A Performance Or A Remembrance?

Read I Corinthians 11

“Do this to remember me.”
(I Corinthians 11:24)

Food For Thought… A few years ago a highly acclaimed movie called “Saving Private Ryan” hit the theaters. I will never forget that heart-wrenching opening scene as the Allied soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, sacrificing their lives by the thousands for the cause of freedom.

The story centered around an army officer, Captain John Miller, and a small unit of men assigned to search the interior of France to find one soldier and bring him out. This was a search and rescue mission. This soldier, Private James Ryan, had three brothers who had been killed in three different battles in this war. The military brass decided it just wouldn’t be right if he, the fourth brother, lost his life as well.

So this search and rescue party was dispatched, and ultimately, Private Ryan was found, and saved. In the process, several men gave their lives to save this one man, including the heroic Captain Miller. The captain was mortally wounded in the final battle to get Private Ryan into allied territory, and with his final breath, he pulled Private Ryan close and whispered, “Now, go and earn this!”

What Captain Miller was really saying was, “Remember this…don’t ever forget what others have done for you…your life has taken on higher value because of their sacrifice…so remember this moment and these men by making the rest of your life count.”

As the movie ended, it fast-forwarded to the present, with Ryan, now an aging man, visiting a military cemetery and kneeling before the marker of Captain Miller. Moved to tears, he remembered the sacrifice of Miller that had saved him. With a deeply emotional, trembling voice, the now elderly Ryan whispers to the grave of Captain Miller, “Everyday I’ve thought about what you said…I hope, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what you’ve done for me.”

These scenes from Saving Private Ryan remind me of another search and rescue mission. About 1900 years before Private Ryan was saved, there was another warrior who was sent out. Instead of the many sent to rescue the one, this was the story of one sent to save the many.

This warrior gave his life to deliver the many out of the enemy’s territory safely into his Father’s kingdom. And as he was about to go into his final battle, knowing that his would be sacrificed, he uttered these moving words we reread each time we come to the Lord’s Table:

“This is my body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me. This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (I Corinthians 11:23-24)

What was Jesus saying? He was pulling us close and whispering in our ears, “Remember what I am about to do. Never forget it! You’re life will never be the same because of this. What I am about to do for you shows that your life has infinite value in my Father’s eyes. So don’t live a day without thinking about what I’ve done. Do this in remembrance of me.”

When you receive communion in your fellowship, is the Lord’s Table truly a time for remembering what Jesus has done for you, or do you simply perform your way through it?

I read of a youth pastor who led his youth group in a re-enactment of the crucifixion. He played the role of Christ, the students the jeering mob who shouted, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Then they dragged him into the yard of the church and hung him up on a cross.

As this “Christ” hung there, the kids grew quiet, and he said, “Even though you are doing this to me, I still love you.” The pastor of the church had been watching, and he noticed one of the younger girls in the front of the group, transfixed by the scene. He looked at her and saw real tears streaming down her face. The pastor, moved by her love, said, “I was envious of her. For the rest of us, this was a ‘performance.’ For her, it was the real thing. She was there, she was remembering.”

Next time you come to the Lord’s Table, don’t let it be a performance. Make it a remembrance.

Prayer… Lord Jesus, I will never forget!

One More Thing… “If we show the Lord’s death at Communion, we must show the Lord’s life in the world. If it is a Eucharist on Sunday, it must prove on Monday that it was also a Sacrament.” — Maltbie Babcock


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