It’s a 5,000-year-old pile of rocks, 93 to be exact. But Stonehenge’s massive slabs may be some of the world’s most widely recognized rocks.
Majestically dominating the grassy fields of Salisbury Plain near Wiltshire, England, about a two-hour drive southwest of London, this prehistoric site amazes and mystifies nearly 1.5 million visitors annually.
“Why’s it here?”, “Who built it?” and “How’d they do it?” are questions for which scholars have no concrete answers. This megalithic henge with mammoth stones maintains its ancient secrets well.
What’s a henge? It’s “a roughly circular or oval-shaped flat area enclosed and delimited by a boundary earthwork — usually a ditch with an external bank.” About 3,000 BC, Neolithic workers (presumably digging with antlers) dug a six-foot deep, circular ditch, banking the excavated earth beside it, and the henge was born. Archeological discoveries show that burials for men, women, and children (some of high status as evidenced by the precious objects they were buried with) began shortly thereafter.
However, the gigantic stones (perhaps memorial stones?) didn’t appear for another five centuries. These aren’t just any stones in the outer ring, but huge slabs of sarsen rock — a form of sandstone native to the area — up to 30 feet tall with an average weight of 25 tons.
The inner rings are comprised of smaller bluestones (bluish tint when wet) weighing almost four tons and measuring nearly 10 feet long, which appear to have come from the Preseli Mountains in Wales, more than 150 miles away.
Augmenting Stonehenge’s architectural awe are five monumental sarsen trilithons, comprised of two large vertical stones, which support a third stone laid horizontally across their top.
In addition to burials, it’s been used as a temple of worship. However, the Druids were latecomers to using Stonehenge, not arriving for centuries after its completion.
Was it a solar calendar? The trilithon entrance does align with the summer solstice. Was it constructed for ceremonial reasons? Quite likely. Yet 5,000 years after construction began, Stonehenge remains a monumentally mystic memorial to another age.
The Lord’s Supper is a memorial as well. Sometimes called communion, Eucharist, the loaf and the cup, or sharing at the Lord’s Table, Jesus Christ gave His followers a simple way to remember His death, resurrection, and eternal accomplishments on the cross.
Jewish religious leaders intended Calvary’s cross to be a shameful testament to Jesus’ failure. Instead, it became an enduring monument of His triumph.
In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 (English Standard Version), the apostle Paul wrote: “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, also he took the cup, 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.”
Communion reminds believers of many things. Jesus went to the cross willingly and laid down His life voluntarily. That’s how much He loved us. Jesus shed His blood for the forgiveness of our sins. He lived a sinless life and became the perfect sacrifice. He took our sins upon Himself, a righteous man dying for unrighteous, imperfect people.
The loaf and the cup remind believers that Jesus instituted a new covenant, a covenant of grace, replacing the old Mosaic covenant, a covenant of law. The old covenant and its demands were nailed to the cross with Christ’s body, represented by the unleavened bread, and the new covenant was ushered in through His blood, represented by the contents in the cup, the fruit of the vine.
The Lord’s Supper testifies that Jesus died a brutal death on the cross, but also proclaims that He rose from the dead and will come again. Eucharist isn’t a service honoring a dead teacher, but a memorial to a living Savior.
As we picture Jesus giving thanks for the communion emblems, breaking the bread, passing it out for all to eat, pouring the wine into the cup, and passing it for all to drink, we’re reminded that the Lord’s Supper is a unifying ordinance for all believers.
Rightfully observed, communion focuses our attitude, gratitude, devotion and love on the One who died for us, was resurrected for us, and now sits at the right hand of God interceding for us. “This do in remembrance of Me.”
The Lord’s Table is an ongoing memorial to Jesus’ monumental victory on the cross.