Posts Tagged ‘Lord’s Supper’

Passover or Communion?

During one of our family Shabbat studies, my 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 a powerful question from an eight-year-old child.  We wanted to answer her question honestly so we read Luke 22 and the account of Yeshua and ‘communion.’  

“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 CJB).

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. Backing up to read the verses from Luke 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 putting the two cups of wine and bread in context, we noticed more details. Yeshua was celebrating a Passover with all of its traditional preparations.  It was a unique Passover and Yeshua desired to celebrate it with his disciples because he would not celebrate the feast again until wt was fulfilled in the Kingdom.  Understood in its context, Yeshua wasn’t instituting ‘communion;’ he was officiating a traditional Jewish seder. 

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

The first cup of wine was shared among the disciples which unified them and set them apart as Yeshua’s beloved Bride.  This is known as sanctification and the first cup of wine in a Passover seder is called the Cup of Sanctification. 

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

From my daughter’s initial question came other questions: Why doesn’t communion include two cups of wine when it’s recorded that Yeshua used two cups of wine? 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 Sha’ul:

“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 the 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 that refers to communion.  It is further delineated as eucharist  which specifically means the bread and wine transubstantiates into the body and blood of Christ.  The key term here is ‘transubstantiates’ 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 repeat of his 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 only describes what the wine and bread represent symbolically – 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. 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?”

‘communion’ is koinonia which means “fellowship.”   There is no Scriptural basis for the terms ‘The Lord’s Supper’ or ‘Communion’ when describing Yeshua’s last evening with his disciples.  When believers eat unleavened bread and drink wine remembering Yeshua’s sacrificial atonement, the correct Scriptural description is called Passover.  After all, it was the blood of the lamb that allowed the firstborn of Israel to live! The Scriptures also make it 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).

Sha’ul states in 1 Corinthians 11 that every time we celebrate by drinking wine and eating unleavened bread, we are not only proclaiming Yeshua’s death until he returns, but we are participating in a Passover memorial.   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 because ALL communion sacraments have catholic roots and are always about sacrifice and death, not hope in the resurrection or proclaiming Messiah until he returns.  

The Memorial Goes Deeper

Sha’ul also says that all who drink the cup in an unworthy manner desecrate the body and blood of the Lord.  Could it be the eucharist is really “trampling underfoot the blood of Messiah and insulting the grace of God” and holds  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 [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).

As a Jew, Sha’ul understood the significance of the Cup of Sanctification.   If we do not examine ourselves and recognize the body of Messiah – both as Yeshua as well as his body of believers – we bring judgment upon ourselves.  How we treat our brothers and sisters in the Kingdom, 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 because we don’t examine our motives or our actions within the community of believers.   

As those who have experienced the institutional communion, there is only one cup ever consumed and that is the Cup of Justification, not the Cup of Sanctification.  The concept of becoming sanctified, holy, and set apart for God through introspection and alignment with the commandments of God has become lost in a tradition of the catholic church and is embraced by every Christian denomination.  They drink the cup and eat the bread to be justified,  but they do not drink to be sanctified.

Choose This Day

Yeshua and his disciples

Yeshua never meant for the two cups of wine and unleavened bread of 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 in a church setting.  In fact, Sha’ul’s admonition to the Corinthians seems as if they had already begun to dismantle Passover into a communion food fest at their weekly gatherings.  This was not the intended purpose of the events in Luke 22. 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 while proclaiming the Lord’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 of the Kingdom in Messiah.

Communion, one of the church’s deeply-held dogmas is not found in the Scriptures.  Neither Yeshua, his disciples, Sha’ul or even the early Messianic congregations celebrated a communion service.  Communion is rooted in the catholic eucharist created by Rome centuries ago and embraced for centuries by the institution of the church.

To answer my daughter’s question: Because the church celebrates a communion service, the bread and wine have no ‘seder’ or order. It has nothing to do with the Passover that Yeshua celebrated 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 ultimate Bride price with his body and blood, the Cup of Justification.

©2016 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.  

A How To – Celebrate Passover!

Haggadah

The most important part of celebrating Passover is having a ‘guide’ that explains not only what to do, but what you are doing.   When our family began celebrating the Passover many years ago, we used a Messianic Haggadah (a telling of the account)  put out by a well-known Messianic Jewish ministry.  It was simple and exactly what we wanted and needed.

