The 12th Commandment
He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.”
This 40-Week devotional comes at a unique time in modern history. It was written during a government-imposed lockdown designed to limit the spread of Covid-19 in the Czech Republic. The whole world is fighting the same battle.
The motivation behind the project was simply to aid our community in serving themselves Communion while we could offer only on-line services. My wife and I arrived in the Czech Republic in the autumn of 1996 to serve in a Czech “church plant” with a vision to minister to the English-speaking community in Prague. We were installed as the lead pastors January 5, 1997, and have been celebrating Communion every Sunday since… at least until the first Covid-19 lockdowns.
A fair question is, why is Communion so important to us? To be honest, initially celebrating Communion every time we gathered for a Sunday service was more out of blind obedience than deep conviction. However, the experience of weekly Communion has engrained a spiritual rhythm, to the point that a Sunday without Communion feels incomplete and lacking the spiritual connection discovered in the process.
This book is not meant to be a replacement for community worship services. However, at times we are unable to join with our community and we are still hungry for the intimacy found in receiving Communion. For example, Czech Christians typically disappear during the “mushroom” season (summer). Our denomination goes from 10 Sunday services in Prague to one combined service during the summer. This book is intended to facilitate those times via structured Bible readings and teachings on the topic of Communion. The seemingly exhaustible question I address is, why did Jesus command us to “do this to remember [him]?”
The title of this devotional is symbolic of the importance of Holy Communion. At the beginning of the evening Passover meal, Jesus directs the disciples, “You ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.” Symbolically, we could call this the 11th Commandment.
Next Scripture records another directive: On the night when he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” In the same way, he took the cup of wine after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” For every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are announcing the Lord’s death until he comes again (1 Cor. 11:23-26). This symbolic “12th Commandment” is followed by another command that Jesus refers to as a “commandment.”
Jesus tells his disciples after the meal, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (Jn. 13:34-35). In honor of 1 Corinthians 13, let’s refer to this as the “13th Commandment.”
Biblically, 40 is a significant number; especially 40 days or 40 years. However, God the Creator designed pregnancy for 40 weeks. I chose 40 based on my conviction that the Bride of Christ is pregnant with revival. Celebrating Communion together might be a step to further the spiritual multiplication of the Kingdom of God. Also, I chose 40 to honor the many Christians around the world who might feel helpless in our secular world to end abortion, yet took the important step of voting for pro-life politicians. If all believers would take a stand by voting, the genocide of abortion would be ended in our lifetimes.
Please keep in mind that these devotions individually highlight an aspect of what might be behind Jesus’ directive. The different weeks might vary from obvious to speculative points. However, the intent is to thoroughly explore the possibilities and get you thinking about a different aspect that might be related to Jesus’ thinking. This will help avoid Communion becoming routine or merely a religious exercise.
My hope is that you’ll read each entry of this book and pray/meditate over the points brought up. The 40-week readings are ideal for those struggling with loneliness, sickness, times of spiritual drought, or times of struggle. Consider taking personal notes in a journal with each chapter. I pray you may find new determination in your struggles, new hope, new breakthroughs and new intimacy in your relationship with Christ. These unprecedented days will require more intimacy with Christ than ever before.