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.” ~Luke 22:19
On Holy Thursday, Jesus would institute the Lord’s Supper by uttering those famous words inscribed on many Communion Tables, “Do this in remembrance of me”.
When I did my doctoral thesis, one of the pet peeves of my thesis advisor was the use of the vague THIS. Anytime he found a vague THIS in your thesis, you had to replace it with whatever specific THIS you were referring to. It’s not as easy as it seems. It clarifies your thinking.
So the question is…WHAT is the vague THIS that Jesus is referring to do in remembrance of him?
Most would say the THIS is Communion. Do Communion in remembrance of me. Take the bread, take the cup, remember me. True. But Communion wasn’t the only THIS that happened that night.
When you piece together the Gospels and re-create the series of events that happened on Holy Thursday, we discover that the disciples actually had an argument that night over which one of them would be the “greatest” in Jesus’ Kingdom. Wow. Jesus’ response was to excuse himself from the table, take off his robe, wrap a towel around his waste, get a basin of water, and wash their disgusting “I’m the greatest” feet. If I were Jesus? I would have gotten a towel and the water like Jesus did, but then I would have dampened the towel and inflicted the old “towel snap” we used to do to unsuspecting buddies in the locker rooms of high school. I would have started with each of the disciples who were arguing over their greatness. But Jesus actually washes their feet with that water and dries them with that towel. Wow.
Have you ever experienced a foot washing ceremony? It is not at all relevant to today’s culture and there is nothing in Scripture that suggests it is something we should or shouldn’t do today. But there is a THIS that is signified by it that Jesus ALSO wants us to do in his remembrance.
When I was the Headmaster of Red Lion Christian Academy, the fourth grade had a Holy Thursday event where they would experience a Passover-like meal and would re-enact some of the events of Holy Thursday including a foot washing ceremony. To this day, I still don’t know why I volunteered, but I offered to wash the feet of the fourth graders. It was a humbling experience for me and for them. You should have seen their little eyes watching me do this. We don’t have mud and dirt to scrape off of our feet after a long journey on foot. It’s…worse. The boys, especially, had some kind of previously unknown element to the periodic table, on their feet that presented interesting properties of stickiness that under observation floated around in the basin of water I was using. For the next month I had this icky feeling of being “sticky”. It was not pleasant. Jesus said, do THIS in remembrance of me.
I believe that Jesus was telling his disciples, and he is telling us today, to not only break the bread and pour out the wine signifying Jesus’ broken body for us and his blood spilled for us, but to break open ourselves and to pour out ourselves for each other in remembrance of him. Do THIS in remembrance of me. Don’t just remember Jesus’ broken body and poured out blood…become it…continually. Don’t repeat the sacrifice of Jesus in drama…do it for real.
This THIS isn’t easy at all. Breaking yourself open for your children. For your spouse. For your family. For your difficult boss or co-worker. For the friend who betrayed you. Pouring yourself out to help educate your child during the Coronavirus. To check on your elderly parents or grandparents. Pouring yourself out to mentor the next generation and to set aside your preferences. Breaking of yourself and pouring out of yourself is a result of the breaking of Jesus’ body and the pouring out of his blood. Sacrifice yourself for others in remembrance of Jesus.
Do THIS in remembrance of me.