|UNDERSTANDING THE COMMUNION MEAL
I AM REVEALED
May 14 2012
communion of the body of Christ? (I Corinthians 10:16)
under the leadership of ministers in the church when believers receive the bread and the fruit of the vine as a reminder
of Christ’s finished work on the cross. For many Christians this is celebrated once a week, once a month, or once a
year. The bread and the fruit of the vine (the juice) are called the sacrament. The classical Latin word sacrament
referred to the oath a soldier took to be faithful to his commander. The religious term is accredited to Pliny’s letter to
Trajan (c. 112) when he wrote that Christians “bind themselves by an oath [sacramento], not for the commission of
some crime, but to avoid acts of theft, brigandage, and adultery, not to break their word, and not to withhold money
deposited with them when asked for it.” The Protestants have two sacraments (baptism and Communion), while the
Catholics and Greek Orthodox add to this list confirmation, penance, extreme unction, ordination, and matrimony.
The Catholics participate in Mass in which the priest offers the bread and wine called the Eucharist. The word Eucharist
comes from ancient Greek, and it means “to give thanks” or “thanksgiving.” The word is found in the Greek New
Testament in Matthew 15:36, Mark 8:6, Mark 14:23, and other places. In the above cases Jesus gave thanks. Today,
we give thanks by saying grace at the dinner table. Thus, the Eucharist is the blessing of the elements of Communion.
During the Eucharist, Catholics believe the bread becomes the literal body of Christ and the wine becomes the literal
blood of Christ. This teaching is called “transubstantiation.” Catholics say that in Mass, the same sacrifice that Jesus
offered on the cross is offered again. This doctrine states that somehow the bread and the fruit of the vine are
miraculously converted into the literal body and blood of Jesus when blessed by the priest before it is administered.
Transubstantiation is the belief that:
spiritually transformed, but rather are actually (substantially) transformed into the Body and Blood of Christ. The
elements retain the appearance…of bread and wine, but are indeed the actual Body and Blood of Christ…Christ
is truly and substantially present in the Eucharist.
Thus, everyone who eats the bread of Communion eats Jesus’ flesh, whether he eats it in faith or in unbelief. The
difficulty of this view is that it places Jesus’ body and blood here on Earth every time someone celebrates the Lord’s
Consider this fact. Right now Jesus is literally in heaven at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55; Ephesians 1:20;
Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 8:1). He will return in bodily form at the Rapture, and we will see Him just as He is. On the
other hand, the Lutherans believe in a doctrine called “consubstantiation.” This means that in Communion, the blood
and body of Christ and the bread and the wine coexist with each other. They believe that the fundamental substance of
the body and the blood of Christ is present alongside the bread and the cup.
Some of the confusion as to interpretation comes from a statement that Jesus made in John 6:53: “Most assuredly, I say
to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (NKJV).
Consubstantiation is the view that the bread and the cup of Communion coexist and are equal to the flesh and blood of
Jesus, but still remain the bread and the wine. Transubstantiation is the view that the bread and the wine become the
actual body and blood of Jesus.
I believe the following view is the correct view. After Jesus took the bread and the fruit of the vine, He gave these
elements to the disciples and said, “This is my body…this is my blood” (Matthew 26:26-28). He was not speaking
literally because He was seated with them in a literal body holding the cup and bread in His physical hands. Jesus
specifically identified the drink in the cup as fruit of the vine in verse 29. Therefore the physical nature of the elements
of the supper had not changed.
It is clear that Christ was representing His body and blood by comparing them to the bread and the fruit of the vine of
Communion. Jesus often spoke in metaphors, a figure of speech that represents that very thing. Jesus called Himself
the vine in John 15:5, but He did not mean that He was a piece of vegetation. In John 10:9 He said, “I am the door,” but
He was not saying that He would turn Himself into a piece of wood.
Another point is that when Christ said, “This [Communion] do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), it is a memorial of
His accomplished work. If He literally became the bread and body, then it would no longer be in remembrance. In
Matthew 26:26-28, when Jesus was holding the cup and the bread and stating this was the blood of the new covenant, if
He was turning the elements into His literal body, then He was in His body while holding another body in His hand.
Although Christ had the nature of God and man, He was not in two separate bodies.
In the nineteenth century, Bishop J.C. Ryle wrote in Light From Old Times that if you believe the bread and cup become
the actual body and blood of Christ in the partaking of Communion, you are denying three things:
repeated is neither a perfect nor a complete sacrifice.
the elements themselves would become the sacrifice for sins. For anyone besides Christ to offer our Lord’s body
and blood to God as a sacrifice of sin is to rob our heavenly High Priest of His glory.
