"Doctrines of Demons" Series
Partaking of the Lord's Supper
The Truth About this Remembrance Service
By David M Rogers
Updated: June 2012
Table of Contents
There may not be a single Christian church in the whole world that does not practice, as one of its most sacred functions, the partaking of the Lord's Supper. The remembrance of the Lord's death by eating the bread and drinking the wine are at the very heart and soul of any New Testament church. And for good reason. Messiah Himself commanded it.
The core element of the Roman Catholic Mass is the bread and the wine. Every worship service of the Roman Catholic church features this well known practice of partaking of the body and blood of "Jesus." There would be no Mass if you removed the "Lord's Supper" from the Roman Catholic service. Protestant churches, too, of every flavor and size celebrate and remember the crucifixion of "Jesus" at regular intervals of time with a Communion Service. This Communion, which is another name for the Lord's Supper, is done weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually or at some other interval. But all Christian churches do it regularly.
If it is important to us to follow the Messiah of the Judeo/Christian Scriptures, then it should also be important to us to do what He told us to do. Yeshua once told his disciples,
"If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15).
And, in another place,
Yeshua replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me" (John 14:23,24).
The apostle John also tells us
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Yeshua did (1 John 2:3-6).
So, if we are to obey his word, keep his commands and walk as Yeshua did, then we must know for certain what Messiah has told us to do.
But just exactly what is it that Yeshua wanted his followers to do when he sat down with them at the Last Supper?
The Roman Catholic teaching about the Mass is an evil doctrine of demons. Transubstantiation is one of the most pernicious and evil doctrines ever concocted by the minds of men. It teaches Catholics that at every service when they receive the Lord's Support which they call the Mass of Christ, they believe that they are literally eating the very flesh of Christ and drinking his actual blood. This despicable evil has deceived millions of people over the centuries to be cannibalizing Christ!
Great and long lasting has been the disagreement between Roman Catholics and Protestants over the teaching by the Master regarding his flesh and blood. I have no grand delusion that my brief comments here are going to end this debate and set everyone straight on this topic. Nevertheless, what I have to say about it is pertinent and should be considered by those who are open-minded to change and want to know the truth.
The Fourth Gospel tells the account of a curious teaching by the Master Yahusha. This teaching provoked many of his disciples to leave him. They were so appalled at what he was saying that they could no longer stomach listening to him and following him.
Yahusha had fed a large hungry crowd by multiplying 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. He had then passed over the sea by walking on the water. The crowds were looking for him - evidently for another meal!
When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, "Rabbi, when did you get here?" Yahusha answered, "I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him Elohim the Father has placed his seal of approval." (4th Gospel 6:25-27)
Yahusha turned the occasion of the people seeking another free meal into a discussion of seeking the really important food - that of the Word of Elohim. Having engaged the people, they inquired about what he meant:
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works Elohim requires?" Yahusha answered, "The work of Elohim is this: to believe in the one he has sent." So they asked him, "What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'" Yahusha said to them, "I tell you the truth, it is not Mosheh who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of Elohim is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." "Sir," they said, "from now on give us this bread." Then Yahusha declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (6:28-35)
The manna which Yahuwah fed the people in the wilderness was only a picture to illustrate the true bread coming down from heaven which would give eternal life to those who eat it. Yahusha declares that he himself is that bread from heaven.
Next, he describes his purpose in coming down out of heaven:
But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (6:36-40)
His mission is to do the Father's will (teach and keep Torah) and ultimately to raise up all those who belong to Elohim. But the Yehudim didn't receive his teaching that he came down from heaven:
At this the Yehudim began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." They said, "Is this not Yahusha, the son of Yoseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, 'I came down from heaven'?" "Stop grumbling among yourselves," Yahusha answered. "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: 'They will all be taught by Elohim.' Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from Elohim; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. (41-47)
Since the Father sent this "Bread" from heaven, his people ought to receive this bread. Yahusha is that "Bread".
Next comes the controversial part. Yahusha tells his audience that they must eat this bread, which is his flesh!
