I’ve observed before that the reason we give thanks around the Lord’s Table is because the Lord Himself did. “On the night when he was betrayed [he] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24a). Then in the next verse Paul recorded, “In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood” (verse 25a). The phrase “in the same way also” can’t refer to breaking the cup just as breaking the bread. It refers to giving thanks. A comparison of the Gospels confirms it (in Luke’s account Jesus gives thanks before the bread and in Matthew’s account Jesus gives thanks before the cup).
Every Sunday we have a Thanksgiving meal. Every Lord’s Supper we pray in thanks twice, once before the symbol of His body and again before the symbol of His blood. We are following His pattern.
But isn’t it interesting that Jesus instructed His disciples to eat and to drink yet He didn’t instruct them to pray? He thanked God, He didn’t require us to thank God.
We thank God for Jesus, for His sacrifice of love that purchased our redemption and eternal life in joyful fellowship with Him and the Church. But what was Jesus thanking God for?
He was thanking God for the meal, the bread and the wine, but He was also thanking God that His hour had come, that it was time to confirm the promised covenant, that His suffering would atone for the every sinner given to Him by the Father, that the the Trinity’s plan would be vindicated, that His glorious grace would be displayed, that His resurrection three days later was certain, and that good news would spread and transform hearts and homes and the world itself. We are not just thankful for, but with our Savior. We are drawn up into His thankfulness and we do this in remembrance of Him.