By Lonnie Lane
Responses to these articles do come, most often with questions about how to start a house church or “one new man” questions such as how to incorporate the Sabbath or the feasts into their Christian worship. I recently received an email from a woman named Alberta who has written before with questions. This week she’s asking:
“How do you incorporate the Lord’s supper into the regular meal? Is what the church has been doing for communion actually Scriptural? I believe that the Lord’s supper (communion), was instituted at Passover, correct? Well, how do you incorporate the bread and the cup into the regular meal? Is it separate? Should the atmosphere or attitude be one of reverence and reflection? I guess I need some practical advice.”
Good question and one of fundamental importance to our faith. Admittedly there are a number of interpretations on these issues. Consider this one from a Hebraic perspective.
To begin with, Yeshua’s words as He distributed the bread and the wine to His disciples during what we call, “the Last Supper,” were that these were symbolic of His Body and His Blood, and were given as signs of the brit hadashah (the new covenant). Believers are used to hearing this but imagine how it must have sounded to the disciples, who knew that Torah forbid the drinking of blood, as He handed them a cup of wine saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me….This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
They knew the “new covenant” was promised by God from the words of the prophet Jeremiah (31:31) in which God said He would give to a backslidden Israel a new heart. He would change them and cause their hard hearts to become hearts responsive to Him. But that night they had no idea of what He was really saying. Only afterwards, after He had risen from the dead, did they realize the new covenant was inaugurated with Yeshua’s becoming the sacrificial Passover Lamb. “Remember Me when you do this,” apparently took on great meaning to the disciples which they then conveyed to the community of Jewish Believers who would then have understood what He meant.
That significant last Passover Seder meal with which we are all familiar, was the last meal He would eat with the men with whom He’d eaten so many other meals meals on the road, on the sea, in the city, in the desert, camped by a fire for the night, while walking in the heat of the day, in the homes of sinners, of strangers, of family and friends. They had shared so many wonderful, powerful, frightening, confusing, awe-inspiring, miraculous, tender and knee-bowing experiences over their three and a half years together, and most of those days included sharing meals together, while talking over the events of the day as they ate.
“As often as you do this,” Yeshua said that night at the Seder, “remember Me.” His saying this was actually one of those clues to His divinity, they would later realize. God had told Israel that each year on the anniversary of their deliverance from Egypt, they were to “remember the Passover” and to recall to the next generation what He did for them in sovereignly setting them free from the tyranny of slavery and bondage. They were to recall how God set them free from Pharaoh, a cruel task-master they would have been unable to overcome on their own. And so the Jewish people have continued by God’s grace to keep the Passover and remember this story these thousands of years.
As good and miraculous as the Passover deliverance was, it was but a shadow of the ultimate deliverance. To this “remembering” of God’s miraculous intervention on Israel’s behalf, Yeshua added “Remember Me” while you’re remembering the Passover as the One who set you free from the bondage to sin and fear of death, “Remember Me” as the One who freed you from the consequences of enslavement to the cruelest master whom you would have been unable to overcome on your own, meaning the devil.
Secondly, though Yeshua’s statement was said at a Passover Seder, He certainly had to mean for us to remember Him more “often” than during the yearly Passover when He said, “As often as you do this…” As bread and wine were staples in the Hebrew diet, Yeshua’s “Remember Me” was equal to saying, “Whenever you eat, remember Me.” So what He was saying was, at each meal when we bless God, we are to keep in mind what Yeshua has done for us through His broken Body and Blood. Keep in mind that He sustains us just as our food sustains us, that we live not by bread alone but by Yeshua Who is the Word of God made manifest.” We bless God for Him and we bless Him as God.
Jews would say a b’rucha (blessing) over the wine and bread at every meal, not just at Passover. It was an every day occurance, several times a day, whenever a meal was served. “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the universe, Who has given us the bread from the earth” or “fruit from the vine.” These blessings are still said by Jews the world over at their meals daily.
Note, incidentally, that Jews don’t ask God to bless the food as it is assumed He has already blessed it by giving it to them to nurture and sustain them. They bless God, rather than the food, giving Him praise for having provided it. The focus is on God, not the food. It’s another time in the day when Jews would praise God for His many benefits and to enjoy having Him in their lives. What Yeshua was saying was to remember Him in those praises.
