In our read-through-the-Bible plan, we come to 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. where Paul gives instructions regarding The Lord’s Supper. Evidently, there were abuses that needed correction. John Piper, in a sermon, “The Lord’s Supper as Worship”, says that we express the value of Christ by “remembering,” by “proclaiming,” and by “nourishing.”
First, the Lord’s Supper expresses the value of Christ by reminding us of him. Notice the word “remembrance” twice. Once in relation to the bread in verse 24 and once in relation to the cup in verse 25. Begin reading in verse 23 where Paul gives the words of the Lord on the institution of the Supper:
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; (24) and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (25) In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
In other words, Christ gave us this simple “Lord’s Supper” to help us keep him in memory, especially his blood and body given up in death. This is worship if in the doing of it there is an authentic heart experience which says: “We must remember him because he is the most valuable Person in the universe. We must remember his death because it is the most important death in history.” Setting out this tangible reminder of Christ time after time in the life of the church will be worship if our hearts feel the preciousness of remembering Christ and tremble at the prospect of forgetting him.
Second, the Lord’s Supper expresses the value of Christ by proclaiming his death. Verse 26: “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” If “remembering” means calling to mind what Christ did by his death, then “proclaiming” means calling to each other what Christ did by his death. This is the normal movement of worship: the preciousness of Christ presses itself on our memory, and then that inner remembering breaks out in proclaiming the worth of what we remember. If you really value something that is relevant for others as well as yourself – if it moves you and delights you – you will speak of it. You will declare it. So the Lord’s Supper is worship if in doing it there is an authentic heart experience which says: this death and all it achieved is so valuable that it must not only be remembered; it must be proclaimed.”
These two meanings of the Lord’s Supper support each other. Remembering enables us to proclaim, since you can’t proclaim what you don’t remember. And proclaiming helps us remember, because not everyone remembers at the same time and with the same intensity, and we need his death to be proclaimed with word and bread and cup lest we forget the preciousness of his death.