In 1 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul is addressing some things in the church at Corinth that had sort of become an issue of angst among the brethren. There were disputes over head-coverings, certain factions or falsehoods being distributed among the brethren, and a major misunderstanding of a key part of the last evening in Jesus' life on earth before the cross.
Let's pick up in verse 23 and read...
“For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–29, NASB95)
Notice that Paul was not a participant to this event, nor even an eye-witness in sort, but he says that he had received this knowledge directly from the Lord, and in turn is delivering it to the saints in Corinth for their understanding.
Paul quotes passages that we find recorded in Luke in this particular section of text. Notice the wording:
“And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (Luke 22:19–20, NASB95)
A longer detailed account of the "last supper" or the "Lord's supper" as it may be termed is also found in Matthew:
“While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:26–30, NASB95)
The account can also be found in the book of Mark in chapter 14, verses 22-24.
It is my belief that Paul and Luke spent a great deal of time together and is recorded as such in the book of Acts. Luke being subject to many eye-witness accounts and actual participants of this event and many others, records the words that are in the identification and most likely shared them with Paul as well, as they found themselves journeying together. You will notice that there is some differentiation of the account between the two, and it is imperative to remember that Paul addresses the congregation in the words of "was delivered" by Jesus Himself.
So, let's take a few minutes to study a few items surrounding this element of our worship to God entitled "the Lord's Supper," or sometimes referred to as "communion."
In a brief look at the elements of the Lord's Supper, we find the explicit definition of what was to be used in this occasion of remembrance in the elements in which the Lord used Himself.
Notice that every passage we have looked at is preceded (with exception to 1 Cor 11) by the Passover being identified. This gives us an indication of what was to be used for the bread in that during the Passover, there were 7 days in which leaven was not to be used. If this setting is in the midst of the Passover, then the element of bread must be identified as "unleavened bread." The bread in relation is called by Jesus as "His body."
In identification, the Lord uses the term of "fruit of the vine" in order to establish what they were drinking of when He passed the cup. (Matthew 26) He compares the cup to His blood which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins. A much deeper study of the elements is highly suggested as this article only scratches the surface.
In the setting, we find Jesus meeting with His disciples on what would be the last evening of His physical life. They are dining together as part of the Passover Feast and Jesus takes this opportunity to introduce this request of remembrance.
This does not imply that the body of Christ must ALL meet together when they partake of the Lord's Supper because that would not be possible, nor feasible once the kingdom of the church had been established and grew to all corners of the world (Acts 2-8).
The setting gives us an indication; however, that there is a time and a place in which we should partake of the Lord's Supper. Notice again in Matthew's account: "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom." So, in essence, the practice of the Lord's Supper would continue in the kingdom....or the church! (see Matt 16:18-19 in the exchange of these words)
When did those that met in the kingdom meet? Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:1-2 show the example that the "church" met on the first day of the week...which is also the same day in which the Lord was raised from the dead, and the church was established (John 20:1; Acts 1-2). Therefore, we can only ascertain that the "first day of the week", otherwise called "The Lord's Day" in Revelation, would be that appointed time. Which first day? Well, there is not a command or written inference to insist that it was only one...therefore, credence would be placed in EVERY first day of the week. How often did they meet? Every first day of the week. How often should the church meet in a definitive answer? Every first day of the week.
What are we to remember?
Sometimes, we may allow tradition to take a guiding element in our lives. At times, this is okay when it does not add to or take away from the words of Scripture. But, we must be careful and rightly divide the word of God to understand all things. (2 Tim 2:15; 1 Thes 5:21)
Have you ever heard that this remembrance is for the "death, burial, and resurrection" of the Lord? I have. And, I have said the same things in times past. But, is this the actual representation?
Let's go back to the scriptures that were first quoted and test this theory...
1 Corinthians - "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes"
Luke - “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.” (representing death)
Matthew - “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (showing the establishment of the church, which would come at Pentecost)
With this being looked at, there does not seem to be a correlation of the Lord's Supper and the remembrance of the burial, and more specifically, the Resurrection of the Christ.
Does that mean that we should not remember, or more specifically celebrate the Resurrection? Absolutely not. Let's look again at the thought that comes from this remembrance of the Lord's body and blood...
The death: To remember the body that hung on the cross, and the blood that forthwith poured out, we would probably find ourselves in a somewhat somber and spiritual tone of mind and heart. To think about the lashings and the time of mocking and the sayings on the cross by Jesus, Himself would bring to mind and heart cruelty, shame and reproach on the sins that beset men in which put Christ on the cross to die, and the death of not just any man, but the Messiah - Jesus Christ. It is hard to think of this as a celebratory time in my mind and heart.
The burial: While the burial scene is certainly important, the burial is another part of the death process in which all men will find on this side of Judgment unless the Lord comes again. In tradition, the dead are buried, sometimes in a tomb, sometimes in an earthly grave of dirt, sometimes in the sea among other concepts (including the possibility of cremation by accident or desire of the dead). No matter what the method in this instance, burial is always a "covering of the dead." But, sometimes, we may miss the word associated with this covering that carries a very significant weight - the "grave." The grave is looked at as a final resting for the physical body, yet, spiritually, the grave would refer to the Hadean realm (Luke 16) where the soul resides after death. Hence, the "burial" in the scene of Christ would be the "grave" in which He would overcome!
The resurrection: Ah! What a beautiful thought. Arising from the grave, from the dead of the world. Jesus was resurrected from the dead on the third day, rising to die no more. What a hope and joy to think about in the element of salvation for all mankind in past times and to come! We have the hope of resurrection according to the Bible. Without that hope, we have nothing. Even the men and women of the Old Testament knew of this hope that a day would come as such, and it was prophesied. But, what is said about celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus at that time, in the establishment of the church, and for a remembrance by commemoration? Not a lot. Don't misunderstand. A LOT is given about the Resurrection then and the one to come in the Bible. Happiness is seen in the Resurrection by the disciples and those that loved Jesus. Much teaching comes alongside this event with the disciples, and again, we have the hope of the forthcoming resurrection because He was Resurrected! Certainly worthy of celebration. Every. Single. Day.
So, back to the question at hand - do we celebrate the death, burial and resurrection in this statement of "This do in remembrance of Me?" According to what we have studied in scripture - no. While we find the comparison in the burial and resurrection to our own opportunity of salvation in 1 Cor 15, Rom 6, Col 2, 1 Thes 4, 2 Thes 1, and many other places, we are never commanded through direct command, statement, or inference to celebrate or commemorate these two historic events past the death of Christ through the Lord's Supper. As a Christian, I feel that I can and should celebrate the Resurrection of Christ at many times throughout the week, and personally, I rejoice when one comes out of the watery grave of baptism in their spiritual resurrection and birth into Christ with a smile and usually a few tears, and I believe you can too. What I can't bind on anyone, however, is the practice of remembrance through the Lord's Supper as the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ, but only a remembrance of His death in the "body and blood" that He proclaimed to be remembered.
May God bless each that reads and may your life be a blessing to others.