As the years passed and we learned more about Yeshua in the Passover, we found there was a depth that was missing in the traditional-based Haggadah.  We decided that we should write our own.   We incorporated significant traditions that Yeshua used at his last seder into our Passover Haggadah as well as Scriptures that highlighted the shadows that became reality through Him.

Everyone at the seder or at least every two people will need a Haggadah. If you would like to use ours, it can be purchased on amazon.com. We have kept the price minimal with no profit to us so that anyone can afford to buy several or, in the case of a church,  purchase them for their guests and pass the cost on. As hosts, we provide Haggadahs for each of our guests who come celebrate in our home so they have a way to continue the celebration in their home the next year.  

If you’re thinking of having a seder with family, friends or even a church celebration, remember this is to be a FEAST.   Make sure you include a main dish of beef, chicken or even lamb that will serve everyone.  I suggest a main course per each 6-10 people.  You can have a small group prepare all the food or invite each family to bring a dish of something to share like a fruit salad, green salad, vegetable or dessert.   Ask that they do not bring anything that is leavened (with yeast or soured dough) or made with anything found in Leviticus 11 – especially pig products (ham, pork, bacon, sausage) and seafood.  I have linked some recipes for your convenience that we use for our seder dinners that include a main course, side dishes and unleavened desserts and cookies.

Traditional Food and Recipes

There are some traditional foods that can be served during the seder meal. Carrot tzimmesmatzah ball soup,  kugels: sweetbananamushroom, and  sponge cake or macaroons are all wonderful ways to include others in planning your meal.   Fresh fruit salads and green salads are welcome at a seder.   I always serve lamb though it is not tradition to do so.  Some people serve Gefilte Fish, Roast Chicken or Brisket.

Setting the Table

When setting the table, use some white table clothes (plastic, paper or even white sheets)  to make your table look like a ‘set apart’ dinner because it is!   It is a ‘Feast of the LORD’ – a memorial not just to the Passover found in the book of Exodus, but a rehearsal dinner for the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Everyone will need a plate, soup bowl, forks, knives, spoons, napkin and 2 cups.   Paper and plastic products are fine to use, and with a large group makes clean-up much easier.   One cup is for drinking water; the other is for the wine or grape juice that will be consumed during the seder.  If you can, use wine glasses.  Plastic ones can be found in most party stores.   If you have a smaller group, feel free to use dinnerware and silverware.

Seder Plate

Seder Plate
Seder Plate

The seder plate will be the centerpiece on the table(s) along with the matzah, unleavened bread.  If you have more than one table, you will need one seder plate for each table to make it easier for people to share the items.  Special foods will put on each plate: charoset (apple mixture), bitter herbs (generally horseradish), sprigs of parsley (one for each person)  and a cup of salt water for dipping.

Seder Plate
Lamb Shank Bone

You will also need one lamb shank bone that you can get from a butcher. Wash it well and then roast it in the oven an hour or so to ‘seal’ it and you can use it year after year on your seder plate.  You only need ONE lamb shank bone, not one for each individual plate.  This is because we all share in the same ‘sacrificed lamb.’

NOTE: We do not use an egg on our plate to remember the destruction of the Temple as it too much resembles the spring ritual of Easter. We place a rock on our plate as Yeshua prophesied the destruction of the Temple in Matthew 24:1-3 and we still await its restoration.

Elijah’s Seat

When you are setting your table, set one extra place for Elijah.  With a large group, this setting could be at the leader’s table keeping it separate from the guests.  This is a tradition based on the Scripture that Elijah will come before the Messiah.  Traditionally, a child participates at the end of the seder by going to the door to see if Elijah has come.  We put our ‘check for Elijah’ at the beginning of our seder because our children were concerned that if he was at the door, we had already eaten and he would have no food!

Wine

There are four cups of wine consumed during the seder.  This means you should have enough wine (or grape juice if you want to avoid alcohol)  for everyone who is coming.  You will need one wine glass/cup for each person to fill four different times. 

Matzah

Matazh or unleavened bread  is central to a seder dinner.  You can buy it at a local store (Costco sells it in huge cases for large groups) or make it at home.  There is no substitute for matzah at a seder so be prepared with a lot as you will also eat it during the next week of Unleavened Bread.

