Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Matthew 26 The Lord’s Supper


Donald Bridge and David Phypers--Baptist and Church of England Ministers--in their book, COMMUNION: THE MEAL THAT UNITES? Christians "all make rather special use of bread and wine. The use of it is bewilderingly different, but they all use it. Christians have not only done different things with the bread and the wine, but have done terrible things to each other because of it. Men and women have been imprisoned, whipped, pilloried, tortured, and burned alive because of differing opinions about what really happens when Christians eat bread and drink wine and remember their Lord....Powerful kings have been toppled from their thrones and humble men have been driven into exile because of their views about the Lord's Supper. Even today, when Christians are more conscious of their common faith than they have been for centuries, differences in Eucharistic faith and practice continue to divide them. Many refuse to recognize the validity of others' celebrations. Some still withhold communion from those who differ.

There are many names for the Lord’s Supper:

1Cor 11:20 “the Lord’s supper”

Anglicans “Eucharist” –Thanksgiving.. 1Cor 10:16 The cup of blessing ευλογιας ο ευλογουμεν that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. Both Paul and Luke consistently use Gk. eucharistesas for `having given thanks,' but Matthew and Mark change this term to eulogesas when referring to thanksgiving for the bread"

“the table of the Lord” Luther, "Therefore, it is appropriately called the food of the soul since it nourishes and strengthens the new man."

Martin Luther referred to it as Communion (and also Mass), his favourite designations for it were the Sacrament of the Altar and the Lord's Supper (or simply "the Supper."). Now there is nothing wrong with using "communion," 1Cor 10:16 The cup of blessing ευλογιας ο ευλογουμεν that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation κοινωνια in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.”

Why is this subject so difficult? As Bridge and Phypers put it, all Christians "trace their practice back to the fact that the evening before his death Jesus shared a final meal with his disciples. During the meal he said of the bread, `This is my body,' and of the wine, `This is my blood.' He commanded his followers, as often as they ate and drank thereafter, to remember him. As a result, the `breaking of bread', sharing in `communion', celebration of the `eucharist', partaking of `the Lord's Supper' and observance of `mass' have distinguished Christian communities ever since. They have quarreled so deeply about its meaning because they so unitedly insist on its great importance

According to Roman Catholicism, the sacramental union is strictly physical. As Ursinus puts it in his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism: "The Papists imagine that the sign which are used in the celebration of the Lord's Supper are changed into the things signified.” Ursinus, COMMENTARY, 377 ff.] This means that the error of Romanism is to see the grace given in the sacrament as something done in us, by virtue of the change of the bread into what it signifies, the actual body and blood of the Lord. Thus, when they have mass they are thinking that the death of Christ is taking place all over again.

According to most Evangelicals (influenced by Pietism and Anabaptism and radical Zwinglianism), the signs remain mere signs or symbols and do not communicate grace. They are given to us merely to commemorate the work of Christ through the use of the symbols. They are a mere memorial. They don’t do anything of themselves, but the memory of what the Lord has done has a sanctifying effect on us.

The Lord's Supper Is a Fellowship Meal--A Meal with Sinners

Ronald Wallace begins his essay on the Lord's Supper by reminding us of the fundamental fact that the Lord's Supper is indeed grounded upon the idea that the supper is itself a fellowship meal with Jesus. "throughout its history the Church has kept at the center of its life and worship not only the preaching of the Word of God but also the celebration of the Lord's Supper or eucharist. In this the Church follows the example and command given by Jesus Himself during His last supper with his disciples. It acts in His name and seeks His presence, believing that in the celebration Christ renews His fellowship with His people, strengthens their faith and hope, communicates to them the power of His death and resurrection, and thus enables them to present themselves afresh, within the membership of His body, as a living sacrifice devoted thus by Him more wholly to His service."

The meal itself was either a kiddush meal preparatory to the Passover, or an early Passover meal.

If it was a Kiddush meal, they used leavened bread, if a Passover meal they used unleavened bread.

As Wallace puts it, "although certain obscurities must remain owing to the variation in the accounts, Jesus apparently interrupted the usual Passover feast at certain points with decisive words and actions. He seems to have broken and shared the bread immediately before the consumption of the lamb: His action either corresponded to the usual breaking of bread or to the explanation by the head of the family of the deep significance of the meal in response to the traditional questions by the youngest member present about the meaning of the rite. Jesus' offering of the cup, apparently after the lamb was eaten, was connected with the blessing on the third of four cups (1 Corinthians 11:25; Luke 22:20). His vow of abstinence and words expressing expectation and hope of fulfillment of what was symbolized may have preceded (as in Mk. 14:24 f.), the group's partaking of the fourth cup" [Wallace, "Lord's Supper," 164].

