The Lord’s Supper, which is rooted in the Passover, is a pledge to a never-ending meaningful relationship with God. In Jewish tradition we are not given an idea or principle to believe in but a call to commit to revealed truth. Our task is to examine our commitment to what God has revealed through His prophets and apostles.
The Exodus leading up to Sinai was a decisive moment in the history of Israel, initiating a new relationship between God and man. God got engaged to a people, and Israel accepted the new relationship. Each partner gave their word to honor the other. A pledge that goes on forever. It is given in a moment, but it does not vanish. It is a moment that determines the entire course of our lives.
Remember His covenant forever, the word He ordained for a thousand generations. (I Chron. 16:15)
The Passover meal is the continual reminder, proclamation and reenactment of the redemption and relationship between God and Israel, as the Lord’s Supper is of the deliverance and communion made possible for all believers in the New Covenant in the Messiah Yeshua, the Passover Lamb.
While there are elements of the Lord’s Supper and its roots in the Passover that we will try to understand, we must always be aware that there are certain aspects of Communion that transcend our ability to comprehend, and can only be understood and experienced with the heart and in obedience and practice.
Let us consider some of those elements of the Lord’s Supper that are both a continuation and fulfillment of the Passover.
Communion and Passover as a continual memorial
This day shall be for you a Memorial Day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. (Exodus 12:17)
A memorial includes our Past, Present and Future.
In the Jewish understanding, memorials are important not merely to remember what happened in the past, but in order to actively participate in God’s redemption so that we may implement the truth and power of that redemption today in the present. We all become partakers in the present of what happened in the past.
Is there any meaning in being loyal to events that happened thousands of years ago? Any meaningful relationship requires commitment and loyalty. When we say, “I do” beneath the canopy, we go on to live a lifetime of commitment to another person. Without loyalty to the promises made the relationship collapses.
We become part of the process of the redemption that was accomplished in the past by God’s commitment to us by participating in the memorial of Communion, and we experience that redemption in the present moving it along towards its future fulfillment as we remain faithful to Him in regular Communion with Him.
Continual memorial as reenactment
The Lord’s Supper is an enactment in the present of God’s redemption. The Supper makes the coming of Messiah Yeshua and what He has done for us in His death, burial and resurrection real in our lives today.
As the Shabbat is a memorial which we continue to celebrate until the ultimate Shabbat Rest in the Kingdom, so the Lord’s Supper is a continual memorial until He returns.
Future fulfillment of the Lord’s Supper
While the Passover and the Lord’s Supper are a memorial of past redemption, they are also a proclamation looking forward to the future fulfillment.
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (I Corinthians 11: 25-26)
Yeshua makes a clear reference to the future fulfillment – which may very well be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16)
We therefore have a responsibility to maintain the obedience of celebrating His Supper until He comes. Practicing the Lord’s Supper as a memorial and proclamation is not optional. It is an essential element in the believer’s life.
Memorial is both personal and communal
In the Passover and the Lord’s Supper we find both individual involvement in the memorial as well as a collective and national dimension.
That is why it is necessary for all the people of Israel to continually celebrate the Passover. In this way we establish the process of salvation in our lives and in the lives of the next generation until our final redemption.
In the same we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Our participation in the Supper connects us and preserves us as a people of God.
This is characteristic of the New Covenant. Our participation in Communion is personal and individual, and yet also collective, connecting and uniting us, Jew and Gentile, with the whole Body of Messiah.
The Lord’s Supper as Communion
On the day of Shavuot (Pentecost) a Messianic Community was birthed. The disciples experienced communion (koinonia or fellowship) on every level of life. The Breaking of the Bread, the Lord’s Supper, was for them the continual expression of that unity and the community established by God in the Messiah.
”And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Messiah?
Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” (I Cor. 10:16-17)
Gathering of His people
The Passover was a defining moment in the history of Israel. It was an inauguration proclaiming, “You are the people of God, a Royal Priesthood, a Family Sanctified (set apart).”
In the Passover, as in the Lord’s Supper, there is an element of separation – the Egyptian could not partake – as it is written in Exodus 12. The Lord’s Supper is intended to call out and separate those dedicated to Messiah.
