What’s in the Cup… for You?
Communion: the universal meal in which believers in Jesus Christ partake to “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes,” 1 Corinthians 11:26. Traditions differ as to how often this sacred ordinance is observed. Many church congregations take communion once a month, and then at other times on certain special occasions. Others take communion weekly. However often one participates in this special remembrance, it is never to be merely considered a habit or a ritual, but a vital commemoration of the most important event in all of human history.
In those churches that serve the juice or wine in an individual cup and regularly invite the congregation to eat and drink after all have been served, the participants hold the small bit of bread or a wafer and the cup in their hands. As Scripture is clear that we are not to eat and drink in an unworthy manner, this waiting time is for reflection and prayer as each congregant checks his heart for any sin that might be hindering his relationship with the Lord.
As I spend those few moments contemplating the wonder of God and my unworthiness before Him, save for His grace and mercy through Jesus’ death on the cross, I often think about the table at which Jesus sat for His last meal on earth. While it was a defined length in a confined space that accommodated the Lord and His twelve disciples, I see the table as limitless with welcome seating provided down through the ages for all who have come to believe in Him. Along with asking forgiveness for anything that might be standing in the way of our relationship and praising His greatness, I thank Him for that ageless table and how I am invited to sit with Him there.
In the midst of these thoughts and prayers, I find myself staring down into that cup. Typically as I look at the cup and bread, I thank Him for His broken body and shed blood that He so willingly gave for me. Likely most of my brothers and sisters in the Lord do the same. There are, however, two times that stand out among all the others. Once, while worshiping in a very small Army chapel, I was astonished that when I looked into the cup I saw the world. It was like the pictures one sees with the latitude and longitude lines marked in. Yes, there were beams in the ceiling of that chapel, but in the couple years I had already taken communion there, I never saw that picture in my communion cup before. Immediately I thought about how Jesus died for the world. It was a fresh reminder that God’s love is available to all and that it is His desire for all to come to Him. 1 John 2:2 states, “He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours, but also for the sins of the whole world.” In the Gospel of John we read, “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, ‘Look, the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!’” And, in the quintessential verse of the Bible it says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
One other time, my cup held a different image; I was overwhelmed when I actually saw my own reflection in the juice. It was upside-down, but very clear. Again, it was something I had never seen before and honestly something I’ve never seen since, as hard as I’ve looked into the many cups that have followed. It brought another instantaneous reminder: Jesus truly did die for me! I had known that reality for many years, but to see this visual representation made for a truly remarkable moment. As I took the cup in remembrance of Him, He showed me that He had remembered me in the agony of His final hours here on earth. What a wonderful, precious gift from my amazing Savior!
In the week before Resurrection Sunday, we will think anew about the night when Jesus sat at the Passover meal with His friends and instituted what we call The Lord’s Supper, or communion. Many churches will hold communion services within that week to once again remember Him with the bread and the fruit of the vine. As you hold these symbols of the great sacrifice Jesus made, take time to look in the cup. Even if it is only juice that you see, it is an important reminder of the blood that was shed by this all-knowing, all-loving Savior who not only gave Himself for the world, but for those who He remembered on the night He sat at the table that spans the ages. Precious believer, that is you!
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