A Voice in the
For quite a few years, now, I have been less than satisfied with the manner in which we Christians observe the Lord's Supper. The elements ranging from regular baked bread, to crackers, to after-dinner mints, and worst of all the pagan Catholicesque "sun" wafers; do not symbolize what unleavened bread does..the perfect sinless Son of God, our unblemished Passover Lamb Who takes away the sin of the world. (Ex12:5, Jn1:29)
Furthermore, this year (1997) as I was leafing through the calendar I noticed for the first time that this year Easter is in March, and Passover is in April. Christians claim to celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ during Easter. And yet, that was a Passover fulfillment/event. In the past I've never really paid much attention to exactly "when" Passover showed up on the calendar. 'Just went along with the Easter date..none the wiser.
Since I am one to want things "right" I decided it was time to do some investigation. 'Ordered some materials from sources I trust. A study of the Passover Seder is quite revealing, as well as the Feasts of Israel. For the fact that the Last Supper was on Wednesday evening, and Jesus was crucified on Thursday, I would direct the reader to a book by Dave Hunt, "How Close Are We?" Particularly chapter 16, "Forget 'Good Friday'."
When one studies Jewish customs, one finds that they, too, have added much which God did not instruct; including, of all things, the "egg." While the NT accounts of the Last Supper do not give details, and Paul's comments only make references, I believe a look at the Seder helps us understand what we Christians should be observing when we partake of Communion; the Lord's Supper. Since the early Church "was" Jewish, there was no need to spell it out. They all knew it.
[April,2003 Addendum: With further knowledge, it has become clear that Jesus did not celebrate the modern so-called "seder", nor "passover" at that Last Supper. Since the Seder contains accomodations for Jews "in dispersion", and Jerusalem (and the temple) were not destroyed until 38 years 'after' Jesus ascended back to Heaven, it becomes obvious that the "seder" came to be 'after' the Last Supper. Perhaps the Jews 'combined' elements of Passover and Jesus' crucifixion, burial and resurrection to create what became the seder?]
Nevertheless, a brief look at a few elements of the seder might be beneficial to understanding the Lord's Supper. It might give us some clues as to how the first (Jewish) Christians observed it:
1) Cup of Sanctification
Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (1Cor5:7-8)
Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. (1Cor11:27-29)
2) Cup of Blessing - Praise
Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves." (Lk22:17)
The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? (1Cor10:16)
3) He Came!
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." (Lk22:19)
In the Jewish celebration this is the "Afikomen" (lit. "He Came"). The piece of bread which during the feast is broken, wrapped in cloth and hidden away, just as Jesus was "hidden" in the tomb. And then found and brought out from hiding, just as Jesus rose from the dead.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken. And they made His grave with the wicked; But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. (Isa53:5-10)
For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption. (Psa 16:10)
For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;(Job 19:25)
The irony: The Jews celebrate "Afikomen" and don't accept the fact that "He came!" But they will one day..soon! "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. -- Zec 12:10
4) Cup of Redemption
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Lk 22:20)
For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. (Lev 17:11)
I will redeem you with an outstretched arm...(Ex6:6)
Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood..and [strike] the lintel and doorposts with the blood..when He sees the blood, the Lord will pass over the door and not allow the destroyer to come..to strike you. (Ex12:22-23) By His stripes we are healed (Isa53:5)
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace. (Eph1:7)
Knowing that you were..redeemed..with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. (~1Pet1:18-19)
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2Cor5:21)
Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood. (Rev1:5)
5) In Remembrance - A New Covenant
We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all..after He had offered [one] sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God. (Heb10:10,12)
So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "IT IS FINISHED!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (Jn19:30)
The Lord Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me." In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. (1Cor 11:23-26)
And Jesus said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. "And you are witnesses of these things. (Lk24:46-48)
6) Cup of Acceptance (Epilogue)
But I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. (Mt26:29)
Some say that Jesus did not partake of the 4th cup, because, symbolically He had not yet (at that moment) died on the cross. But "now" He has. ..."to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved." (Eph 1:6)
Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Rom 3:24)
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know." (Jn14:3-4)
He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming quickly." Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Rev 22:20)
Next Year In Glory!