During one of our Shabbat studies, my young daughter asked, “Why do some churches drink wine first and then give you bread while others offer the bread first and then drink the wine?” What an interesting question from an eight-year-old child. We read Luke 22 and the account of Yeshua and ‘communion’ to answer her question.
“Then, taking a cup of wine, he [Yeshua] 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, Complete Jewish Bible).
After reading Luke’s account of Yeshua’s ‘last supper,’ we saw there were two cups of wine: one before eating the bread and one after. Reading the verses in context:
“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” (Luke 22:7-16).
By reading about the two cups of wine and bread in context, we noticed more details. Yeshua was celebrating a Passover with all of its traditions. It was a special Passover and Yeshua desired to celebrate it with his disciples. He knew he would not celebrate the Feast again until it was fulfilled in the Kingdom. Yeshua wasn’t instituting ‘communion;’ he was leading a traditional Passover seder.
The Hebrew word seder means ‘order.’ A Passover seder includes an order to telling the account of the Hebrews’ exodus from Egypt. It remembers the judgments, the blood of the lamb, and the death of the firstborn. While leading this memorial, Yeshua instituted the new covenant. Since our family celebrated the annual Passover, we immediately understood the significance of the two cups of wine and bread.
The first cup of wine, called the Cup of Sanctification, was shared among the disciples which unified them and set them apart as Yeshua’s beloved Bride. Along with unleavened bread or matzah, a second cup of wine, the Cup of Redemption, is consumed after the meal. It is Yeshua’s broken body, the matzah of affliction, and his blood of redemption in the wine that are the ‘cup’ and ‘bread’ used for ‘communion.’
Why doesn’t ‘communion’ include two cups of wine when Yeshua used two cups of wine? Where did the ‘last supper’ come from when Yeshua was celebrating a Passover seder?
Origins of Communion and the Last 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 term used in the Roman catholic church for ‘communion.’ It is also called the ‘eucharist’ which means the ‘bread’ and ‘wine’ transubstantiates or literally turns into the body and blood of Christ. According to the catholic church, the ‘eucharist’ or ‘communion’ is not a memorial to Jesus’ work on the cross, but a repeat of his sacrifice every time the ‘eucharist’ is taken. There is no Scriptural basis that Yeshua’s sacrifice was a repetitive act, it was not. It was a sacrifice once and for all time.
“This is the kind of cohen gadol (high priest) that meets our need — holy, without evil, without stain, set apart from sinners and raised higher than the heavens; one who does not have the daily necessity, like the other cohanim g’dolim, of offering up sacrifices first for their own sins and only then for those of the people; because he offered one sacrifice, once and for all, by offering up himself” (Hebrews 7:26-27).
‘Communion,’ one of the church’s deeply-held traditions is not found in the Bible. It is rooted in the catholic ‘eucharist’ developed by Rome and embraced for centuries by the institutional church. Neither Yeshua, his disciples nor the first-century church celebrated ‘communion.’ There is also no Scriptural basis for ‘The Lord’s Supper’ when describing Yeshua’s last meal with his disciples. He celebrated the Passover, the ‘appointed time’ of his Father for him to die as the Lamb for the sins of all.
“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).
Drinking the ‘cup’ in an unworthy manner desecrates the body and blood of Yeshua. Could it be that the ‘eucharist’ is really about “trampling underfoot the blood of Messiah and insulting the grace of God” and holds great punishment? (Hebrews 10:29).
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes” (1 Corinthians 11:25).
Every time we drink wine and unleavened bread, we are not only to be proclaiming Yeshua’s death until he returns, but we are to be participating in the Passover memorial. Not once in all the years I attended church was I taught this. Not once. This is because ‘communion’ has catholic roots and all church denominations have embraced those roots. The catholic mass is always about sacrifice and death, not the hope in the resurrection and proclaiming Yeshua until he returns.
“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 [of Messiah] 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).
In church ‘communion,’ there is only one cup, the Cup of Redemption, that is poured. Becoming sanctified and set apart for God through introspection, repentance, and forgiveness has become lost in the catholic. They drink one cup and eat the bread to be justified, but they do not share in the Cup of Sanctification.
Sha’ul understood the significance of the Cup of Sanctification. It is the cup that sets us apart as God’s holy people in the community of believers. He states that how we treat our brothers and sisters in the Body of Messiah has a direct effect on how weak and sick we become; how we may even die an early death! We receive judgment because we don’t examine our motives and actions within the Body of Messiah. Even Yeshua said that when you offer a gift at the altar you need to be at peace with your brother. This sanctifies our bodies, His Body.
“So if you are offering your gift at the Temple altar and you remember there that your brother has something against you, leave your gift where it is by the altar, and go, make peace with your brother. Then come back and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24).
The Corinthians had already begun to dismantle God’s ‘appointed time’ of Passover into a ‘communion’ food fest at their weekly gatherings. They were to ‘keep the Passover’ as Yeshua did with two cups of wine. They were to ‘keep the Passover’ with the unleavened bread of truth and sincereity while proclaiming the Yeshua’s death until he returned. They were to ‘keep the Passover’ with the matzah of purity in the unity of faith and honoring one another as co-heirs in the Kingdom (1 Corinthians 5:8).
The Answer to My Daughter’s Question
Yeshua never meant for the ‘appointed time’ of his Father –– Passover –– to be relegated into a few minutes of eating a wafer and a sip of wine on a daily, weekly or bi-weekly basis. He never meant for one cup of wine, the Cup of Sanctification, to be dismissed as unimportant because the focus would become Redemption only. Because churches celebrate a catholic ‘communion,’ the bread and wine have have lost their entrinsic purpose. Yeshua celebrated Passover with his disciples on the night he instituted the new covenant, setting apart his disciples as his Bride with the Cup of Sanctification and paying the Bride price to redeem them with his body and blood, the Cup of Justification.
The reason the wine might come first and then the bread or vice versa is because the seder of Passover has been lost.
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