Believers today, as a whole, are dedicated to a certain ritual. Some would attach this ritual with salvation, although all true believers will, of course, deny that it has anything to do with receiving eternal life. However, these do generally insist that it is a necessary act of obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. The ritual I am speaking of is not baptism, although that could be described in much the same terms, but rather is the ritual called “Communion,” “Eucharist,” or “The Lord’s Supper.”

Now we know that there are a thousand and one ideas regarding this ritual, how it is to be observed, and how it is to be performed. Pretty much all agree that bread must be used. Yet the bread can vary from an actual loaf that people tear pieces off of to a wafer that one breaks. Some insist that the bread or wafer be leavened, whereas others insist it must not be leavened. Then, there is the cup. It is pretty much universally believed that this cup must have some sort of fruit of the grape in it. Yet from there, there is much divergence. Some insist that it should be a community cup passed around, whereas others seek more sanitary means of distribution, and pass out clever little personal cups. Some insist that the drink used much have alcohol in it, so they use wine. Others insist there should not be alcohol, and use grape juice. Some seem to teach there should be alcohol, and yet use grape juice anyway(!)

Then, the significance is argued. Some will say that the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Others deny this, but insist that these things represent His body and blood. Then, the frequency of performing this ritual is argued. Some insist on doing it every week, or even every time they get together. Others cut this down to monthly, or every other month, or quarterly, or even yearly. Yes, the ideas about this ritual are many and varied.

Yet pretty much all agree on certain facts. One is that this ritual should be done. Second is that it should be done in a church. And third is that it should be performed by those often called the “clergy,” the men we have placed as leaders in the our church organizations.

When we leave off examining this interesting ritual of men, however, and turn instead to the examination of the evidence for it in the Word of God, we find ourselves on much different ground. There, we do not find a bread and grape juice or wine ritual such as is practiced in most churches. Rather, we find something very different going on. For, in the beginning of the story, we read in Luke 22:7-8:

7. Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.”

So they were not preparing to institute some new, Christian ritual. Rather, they were preparing to carry out an ancient Jewish ordinance called “the Passover.” And to confirm that this is not just what they were planning on, but what they actually did, we merely turn to Luke 22:15.

15. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

So we see that what He was celebrating with His disciples was the ancient Israelite ordinance called the Passover. This is confirmed in many other passages, such as Luke 22:1,11,13; Mark 14:12,14,16; and Matthew 26:17,18,19. So, when we examine the evidence of all these passages, there can be no doubt that the Lord was keeping the Passover, and not creating some new ordinance called “communion” or anything else.

Now let us examine the actual event that so many use to justify their bread and wine ritual. Let us pick the event as it is set forth in Mark 14:22-24.

22.  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Now, this occurs as they were eating. And, as we learned above, what they were eating was the Passover. So the bread the Lord takes is therefore the unleavened bread of the Passover feast. He blesses it, breaks it, and gives it to them. Now, at this point in the ritual, usually some point would be made about the significance of this bread. It would have been mentioned that this reminded them of the fact that the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt in such a hurry that they did not have time to put leaven in their bread. This reminded them every year of the blessing of the Lord’s miracle of removing them from Egypt. Yet that is not the significance the Lord gives to the bread at this Passover event. Rather, He gives this bread a new significance. He says that it is His body. By saying this, the Lord was using the figure of speech called “Metaphor” or “Representation,” wherein a declaration is made that one thing is another. This is not literal, as some suggest, but the bread is merely a representation of His body. This must have surprised His disciples indeed, for they would have been expecting the same, old significance to the bread. This would have woken them up to the fact that something more important than merely the yearly feast was going on, and that their Lord was giving them something very important.

23.  Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

He takes the Passover cup. The assumption that this was full of wine is just a tradition. There is no evidence that wine was served with the Passover. What was to be served along with the Passover lamb is set forth in Exodus 12:8.

8. Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.

The word “herbs” is not in the Hebrew, and is in italics in most Bibles to indicate it is supplied by the translators. Most likely, this was a bitter drink, perhaps vinegar or wine mixed with wormwood. Its significance was to remind them of the bitterness of their slavery in Egypt.