I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." Then the Yehudim began to argue sharply among themselves, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Yahusha said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever."(6:48-58)
Yahusha's words, taken literally, are extremely offensive. How could anyone eat the flesh and drink the blood of another human being? It's an appalling thought - in any culture or place in the world, or at any time in human history. Cannibalism is not an acceptable human practice and is deeply disgusting. So, many left him after that teaching:
This he said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, "This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?" Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Yahusha said to them, "Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Yahusha had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him. "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Yahusha asked the Twelve. Shimon Kepha answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of Israel. (6:59-69)
So why did these disciples leave the Master at this time? Because they were offended when they interpreted what he had just said as literal. They thought that the Master was actually instructing them to eat his flesh and drink his blood!
Yet, this is what the Master said, isn't it? Some point out that the Greek word employed in verses 54, 56, 57 and 58 is trw,gw (pronounced trōgō). This word means strictly to crunch; literally, of animals gnaw, nibble, chew. Thus, these verses could rightly be translated:
Whoever chews my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever chews my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who chews on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who chews on this bread will live forever."
Since Yahusha taught his disciples "to chew" on his flesh, some today believe that we should literally be doing this.
The Roman Catholic doctrine called transubstantiation basically says that the bread wafer and wine of communion is transformed into the literal flesh and blood of Messiah when the priest so blesses it. Although the bread and wine may continue to take the form of a wafer cracker and grape juice in a cup, that is only its form. Its actual substance, though, is the literal body and blood of Christ. Thus, Roman Catholics believe they are chewing on Jesus' literal flesh and drinking down his literal blood when they take communion.
Is this a valid interpretation of Scripture? Is it possible that Messiah wants his disciples to actually chew on his flesh and drink his blood? I would answer, "NO", and provide you with the following reasons why this is simply impossible and unthinkable.
First, we understand that Messiah came to uphold the Torah and teach the true meaning of the Torah to his disciples. He made this very clear in his teaching as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18)
If not even the least detail of the Law was to be done away with, and is to be valid until heaven and earth pass away, then we can be sure that every detail of the Law was kept by Messiah because heaven and earth are still with us (We're here, aren't we?). Furthermore, we should be doing the same.
This being the case, then Messiah always obeyed the Torah in every detail. He could not break or transgress the Torah. This was his mission - to teach Torah as the correct walk of faith for his disciples. This agrees with the prophecy which states that Messiah would teach the Torah to the nations:
In the last days the mountain of Yahuwah's temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. Many nations will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of Yahuwah, to the house of the Elohim of Ya'acov. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The Torah will go out from Zion, the word of Yahuwah from Yerushalayim. (Micah 4:1-2)
This prophecy speaks of the time when Messiah will rule and reign in Jerusalem. Since this has not yet happened, we can be sure that Messiah will do this soon. And since Messiah will teach Torah to the nations, we can easily see and conclude that Messiah did not do away with the Torah when he came as Messiah ben Yoseph - the Suffering Servant.
Now the Torah provides detailed instructions on what flesh is fit for human consumption. Though the eating of human flesh is not specifically addressed by the Torah (the very thought of it is sickening and so did not need to be singled out), the Torah does tell us what animals may and what animals may not be eaten:
Of all the animals that live on land, these are the ones you may eat: You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. 'There are some that only chew the cud or only have a split hoof, but you must not eat them. The camel, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is ceremonially unclean for you. The coney, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. The rabbit, though it chews the cud, does not have a split hoof; it is unclean for you. And the pig, though it has a split hoof completely divided, does not chew the cud; it is unclean for you. You must not eat their meat or touch their carcasses; they are unclean for you. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 11:2-8)
Since the last time I looked, humans do not have a split hoof and do not chew the cud, then humans cannot be eaten by humans. They, like the pig, camel and rabbit, are unclean to us.
