Passing over the Lord’s Supper

Firstly, I can’t help myself when it comes to trying to create a catchy title.  Maybe I should have been a headline writer.  But on to the serious stuff.

I have been doing a lot of reading and thinking and praying as part of a discussion about the Lord’s Supper(or communion if you prefer) on a post over at The Old Adam blog.  It spurred some more thinking on my part about the connections between Passover and the Lord’s Supper.  It would be difficult to argue that the Lord’s Supper wasn’t connected in any way to the Passover.  The Gospels that give us an account of the Lord’s Supper all make a point of saying that they were eating a Passover meal.  When the connection is understood it sheds some interesting light on both the Passover and the Lord’s Supper.  Note these verses:

  1. Jesus the “Lamb of God” that takes away the sin of the world in John 1:29
  2. And further He is also the “lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” in Revelation 13:8!
  3. And furthermore, He is our Passover according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7.

Are you starting to see a connection here at all?  Currently, I am working on a research paper that deals with the topic of John’s use of the Feasts in his gospel as a means to show that Jesus is the completion or fulfillment of God’s eternal plan.  For most believers, the easiest place to see this is in the Passover.

I don’t know if you have ever seen a Jews for Jesus or Messianic Jewish presentation regarding the Passover, but it is very eye-opening.  Near the end of the book of Luke we find two instances of Jesus explaining His part in God’s plan.  “He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.'”(Luke 24:44 and see verse 27 for a similar statement)  The first time I saw a presentation regarding the Seder, the person mentioned the Afikomen.  What is the Afikomen?  One Messianic Jewish site explains it like this:

For centuries during the Passover seder in Jewish homes, one of three pieces of unleavened bread, matzah, is broken in half, wrapped in a napkin, hidden, and later retrieved to be served as the last morsel of food eaten at the end of the lengthy observance of this ancient Jewish feast. This bit of unleavened bread is called the “afikomen”. It symbolizes the Passover lamb.

Yes, the middle piece of three pieces of unleavened bread is taken out, broken, wrapped up in linen and hidden to be brought back later.  Sounds a lot like the story of someone we might know.  Just in case that isn’t clear enough or convincing enough.  Check out this bit from www.torah.org for the Jewish perspective:

The Jewish people partook of the korbon pesach, paschal sacrifice on the eve of their Exodus. Upon entering the Holy Land, this would be offered up in the Temple in Jerusalem on the afternoon of 14th of Nissan and eaten after nightfall on first night of Passover. Today, we commemorate the korbon pesach by eating the afikomen after the meal on Seder night.

But note what else they say about this practice, “Evidently, the korban pesach marks the transformation from Golus, “exile” to Geulah, “redemption.”

The afikomen is the passover lamb.  It represents the flesh of that sacrifice to this day.  It is the telling of the story of deliverance from bondage to freedom.  Now look at one of the gospel accounts of the Last Supper.  I have chosen Luke, since it is the longer and seemingly more detailed account for this study.

Luke 22:13-20:

13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

It appears that the bread that he broke and the cup that he gave them came at the end of the supper.  When He said, “this is my body,” he was handing them the afikomen, the Passover lamb!!

But the comparison doesn’t end there.  The Feasts that the Jews celebrated didn’t belong to them.  The Bible plainly calls them the Lord’s Feasts. (Lev. 23; Ex. 12:11 makes this point also)  The reason the Jews celebrated these feasts was because God commanded it, but just as importantly, they did this as a testimony or proclamation to the world of God’s plan.  This is similar in idea to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 11:26.  When we observe the Lord’s Supper, we are proclaiming God’s plan yet again.  It is unfortunate that so many in the church today are unaware that God’s plan hasn’t changed and His observances are continuous.  The early church didn’t dump Passover, they kept it with a completed understanding.  Look at what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8:

7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore 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.

He said that Christ is our Passover and that we should “keep the Festival.”  What Festival could he possibly mean?  How many realized that Paul instructed us to keep Passover?  This is the same book that includes his detailed teaching regarding the Lord’s Supper and that is not accidental.  The two are deeply intertwined and separating them invites confusion.

