While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”
Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
Growing up in the family I was put in, we went to church. We went each and every Sunday. My mom got my brother and I ready, dressing us in our Sunday best. The three got into the car, leaving my dad at home.
And every Sunday, we had communion. I don’t know why, but maybe because it was there, I took it every Sunday. I went forward, folding my hands in the most holy way possible. When it came my turn, I received communion and returned to my seat.
There was a certain sense of excitement as I returned to my seat. Not because of any spiritual high or understanding. No, the excitement came because communion meant that the service was about to end. This was my “Gentlemen, start your engines” moment. I started to get my stuff together so we could make a quick getaway to the car for liftoff from the parking lot.
It’s easy to take special things, what’s done over and over, and change them into the commonplace. We shift into autopilot. Going through the motions. Not considering or not thinking about its means or significance. But Jesus wasn’t falling into that trap.
Even though Jesus had celebrated the Passover every year, this one was special. He was going to take the familiar and use it to say something special. He took bread and wine from the Passover and gave it new meaning. New significance.
He took the story about the Passover lamb and said something new. He used the familiar story about how God saved his people from slavery and said something deeper. He took their slavery, from which there was no escape, as a statement about us here on planet earth.
We are stuck in slavery. Slavery of doing our own thing. We’re all trapped to our slave masters. Our own sinful selves. There is no escape from ourselves. There is no way out from our deep dilemma.
That’s where God stepped in. He had a plan, the Passover plan. The plan was really simple: all the people had to do was spread some blood on the front door frame, have a meal and stay indoors, That’s it. No fighting. No insurrection. No protests. No social media outcry.
Why? Because their escape had nothing to do with them and everything to do with God. He was going to free his people through something that they couldn’t come up with. Something that they couldn’t fully understand.
And that’s what Jesus is doing with this, his last supper. He’s using the bread and wine as a lesson about how he’s going to be our Passover lamb. He’s going to give up his body and blood as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for our sin.
It’s called the Great Exchange. We give our sin and rebellion to God. And in return, we receive God’s complete forgiveness. We agree with God that we can’t free ourselves from our captivity. He must come to our rescue.
And communion, the Lord’s supper, the Eucharist, whatever you want to call it, is a reminder of it. It’s not something to do over and over in order to earn points with God. It’s not something to show off your spirituality in front of God and others.
No, it’s something more simple. More meaningful. It just says that we bring nothing to God except ourselves, including all the corruption and evil that’s inside us. He brings himself and pays the heavy price for us. Making us new.
In so many different parts of life, it’s easy to take the special and make it common. We do it all the time.
But God takes the common and makes it special. He takes you and me, as common and unremarkable as we are, and makes us special. He sets us apart from to have a deeply personal relationship with us.
That sure sounds like amazing grace to me.