Matzah Tosh Pillow

At each table you will need plates of matzah. Next to the leader of the seder there will be another plate of matazh for the ‘unity of matzah’ called a ‘matzah tosh pillow’.   This pillow can be created with a plate and four napkins. Place an opened napkin on the plate, then place one matzah on top.  Open another napkin and place it on top of the matzah, then add another matzah.  Top that matzah with another napkin and a matzah. Cover the last matzah with the fourth opened napkin.  You should have a ‘unity’ of three matzahs and four napkins when you’re done.  During the seder, the leader will reach into the middle of the matzah tosh and remove the center piece.  It will be broken in half. One of the halves is wrapped in a fifth napkin and set aside.  If you find that you celebrate the Passover year after year, you can also make or buy a matzah tosh.

Afikomen Prize

The word afikomen means ‘dessert.’  It is the piece of matzah that was wrapped in the fifth napkin.  It will be the last food eaten at the seder.  All other desserts will be eaten before finishing the seder so the taste of the afikomen is allowed to ‘linger’ in the mouth. The afikomen is part of the bread and wine that Yeshua shares with the disciples at his last seder.

There are special instructions for the afikomen after the meal has been eaten.   It becomes a game that includes the participation of the children. The afikomen can either be hidden or stolen by the children and redeemed for a price.  In our family, my husband hides the afikomen while everyone is eating the seder dinner.  Before sitting down to finish the seder, he asks the children to find it.  It is ‘redeemed’ for a prize.  Over the years our prize has changed depending on the ages of our children.  We have given stuffed animals, little trinkets and money.  If we know there will be small children at our seder, we try to have an appropriately aged gift.

Pillows

Pillows are an essential item during a seder.  Yeshua and his disciples reclined at the table and pillows are a way to emulate this behavior.  Our family actually sets a low table made of a piece of drywall sitting on plastic tubs and covered in white table cloths.  In this way, we actually do sit on the floor and recline with pillows by the table.  If you have a larger setting, it may not be possible for everyone to bring a pillow, so just make sure that someone at each table has one, especially the leader of the seder.

Foot Washing

In a traditional seder, there is a time for hand washing. Since Yeshua washed his disciples feet at the Passover, we have made the hand washing ceremony into a foot washing fellowship time.   You will need a basin, pitcher of water and some towels.  Explain to your guests before they come that you will be doing a foot washing as Yeshua/Jesus did so they come prepared to remove their socks and shoes.  If someone comes who cannot remove their shoes, their feet can be massaged.

During the foot washing time,  play quiet music while everyone blesses each other by washing feet.  Generally, we have husbands and wives wash each other’s feet while children and parents wash one another.   It is a wonderful time to watch servanthood in the lives of children!  At some Passover celebrations, the time of foot washing is a time to promise to pray for one year (until the next Passover)  for the person washing your feet.   If you are in a church setting and want to incorporate the prayer, men may wash men’s feet and women wash women’s and boys and girls divide between the men and women.

Music

Feel free to incorporate music during your seder.   You can choose to sing, dance, play instruments or just listen to songs – recorded or live –  about the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, your part in the Commonwealth of Israel, or just praise and worship for the God of Israel and what He has done for us through His Son.  We generally begin our seders by dancing the hora, the Israeli national dance,  to bring people into the joy of the celebration.

There are songs that are traditional to the seder dinner.  You will be singing “Dayenu”meaning “It Would Have Been Enough.”  The words are simple and the tune very catching.  You’ll find yourself singing “Dayenu” throughout the week of Unleavened Bread.  Video with music. 

At the very end of your seder, it is traditional to sing or say “Lashana Haba bi Yerushalayim” which means Next Year in Jerusalem!  May it be so … and may we  celebrate next year in Jerusalem with the Messiah, the King of the Kings at His Wedding Feast!  Video with music.

Here is a basic Passover Checklist as you prepare to celebrate your seder. Feel free to print it and use it along with the other recipes and links on this page.  If you are preparing your own seder or if you’re just wanting to learn more about Yeshua (Jesus) in the Passover, don’t hesitate to ask.

May you be blessed as you celebrate the memorial of the Passover as Yeshua did with his disciples.  May you not only see your deliverance from slavery in Egypt as part of the commonwealth of Israel, but your redemption from death to life  through the blood of the Lamb.  May the seder you celebrate prepare you for the week of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of Firstfruits of Yeshua’s resurrection from the dead! HalleluYAH!

©2012 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.