrance of how God miraculously redeemed Israel from slavery in Egypt to the remembrance of His death as the atoning sacrifice that saves us forever from God’s wrath against us for our sin.

“This is My body, . . . .”

“This cup that is poured out for you . . . .”

Lest we forget. Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup we confess our faith in Jesus pierced for our transgressions.

Lest we forget. Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup we confess our faith in Jesus crushed for our iniquities.

Lest we forget. Every time we eat the bread and drink the cup we confess our faith in Jesus who bore the punishment that brought us peace.

Lest we forget. The Lord’s Supper is a covenant meal established by Jesus Christ whereupon every time we eat the bread and drink the cup we confess our faith in Him.

The moment Jesus breaks the bread He declares the New Covenant has begun. However, for a covenant to be legal and binding—in order for it to be in effect blood must be shed. Under the Old Covenant this meant an animal had to be sacrificed. The New Covenant requires a better sacrifice—better blood. The New Covenant may have begun when Jesus broke the bread, but it was not ratified—made legal and binding—until the next day when He is crucified and His blood is shed on the cross.

Under the Old Covenant, the Passover meal was a annual reminder of how God saved Israel from slavery in Egypt. It was also meant to create a longing in the hearts of the people for the arrival of the true Lamb of God, the One who would make an end of sacrifices for sins by taking away forever the sin of the world.

The Lord’s Supper is meant to create a similar longing in our hearts. We know that with the coming of Christ the kingdom of God is already here. However, until Christ returns, the kingdom is not yet fully here. We live in the overlap of the old age and the age to come.

And so, lest we forget, let us eat and drink proclaiming Christ’s death until He comes—until the Lamb of God returns as the Lion of Judah bringing with Him the full revelation, power, and majesty of the kingdom of God. Lest we forget. Let us continue to live by faith in who Jesus is and what He has done. Lest we forget. Let us continue to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Lest we forget. Let us stand firm in our hope in Jesus’ promise to bestow the benefits of His grace upon any one who holds out even a trembling hand to receive by faith the elements of the New Covenant.

In the words of a familiar and appropriate hymn:

King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be;

Lest I forget Thy thorn-crowned brow, Lead me to Calvary.

Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony;

Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.

May I be willing, Lord, to bear Daily my cross for Thee;

Even Thy cup of grief to share, Thou hast borne all for me.

Lest I forget Gethsemane; Lest I forget Thine agony;

Lest I forget Thy love for me, Lead me to Calvary.

Why do we memorialize the night Jesus was betrayed?

Why do we remember Gethsemane with such solemnity?

Why encourage such serious reflection on the remembrance of Christ’s trial and crucifixion?

Three words: Lest we forget.

You think about that.

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