Passover or Communion?

Many years ago when my daughter was very young, she asked “Why do some churches during communion drink wine first and then give you bread while others offer the bread first and then drink the wine?” What a powerful question for an eight-year-old child.  We wanted to answer her question Biblically so we opened to Luke 22 and read the account of Yeshua and ‘communion’.   

“Then, taking a cup of wine, he made the blessing and said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on, I will not drink the ‘fruit of the vine’ until the Kingdom of God comes.” Also, taking a piece of matzah [unleavened bread], he made the blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, “This is my body, which is being given for you; do this in memory of me.”  He did the same with the cup after the meal, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant, ratified by my blood, which is being poured out for you” (Luke 22:17-20).

According to Luke’s account there were two cups of wine, one before eating the bread and one after. Backing up to read these verses in context, we read:

“Then came the day of matzah [unleavened bread], on which the Passover lamb had to be killed. Yeshua sent Peter and John, instructing them, “Go and prepare our Seder, so we can eat.” They asked him, “Where do you want us to prepare it?” He told them, “As you’re going into the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house he enters, and say to its owner, ‘The Rabbi says to you, “Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Pesach [Passover] meal with my disciples?” ‘He will show you a large room upstairs already furnished; make the preparations there.”  They went and found things just as Yeshua had told them they would be, and they prepared for the Seder.  When the time came, Yeshua and the emissaries reclined at the table, and he said to them, “I have really wanted so much to celebrate this Seder with you before I die! For I tell you, it is certain that I will not celebrate it again until it is given its full meaning in the Kingdom of God.”

By putting the wine and bread in context, we noticed more details.   Yeshua was celebrating a traditional Passover seder with all of its unique preparations.  It was a special Passover as Yeshua wanted to celebrate it with his disciples because he would not celebrate it again until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.  In context, Yeshua wasn’t doing ‘communion’, he was taking part in a traditional Jewish seder. 

The Hebrew word seder means ‘order’.  In a Passover seder there is an order to telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt.  It includes talking about the plagues, the sacrificial lamb, and the death of the firstborn.  While celebrating this memorial to God’s deliverance of His people from Egypt’s kingdom of darkness into His Kingdom of Light, Yeshua instituted the new covenant.   Since our family had already been celebrating the Passover for several years, we understood those two cups of wine and the unleavened bread that Yeshua used during the seder.    

The first Cup of Wine was shared among the disciples which unified them and set them apart from the rest of the world as ‘holy to him’ – his beloved Bride.    This is known as sanctification and the first Cup of Wine in a Passover seder is called just that, the Cup of Sanctification. 

Along with some unleavened bread, a cup of wine is consumed after the meal.  This is known as the Cup of Blessing or the Cup of Justification.  It is through the broken body (the unleavened bread of affliction) and the blood of Messiah that we are justified and redeemed back to God.  This is the ‘cup and bread’ used in communion.

This made us ask the question: Why doesn’t communion include two cups of wine when Yeshua used two cups of wine? And, where did the idea of communion come from when Yeshua was specifically celebrating a Passover seder and we are told to do the same by Paul:

“Get rid of the old hametz [soured dough], so that you can be a new batch of dough, because in reality you are unleavened. For our Pesach lamb, the Messiah, has been sacrificed. So let us celebrate the [Passover] Seder not with leftover hametz, the hametz of wickedness and evil, but with the matzah of purity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-8).

Origins of Communion or Lord’s Supper

“Because Christ himself is present in the sacrament of the altar, he is to be honored with the worship of adoration. “To visit the Blessed Sacrament is … a proof of gratitude, an expression of love, and a duty of adoration toward Christ our Lord.” — Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1418

The Blessed Sacrament is a devotional term used in the Roman Catholic Church to refer to what is commonly known as ‘communion’.  It is further delineated as eucharist  and specifically refers to the bread and wine when transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.  The key term here is ‘transubstantiated’ which means that the bread and wine actually turn into the substance of the body and blood of Christ and only the appearance of bread and wine remain. 

According to the catholic church, the eucharist or communion is not a memorial to the work of Christ on the cross, but a repetitive sacrifice each time the eucharist is taken. First Corinthians 10:16 is often used as the ‘proof’ verse:

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Messiah? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Messiah?” (1 Corinthians 10:16).