The Passover is a covenant meal gathering a nation even as Abraham’s entering covenant is the start of the Jewish nation.
The New Covenant was ratified on the cross of the Messiah – but to enter the covenant you had to “eat His flesh and drink His blood” (Jn. 6).
This idea of “participating in the blood of Messiah” was somewhat disconcerting for the Jewish disciples. However, the concept can be found in other scriptures. Paul writes that “the Rock in the desert was Yeshua, Israel drank of Him!” (I Cor. 10:1-4)
Paul also says that we are the matzos (unleavened bread), and we must cleanse out the old leaven that we may be a new, “unleavened” bread. ”Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.” (1 Corinthians 5: 7-8)
“The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16)
Participation in the blood of Messiah brings consequences – either the unity that will strengthen us – or divisiveness that will judge us. Since the Lord’s Supper is a Communion Meal gathering the family of God, we should participate with and receive all those He receives.
The Messiah’s Body is incomplete as long as we are divided and we do not come to sit together at one table. Sadly, the very Communion that was intended to join us together has become a place of contention. Because His Body, is divided the true face of the Messiah is yet hidden from the world.
Perhaps this historical tragedy may be uncovered and the essential and basic understanding of the Lord’s Supper as our Communion with Him and with one another might bring healing and restoration of our broken Body.
Communion is a sign of victory
Passover as a regular memorial was intended to go with the people of Israel into the Land. The continuing celebration of Passover establishes the power and promise of the Passover Sacrifice to be carried on among the Children of Israel.
There is, perhaps, an element of warfare intended here. God’s judgments fell on Egypt at the Passover. The firstborn of Egypt were killed, while the firstborn of Israel were redeemed. There was a breaking of the dark forces over the people of God, and families were set free to worship Him at Sinai, receive His revealed word, and from there to go on to serve Him in their own land.
Participation in the Lord’s Supper releases and empowers us to live in the present and future Kingdom to God. Through the Messiah we are enabled to fulfill our responsibilities before God, including passing on His heritage to future generations, the inheritance we have received from the Father to our children. In part, this can be accomplished through regular and proper administration of the Lord’s Supper to our people.
Melchizedek comes with bread and wine after the defeat of the kings who kidnapped Lot. Melchizedek is a foreshadow of the Messiah (if he himself is not an appearance of the Messiah) who comes to meet Abraham and blesses him. The bread and wine that Melchizedek presents before Abraham is a sign and celebration of Abraham’s victory and speaks of the “table the Lord has set in the presence of his enemies” (Psalm 23:5). It is Covenant Meal that testifies to the “finished work of Messiah.”
The Lord’s Supper is also a witness to the promise of Messiah’s coming Kingdom over all the earth when He will sit on the throne of David in Jerusalem and His victory will be manifested in all of its fullness over all His enemies (Luke 21:18, 30).
On Passover, God judged the gods of Egypt. By removing the firstborn of Egypt, He eliminated the future carriers of their pagan order, and by destroying the armies of Egypt, He destroyed the present carriers of their dark strategy
While the Lord’s Supper is primarily given to extend God’s grace to us, there is also an element of judgment. Christian leaders must serve the Lord’s Supper responsibly to the people, taking into consideration God’s judgments and the danger of inappropriate participation. (1 Cor 10:1-21)
The Lord’s memorial
The Lord’s Supper as memorial is not only the believer remembering and partaking in what the Lord has done and will do for us. It is also a reminder to the Lord of what He has done for the believer.
This idea of memorial as a reminder to the Lord Himself can be found in a number of passages. God heard their groaning, and remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Exodus 2: 24)
”And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, that you may be remembered before the LORD your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies. On the day of your gladness also, and at your appointed feasts and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings. They shall be a reminder of you before your God: I am the LORD your God.” (Numbers 10:9-10)
In the same way, the Lord’s Supper is a reminder to the Lord of all that He has done for the believer in His sacrifice and in the covenant that He has made with us.
As the families of Israel cried out to the Lord for deliverance from oppression in Egypt, and were delivered by the blood of the lamb, so believers today come to the Lord’s Supper to receive the deliverance and salvation that Messiah Yeshua is offering through His blood. He is the Lamb of God.
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