Through the history of the church, one of the most written about topics is the Lord’s Supper. In today’s church, one of the least written about or preached about topics is the Lord’s Supper. No doubt, as a result, there is a huge amount of misinformation that rests on the shoulders of ignorance. It is my intention over the next few podcasts to give you, the listener, some theological sound-bytes to think about concerning the Lord’s Supper.
The event that sparked this series was the blatant disregard of a church that I visited for following God’s prescription of the Supper and instead, followed a Romanist interpretation of its practical mode. It was not that this church changed the meaning behind the Supper, although one wonders what exactly they teach concerning it, but rather, that the manner in which they distributed the elements was not only wrong, but followed the Romanist view of dipping the bread into the wine and eating it, which is called intinction. Seeing a professing Christian church follow the Romanist intinction for the sake of expediency was disheartening to the say the least. In other words, it was simply quicker and easier to have people come up and take the bread and dip it in the grape juice (not the wine) was quicker than having to pass it out. On the same note, knowing that most of the Christian church today has a poor or theologically bankrupt view of the Supper, pressed me to consider certain aspects of the Lord’s Institution that no Christian should be without.
First, we look at Old Testament Shadows of the Lord’s Supper. In order to really understand the New Testament witness of the Supper, one must look to the Old Testament to gain a full theological understanding of what the Supper means. Remember, the Bible of the Lord Jesus Himself, and the Bible of the Apostles, was the Hebrew Scriptures. There is a definitive and glaring example of the commonness and communion of our father Abraham with the High Priest, Melchizedek in Genesis 14:18, “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)” It is not a mistake that bread and wine were brought. Not bread and grape juice, but bread and wine. From the very beginning, God sets the standard, and the use of wine through the Bible as a gift of God to His people is consistent. We’ll get into the “grape juice” change that the church has placed on the sacrament at a later time. Then we have the Passover lamb as the sacrifice given in Exodus 12:27 and 34:25. Christ, our Passover, is seen in the light of the Lord’s Supper as a result of fully analogizing the Passover Lamb of the Old Testament. Such a sacrifice was given as a memorial, Exodus 12:14. “This day shall be for you a memorial day…” Not a memorial meal, but a memorial day. “…and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.” Passover was a communal act of worship. The blood of the Passover lamb demonstrates those in covenant with God in contrast to those outside God’s covenant. The Passover involves sacrifice.
Redemption is remembered. But it is not only a past act of God that is remembered, but a future one as well. There is also the manna from heaven; the bread of God, as seen in Exodus 16. God gives His people the bread that sustains them.
There is also the blood of the covenant. In Exodus 24:1-11 the ratification of the covenant between God and the Israelites was the blood of the sacrifice meal, the blood of a sacrifice, which was eaten in the presence of God. Moses declared that blood to be the blood of the covenant. The sacrifices of the old covenant were shadows that demonstrated the sanctification of the people. Without the proper sacrifice, the people would be left under their sin. In Malachi 1:10 God tells the people that it would be better for the church to close down, than to offer sacrifices that were not pure.
In the same way, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ demonstrates a fulfillment of covenant promises in the shadows of the temple and sacrificial system God endured until the proper time. The Lord’s Supper, like the Passover, is a sacrificial meal. The blood distinguished in the Lord’s Supper, is that of Christ for His people and distinguishes those in covenant with God with those outside His covenant. Like the manna which provided for the needs of the people, the Supper demonstrates that God has provided everything needful in Jesus Christ as the bread of heaven. Jesus is the true bread. The Lord’s Supper is a ceremonial meal that seals and ratifies the covenant Christ made for His people. We eat of His flesh and drink of His blood. He is our peace offering, our offering of thanks that demonstrates the fulfillment of all things needful for salvation for all those for whom Christ died.
Without understanding the Old Covenant and the shadows that throughout the Scriptures, running into the New Testament to have a comprehensive view of the Supper will be in vain. Paul says Christ is our Passover. Jesus says He is the manna from heaven. Hebrews says Christ fulfilled everything that needed to in the line of Melchizedek – that Melchizedek of Genesis 14 offering up a communion, a fellowship, of bread and wine. More later…