The Lord's Supper, Bread and Wine
The True Meaning!



bread

Lord's Bread and Wine

wine




INTRODUCTION - THE LORD'S SUPPER



Just what is the Lord's Supper?
Some take the symbols of Christ's death every week, some monthly and some at Passover season each year. Is all this reflection upon his death what Christ intended? If not how should we view verses such as this? 1 Cor 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes. Did Christ really intend to establish a new ritual? Luke 22:19 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". Does the following text mean one can become physically sick or even die from improperly partaking of the Lord's Supper? 1 Cor 11:29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. :30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. Bread and wine are of course symbols, representing the flesh (ie body) and blood of Christ, but are not the flesh and blood also symbols? John 6:55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. :54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. Is merely eating some bread and drinking some wine, while considering the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all that is being asked of Christians? Is there a much greater depth of meaning beneath the surface teaching of these verses?

INSTIGATION - BREAD AND WINE


These verses record the initial observance of the bread and wine.


    Matt   26:26   And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it
                   and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said,
                   'Take, eat; this is My body'.
             :27   Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to
                   them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you.
             :28   For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is
                   shed for many for the remission of sins.
             :29   But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of
                   the vine from now on until that day when I drink it
                   new with you in My Fathers kingdom.'


    Mark   14:22   And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it
                   and broke it, and gave it to them and said, 'Take,
                   eat; this is My body'.
             :23   Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He
                   gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
             :24   And He said to them, 'This is My blood of the new
                   covenant, which is shed for many.
             :25   Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of
                   the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink
                   it new in the kingdom of God.'


    Luke   22:14   And when the hour had come, He sat down, and the
                   twelve apostles with Him.
             :15   Then He said to them, 'With fervent desire I have
                   desired to eat this Passover with you before I
                   suffer;
             :16   for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until
                   it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God'.
             :17   Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said,
                   'Take this and divide it among yourselves;
             :18   for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of
                   the vine until the kingdom of God comes'.
             :19   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'.
             :20   Likewise He also took the cup after supper saying,
                   'This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which
                   is shed for you'.
 

The bread and wine were consumed the night before the death of Christ.
This night was Passover night. This Passover, was the Passover observed
in private homes in accord with the requirements of Exodus 12:6-14.
 
The bread 'broke' was unleavened bread, bread baked without yeast.
This being the type of bread eaten on Passover night, Exodus 12:8.



We find in 1st Corinthians 11:17-34 an apparent confirmation of the Lord's
Supper ceremony.


    1 Cor 11:17   Now in giving these instructions I do not praise you,
                  since you come together not for the better but for
                  the worse.
            :18   For first of all, when you come together as a church,
                  I hear that there are divisions among you, and in part
                  I believe it.
            :19   For there must also be factions among you, that those
                  who are approved may be recognized among you.
            :20   Therefore when you come together in one place, it is
                  not to eat the Lord's Supper.
            :21   For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of
                  others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.
            :22   What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or
                  do you despise the church of God and shame those who
                  have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise
                  you in this? I do not praise you.
            :23   For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered
                  to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which
                  He was betrayed took bread;
            :24   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."
            :25   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."
            :26   For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup,
                  you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.
            :27   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.
            :28   But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of
                  the bread and drink of the cup.
            :29   For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats
                  and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the
                  Lord's body.
            :30   For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and
                  many sleep.
            :31   For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
            :32   But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord,
                  that we may not be condemned with the world.
            :33   Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat,
                  wait for one another.
            :34   But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you
                  come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in
                  order when I come.


In this passage of 1st Corinthians, Paul is dealing with the behaviour of
the Corinth members when they came together as a church.


The question which is unclear from the text is whether the church was
partaking of a literal meal or whether Paul was using the analogy of
a literal meal to symbolise their behaviour in respect to the spiritual
meal they should have been sharing.


SYMBOLIC MEANING OF BREAD


The bread is symbolic of the body or more accurately the flesh of Christ.


    Luke   22:19   And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and
                   gave it to them, saying, 'This is My body which is
                   given for you; ...' 


    John    6:31   Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is
                   written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat'.
             :32   Then Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to
                   you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven,
                   but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
             :33   For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven
                   and gives life to the world.
             :35   And Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life. He
                   who comes to Me shall never hunger ...
             :48   I am the bread of life.
             :50   This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that
                   one may eat of it and not die.
             :51   I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If
                   anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and
                   the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall
                   give for the life of the world.
             :53   Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the
                   flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you
                   have no life in you.
             :54   Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal
                   life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
             :55   For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink
                   indeed.
             :56   He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me,
                   and I in him.
             :57   As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of
                   the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because
                   of Me.
             :58   This is the bread which came down from heaven; not as
                   your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats
                   this bread will live forever."



