The first lesson [Jesus’ taught through the Lord’s supper] is the centrality of his death. Solemnly and deliberately, during his last evening with them, he was giving instructions for his own memorial service. It was not to be a single occasion, however, like our modern memorial services, the final tribute paid by friends and relatives. Instead, it was to be a regular meal or service or both. He specifically told them to repeat it: “Do this in remembrance of me.” What were they to do? They were to copy what he had done, both his acts and his words, namely to take, break, bless, identify and share bread and wine. What did the bread and wine signify? The words he had spoken explained. Of the bread he said “This is my body given for you,” and of the wine “This is my blood shed for you.” So his death spoke to them from both the elements. The bread did not stand for his living body, as he reclined with them at the table, but for his body as it was shortly to be “given” for them in death. Similarly, the wine did not stand for his blood as it flowed in his veins while he spoke to them, but for his blood which was shortly to be “poured out” for them in death. The evidence is plain and irrefutable. The Lord’s Supper, which was instituted by Jesus, and which is the only regular commemorative act authorized by him, dramatizes neither his birth nor his life, neither his words nor his works, but only his death. Nothing could indicate more clearly the central significance that Jesus attached to his death. It was by his death that he wished above all else to be remembered. There is then, it is safe to say, no Christianity without the cross. If the cross is not central to our religion, ours is not the religion of Jesus.
John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 70-71