And the insights don’t quit there.  Further reading of Jewish teaching about Passover gives another interesting tidbit about the Matzah or unleavened bread:

Matzah, which is the product of only flour and water alludes to both the end result of the refinement process, and the spiritual freedom that results. It is the symbol of Divine simplicity (Maharal, Haggadah), which is crucial for G-d being able to “relate” to us, in order to infuse us with His Da’as, so-to-speak.

They are talking about spiritual freedom being symbolized by Matzah (unleavened or sinless bread as in the Bread of Life that came down from Heaven) and did you see what else.  It is crucial in allowing God to relate to us.  That word Da’as by the way refers to His Blood.  That is a summation of Christ’s mission and even of communion.  Isn’t that amazing?  What do you think?  If you see a hole in my logic or a place that I have overreached the Scripture, please point it out to me.  But I see a God who is detailed and didn’t miss a thing.  He knew the end from the beginning and placed His plan with His people for all to see and know that He is God.  And if you have questions about what I have written, feel free to ask.


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Categories: Apologetics, Bible Thoughts, Christianity, church, devotional, Feasts, Gospel, Grace, Hebrew, Lord's Supper, Messiah, Passover, theology, Truth, Yeshua | 16 Comments

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16 thoughts on “Passing over the Lord’s Supper

  1. Jeff,

    Thanks for this post. No holes in your logic here, in fact, I’ve heard much of this before, however, I enjoyed reading some new insights here.

    A cursory reading of the Old Testament books of the law might seem rather dull, drab and boring. That is until you place Jesus in the middle of it all. Then the Scriptures come alive with meaning.

    I’ve heard it said that the Old Testament is the New Testament concealed, and the New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. The only way you can truly appreciate this is to read through the entire Bible. The connections, the fulfilled prophesy come alive with blinding light, the Light: Jesus.

    Wonderful post!

    Joe.

  2. Joe,
    Thanks for your comments. I have only really begun studying the Feasts and their connections in the New Testament in the last year or so. I am amazed at how much more clearly I understand some of the New Testament passages that didn’t make much sense when I can place them in the full picture of the background from the Hebrew Scriptures.

  3. I use Matzo for communion. Just do not like to use product with yeast.
    Have you thought about putting on a Passover Seder at church? We would need to start now. It is so meaningful. I have read a couple Jewish commenters say the Messianic passover is a stretch, but I do not know the specific objections. i watched a video of a professional group that goes around the country doing this, but my church is too small to entertain this sort of thing. We are just the right size to enjoy it.

  4. Jeff,

    Thanks for higlighting the importance of the O.T., with respect to Christ jesus and His great work for, and love for sinners.

    Many of these things I had not noticed before.

    I appreciate your efforts!

    Thanks, Jeff!

    – Steve M.

  5. Will,
    I am actually trying to plan now to hold a Seder at the church. We did it once at the last church I served as a youth pastor and it was fantastic.
    I can’t imagine why a Jewish commentator would say it is a stretch to see Messianic implications in the Passover unless they are specifically trying to rule out Jesus as that Messiah. The Jewish sites like Torah.org that just give Jewish teaching without a lot of thought to refuting a 2000 year old claim to Messiahship, don’t take that same stance. I find it interesting to read these sites because they frequently say things that leave a Christian going, “WOW!” and in my case marveling at the wisdom of our God. Look at this quote about the Passover Halel (the Psalms they sing):

    This was Dovid HaMelech’s vision, which made him the perfect extension of G-d’s hand in This World and author of Hallel. For this reason, he may have been the “cornerstone that the builders rejected” (Tehillim 118:22), but he was G-d’s true anointed, and source of Moshiach — the king who will herald the final redemption for which we have waited until this very day.

    I should perhaps include a code key for some unfamiliar language. Dovid HaMelech is King David and Tehillim is the Psalms and Moshiach is Messiah. Did you realize that Jesus and the Disciples sang these very words the night He was betrayed and handed over?