Christ is comparing Himself to the manna which was fed to the children of
Israel. He states that He is the true living bread which descended from
heaven. A bread which brings eternal life.

This 'bread' being His flesh and His blood.


Many hearing these words of Christ took Him literally, so it was necessary
for Him to clarify His message.  


    John    6:63   It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits
                   nothing. The words I speak to you are spirit, and
                   they are life.


John chapter 1 identifies Christ as the 'Word'.


    John    1:1    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
                   God, and the Word was God.
             :2    He was in the beginning with God.
             :14   And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we
                   beheld His glory, ...


In Mark 4:13-20 we have the 'parable of the sower'. Notice what is sown.


    Mark    4:14   The sower sows the word.
             :20   But these are the ones sown on good ground, those
                   who hear the word, accept it and bear fruit: some
                   thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred."


These verses make it fairly apparent that the 'body of Christ', also
described as the 'flesh of Christ' or 'living bread', is actually the
words of God. 


The following verse confirms this.


    Matt    4:4    ... Man shall not live by bread alone, but by
                   every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.



The words of God are the true spiritual bread!



When Christ said,

                 "Take eat; this is My body"

                            and
 
               "do this in remembrance of Me",


He was instructing His disciples to EAT THE WORDS OF GOD!


SYMBOLIC MEANING OF WINE


We know 'wine' is symbolic of the 'blood of Christ'.


    Matt   26:27   Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it
                   to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you.
             :28   For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is
                   shed for many for the remission of sins.



However, 'wine' is also symbolic of 'teaching'.


    Matt    9:17  "Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins, or else
                   the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the
                   wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new
                   wineskins, and both are preserved."

    Luke    5:39  "And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires
                   new; for he says, 'The old is better'."


Christ is stating that one can not easily place new teaching into someone
who has grown accustomed to old teaching.



The question we have to ask is,


    'In the Lord's Supper, is the 'blood of Christ', being used by
     Scripture as a symbol for 'teaching'?



To help us answer this question we need to consider the bread. In
the prior page it was noted that the bread of the Lord's Supper was
'unleavened'. The following helps explain the symbolism of bread
made without leaven.


    Matt   16:6    Then Jesus said to them, 'Take heed and beware of
                   the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees.'
             :8    ... O you of little faith ...
             :11   How is it you do not understand ...
             :12   Then they understood that He did not tell them to
                   beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine
                   of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

                   [ Many have been taught 'leaven' equates to 'sin',
                     but as this verse shows it equates to 'doctrine'
                     or 'teaching'. Depending on the context the
                     teaching maybe that of man or that of God. ]



The bread of the Lord's Supper represented bread without 'teaching'!
 
For this reason it was necessary to include in the Lord's Supper an
entity which would symbolise 'teaching', hence the addition of the
wine!



This helps us to understand Christ's message; 


    Matt   26:28   For this is My blood [My teaching] of the new
                   covenant, which is shed [poured forth] for
                   many for the [purpose of bringing] remission
                   [forgiveness] of sins.


Scripture confirms this viewpoint.


    Heb    10:16   This is the covenant that I will make with
                   them after those days, says the LORD: I will put
                   My laws into their hearts, and in their minds
                   I will write them,
             :17   then He adds, "Their sins and their lawless
                   deeds I will remember no more".



Realizing 'blood' equals 'teaching' also helps us understand Christ's
following comment.


    Matt   26:29   But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit
                   of the vine from now on until that day when I
                   drink it new with you in My Fathers kingdom.'

    Luke   22:15   Then He said to them, 'With fervent desire I have
                   desired to eat this Passover with you before I
                   suffer;
             :16   for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until
                   it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God'.


We have here an assurance that no more words or teaching would be
presented before the people of God, other than those present in the
Old and New Testaments, prior to the establishment of the kingdom
of God.
 


[ NB: For many centuries fundamental Christianity has considered the
      shedding of Christ's literal blood was what brought forgiveness
      of sins. However, what really brings forgiveness of sin is the
      adoption of the teachings of Christ. ]


Christ was instructing His disciples to, DRINK HIS TEACHINGS.


THE TRUE LORD'S SUPPER


The true Lord's Supper is that which is offered on the Lord's table!


    1Cor  10:21   You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup
                  of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord's table
                  and of the table of demons.


