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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

THE INSTITUTION OF THE LORD' SUPPER

Matt 26:26-29 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. (Also See Mark 14:22:25; Luke 22:19-20)

At some point during the eating of the Passover meal with His disciples, Jesus instituted the New Testament rite of partaking of, what Christianity now refers to as, "The Lord's Supper."

And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body. The "bread" used in this example lesson, was, without any doubt, the same unleavened bread that was required to be served at the Passover meal. The bread was made into small cakes that were naturally flat because the flour dough used had no leavening agent that would cause them to raise as yeast breads normally do. Taking the unleavened bread, Jesus blessed it. These terms, "to bless" and "to give thanks," are used interchangeably in biblical translations. Note in the gospel record of Luke it reads that Jesus took bread, and gave thanks (Vs. 19). Likewise in Matthew, Jesus gave thanks for the wine before serving it to His apostles. After His thankful blessing, Jesus brake it. He broke the bread into small bites and gave it to the disciples, with this instruction: Take, eat; this is My body. Although, not fully understood by His apostles at that very moment, the breaking of the bread was to represent Jesus wounded and broken body that was slain and sacrificed on the cross of Calvary. It was not Jesus' literal body, nor, after this rite was established in the New Testament church, was these emblems changed back into the fleshly body of Jesus. Although some "religions" today make this contention, yet the emblems used only to remind us of His sacrificial death, just as the sacrificial lamb at this feast was used to remind the Israelites of the original Passover lamb that was slain, whose blood was used to identify Jewish households in Egypt, which were "passed over" by the death angel.

Following this, Jesus took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it. The cup contained the wine drink - grape juice, that, like the unleavened bread, was always used at the Passover meal. Indeed, Jesus intended this to be our New Testament example of "The Lord's Supper." Therefore, it must be observed just as it was instituted by Him. Considering this, it is well to note that some "religious" bodies that profess to follow the New Testament examples disregard Jesus' example as given in the lesson text by serving only the unleavened bread to members of their religious body, with the fruit of the vine being restricted and only taken by their religious leaders. This seems to be a direct violation of Jesus' command. The example given in the lesson text specifically states that all partook of both the unleavened bread and the wine.

As the bread was a representation of Jesus' body, so the wine contained in the cup represented the blood He shed during His crucifixion. Partaking of this emblem was to stir up the memory of all followers of Christ, bringing to mind the blood He shed on Calvary's cross. And of the wine, Jesus told His apostles that it was to represent My blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. As the blood of sacrificial animals served to establish and celebrate God's covenant with the Jewish nation, so the blood shed by the Son of God, Christ Jesus, serves to establish and celebrate the New Covenant between mankind and God, and bring into our memory the sacrifice Jesus made for the remission of sins. As it was then, so it is now - these emblems, the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine, which were established by our Savior, are to remind us of His body that was broken, and His blood that was shed during His crucifixion. Indeed, these emblems, instituted by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, serve as spiritual nourishment that sustains the souls of every obedient child of God through each week of life on earth. The reason His followers are to partake of them is given by Luke: this do in remembrance of Me (Vs. 19b).

Bringing the New Testament doctrine of remembering His sacrificial death by participating in "The Lord's Supper,"Jesus closes His teaching with this reminder for His apostles: I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom. This is the last Passover Jesus would celebrate with His apostles, indeed, it is the last Passover feast that will ever be required of God's people, because with the New Covenant era about to be ushered in, the Old Covenant, with all of its rites, sacrifices, and feast days will come to an end. The unleavened bread will be eaten, and the fruit of the vine will be taken, not as a Passover feast, but as a communion service to remember the death of Christ Jesus for the remission of our sins.

In the lesson text, Jesus established the New Testament rite of partaking of "The Lord's Supper." In Paul's letter to the church of Christ at Corinth we find its observation as part of the Lord's Day worship service. Confirming his Holy Spirit-inspired doctrine of Christ Jesus, he wrote: For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, that the Lord Jesus the same night in which He was betrayed took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in My blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord's death till He come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body (1 Cor. 11:23-29).