Christian’s Memorial Day

1 Cor 11:23-29

23For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying,  “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 27Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.



Memorial Day originated in 1868, when Union General John A. Logan designated a day in which the graves of Civil War soldiers would be decorated, known at that time as Decoration Day. The holiday was changed to Memorial Day within twenty years, becoming a holiday dedicated to the memory of all war dead. It became a federal holiday in 1971, and is now observed on the last Monday in May.


The Christian’s Memorial Day is every 1st day of the week. We read Matthew 26:26-28

26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins.


Jesus selected the Lord’s supper as a monument, He tenderly requested his disciples “this do in remembrance of me.

(1 Corinthians 11:24).  We read of two memorial institutions in the Bible, One is “Passover” the other is the “Lord’s supper” Both memorials were instituted before the events became facts.


The story of the passover is recorded in Exodus Chapter 13. It would be good from time to time to read the passages regarding the institution of the passover.  Notice now  verses 8-10

“And thou shalt tell thy son in that day, saying, It is because of that which Jehovah did for me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thy hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the law of Jehovah may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath Jehovah brought thee out of Egypt. 10Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year”.


Beginning with the time of the delivery of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, the Passover supper was observed by the Jews, in memory of that terrible night when death passed over their homes in Egypt, but claimed the life of the first born in each Egyptian family.


In the evening when Christ last met with his disciples at the Passover supper,  He instituted a new memorial to be observed in memory of Him Who is our Passover Lamb. The Lord’s supper had its beginning the very night in which  Jesus was betrayed (1 Cor 11:23). It was instituted before Christ established his church. 


The Passover supper originated in Egypt the night the Israelites were to march from bondage to freedom. The Lord’s supper originated the night Jesus was betrayed to die, to free men from the bondage of sin and Satan.  The next time the Israelites would celebrate the Passover feast would be in the wilderness, remembering their freedom from the bondage that had securely held them. The next time Christians would celebrate the Lord’s supper feast would be after Pentecost, in the kingdom, in memory of Christ who died for us.


The Passover was observed annually through-out their generations and they were required to attend this and other feasts.  It ended at Calvary.  The Lord’s is to be observed each first day of the week (Acts 20:7). And is to be observed faithfully by God’s children until the Lord comes again at the end of time. This  memorial feast, is a lasting monument, given over 20 centuries ago, and it still stands. What monument instituted by man has  so stood the test of time.


Memorials are natural, common and universal. American presidents Jefferson, Lincoln, and Washington have been immortalized in the monuments built in their honor and are very visible. I was more that ordinary touched as I stood in front of these monuments in the nation’s capitol.  Each year multitudes of people linger at the Vietnam Memorial, remembering and weeping as they touch its mirrored walls. Arlington National Cemetery is a touching reminder of the great costs our nation has paid in defending the cause of freedom. Tourist visit and circulated pictures of the Taj Mahal a very beautiful memorial an India prince erected as a tomb for his queen. America has Independence Day and Memorial Day.  Every tombstone in every cemetery is a monument to the fact that someone lived but they have died and are lovingly remembered. And so the Lord’s Supper is a monument, a memorial.  And increases our love for Jesus.   A picture of our fathers and mothers in the home refreshes our hearts with their blessed memory each day of our lives. Likewise when we eat of the bread and drink of the cup of the Lord our love for him abounds more and more.  The institution of the Lord’s supper is one of the most significant institutions connected with the Christian religion. Instituted by Jesus Himself just prior to His crucifixion.  The Bible calls this memorial feast “The Lord’s Supper” 1 Cor. 11:20.  It is also called “the Lord’s table”, 1 Cor 10:21, “communion  1 Cor. 10:16 and “the breaking of bread”.  Acts 20:7


What does the Lord’s supper mean to you? Do we have proper concern for this requirement of the Lord? When we assemble around the Lord’s table, we should look upward in gratitude to the greatest Giver, backward in memory of the suffering Savior, and the greatest Gift, we are to look inward in self examination,  and outward in declaring to the world the Savior’s dying love.

Thus the purpose of this Supper is threefold.  It is first a memorial, Jesus in instituting this memorial feast said “this do in remembrance of me.” 1 Corinthians 11:24.  Second it is a means of spiritual nourishment.  Jesus said: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves.  John 6:53.  In this statement Jesus had in mind more than the Lord’s supper, but it is certainly included.


Third, the Lord’s supper is a proclamation, not every Christian can be a public preacher. Yet every Christian can preach a sermon in the observing of the Lord’s supper. No sermon from the pulpit dealing with the Lord’s Supper, regardless of how eloquently spoken,  can speak as loudly or effectively as a congregation of Christians, solemnly, and faithfully keeping this feast in memory of their Beloved and Risen Lord.   


