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The Truth About Communion

The simple truth about Communion is that it is a ritual tradition within Christianity completely foreign to anything any 1st century Christian would be familiar with. Communion, also known as the Lord’s Supper, has its roots grounded more in Catholicism than scripture. The Catholics call it the holy Eucharist. The holy Eucharist to the Catholic is essential to salvation. They believe the bread and the wine are literally magically transformed into Jesus’s actual body and blood. So sense the bread and wine are now miraculous, no need for a full meal. It would be a lack of faith to require a full meal of bread and a full glass of wine. So this is why we merely take a small piece of bread and a mere sip of wine. Christians today do not hold to the miraculous and literal nature of the bread and wine, but they do however hold to the ritual of a small piece of bread and sip of wine over a full fledged meal.


The Lord’s Supper was a Passover meal. Christians do not celebrate Passover though for the most part. And even the ones that do, typically they do the same communion ritual after the Passover meal. The biblical Lord’s Supper is once a year on Passover. And it isn’t a separate ritual from the meal. It is the meal itself.



While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” Matt. 26:26-29

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Mark 14:22-25

And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And 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.” In 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. Luke 22:15-20

The wine is not the new covenant. The wine does not forgive sin. The wine represents Christ’s blood poured out which represents his death. The broken bread represents Christ’s death. When we partake in Christ’s death, we are “in Christ” and our sins are forgiven. How do we partake in his death? We have faith in Christ. Jesus was connecting the Passover meal with his soon coming death. He was telling his disciples that He fulfills the Passover. Communion, or the Lord’s Supper is the Passover. This last supper is symbolic of faith in Christ that saves us. So in this true spiritual sense, it is a salvation issue when we understand that faith in Christ is the only path to salvation. Salvation is not in a ritual. Forgiveness of sins is not in a ritual, or ordinance, or sacrament. We do not attain grace through a ritual, but by faith in Christ.

Do THIS in remembrance of me? Do what exactly? Did Jesus really intend to start a new ritual, ordinance, or sacrament to attain grace or forgiveness of sin? No ritual, ordinance, or sacrament is able to attain grace, let alone forgive sin. Jesus just “broke” bread and “poured” out the wine. These things represent his death. We are called to die with Christ. We are to take up our cross and follow him. We are to die to sin. ALL of these things are different ways to say THE SAME thing. It’s all a reference to faith in Christ. 

What did Jesus mean that he would not eat the bread or drink the fruit of the vine until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God? He was simply telling them that this was the last Passover until his death that would fulfill it. His death fulfilled the Passover meal. It fulfilled the bread, the wine, and the sacrificial lamb. His death marked the new covenant. And his resurrection marked the inauguration of the kingdom of God on earth. 

Jesus Is The Bread Of Life

Before we read Jesus’s words in John 6, let’s remember that he said these words BEFORE the last supper. So often times we get it backwards. Jesus’s words at the last supper was referring to his words in John 6. So his words in John 6 are not referring to his words at the last supper because the last supper had not even happened yet. This is an important distinction. 

29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent. (The work of God is not communion ritual, or water baptism, or keeping a literal Sabbath. It is to believe, or have faith in Christ. ALL of these things teach the same thing, but in different ways, and that is to have faith in Christ. This is the one path to salvation and grace. It can not be found in any ritual, ordinance, or sacrament.)

30So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? 31Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ 32Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. 33For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” 35Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (Jesus is not talking of literal food or drink. It is symbolic. Food and drink sustains is and makes us grow up. Only Jesus gives eternal life to the world.)

40For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (Let it be very clear that there is only one way to have eternal life, that is to believe, or have faith in Christ. This will be a very important point in a moment.)

47Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. (Again, only one way to eternal life.)

48I am the bread of life. 49Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (It should be very clear that this bread is NOT talking about the bread of communion. It is Jesus. The communion bread is talking about Jesus. We are to eat Jesus, not communion bread. What does this mean?)

52Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. (So now we should have our definition for what it means to eat Jesus’s flesh and drink his blood. This is not literal cannibalism. We already know that the ONLY way to eternal life is by faith in Jesus. Now we are told that eating Jesus’s flesh and drinking his blood is the ONLY way to eternal life. THEREFORE, to eat Jesus’s flesh and/or drink his blood is to have faith in Jesus. It is the same thing, described two different ways.)

Conclusion

Therefore when we understand that Jesus’s words at the last supper were referring to his words in John 6, we then see that Jesus was teaching his disciples to have faith in him for eternal life and forgiveness of sins at the last supper. He wasn’t pointing to a ritual. We eat the broken bread and poured out wine, which represents his death, not in a ritual, but by having faith in Jesus. The true spiritual communion is to have faith in Jesus. 

...that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:15-16


What About Foot Washing?

After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:5-17

Foot washing is not an ordinance or sacrament, it was an act of servitude that Jesus did to set an example for his disciples to have a heart of servitude as well. Some people do believe in an ordinance of foot washing, but most do not. But why when Jesus says to wash each other’s feet and it’s an example for us to follow? The answer is because we know Jesus was teaching them a lesson much deeper than simply washing someone’s feet, which was a cultural norm of a servant during that time in history. He even told Peter that he had no part with him if he didn’t wash his feet. But do we apply this hermeneutic consistently toward communion when that supposed ordinance or sacrament was instituted when Jesus said “do THIS in remembrance of me?” Do what exactly? Communion is an ordinance but foot washing isn’t? Is that being consistent?


For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 1 Cor. 11:26
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