The Hebrew word for "unclean" is amej', (pronounced tǎmā) which means unclean, polluted, defiled. So, eating anything that is unclean would defile us. A synonym for unclean is used throughout Vayiqra 11. That word is #q,v, (pronounced shekets) and it means abomination, detestation. The teaching says that we should detest and abominate those things which are unclean for us. It should be disgusting to us to even think about eating those animals, birds and fish which Elohim has declared to be unclean to us. As such, eating human flesh is also a detestable practice which would pollute and defile us.
How do we know that eating human flesh is detestable and an abomination in the eyes of Yahuwah? Simply because he gave us clear instruction about what flesh is considered to be clean and could be eaten.
You may eat any animal that has a split hoof completely divided and that chews the cud. (Vayiqra [Leviticus] 11"3)
That's it! It is that simple. And since humans do not have a split hoof, nor do they chew the cud, that, by definition, makes human flesh an abomination as a food source.
Not only does the Torah insinuate human flesh to be unclean and detestable to us as food, but there is clear instruction that blood is never to be drunk. It is an abomination to drink any kind of blood. Such an action separates us from fellowship with the living Elohim and with his people.
Any son of Yisrael or any alien living among them who eats any blood-- I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life. Therefore I say to the sons of Yisrael, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood." Any son Yisrael or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the sons of Yisrael, "You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off." (Vayiqra 17:10-14)
Eating the blood of any creature is such a grave offense to Elohim that anyone who does it is cut off from the people and community and shut out of the presence of Elohim.
Not only does the Torah teach that eating blood is forbidden and a grave offense, but the New Testament emphasizes this teaching as well. When the elders of the assembly in Jerusalem gathered to discuss the issue of what would be required of new Gentile converts, they decided that four things would be necessary for the Gentiles to comply with in order to be accepted into the Messianic community:
It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. (Acts 15:19-20)
The meat of strangled animals would still have blood in them and those who eat strangled animals would also be consuming the animal's blood as well. So the third and fourth requirement both have to do with the prohibition in the Torah of drinking blood. For all New Testament believers in Messiah, drinking blood is still an abomination.
Since it is so clear that eating human flesh and drinking blood are both strictly forbidden by Elohim, how could it enter anyone's mind that the Messiah whose mission is to uphold the Torah of Elohim could be suggesting that his followers not only break these two commandments of Torah, but also eat and drink his own flesh and blood. Such a concept is so far askew from proper behavior for anyone with the remotest understanding of morality and ethical conduct, that it boggles the mind how anyone could attribute such behavior to the righteous Messiah who came to save us from such sin!
When we read that Messiah was teaching the crowds that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, it surely is obvious that he was not speaking literally. He must be speaking figuratively. His words must carry another meaning, or else he could not be the true Messiah - because the true Messiah upholds the Torah as the proper walk of faith for those who love Elohim.
There is additional support in the Gospels that Yahusha spoke figuratively. Matthew's gospel tells us that Yahusha spoke to the people in parables but that he spoke plainly and clearly to his disciples:
Yahusha spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: "I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world." (Matthew 13:34-35)
If it was his habit of speaking to the crowds in parables, in order to fulfill was was written about him in the Psalms (the quote is from Psalm 78), then why is it even debated about his words at this time to the crowds?
Also, the reason Messiah spoke in parables explains the reaction of the crowds in leaving him.
The disciples came to him and asked, "Why do you speak to the people in parables?" He replied, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Yeshayahu: "'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. (Mathew 13:10-16)
He taught the crowds in parables because they did not believe him to obey him, just as the gospel account tells us:
For Yahusha had known from the beginning which of them did not believe.
The crowds are always looking for an excuse to go their own way. Their hearts are hard and they don't want to follow.
When he spoke, then, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, it is obvious why so many people left him after he said those words. They thought he actually wanted his followers to eat his flesh and drink his blood. No reasonable person would do that. They didn't understand that he was speaking figuratively. And they didn't believe him to be the Messiah anyway. But his true disciples didn't leave him. Their response as to why they weren't leaving was:
Shimon Kepha answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of Israel. (4th Gospel 6:69)
So just what did Yahusha mean by eating his flesh and drinking his blood? Since he must have been speaking in a parable, what was he alluding to in his figurative speech? The clue is given to us at the beginning of the account of this curious teaching about his flesh and blood.