Just as God gave Israel dietary “instructions” (the word ‘commandments” being really “instructions” in the Hebrew) so that they would be thinking about God throughout their day, keeping God in mind in something as ordinary as eating a meal, so also Yeshua would have us be mindful of Him throughout the ordinariness of our day, and especially during what should be a congenial, pleasant time of the family or friends gathering together for a meal. This was to be a time of conversational praise and remembering Him to each other, and to say the b’rachote, to give praise to God directly as they said, “Blessed are You, O Lord, our God….
Additionally, it is quite doubtful that what Yeshua meant by remembering Him was a somber and formal ceremony in which we interact with each other almost not at all as we partake of a minute wafer or piece of cracker and grape juice in a thimble. It just wouldn’t have occurred to Him. He meant this to be relational as just about everything in the Hebrew culture was relational.
While He meant for Passover to now include “remembering Him” just as we remember to retell the story of Passover each year, at the same time, since blessing the bread and wine was an all-the-time occurrence, it is quite likely He meant that whenever we share a meal, it should also be a time to share Him with each other. It’s a time to recall what God has meant to you during your day or done for you, or blessed you, etc. Like the disciples who ate with Him daily, He wanted us to share what God is doing in our lives on a daily basis in easy, pleasant, non-religious remembering Him… just living life with God. A very Hebrew thing to do.
As for the “reverence and reflection” which Alberta asks about, one can be joyful and reverent at the same time. To reflect on His experience in order that we might come to know Him more deeply as well as reflect on the meaning of what Yeshua did for us is always appropriate. Many have been healed and delivered as they have pondered the significance of His blood and body given for us. I think what she may mean is that “communion” seems often to be a time for somberness, a time to reflect on how our sinful nature required Yeshua’s suffering and His death. We seem to sink into what we consider a reverential mea culpa. I’m not sure this is as He intended.
Many use it as a time to repent for sins, in light of 1 Cor 11:27-29 which says,
“Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will 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 who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
These Corinthian Believers were in sin in a number of ways. They were out of order and not functioning according to Kingdom ways. They did not realize the holiness and mutual honor and respect that was to be resident within the body of the Believers as they met together. They were tolerating sin in some, and not seeing themselves as “one” body in Yeshua, but acting as if they were just another group of individuals, some getting drunk, some eating without the others. They had not grasped the revelation of the unity of the body or that they were members of one another in Yeshua. They were not “discerning the Lord’s body” which was to be a life-permeating revelation. Paul was certainly not saying to wait until it’s time for communion to get rid of your sin and to get right with God. They were to live out their entire lives in the context of the “Lord’s body.”
One wonders why anyone would tote around any sins at all when we can dump them at the Cross the second we realize we’ve sinned and be immediately cleansed of them by God’s grace. Why wait for Communion? It isn’t meant to be a time to repent of sin; it’s a time to rejoice that we’re delivered from sin. It’s not a time to enter into some obligatory remorse because it’s communion time. It would seem He’d much rather that we immediately repented whenever we realized we were entertaining a sin so we stay free in Him.
Then when we come together, we remember Him, rejoicing in our deliverance from sin, death and the devil. You know, a kind of “horse and rider thrown into the sea,” rejoicing, like Israel did after their Passover deliverance. If communion is patterned after the Passover Seder, then joyful thanksgiving and praise would be the only really appropriate response. No Jews ever responded with sadness that we were delivered from Egypt it’s always a time for rejoicing. Since we live out our lives and enter eternity secure in what the Passover Lamb did for us, perhaps that’s what Paul meant when he wrote, “Rejoice always” (1 Thess. 5:16).
If you have any questions or comments you’d like to address to Lonnie, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be glad to respond to you. Use this same address to contact Lonnie about speaking engagements. Please put “To Lonnie” in the subject line.
Scripture marked NKJV taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Emphasis added.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships one with her brother Michael Lane in the Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked.” She is the Producer of Messianic Vision’s radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision’s intercessors.