1 Corinthians 11:26

26For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.   Two distinct statements or ideas  are here,  the first “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup”.


How often are we to eat this bread and drink this cup?  If we are governed by the opinions of men, we shall never decide. I have seen it observed quarterly, annually, at weddings at baptisms and other special occasions. How often? What do the Scriptures teach, regarding WHEN the disciples observed the Lord’s Supper?


In 1 Corinthians 11:17-22     

17 Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you, since you come together not for the better but for the worse. 18 For first of all, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 19 For there must also be factions among you, that those who are approved may be recognized among you. 20 Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. 21 For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

Then skipping down to verses 33 and 34 we read:

33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come


The purpose and design of the Lord’s supper is a memorial to strengthen and give life, yet it had caused many to become weak and sick, as a result of the abuses. The phrase “come together” is found five times in the verses just read.  From these verses it is obvious that the Lord’s Supper was intended to be observed when they came together in their assemblies. Paul describes in verses 23-23,  the proper manner of observance, but the abuses were such that Paul states verse 20:  “When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper”.   Rather than partaking together, the very reason for their coming together, some were eating a feast, others involved in other activities, some were full, some hungry,  and they were failing to discern the Lord’s body, this memorial was so perverted that they literally could “not to eat the Lord’s supper.” 


So Paul writes 1 Corinthians 11:33-34 

“Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation”.   How arrogant we must seem to God when we pervert the very purpose of our assembly, the observance of the Lord’s supper.  when ye come together to eat


When did the church come together? The next passage I would like for us to notice is Acts 20:7

7And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.


I want to say to you this morning that if language has any significance, Luke declared in terms unmistakable that  “upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them” . The specific idea  expressed by the writer here was, the disciples came together for a definite purpose “to break bread   May I say to you that, grammatically, “to break  is an infinitive with the construction of a verb, carrying  the idea of purpose,  equivalent to the following statement “On the first day of the week, the disciples assembled in order to break bread”.


The specific time and purpose of their coming together.    Acts 20:7

7And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.


The church did not come together primarily to hear Paul preach,  but they came together to remember their Savior’s sacrifice.  Paul used the occasion to admonish them by means of a sermon. This example coupled with many commandments to preach, teach and admonish gives us the authority this morning to open God’s word. We have already observed the Lord’s Supper


Look at another scripture: 1 Cor 16:1-2

1Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do ye. 2Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come


 This passage teaches that the early church gave of their means on the 1st Day of the Week.  They assembled on this day “to break bread”, thus they were to give, on this day that no special collections be made at other times.   And someone might say “Brother Cope it doesn’t say every first day of the week.” This is true….Suppose you begin work and are told: “We give out checks on Friday.” Friday rolls around you are expecting your pay. You approach your boss only to hear  I didn’t say every Friday.” Even children know it is not right to be deceptive.


Under the law the of Moses the Jews were commanded Exodus 20:8 to: “remember the Sabbath day to keep ;it holy” The command did not say “every sabbath day”. Yet every Jew understood it to means that and observed every sabbath as a holy day. 

All early church historians who deal with the question of when to partake, tell us that the early church observed the Lord’s supper on the first day of every week. Early Christians followed the directions of men who were inspired by the Holy Spirit,  because they wanted to please the Lord. 


But quickly notice again,  1 Cor 11:26

 “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink the cup, ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come.”


 We  have noted already the idea “for as often as ye eat and drink”.

The second distinct idea in this verse is: “till he come” This signifies that the Lord’s supper was never intended to be a “one generation  observance” only.  It is to be a precious and  hallowed memorial until the end of time.   One generation after another will perish from the face of the earth,  customs, manners and languages will change, but this memorial feast shall continue by faithful Christians until the Lord comes again.


One last thought and the lesson will be yours.  How should we partake of the Lord’s supper? 1Cor 11:27-29

27Wherefore whosoever shall eat the bread or drink the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28But let a man prove himself, and so let him eat of the bread, and drink of the cup. 29For he that eateth and drinketh, eateth and drinketh judgment unto himself, if he discern not the body.


The word “unworthily”  is an adverb of manner. Paul is here discussing the manner we should partake of the Lord’s supper and not the character of the one partaking. Very often one will fail to take the communion on the basis of not feeling worthy.  It is not individual worth that is to be considered here.  I don’t know of any who are worthy of partaking.  It is the manner of partaking. That manner must be worthy! In partaking we must “discern the Lord’s body”.   I appreciate the men who preside at the Lord’s table.  Much thought is given to it, that we may center our thoughts upon our Lord as we observe. To observe the Lord’s supper with our minds not fixed upon Him, is to eat and drink damnation to our souls. 


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Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ


phone:  (678)617-9658