However, this verse is only describing what the wine and bread represent – a connection or relationship with fellow believers and with Messiah.  It is not meant to be given some specific title like blessed sacrament or communion. In reality, a more accurate rendering of the verse would be:

“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not the fellowship of the blood of Messiah? The bread that we break, is it not the fellowship of the body of Messiah?”

The Greek word translated as “communion” is koinonia which means “fellowship”.  There is no Scriptural basis for the terms “Lord’s Supper” and “Communion” when referring to what occurred during Yeshua’s last evening with his disciples.  When believers eat unleavened bread and drink wine remembering Yeshua’s sacrificial atonement, the correct annual and Scriptural occasion is the Passover.  The Scriptures also make it very clear that Yeshua’s sacrifice was once and for all time ; it is not a repetitive act. 

“For Messiah also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit” (1 Peter 3:18).

“The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God” (Romans 6:10).

The Proclamation

“For what I received from the Lord is just what I passed on to you — that the Lord Yeshua, on the night he was betrayed, took bread; and after he had made the blessing he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this as a memorial to me”; likewise also the cup after the meal, saying, “This cup is the New Covenant effected by my blood; do this, as often as you drink it, as a memorial to me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes.Therefore, whoever eats the Lord’s bread or drinks the Lord’s cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of desecrating the body and blood of the Lord!” (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

One of the most significant parts of what Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11 is that every time we celebrate the Passover by drinking the wine and eating the unleavened bread, we are proclaiming Yeshua’ death until he returns.  Never once in my years of growing up in the Lutheran church did I understand or know that part of my ‘communion’ experience.  Not once.  This is probably because communion was taken from the catholic church and is always about ‘sacrifice’ and ‘death’, not hope.  

Paul also says that all who drink it in an unworthy manner desecrate the body and blood of the Lord!  Could it be that the eucharist is really a ‘trampling underfoot the blood of Messiah and insulting the grace of God” and brings great punishment? (Hebrews 10:29).

So let a person examine himself first, and then he may eat of the bread and drink from the cup; for a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. This is why many among you are weak and sick, and some have died! If we would examine ourselves, we would not come under judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:27-31).

Then he brings in the significance of the Cup of Sanctification.   If we do not examine ourselves and recognize the body of Messiah, we bring judgment upon ourselves.  How we treat our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God, the body of Messiah,  has a direct result on how weak and sick we become; how we may even die an early death!  This is a judgment on our lack of examining our motives and our actions within the community of believers.   

Unfortunately, as we learned in our little study, there is only one cup ever given in communion and that cup is justification, not sanctification.  The concept of becoming sanctified, holy, and set apart for God by introspection and alignment with the commandments of God has become lost in an unScriptural tradition of the catholic church embraced by all Christian denominations known as communion.   They drink to be redeemed and may even remember Yeshua’s death, but they do not drink a cup to be sanctified.  Yet, those who have embraced and celebrate the yearly Passover as a memorial to Yeshua’s atonement and a proclamation of his return, do become sanctified and have an unique unity with the body of Messiah worldwide as well as Yeshua’s very own Jewish brothers and sisters who are looking for him and waiting for the institution of the new covenant through him.  

Choose This Day

Yeshua and his disciples

Yeshua never meant for the two cups of wine and unleavened bread of the Passover to be dissected into a few moments of eating a wafer of bread and a sip wine on a daily,  weekly or bi-weekly basis in a church setting.  In fact, Paul’s admonitions to the Corinthians was almost as if they had already begun a ‘communion’ service during a ‘food fest’ at their weekly gatherings.   This was not supposed to be the case.  They were to ‘keep the Passover’ with the unleavened bread truth while proclaiming the Lord’s death until he returns.  They were to ‘keep the Passover’ with the unleavened bread of purity showing the unity of their faith and honoring one another as co-heirs of the Kingdom in Messiah. 

Communion, one of the church’s deeply-held doctrines of faith, does not come from the Scriptures, from Yeshua, from his disciples, from Paul or even the early congregations.  Communion is, in fact, rooted in the catholic eucharist that had its foundations in Rome many centuries ago.  Each of us has to make a choice between the traditions that are rooted in Rome or the truths of Scripture that come out of Jerusalem and the actions of Yeshua as he celebrated his last Passover until the coming Kingdom. 

“Many peoples will go and say, “Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the LORD,  to the house of the God of Ya’akov! He will teach us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” For out of Tziyon will go forth Torah, the word of the LORD from Yerushalayim” (Isaiah 2:3).

©2016 Tentstake Ministries

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