So, returning to Luke 22, this is the cup that the Lord takes, and gives thanks, gives it to them, and they drink from it.  This is all according to the way the ritual of the Passover was performed.  There is nothing new going on here.

24.  And He said to them, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.

Now, the Lord gives new significance to the Passover cup, just as He had done to the Passover bread. He does not speak of the bitterness of their bondage in Egypt. Rather, He refers it to His Own blood, the blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. So as a result of the Lord’s doing this, the Passover, for the disciples, became a means of remembering Christ. I might equate this to a missionary going off to the field. He is spending his last Christmas with his parents, who know they may never get to spend Christmas with him again. As they gather around the tree to open presents, he hands out his gifts, looks around at his family, and tells them, “From now on, when you are gathered together to open gifts like this, remember me and everything I gave up to go serve the Lord on a foreign field.”

Now, what this missionary has just done for his family, for those who know and love him, is to give a new significance to their Christmas tradition. From now on, when they open gifts on Christmas day, they will think of their far-away son and the sacrifice he made to serve the Lord. Yet the celebration will remain Christmas, and the opening of gifts will remain a Christmas tradition. The missionary son is not introducing a new celebration called “Remembering our son the missionary.” He is not changing Christmas from a holiday to a remembrance. All he is doing is adding his own, new, personal significance to this holiday in the minds and hearts of those who know and love him, and who spent this, their last Christmas together, with him.

This is exactly what Christ was doing with His disciples here. He was not instituting a new ordinance, or changing an ordinance into a remembrance. He was not making up something from scratch for people to remember Him by. Rather, He was adding new significance to the old feast of Passover, a significance that would always be remembered by His disciples from that point on whenever they kept that yearly feast.

Now many think to get around this fact by pointing out that Paul speaks of this event in I Corinthians 11:23-26. They proclaim that this proves that this “ordinance” is for the church, and that we are commanded to keep this remembrance. “The institution of the Lord’s Supper” they call this passage. Let us examine it carefully.

23. For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
24. and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
25. In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
26. For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.

So is this the institution of a new, “Christian” ordinance?  Not at all!  First of all, I Corinthians was written to Jewish believers.  We can see this by examining I Corinthians 10:1-4a.

1.  Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
2. all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,
3. all ate the same spiritual food,
4. and all drank the same spiritual drink.

Notice that, in speaking to his audience in Corinth, Paul tells them that “all our fathers” were under the cloud, “all” passed through the sea, “all” were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, “all” ate the same spiritual food, and “all” drank the same spiritual drink. Now this would not have been true at all if Paul’s audience at Corinth was made up mostly of Gentiles. The Gentiles’ fathers were not included in any of these things. Only the Jews’ fathers were. These statements could only be true if “all” Paul’s audience were descendents of the nation of Israel!

Secondly, the words of the Lord point us specifically to what He was doing. “Do this in remembrance of Me” we read in I Corinthians 11:24b. “This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me,” we read again in verse 25b. The question naturally arises, then, “What was Christ doing? What was the bread that He was eating? What was the cup that He was drinking?” And the answer can be easily established from Luke 22:15. The bread He was eating was the unleavened bread of the Passover. The cup He was drinking was the bitter cup of Passover. That is what Christ was doing. Yet we, as Gentiles, have no right to either eat that bread or drink that cup. We, as non-Jews, are as closely akin to the Egyptians who died on that day as we are to the Israelites who were delivered. What right have we to eat that bread or drink that cup? This ordinance was given to Israel as an everlasting ordinance, as is stated in Exodus 12:14.

14.  So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance.

Not being Israelites, we have no part in this.

Many claim to obey Christ’s commandment to “do this,” and yet they pay little attention to what it is that they are doing. I cannot help but shake my head at the silliness of the little plastic cups of grape juice and little bread cubes that many churches pass around as they claim to obey this command to “do this.” When did Christ ever say to sit in a church, drink a swallow of grape juice out of a little plastic cup, eat a dry little Saltine piece, and do this in remembrance of Him? When did He ever say that a pastor was to preside over this? When did He ever say that it was to be done on Sunday morning? When did He ever institute any such thing? And many other churches have their own traditions about this “ordinance,” all of them equally un-Biblical. When in the Bible did God ever introduce an ordinance without specific instructions as to how it was to be done? In II Samuel 6:7, a man died because David was having the Ark of the Covenant carried to Jerusalem the wrong way! Do we really think we can make up an ordinance and keep it however we see fit and please God at the same time?