Marshall [LAST SUPPER AND LORD'S SUPPER, pp. 59 ff] sets out the following reasons to consider this as a Passover meal, and not merely a kiddush meal. Thus it is useful to summarize most of Marshall's evidence for this, since doing so gives us a sense of what happened at a Passover meal.

1). The Synoptic Gospels specifically date the meal on the Passover. Mark 14:12 tells us that the disciples made their preparations for the meal "on the first day of Unleavened Bread," when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.

2). The meal was held in Jerusalem. The force of this observation lies in the fact that at this time Jesus and his disciples were staying outside of Jerusalem at Bethany, and returning there each night. But the Passover lamb could be eaten only in Jerusalem itself.

3). The meal was held in the evening (Mark 14:17; John 13:30; 1 Cor. 11:23). The normal mealtimes for the Jews were in the morning and the afternoon.

4). Jesus usually ate with large numbers of his disciples and hearers. On this occasion, however, he is specifically said to have gathered with the Twelve, a number which corresponds with the requirement that the Passover should be celebrated in groups of at least ten persons.

5). The guests are specifically said to have reclined at the meal (Mark 14:18; John 13:22, 28). To recline was the mark of freedom and was therefore customary at the Passover. Otherwise sitting was the normal posture for meals.

6). Both Mark and Luke place the eating of bread by Jesus and the disciples in the middle of the meal and not at the beginning.

7). The drinking of wine was not customary at ordinary meals, but was normal at festal meals and required at the Passover. Wine was also drunk at the ceremony of sanctifying the Passover. Hence the use of wine by Jesus is consistent with a Passover meal.

8). Mark tells us that the meal ended with singing....There seems to be no evidence for a similar occurrence at the end of any other kind of Jewish meal.

9). After the meal, Jesus stayed close to Jerusalem and did not return to Bethany, since the night of the Passover had to be spent in Jerusalem or its immediate neighborhood.

This, then, makes a compelling case to understand the accounts in Matthew, Mark, and Luke to be describing a Passover, which all of the rich symbolism and Biblical theology that goes with it.

The Lord’s Supper as a Memorial

Twice after distributing both the bread and the wine, our Lord explicitly says that the meal is to be done [eaten] "in remembrance of me." Since the bread eaten is Christ's body "for us" and the wine drank "is the new covenant in my blood" then clearly what this meal is a memorial of is Christ's atoning death.

Remembering and forgetting is a fine art. An experienced husband is one who remembers his wife’s birthday but forgets which one it is. Things we want/need to forget; remember.

• We’re all in danger of “forgetting” even the things we remember:

• Throughout scripture: Noah, rainbow. / Abraham, circumcision. Stones in the Jordan, Joshua 4. … And what would it be with Jesus???

• Jesus did not want us, first, to remember the sermon on the mount (greatest moral ever).

• He did not want us, first, to remember the signs and wonders (they pointed to him).

• He wouldn’t even tell them after the resurrection to remember, first, the empty tomb.

• The first thing he wanted us to remember had to do with why they were gathered …

The Passover helped people remember God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The heart of that celebration was in selecting a perfect lamb, one without defect, and slaughtering it at twilight on the fourteenth day of Nisan, 3-6pm. After collecting the blood, the people used a bunch of hyssop to sprinkle the blood to the top and sides of the doorframes. Then they stayed inside and ate the roasted lamb along with bitter herbs. They were remembering the night the Lord went through the land of Egypt and struck down every firstborn. But passed over the houses with doors sprinkled in blood.

Besides lamb and herbs, unleavened bread at the Passover meal reminded them how suddenly the Lord had rescued his people. It happened so quickly there was no time for bread to rise (Exodus 12:11-34). So the bread represented “redemption” from Egypt.

Now Jesus says that this bread is his body. He is connecting true redemption with him-self. He is offering redemption greater than redemption from Egypt. He is offering redemption not from Egypt or Rome but from sin. That redemption is here, now, and he is offering it in his body.

Passover celebrations involved drinking four cups of wine. It’s from Exodus 6:6-7. There we read, "I am the Lord,’" and then we read the first blessing, "’and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. . .’" The second blessing was, "’I will free you from being slaves to them. . .’" The third blessing was "’I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with acts of judgment.’" That third cup, the cup of redemption, is the cup in the Lord’s Supper that Jesus Christ blessed and gave to his disciples. The fourth blessing was, "’..[you will be (totally) my] own people and I will be (totally) your God.’" About that fourth cup Jesus said, "I will not drink of it until I drink it anew in the kingdom," meaning when he comes again. When Christ comes again, the fourth blessing of having God fully with us will be realized.

Jesus did a strange thing during that Passover. He adds to the meal in a way that makes himself the centre of it. In the case of both the bread and the cup, Jesus, "takes" it, "gives" it to the disciples, tells them to partake and defines the thing as representing himself - his body and blood. It was turning out to be unlike any Passover these men have ever experienced.