Some time after this, Yahusha crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. Then Yahusha went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Yehudi Pesach Feast was near. (4th Gospel 6:1-4)
This entire episode of the feeding of the 5000 and the subsequent teaching about the Bread coming down out of heaven and the requirement of his disciples to "eat his flesh and drink his blood" was set in the context of the arriving of the season of Pesach. Messiah was teaching the deeper meaning of the Pesach! He was teaching his disciples the symbolic meaning of the bread and wine of Passover as a representation of his flesh and blood. Thus, the eating of unleavened bread and the drinking of the wine was, figuratively speaking, like eating his flesh and drinking his blood.
There is an apparent contradiction in the four gospel accounts of the ministry of Yeshua. Mattityahu, Mark and Luke read like Messiah ate the Pesach (Passover) with his disciples. Yochanan's account indicates that Messiah become the Pesach (Passover lamb) with his death on the tree. But Yeshua could not have both eaten the Pesach and then have become the Pesach. So which is it?
This problem had confused me for years. And I had interpreted and taught the wrong answer to the above question. My reasoning was that the 3 accounts of Mattityahu, Mark and Luke were a stronger witness than the single testimony of Yochanan. The Torah tells us that on the testimony of 2 or 3 witnesses a thing is established. Thus I was inclined to side with the testimony of the 3 synoptic gospels and assumed that Yochanan's retelling of the story was faulty.
Mattityahu tells us:
Now on the first day of the feast of
Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Yeshua and said, "Where do you want
us to prepare for you to eat the Pesach?"
Now on the first day of the feast of Unleavened Bread, when the Pesach lamb is sacrificed, Yeshua' disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Pesach?" He sent two of his disciples and told them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Wherever he enters, tell the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Pesach with my disciples?"' He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there." So the disciples left, went into the city, and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Pesach. (Mark 14:12-16)
And Luke writes:
Then the day for the feast of Unleavened Bread came, on which the Pesach lamb had to be sacrificed. Yeshua sent Peter and Yochanan, saying, "Go and prepare the Pesach for us to eat." They said to him, "Where do you want us to prepare it?" He said to them, "Listen, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters, and tell the owner of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Pesach with my disciples?"' Then he will show you a large furnished room upstairs. Make preparations there." So they went and found things just as he had told them, and they prepared the Pesach. Now when the hour came, Yeshua took his place at the table and the apostles joined him. And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Pesach with you before I suffer. (Luke 22:7-15)
But Yochanan informs us:
Then they brought Yeshua from Caiaphas to the Roman governor's residence. (Now it was very early morning.) They did not go into the governor's residence so they would not be ceremonially defiled, but could eat the Pesach meal. (18:28)
(Now it was the day of preparation for the Pesach, about noon.) Pilate said to the Jewish leaders, "Look, here is your king!" (19:14)
Clearly, just by what is cited above, the 3 gospels are telling one story, while Yochanan another. But I am convinced by the evidence that Yochanan's account is accurate, while the other 3 are not - at least in the form that they have been passed on to us. So what is that evidence?
First of all, since Yeshua could not have both eaten the Pesach and then become the Pesach, the important question is: which of those two did he HAVE to do? The Torah requires all to eat of the Pesach. So, if Messiah ate the Peach in obedience to the Torah, he then could not have been the fulfillment of the Pesach lamb the next day. But if he became the Pesach on the correct day - the 14th of Aviv, then he would have been dead when the Pesach meal was eaten. Thus being dead, he would not have been required to eat the Pesach.
The pattern that was established long ago, and was pictured in the appointed times of Vayiqra 23 requires that the Messiah become the Pesach and die as the Pesach on the 14th of Aviv. All of the appointed times tell the story of the redemption plan, beginning with the death of the Lamb on the 14th of the 1st month of the Hebrew calendar. Thus, since Messiah had to fulfill the Pesach, he did NOT have to eat the Pesach - because he would have already fulfilled his mission and have been in the grave when the lambs were eaten.