Thirdly, note that the blood of the New Covenant that Christ speaks of in Matthew 26:28 is said to be shed for “many,” not for “all.”

28. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

We know from John 1:29 that Christ shed His blood to take away the sins of the world. Yet here, that blood applies only to “many.”  Why to “many,” and not “the world”? The answer is simple. Because the New Covenant is only with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, as is clearly stated in Hebrews 8:8 quoting Jeremiah 31:31.

8. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”

Thus, as far as the New Covenant goes, Christ’s blood is shed for “many,” for the covenant only applies to those who belong to one of those two houses. Yet as far as our salvation is concerned, Christ’s blood is shed for all…for “whosoever believes in Him,” as John 3:16 says. More proof that the blood of the New Covenant is not something we have to do with, nor is this Passover remembrance.

Finally, the “Lord’s Supper” that the Corinthians were keeping bore no resemblance to the bread and wine ceremonies that many churches practice today. If we examine I Corinthians 11 closely, we can clearly see this. First of all, in I Corinthians 11:21, we read,

21. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.

How in the world could anyone partaking in the “Lord’s Supper” ceremonies of today expect to not be hungry after eating a tiny amount of bread, a little bread cube, or a piece of a Saltine? How could anyone get drunk off the miniscule amount of wine that is used in these ceremonies, not to mention off the grape juice that some substitute?

It is also clear that a terrible punishment was coming upon those who thus dishonored the Lord’s Supper. In I Corinthians 11:30, we read,

30. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.

Ask yourself, when was the last time anyone you knew ate or drank the “communion” in an unworthy manner? Would not our churches begin to die out from all the funerals if this were still the case today? How can anyone believe that the “Lord’s Supper” that is practiced today is the same thing that the Corinthians were keeping?

It seems clear that, when the believers assembled together, they made a common meal for the purposes of aiding those who had to travel a long distance, or for those who were too poor to afford a proper meal. At first, these meals were share and share alike, but some of the more wealthy among them started to begrudge the poor the excellent fare that they were bringing, and to despise the less interesting food that others less fortunate than they were had to offer. Thus, these wealthy folks started to keep their food for themselves, and only let others partake of it once they were done. Some were so jealous of what they had brought that it seems they finished it all off so no one else could have any, even if that meant being gluttonous or getting drunk. As this continued, what had been a gesture of kindness and consideration on the part of fellow believers became instead a time of jealousy, hoarding, and excess. This dishonored the Lord, Whom they had been honoring by this common meal in the first place.

Why then does Paul go on to mention the Passover celebration in this regard? I believe it is to remind them that this is the only celebration he ever delivered to them from the Lord. The original laws of the Passover said that it could only be kept in Jerusalem, since that was the only place the Passover lamb could be slain. Now, however, Christ, the Christian Jew’s greatest Passover lamb, had been slain for all, and so now God was allowing the Jewish believers outside the land to keep the feast, and Paul urges them to do so in I Corinthians 5:8.

8.  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

So he had commanded them to keep the feast in this modified way outside the land of Israel. Yet, he had given them no commandment from the Lord regarding this supper they were having. This was something they had come up with on their own to be gracious to each other. Yet now, because they were dishonoring the Lord by their actions during this so-called “Lord’s Supper,” he urges them to no longer even have such a supper, but rather that each one should eat at home before they assembled, unless they can learn to wait for each other, as they should have done.

22.  What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you.

33.  Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another.
34.  But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

Thus, there is no “communion” or “Lord’s Supper” set forth in Scriptures for us to keep today.  No new ordinance was established in I Corinthians for the church.  We are not included in the New Covenant by keeping communion.  This is just a ceremony we have invented from old, mystical religions that used bread and wine ceremonies, and has been justified by misunderstood passages in the Word of God.  This is not something those who base their belief and practice on God’s Word should be keeping.  There is no inclusion in the New Covenant for us here.