As Jesus and His disciples were eating the Passover meal, it was not the fact that Jesus took the bread that was special. It is significant that Jesus redefines the meaning of the bread. No longer would it be about leaving Egypt. It would be about leaving sin. It would be a way for the Christian to identify with the death of Christ. It would be an acknowledgement of the personalization of the sacrifice of Jesus.
When we eat of the bread, it’s personal. In Luke’s account Jesus says my body is given for you (22:19). In the taking of the bread there is the realization that Jesus gave His body to be broken on the cross, so that we, in and through Him, might have life.
Jesus then gives new meaning to the cup taken after the meal. It would now be the blood that would save us from our sins. He says, this is my blood of the new covenant which is shed for many. The communion is for those who are a part of the new covenant. It is for those who have accessed forgiveness of sins through the blood of Jesus (Acts 2:38).
The sacrifice of Jesus brought about a new covenant. So to drink from the cup is to share in this covenant of blood. The eating of the bread and the drinking of the cup is an act of renewing our covenant allegiance to the Lord. This allegiance is to the exclusion of all other religious allegiances (1 Cor. 10:21). Religiously speaking, one can’t be a Christian and be something else too. The church is the people of the new covenant who have a new meal. The meal is for those who share in the covenant.
Jesus says “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). The Lord’s Supper is a memorial. The present experience of eating the bread and drinking the cup is based on a past event. This idea is further illuminated when we consider Exodus 12:14 in reference to the Passover, “So this day shall be to you a memorial and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.” The Lord’s Supper is not merely a reminder of the past. But as a memorial it signifies that the past is brought into the present and has lasting benefits even as we speak.