Scriptures that support the premise that Yeshua HAD TO BE the Pesach that year are as follows:
On the next day Yochanan saw Yeshua coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of Elohim who takes away the sin of the world! (Yochanan 1:29)
Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough--you are, in fact, without yeast. For Messiah, our Pesach lamb, has been sacrificed. (1 Corinthians 5:7)
You know that from your empty way of life inherited from your ancestors you were ransomed--not by perishable things like silver or gold, but by precious blood like that of an unblemished and spotless lamb, namely Messiah. (1 Peter 1:18-19)
And in the book of Revelation, there are about 25 references to Messiah as "the Lamb" - a clear reference to his fulfillment of the Pesach sacrifice of the one-year old lamb.
In addition to this are the allusions to the death of Messiah as being a fulfillment of the lamb sacrifice at the appointed time of Pesach:
So Yeshua replied, "My appointed time has not yet arrived, but you are ready at any opportunity! The world cannot hate you, but it hates me, because I am testifying about it that its deeds are evil. You go up to the feast yourselves. I am not going up to this feast because my appointed time has not yet fully arrived." (Yochanan 7:6-8)
So then they tried to seize Yeshua, but no one laid a hand on him, because his apppointed time had not yet come. (Yochanan 7:30)
(Yeshua spoke these words near the offering box while he was teaching in the temple courts. No one seized him because his appointed time had not yet come.) (Yochanan 8:20)
He said, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says, "My appointed time is near. (Mattityahu 26:18)
Just before the Pesach feast, Yeshua knew that his appointed time had come to depart from this world to the Father. (Yochanan 13:1)
When Yeshua had finished saying these things, he looked upward to heaven and said, "Father, the appointed time has come. Glorify your Son, so that your Son may glorify you-- (Yochanan 17:1)
The appointed time of the Messiah's death was pictured thousands of years ago in the festival that is Pesach. This picture of the substitute offering of atonement had to occur at an exact time. This appointed time must occur on the 14th day of the 1st month of the new year, between the evenings (between late afternoon and sunset). And this is exactly when Messiah died on the tree:
At about three o'clock Yeshua shouted with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?" that is, "My Elohim, my Elohim, why have you forsaken me?" When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, "This man is calling for Eliyahu." Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the rest said, "Leave him alone! Let's see if Eliyahu will come to save him." Then Yeshua cried out again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. (Mattityahu 27:46-50)
How do we explain the discrepancies of the other 3 gospels? Likely what happened is as follows: The synoptic gospels were originally written in the Hebrew tongue by the eyewitnesses, who were all Jewish and Hebrew speaking. When these accounts were translated into the Greek language, this was done by Greek speaking people of the Greek culture who were unfamiliar with Hebrew culture and customs. Thus, mistakes were made in translating to Greek because the translators did not fully understand the Hebrew language and the Hebrew culture.
The Lord's Supper, or Communion, as it was celebrated by Yeshua and his disciples, was NOT the Passover meal. But it was a meal which was given as an example for his disciples of how they were to remember the Passover going forward. It is not unusual for Rabbis to offer a practice Seder before the actual Pesach celebration. This seems to be what Yeshua was doing for his disciples. Thus, he was able to convey to them the new understanding of the Pesach with him as the centerpiece.
The primary elements of the "Lord's supper" are the bread and the wine of the Passover meal. In Matthew's gospel, we learn that
While they were eating, Yeshua took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body" (Matthew 26:26).
What is this bread which Yeshua took and broke for his disciples to eat? Though, during this practice Seder, there was no requirement for the bread to be unleavened, it likely was.
Elohim gave Moses some very specific instructions regarding what was to be eaten at the Passover meal. Among those instructions were details about what kind of bread could be eaten:
That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast (Exodus 12:8).
For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel (Exodus 12:15).
In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born. Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread" (Exodus 12:18-20).
Yeshua was teaching his disciples about the Passover meal, which consisted of, among other items, unleavened bread.