After calling the bread his body which would be broken for them, Jesus said, “this is my blood of the covenant,” an allusion to Ex 24:4-8, where the covenant between Yahweh and Israel is concluded with the offering of sacrifice.

"Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people." He told people that they should obey God and keep the terms of the covenant. What did the people say? "They responded, ’We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.’ Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ’This is the blood of the cove-nant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’"

• He wanted us to remember the cross, death, blood! And we need to think about why.

So why did Jesus want us to remember that? Because it is the truth about sin and death and salvation. Because the worst news was the best news. The ugliest instrument of torture became the most beautiful symbol. Because Jesus is nothing less than atoning lamb of God, saviour!

Jesus died to send our sins away from us into oblivion, that they would be blotted out and gone forever. That is the wonder of the new covenant! In Jeremiah 31:34 the Lord said, "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." That is grace. That is the new covenant. That is salvation and glory. That’s what Jesus wants us to remember!

(1) It was innocent blood. Matthew 27:3-4, "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? See thou to that".

(2) It was untainted blood. I Peter 1:19, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

(3) It was shed blood. Matthew 26-28, "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

(4) It was willingly given blood. John 10:18, "No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."

(5) It was acceptable blood. Unlike the blood of animals. The Father would accept the blood of His Son. Romans 3:25, "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God."

(6) It was all sufficient blood. This is to say, it only had to be offered once. Hebrews 7:27, "Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself." (Heb. 7:27)

Hebrews 10:11-12, "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God."

(7) It was necessary blood. Hebrews 9:22, "And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission."

(8) It was precious blood. I Peter 1:19, "But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."

(9) It was "Heaven-opening" blood. Hebrews 10:19-20, "Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh."

(10) It was reassuring blood. Hebrews 10:22, "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water."

(11) It was life-giving blood. John 6:53-54, "Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

(12) It was redeeming blood. Acts 20:28, "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood." Ephesians 1:7, "In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."

(13) It was unifying blood. Ephesians 2:13, "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ."

(14) It was reconciling blood. Colossians 1:20, "And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven."

(15) It was cleansing and purifying blood. I John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Revelation 1:5, "And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood."

(16) It was overcoming blood. Revelation 12:11, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death."

(17) It was sanctifying blood. Hebrews 13:12, "Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate."

(18) It was ratifying blood. Hebrews 9:18-21, "Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry."

(19) It will be condemning blood. Genesis 4:10, "And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground."

(20) It will be avenging blood. Hebrews 10:29, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden

The Lord’s Supper As A Covenant.

Meredith Kline points out, "since the Lord's Supper was instituted during the Passover meal and as an adaptation of it for the church, the death of Jesus memorialized by the supper is related to the Passover and, through the Passover, to the exodus as its context of meaning. The words of institution of the Supper also interpret the sacrifice of the Cross explicitly as a covenantal transaction (Matt. 26:28; Mk. 14:24; Lk. 22:22), and covenant is another exodus related theme.

There can be no doubt then, that our Lord's words and actions on the night in which he was betrayed tie together a host of themes. Especially those of Exodus, Covenant and Passover.

"although the traditional Jewish Passover feast may have already taken on features belonging to a meal ratifying a covenant, Jesus' words and actions were deliberately calculated to give this Passover meal a covenantal character.

I take God the Father to be my chiefest good and highest end,

I take God the Son to be my Prince and Saviour

I take God the Holy Ghost to be my Sanctifier, Teacher, Guide and Comforter.

I take the Word of God to be my rule in all my actions

And the people of God to be my people in all conditions.

I do likewise devote and dedicate unto the Lord my whole self, all I am all I have and all I can do.

And I do this deliberately, sincerely freely and forever.

There is true conversion where there have been covenant transactions between God and the soul. And I found that there have been such between God and my soul, and I hope in truth and righteousness. If I never did this before, I do it now; for I take God in Christ to be mine. I give up myself to be his in the bond of an everlasting covenant never-to-be-forgotten.

Charles Wesley (1707-1788), was so moved by Henry’s comments on Leviticus 8:35 that he based one of his most famous hymns on them. Henry had written: ‘we have every one of us a charge to keep, an eternal God to glorify, an immortal soul to provide for, needful duty to be done, our generation to serve; and it must be our daily duty to keep this charge, for it is the charge of the Lord our Master, who will shortly call us to an account about it’.

17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?"

18 And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples." ' "

19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.

21 Now as they were eating, He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me."

22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, "Lord, is it I?"

23 He answered and said, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.

24 The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, "Rabbi, is it I?" He said to him, "You have said it."

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed 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 Father's kingdom."

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

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