It took Titian, known as “The Sun Amidst Small Stars" by his contemporaries, seven years to complete his famous painting of the Last Supper. He was noted for his mastery of colour.
Mark 14 22 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ 23 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them.
Heb 10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. 4 It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll –
I have come to do your will, my God.”’
8 First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’– though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
Jesus waits in heaven to return for us. In his absence his mystery remains very real. Though we cannot touch him with any of our five senses, he has left us a little photograph that we can pick up from time to time to contemplate his reality until he comes again. We can see, touch, smell, taste, and, yes, even hear! The bread and wine! We can hear the loaf tear and snap. We can see the wine being poured. We can taste it, smell it, and touch it.
In handling what can be handled, then, we see a beautiful and redeeming picture of those things that cannot be handled – and we remember that the things which are most real are never the things that can be handled.
So the next time you’re at communion . . . Study the church where the service takes place. It will pass away. Study the steel of the chalice and plate. They, too, will pass away. The most real thing at the communion service is the piece of bread and the cup of wine. These remind us of that which is glorious and eternal. Its reality is more enduring than any of our five senses; it is hidden in our hearts. A picture of all we own until we are in eternity with Christ.
Lord, help me never to eat the loaf or drink the cup and not think of you. To hold the bread and wine is to celebrate all that I own that is of any real value.