So, when Yeshua took this bread, broke it, gave thanks, gave to to his disciples and called that bread "my body," he was referring to the unleavened bread of the Passover meal. Thus, if we want to commemorate his broken body by the eating of the bread as Yeshua has commanded us to do, we must use the unleavened bread of the Passover to properly depict the broken body of Yeshua. Not just any bread will do. Nor will crackers, wafers nor any other substitute properly depict the broken body of Yeshua. If we want to follow the example of Yeshua and be obedient to his specific command, we must remember the Lord's death by partaking of the Unleavened Bread of Passover.
What is it about the unleavened bread which alone can properly be a picture of the body of our Savior which was broken for us? There are several characteristics of that bread which are fitting. First, and most obviously, that bread was unleavened, which is to say, it contained no yeast. Yeast, in the Scriptures, is a symbol of sin and pride (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:8 which will be discussed below). So only unleavened bread can accurately portray Messiah as One who was without sin. Peter presents Him this way:
To this you were called, because Messiah suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." (1 Peter 2:21,22).
Second, bread which is baked without leaven is punctured with holes. This reflects the Scripture which describes Messiah as the one who was "pierced for our transgressions" (Isaiah 53:5). The unleavened bread also had the stripes of the oven grids emblazoned on it. This depicts the fact that "by his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5).
The wafers or crackers which are typically used in Communion services in the Christian churches around the world do not adequately depict the object lesson which Messiah wants to convey to his people. Only the Unleavened Bread of the Passover can accurately represent the character of Messiah and the sacrifice which he has made on the cross. Thus, if we want to walk in the footsteps of Messiah and obey what he told us to do, we must use the Unleavened Bread of Passover in our Communion services, because only the Unleavened Bread of Passover properly pictures the body of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
Yeshua exhorted his disciples to celebrate the Passover with Him as the focus of the event. Paul explains what Yeshua said to his disciples that evening they spent together:
For I received from the Master what I also passed on to you: The Master Yeshua, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
The words of Yeshua here do not indicate the celebration of a new thing, as it were. But, in the context of the Passover season, at which time he was eating unleavened bread and wine with his disciples, Messiah encourages his followers to eat that same bread and drink that same wine as a remembrance of Him as the central theme of that bread and wine.
The original Passover celebrated by Mosheh and the children of Israel while they were in Egypt was a life and death situation, whereby those who obeyed Elohim by placing the blood of the lamb on their doorframes were spared as death passed over their houses. Then, each successive Passover was to be celebrated as a remembrance of El's gracious work of salvation for his people Israel when He delivered them from death and from the land of slavery:
Sacrifice as the Passover to Yehovah your Elohim an animal from your flock or herd at the place Yehovah will choose as a dwelling for his Name. Do not eat it with bread made with yeast, but for seven days eat unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, because you left Egypt in haste-- so that all the days of your life you may remember the time of your departure from Egypt (Deuteronomy 16:2,3).
Thus, Yeshua's words had a rich background of meaning when he told them to "do this in remembrance of me." The sons of Israel had been remembering for over a thousand years the salvation brought to them by means of the blood of the lamb sprinkled on the doorposts of their houses. Now Messiah exhorted his disciples to remember the salvation which he was providing for them by his shed blood and his broken body on the death stake. So the Passover meal was, from now on, to be a remembrance of this work of Elohim to bring deliverance - not only from Egypt, but from the power of sin.
Messiah was not, with the celebration of "the Lord's Supper" with his disciples, establishing a new institution for the church, as many believe today. The Lord's Supper, as it is normally celebrated by most Christian churches today, is completely void of any of the elements which were to be the object lessons for his assembly. It does not have the proper bread. It does not envelope the salvation history of Elohim's people. It does not accurately depict the body of Messiah which was broken for us. It is not even done at the right time. The little cracker which is passed around on a plate is completely inadequate. Therefore, the Lord's Supper, as celebrated by most Christian churches, bears no resemblance, whatsoever, to the Passover celebration which Messiah celebrated with his disciples and which he commanded to be done "in remembrance of me."
