11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
I have always loved this verse. For me it parallels the verse where Jesus told His disciples at the Last Supper that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until He could drink it with us in His Father's kingdom. Jesus was looking forward. He had His eyes fixed on the destination. In Hebrews 12 it says (referring to Jesus) "who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame..." Jesus had to endure the pain and shame of the cross but He did it because He knew the end result. His singular goal was to have us Home. That's the joy that was ever before Him.
As true and as awesome as that is, Paul had something entirely different in mind when he wrote the verse above. I never saw it until now because I have never walked and prayed so slowly and deliberately through 1 Corinthians before. Now that I have his meaning is obvious.
When we partake of the bread and wine we proclaim the death of Jesus. When Jesus was facing that death He was tempted to flee. He prayed three times "Father if it is possible take this cup (mission) from Me..." The weight of the reality of what He was facing was pressing down hard on Him. The weight of all our sin, guilt, and shame was starting to crush Him. Had His number one concern been Himself He would have dodged the bullet. He would have left us here without a Saviour and without hope. He died. Physically He died later but He died in Gethsemane. "Not My will but Yours be done". Jesus chose us over Himself. His desire for self preservation died. He fully submitted Himself to His Father. Every time we eat and drink we proclaim that. Jesus lived and died selflessly for others.
How can I as His follower demand my rights? How can I think more of myself than others? Whether it be eating whatever I want no matter the impact of influence on others, or my view of the role of women or my freedom to not cover my head as an equal woman in Christ or stuff my face at the Lord's table because I brought most of the food anyway. Whatever the issue how can I ever think "me first" while eating the bread and drinking the wine that represents He who never ever put Himself first?!
We proclaim His death until He comes. We proclaim full surrendering of self until the war is over. There will be a time of celebration. There will be a time where everything is as it should be. Until then Jesus says "Follow Me." There is no room for self in our mission.