3. You are denying Christ’s human nature. If His literal body can be in more than one place at the same time,
then He did not have a body like ours, and Jesus was not the last Adam in that He did not have our nature.
and wine because of the belief that it becomes the literal body and blood of Jesus. Thus the power of a human earthly
priesthood in the church becomes necessary to give the Communion. If, however, the actual meaning is that the bread
and wine represent the body and blood of the Savior, then we can accept that an individual believer in covenant with
Christ already has direct access to come boldly before Christ’s throne at this moment. And because of this personal
relationship, the believer has the wonderful honor of fellowshipping with the Lord through the Communion meal.
Among both Protestant and Catholic groups, importance is placed on the bread and the juice (or wine). The primary
difference is the Protestants believe the bread and wine represent the body and blood of Christ, while the Catholics
believe the bread and wine become the literal body and blood of Christ.
In Scripture, the word Communion is used in three verses (twice in I Corinthians 10:16; II Corinthians 6:14; and II
Corinthians 13:14). Twice it alludes to the Lord’s Supper. Communion comes from a Greek word koinonia, which
means intimate partnership or intercourse. It is a very personal and intimate word.
HOW DID COMMUNION ORIGINATE?
The first mention of the use of bread and wine is when Abraham went to Jerusalem and met Melchizedek, the first king
and priest of the Most High God. The man Melchizedek is a mysterious figure whom Christian theology teaches was a
preview of Christ; Jewish teachers say he was Shem, the son of Noah, through whom the linage of the future Messiah
In Genesis 14, Abraham traveled to Jerusalem (called Salem at that time, according to Genesis 14:18), and there, in a
valley that would later be called the Kidron Valley, Abraham met a priest whose name, Melchizedek, consists of two
Hebrew words: Melech (king) and Zadok (righteousness). This man served in the combined position of both a king and
priest. This king of Jerusalem brought forth bread and wine and pronounced a special blessing upon Abraham.
he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.
This act was significant for several reasons. First, this area of Jerusalem was marked at that moment as God confirmed
His covenant with Abraham, sealing the covenant with the bread and the wine. Second, years later, God required that
Abraham return to the Land of Moriah to offer his son Isaac on an altar (Genesis 22:2). The land of Moriah was the
same area where Abraham and Melchizedek had met and communed. A third point is that while Abraham was offering
Isaac on Mount Moriah, he predicted that one day God would provide Himself a lamb, and Abraham predicted that in
that very location (the mountain of the Lord) it (the lamb) would be seen!
Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will
provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it
shall be seen.
the cross, near the same mountain where Abraham went to offer Isaac. Prior to His death, Christ offered the bread and
the cup to His disciples, announcing a new covenant. This Last Supper, as it is commonly called, was being celebrated
before the Jewish Passover. The Jewish Passover was the perfect picture of the in-depth meaning of the power of the
blood and body of Christ.
THE FIRST PASSOVER
Over thirty-five hundred years ago the Hebrew nation had become slaves to the Egyptians. Pharaoh, the king of Egypt
was unwilling to release the Hebrews and allow them to return to Israel. God sent ten plagues among the Egyptians.
The final plague led to the freedom of the Hebrews and the deaths of the Egyptian firstborn.
The tenth plague involved the death angel moving from house to house, taking the life of the firstborn, both men and
beasts (Exodus 11:5). To protect the Hebrews from the destroying angel, God required each Hebrew house to place the
blood of a lamb on the left, right, and top post of the door, and then eat all of the lamb before midnight (Exodus 12:7-
8). The miracle was twofold. By eating the lamb, the Hebrews experienced supernatural healing, as indicated in
on the doorpost. Thus the Hebrew families were protected from both sickness and death as a result of the blood and
the body of the lamb. God said their obedience of marking the door with lamb’s blood would cause the death angel to
pass over their house:
over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
of the first month. The entire nation of Israel was to celebrate Passover, reminding future generations of how God
brought Israel out of Egypt with mighty signs and wonders (Leviticus 23:5). The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach,
and it means to skip over, to leap, or to dance. The word indicates how God demanded the angel of death to skip over
the homes of the Hebrews, which were protected by the lamb’s blood. Each year religious Jews conduct a Passover
Seder in which they tell the story of deliverance from Egypt. During this season all leaven must be removed from the
house for seven days (Exodus 12:15-19). Also, four different cups of wine are used, with each cup identifying a
different aspect of the Passover story. The cups are numbered and named in the following order:
For centuries, religious Jews have commemorated the departure of their ancestors from Egypt by conducting a yearly
Passover in the home. The first revelation of the blood and body of the lamb transpired in Egypt in the homes of the
Hebrews, and centuries later we see the supper enacted in an upper room with Christ and His chosen disciples.