Yeshua did not establish a new institution for his disciples on the night he was betrayed. The Lord's Supper is not new! He was rehearsing the Passover with them. And he was bringing to that sacred celebration a new meaning - one which was to bring the focus of that celebration on Yeshua Himself!
But some have argued that Paul is saying that believers can eat the bread and drink the wine "whenever" they want to, in remembrance of the Lord's death. The apostle Paul, in their view, is suggesting a Lord's Supper, not at Passover - but at whatever time believers choose to remember the crucifixion. And this argument is based upon the text which reads,
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Yeshua, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me." For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes (1 Corinthians 11:23-26, NIV).
"Since Paul said whenever, it must be okay to have the Lord's Supper anytime we want."
In response to this, let's consider two points of grammar. First, the word used which is translated, "whenever," is the Greek word, hosakis (Strong's 3740). It is a relative adverb and is usually translated something like "as often as." The root meaning of this word does not by itself point to a definite time or to an indefinite time. There must be other indicators to dictate whether the reference is to a definite or to an indefinite time.
This word is found only three times in the Greek New Testament. It occurs twice in the passage cited above and it also appears in Revelation 11:6, where the two witnesses are described as having
the power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.
There are no indicators in the text to suggest that a definite time is being referenced. So, it is proper to translate it here as often as. But in the 1 Corinthians 11 passage, there are other indicators which point to a specific time frame. So, we must rely on other textual evidence to surmise the precise meaning of the word.
The second point of grammar should clarify for us the meaning of hosakis in 1 Corinthians 11:25,26. Paul very carefully explains that "whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." The Greek text literally reads, "for hosakis you eat this bread and drink the cup...." The demonstrative pronoun "this," pointing to a particular bread, coupled with the definite article "the," pointing to a specific cup, indicate that Paul has a very specific bread and cup in mind. Any other bread and cup may be eaten at any time. But this specific bread, i.e., the Unleavened Bread of the Passover, combined with the cup, i.e., the cup of wine drunk with the Unleavened Bread at Passover, could only be partaken of at one precise time of the year - at Passover itself.
Therefore, hosokis is properly understood in these verses as pointing to a definite time. In other words, it means at such time, or, at that time when you do it, rather than whenever. In the context of the Passover season, Yeshua was encouraging his disciples to observe the annual Passover with their focus on Him "from now on" or "at that time." Perhaps the best translation might be, "For, at that particular time, when you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes."
If it is true that the Lord's Supper was intended by Messiah to be partaken of as part of the celebration of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (rather than at any random time during the year), then we would expect to find New Testament exhortations to this effect. And we are not left unsatisfied!
Paul admonishes his New Testament believers to keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread:
Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast-- as you really are. For Messiah, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7,8)
Paul's rebuke of the Corinthians was with regard to the wickedness of the lifestyle which they approved. So, he borrowed the example of unleavened bread to illustrate what the Feast should be teaching believers. The bread without yeast portrays the believer getting sin out of his life.
Let it furthermore be noted that Paul uses this illustration of unleavened bread because the Corinthians were so familiar with it! And why were they so familiar with it? Obviously, because their custom was to regularly observe the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread at its appointed time every year. And they were in the habit of remembering the Lord's death at that time of year.
Messiah Yeshua observed all of the set-apart days. As one who completely obeyed and fulfilled the Law, Yeshua left us an example of how we ought to live. Just before He became the Passover, Messiah left a memorial of his own death for all sinners with his disciples in the form of a ceremony which the Israelites had been observing for many hundreds of years.
Yeshua told his disciples to remember his death for them in the ceremony and the elements of the Passover dinner. The unleavened bread which Elohim' people were to eat during the Festival of Unleavened Bread was to call to his disciples minds His own body which was broken for their sakes. And the wine which was a part of the festive atmosphere of the holy days was to remind his disciples of the blood he shed for them.
To strip the ceremony of partaking of the bread and the wine from the whole Passover experience is to severely water down the message Elohim gave his people. May those who want to experience the fullness of fellowship with Messiah do as Messiah himself commanded. Let us partake of the Lord's Supper at Passover in obedience to Elohim's Word.