In the Old Testament the Lord's table was placed outside the veil on
the north side (opposite the golden candlestick).


    Exod  40:22   He put the table in the tabernacle of meeting,
                  on the north side of the tabernacle, outside the
                  veil;


Upon this table was placed the showbread (twelve cakes) and 
frankincense.


    Lev   24:5    And you shall take fine flour and bake twelve cakes
                  with it. Two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each
                  cake.
            :6    You shall set them in two rows, six in a row, on
                  the pure gold table before the LORD.
            :7    And you shall put pure frankincense on each row,
                  that it may be on the bread for a memorial, an
                  offering made by fire to the LORD.


The book of Malachi makes mention of the Lord's table.


    Mal    1:7    You offer defiled food on My altar. But say,
                  'In what way have we defiled You?' By saying,
                  'The table of the LORD is contemptible.'
            :12   But you profane it, In that you say, 'The
                  table of the LORD is defiled; And its fruit,
                  its food, is contemptible.'


The book of Proverbs also makes an allusion to the table of the Lord.


    Prov   9:1    Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn out
                  her seven pillars;
            :2    She has slaughtered her meat, She has mixed
                  her wine, She has also furnished her table.
            :3    She has sent out her maidens, She cries out
                  from the highest places of the city,
            :4    "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!"
                  As for him who lacks understanding, she says
                  to him,
            :5    "Come, eat of my bread And drink of the wine
                  I have mixed.
            :6    Forsake foolishness and live, And go in the
                  way of understanding.


In 1st Corinthians chapter 10 we are advised of the nature of the food
presented on this table. (Paul is also stating that at least some of this
nourishment was available in the time of Moses.)   


    1Cor  10:1    Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware
                  that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed
                  through the sea,
            :2    all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the
                  sea,
            :3    all ate the same spiritual food,
            :4    and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they
                  drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them,
                  and that Rock was Christ.



The Lord's Supper is a spiritual meal!


A parable found in the book of Luke that Christ informs us that those
invited to this meal will make excuses not to partake.


    Luke  14:15   Now when one of those who sat at the table with
                  Him heard these things, he said to Him, "Blessed
                  is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"
            :16   Then He said to him, "A certain man gave a
                  great supper and invited many,
            :17   and sent his servant at supper time to say to
                  those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are
                  now ready.'
            :18   But they all with one accord began to make excuses.
                  The first said to him, 'I have bought a piece of

                  ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have
                  me excused.'
            :19   And another said, 'I have bought five yoke of oxen,
                  and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me
                  excused.'
            :20   Still another said, 'I have married a wife, and
                  therefore I cannot come.'
            :21   So that servant came and reported these things to
                  his master. Then the master of the house, being
                  angry, said to his servant, 'Go out quickly into
                  the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in
                  here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the
                  blind.'
            :22   And the servant said, 'Master, it is done as you
                  commanded, and still there is room.'
            :23   Then the master said to the servant, 'Go out into
                  the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in,
                  that my house may be filled.
            :24   'For I say to you that none of those men who were
                  invited shall taste my supper.'"



The true Lord's Supper is that which God has provided for us on the
table of the Lord. It is a spiritual meal and we have to take care
to heed God's invitation to partake of it.   


SUMMARY - LORD'S SUPPER


The 'Lord's Supper' is a spiritual meal of spiritual food and drink.


                       Bread  =  word of God

                       Wine   =  teaching 


Christians in being directed to break bread and drink the cup are
being told to,


               - Eat the Word of God

               - Drink of its Teachings



Jesus Christ was the Word of God in human form. It was for this reason
that Christ told His followers that if they desired eternal life they
would have to eat of His flesh and drink of His blood.


This spiritual meal was designed to enable us to grow 'spiritually'.
To grow in the knowledge and wisdom of God.


In the temple of God the meal was symbolically presented on the golden
table, which was placed outside the veil on the north side.



Scripture advises us that those Christians who fail to partake of this
great supper in a proper manner are likely to become spiritually sick
and may even spiritually die.


Jesus in asking His disciples to 'do this in remembrance of Me' was
asking His disciples to honour His memory by paying due diligence to
the word and teaching of God.



Contrary to the understanding of most church groups Christ did not
intend to establish a new 'New Testament' ritual, nor was He asking
His followers to morbidly dwell on His suffering and death.



Rather, Christ and God were placing emphasis upon the need to read
and study the word of God, so as to ensure the presence of a continuing
process of growth in the lives of individuals striving for the kingdom
of God.








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