THE LORD’S SUPPER
Prior to His trial and crucifixion, Christ met in a large room with His disciples. That evening Christ made an
announcement. Since four cups are used at the Passover table and each cup is named, most scholars believe that as
Christ held up the third cup (the cup of redemption), He amazed His disciples by saying:
among believers allude to freedom from Egypt, but believers would rejoice for their deliverance from sin, sickness, and
the power of Satan! Just as religious Jews honor the ancient Passover each year and remember their night of
redemption, each time a Christian lifts the cup to his lips and receive the bread of Communion, he is reminded of his
past deliverance from the penalty of sin, his present deliverance from the power of sin, and his future redemption from
the presence of sin!
THE PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT OF PASSOVER
Christ’s crucifixion was a perfect correlation of a prophetic fulfillment of the ancient Passover in Egypt. Pharaoh is a
picture of Satan, who held us in captivity, and Egypt represents the bondages of the world system. The blood of the
lamb in Egypt is a type and shadow of the precious blood of Jesus, who was identified as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
There were three marks of blood on the door posts of the Hebrew home in Egypt, located on the left, right, and top
posts (Exodus 12:7). The correlation is that, at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, there were three crosses with victims
hanging on them; a thief on the left, one on the right, and Christ in the middle (Matthew 27:38).
Another parallel between the ancient patterns of redemption and the crucifixion is identified during an appointed season
occurring each year called “Yom Kippur,” or the Day of Atonement. On this sixth feast of Israel, the high priest brought
two identical goats before him. He marked one for the Lord and the other for Azazel. The Lord’s goat was slaughtered
and burnt on the altar at the temple. Afterward the priest laid hands on the head of the Azazel goat, transferring the
sins of Israel onto this goat. Called the scapegoat, this goat was led by a priest with a rope into the wilderness and met
its death when it was eventually pushed off a large rugged mountain ledge.
Another Day of Atonement tradition developed with three red threads. The priest tied one thread to the neck of the
goat for the Lord and another to the neck of the scapegoat. A third thread was hung from the door of the temple in
Jerusalem. Jewish tradition states that when the scapegoat died in the wilderness, the red thread on the temple door
turned white, indicated that Israel’s sins were now remitted and forgiven. This is why Isaiah wrote:
wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
dying for the Lord. Another man, a bitter thief, died carrying his sin, like the scapegoat. A third man, another thief,
changed his eternal destiny while hanging beside Jesus. His sins became white as snow in the same manner that the
red thread turned white on the temple doors, indicating the remission of sins!
In the crucifixion story we can even see a correlation between the two identical goats, one that dies at the temple and
one that is released in the wilderness, dying later. Christ is the sacrifice who died in Jerusalem, while a man named
Barabbas was released by Pilate prior to the crucifixion (Matthew 27:16-22). The Barabbas is interesting. Bar means
“son,” and abbas means “exalted father.” Jesus was the Son of the true Father, and Barabbas had an exalted earthly
father. The name of Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshuah, and according to one tradition, the actual first name of Barabbas was
Yeshuah Barabbas. This indicates that both Christ and Barabbas had the same first names, just as both goats on the
Day of Atonement were to be identical. The difference: Jesus died for the Lord and Barabbas escaped as a sinner.
Both Passover and the Day of Atonement depict the redemption of mankind through the suffering and resurrection of
Christ! Religious Jews and Messianic believers celebrate Passover each spring as a reminder of God’s mighty
deliverance in bringing His people out of Egyptian slavery.
BACK TO THE COMMUNION SUPPER
In the Christian church, believers recognize the historical application of Passover and see the prophetic fulfillment in
Christ, who, as God’s final Lamb, died during Passover (Matthew 26:19). Just as the Jewish Passover reminds the
Hebrews of their great day of redemption from Egypt and their future promise of inheriting the Promised Land, so
Communion is a reminder of our redemption through Christ’s suffering and of our future inheritance with Christ in
During the first Passover, the flesh of a lamb was eaten at the table of the Hebrew family, and the lamb’s flesh brought
supernatural healing for the journey through the wilderness. The blood on the door stopped the destroying angel from
taking the life of the Hebrew firstborn. Thus the body and the blood of the Passover lamb brought complete healing and
The body of Christ, God’s final Lamb, brought healing through the wounds and stripes on His body and salvation
through His blood on the cross. Communion is a sign of our belief in Christ’s finished work and a testimony of our faith
in the complete work of salvation.
How often should a believer receive Communion? How often did the first-century believers receive Communion? Part
of the answer lies with understanding the New Testament term, breaking of bread.
THE MEAL THAT HEALS, by Perry Stone, Copyright 2008, Charisma House.
|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES