The meal in the upper room has continued uninterrupted for 2000 years. We, the church universal, are all present at that meal, in the upper room; and Jesus says, “This is my body.” And so we are.
On the night He was betrayed, when the Lord offered bread to His disciples, He said, Take this and eat it; this is my body. Similarly, when he offered them the cup, he said, Drink of the cup, all of you; this is my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.
Ever since the Lord shared with His disciples that Last Supper, believers have been wondering what He meant when He said that a loaf of bread was His Body, and what He meant when He said that a cup of wine was His blood. Some have interpreted these statements literally, saying that we actually eat His flesh and drink His blood; others have claimed that the bread and wine are only symbolic of His body and blood; it has even been argued that the body is in the bread, or over it, or underneath it or around it. None of these interpretations has ever satisfied me.
When I hold that morsel of bread in my hand, waiting for everyone to receive, I do as the Lord commanded: I remember Him, and I meditate on His words to the disciples. Then, at a word from the pastor, I place the bread in my mouth. I begin to chew, and I taste the bread. As I am tasting it, I hear the words in my mind, “This is my body,” and I realize that I am doing what all believers have done since the night in the upper room, and which all believers will continue to do until the very last Day. And it is not so much the taste of the bread itself, but the fact that it is I who am tasting it, which identifies me with His people, and which proves to me that I am His. “This is my body” becomes for me, “You belong to me.”
Then I open my eyes and I look around me, and I see you also taking the bread! And again I hear the words, “This is my body.” And so by our sharing of this sacrament, you see, “This is my body” becomes, “We belong to Him and to each other,” and it becomes, “He is here, among us.”
Similarly, when the flavor of the wine bursts in my mouth, I taste the sharpness of the wounds that caused Him to bleed and die, and it is proof to me – proof that I can taste! – that my sins are forgiven. Blessed be the Lord, and may His Name be praised forever and ever!
Eat, then, rejoicing that we belong to Him, and to each other!
Drink, rejoicing that your sins are forgiven!