  6. toni cranmer

    Hi Jeff,

    In my humble opinion, I believe a lot of Christians are unaware of the significance of Jesus’ Jewish roots. All of His teachings stem from the Old Testament.

    http://www.aish.com is a wonderful site on living the Torah.

    If you have a moment, I suggest you check out kdolive.com – the website for The Kabbalah Dream Orchestra; a four piece band whose lead singer is a Kabbalah Rabbi. The recording loop and lyrics rarely sync up – but print out the lyrics to Gad Gadud and read along as they sing – it’s hard to believe this isn’t a Christian message. But , then, I believe Christianity was, at one time another branch of Judaism.

    Shabbot Shalom.

  7. Toni,
    I completely agree with you. I just finished reading the book, Paul the Jewish Theologian, this week and really enjoyed it. I have been to aish.com to get a Hebrew calendar for my computer desktop and have learned so much from reading sites like torah.org as well.
    There is much that Christianity can learn about itself by learning about our roots in Judaism.

  8. Remember the trouble Ann Coulter got in for saying Christians are perfected Jews? How else do you see it?

  9. by the way, I struggle with using a leavened product foerthe Lord’s table, and do not need to tell you why, what do you think?

  10. I cannot imagine how anyone can allow leavened bread for the Lord’s table, especially those who feel that the bread is really Christ in any manner. Leaven is symbolic of the presence of sin in the Bible. Why would anyone think it is OK to use leavened bread at the Lord’s table, for the Lord’s Supper?
    I have a good recipe now for unleavened bread/Matzah and we are working on planning for our Seder. We are going to do our Seder dinner on one night and then host the community Good Friday service the next night in April. I can’t wait.

  11. Will,
    About the Ann Coulter thing and perfected Jews. From reading Paul it is apparent that he didn’t feel that Jesus stopped them from being Jews nor did He make the Gentiles “Jewish”. Jesus brought understanding of what it really means to be Jewish and also opened the door to the Gentiles to share in the blessings of God. The church went overboard and tried to make the Jews stop being Jewish in order to be Christian. The very thought of that would have horrified Paul. Remember, he referred to himself as a Pharisee in the present tense while he was writing his epistles. In Paul’s mind, he never stopped being a Jew.
    Gentile Christians on the other hand are never really Jewish. While we should certainly take our understanding from our “elder brothers,” we are grafted in by God’s grace and belong to Him. In Christ, both Jew and Gentile are perfected as God’s people.

  12. Pingback: It’s Like We Were There « Jeofurry’s Jesus Journey

  13. Dawn

    Thankyou that taught me a lot. I realised there is much to be learned from the old testament and from our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters when I listened to Jacob Prasch. I did unwittingly surf on to a Jewish apologetics site looking for this stuff and found their outlook quite disturbing, ah well, they are still around, there is nothing new under the sun.

    Thanks so much for this blog. Please let me know if you post anything else along these lines 🙂
    It makes the Bible come even more alive for me.
    God bless
    Dawn

  14. Dawn

    Sorry just signing up for follow up comments

  15. Dawn,
    I totally agree with you about how it makes the Bible come alive all over again. I have found myself reading some of the same stories I have read so many times before with new eyes so to speak. If you wander around the site some more, there are several other posts about Hebraic Roots insights into Scripture. After my paper on the rapture is graded, I plan to post it as well. I would recommend El Shaddai Ministries to you as well. The pastor there is a great teacher and I have learned a lot of what I know from him. They have podcasts and notes and lots of material at their church’s website.

  16. Dawn

    Thanks very much.
    That is a lovely site I will enjoy looking round it.

    Look forward to your rapture one, there are so many ideas on that. I tend towards the equating it with the Jewish marriage when the man comes and steals the bride away. However, I cannot get certain on the whole rapture thing. I don’t really see anywhere where I don’t have to ‘read into’ text to get the rapture out and I won’t do that.

    Keep up the fascinating work 🙂 and thanks for your reply.

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