The night Jesus was betrayed, He gathered His 12 closest disciples in an upper room. Together they ate the Passover, remembering the great deliverance of their ancestors from Egyptian bondage. While in the midst of this Old Covenant memorial, Jesus instituted a memorial for His New Covenant. Paul called it the Lord’s Supper in I Corinthians 11:20.
According to Luke 22:19-20, Jesus took bread and fruit of the vine. He told the disciples to eat the bread because it was His flesh given for them. He told them to drink the juice because it was the new covenant in His blood. He said they were to eat the bread and drink the juice in remembrance of Him.
It was a new memorial for a new covenant. Of course, they weren’t actually participating in the memorial itself because they had nothing yet to remember. Jesus hadn’t yet given His body or shed His blood. Jesus was simply showing them what they were to do when the New Covenant was established. When they actually took the Supper, it would be in memory of Jesus.
When did they actually take the Supper? According to Acts 20:7, the disciples gathered together to break bread on the first day of the week. I can’t help but notice that Paul was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem (Acts 20:16), however, he apparently arrived in Troas on a Monday and waited to meet with the church there for seven days until they gathered to take the Supper. If Paul was in such a hurry, why didn’t he just gather the disciples together earlier in the week to take the Supper? They were waiting for the first day of the week to partake in the New Covenant Memorial.
In I Corinthians 11:20, Paul rebuked the Corinthian church because when they were gathering together they were eating there own supper instead of the Lord’s. (By the way, this demonstrates the Lord’s Supper is not a meal to assuage hunger, but a memorial to honor Jesus.) Paul rebuked the Corinthians because they were not eating the Lord’s Supper when they came together. When did they come together? I Corinthians 16:2 demonstrates the Corinthian church was meeting on Sundays. The church was to collect funds for the needy saints in Jerusalem so when Paul arrived he would not have to collect funds. They were clearly gathering every first day of the week. When they came together, they were supposed to be eating the Lord’s Supper.
Jesus wants us not only to remember His death but to memorialize it. However, unlike the Old Testament Passover, His memorial is not an annual observance but a weekly one. On the Lord’s Day, we gather to eat the Lord’s Supper, to remember, to rejoice, to refresh. Let’s not weaken this with an annual celebration. Let’s strengthen it by following the example established in the New Testament. If we are eating the Lord’s Supper, let it be the Lord’s Day; if it is the Lord’s Day, let us eat the Lord’s Supper.