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Why did Jesus say to “do this in remembrance of Me” in Luke 22:19?

do this in remembrance of Me

On the night before He died, Jesus Christ shared a Passover meal with His apostles. Traditionally, Passover commemorated God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. Yet, during the meal, Jesus gave fresh meaning to the bread and wine, identifying them as symbols of His impending death. In this way, Jesus transformed the Passover observance into a memorial of His own sacrifice and established a new and enduring ordinance for the Church.

At a pivotal moment in the meal, with the apostles reclining around a table, Jesus demonstrated this transformation in a tangible way. After He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and distributed it to the apostles, He said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19, ESV). Even though Jesus’ directive only refers to the bread in Luke’s Gospel, Paul added that it extended to the wine or “cup” as well: “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’” (1 Corinthians 11:25).

With these instructions, Jesus commanded His followers to regularly participate in this commemoration later named the Lord’s Supper (e.g., Acts 2:42; 20:7; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:20). To understand the reason for the repetitive nature of the ordinance, it’s important to recognize that Jesus redefined the bread and cup to symbolize something greater than freedom from Egyptian slavery. The bread symbolizes Jesus’ body. Consuming it during the Lord’s Supper recalls the sacrificial purpose of His death for sinners (Isaiah 53:12; Galatians 1:4, 2:20; Titus 2:14). The cup symbolizes Jesus’ blood, shed for the forgiveness of sin (Matthew 26:28; Ephesians 1:7). This transformation of the meaning of the bread and cup highlights Jesus’ death as the ultimate fulfillment of what the Passover event and meal only foreshadowed.

With the bread and cup imbued with fresh meaning, Jesus instructed His followers, “Do this in remembrance of me.” This instruction means that Jesus’ followers are to regularly consume the bread and cup to memorialize His death on the cross for sin.

The act of remembrance, illustrated in the Lord’s Supper, is an important theme in the Bible. It often contrasts the behaviors of those who obey God with those who don’t. For instance, disobedience is associated with forgetfulness of God (e.g., Judges 8:34), and obedience is the result of remembering Him (cf. Psalm 78:11, 35, 42).

Furthermore, in the Bible, remembering often implies more than just mental recollection. As seen in the tradition of the Passover meal, those who partake do more than merely think about their ancestors’ escape from Egyptian slavery; they also symbolically reenact parts of it. For instance, participants consume maror, a bitter herb, often represented by horseradish, to symbolize the misery of slavery (Exodus 12:8). Similarly, they eat unleavened bread called matzah to represent the Israelites’ hasty departure from Egypt—they had no time to wait for the bread to rise (Exodus 12:18).

In a similar way, observing the Lord’s Supper involves more than just cognitive recall. It is a multisensory experience in which eating bread and drinking the cup deepens the engagement of those who partake. Contrary to the beliefs in some traditions, the point of the commemoration isn’t to re-crucify Jesus, just as the purpose of the Passover meal wasn’t meant to re-enslave and free the Jews. Instead, the Lord’s Supper enables participants to identify with God’s deliverance of sinners through Jesus’ death on the cross.

While the observance of the Lord’s Supper in modern churches is often a solemn and reflective experience, its theological nature is celebratory. Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), has provided sinners with the ultimate sacrifice. His death on the cross fulfilled what the sacrificial lamb of Passover meals only foreshadowed (Hebrews 9:27). When Christians regularly partake of the bread and cup to memorialize Jesus’ death, they aren’t only obeying a command, but praising and thanking God for the victory and freedom that is theirs in Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57).

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Why did Jesus say to “do this in remembrance of Me” in Luke 22:19?
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This page last updated: February 6, 2024