“For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that 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” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26 NRSV).
“And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2.13-15 NRSV).
Every Sunday, churches of my fellowship celebrate what we call the Lord’s Supper. Someone gives a “communion meditation” in preparation for the Lord’s Supper, and then a tray or two with some crumbs or pellets of bread or crackers is passed around, followed by a tray filled with little cups of grape juice. We say the bread represents the crucified body, and the juice the shed blood, of our Lord Jesus. The communion meditation often focuses, rightly, on the death of Christ for us. I’ve noticed though, from time to time, that we get ahead of ourselves and make it more about the “victory” of the resurrection. Now, I am a firm believer in the resurrection, and understand it as the event that proved true everything Jesus said beforehand about his mission and identity. However, I don’t think only the resurrection was a “victory.” The death on the cross was a victory as well, the true climax of human history.
On the cross, Jesus assumed fully the role of suffering servant that Israel had failed to accept.
On the cross, Jesus displayed the coming judgment of God against Israel, to be meted out by the Romans.
On the cross, Jesus suffered the wrath of God against sin.
On the cross, Jesus faced the worst fears of every person: shame, pain and death.
On the cross, Jesus identified with all the world’s miserable outcasts, past, present and future.
On the cross, Jesus drew to himself all people.
In the cross, the Lord Jesus confronted the temporal and spiritual “authorities” and overcame them all. What seems to the naked eye to be a sad defeat was, in fact, the greatest conquest ever.