Elements of the Lord’s Supper

Posted: December 16, 2008 by cthoward in Doctrinal Question
Tags: , , ,

“Where do we get the authority to change the bread and the wine, to matsa bread (crackers) and grape juice?”

Suggested by Johnny B…

  1. cthoward says:

    Short answer:
    Nothing has been changed. Crackers are bread cooked to a crisp…and unleavened at that. Are they different than what the Jews used in the Passover? Perhaps in some ways, but if God limited us to only one kind of unleavened bread then He could have provided a recipe (I bet it would be tasty…I’m sure God is a good cook). Grape juice is “fruit of the vine.” Nowhere in Scripture is the word “wine” applied to the drink of the Lord’s Supper…although it may not be wrong to do so. Furthermore, alcoholic beverages contain yeasts, making them leavened, and it is likely that non-alcoholic grape juice would have been used in the Passover because of restrictions on leaven…and, therefore, it would have been likely that non-alcoholic grape juice was used in the first Lord’s Supper. Most translations of the 1Corinthians 11 discussion of the LS do contain a reference to people getting drunk, but it is not conclusive that they got drunk on the fruit of the vine of the LS since they also seemed to have an associated meal with the LS. And, it is not conclusive that the word translated “drunk” always refers to inebriation. In fact, the context seems to indicate that it merely refers to over-indulgence (since it is contrasted with those who are hungry…see McGuiggan’s book “The Bible, the Saint, and the Liquor Industry” for more about this word).

    So, my answer is that we have not changed anything.

  2. Brian King says:

    Where do we get the authority to make the Lord’s supper about how we eat the cracker and the grape juice and not about THE LORD!?!

    Sorry, that sounds a bit angry. I’m not angry really… just a little bit disheartened that so many in the church seem to have forgotten entirely what the Lord’s supper is really about.

    And by this I am not implying that either you, Johnny, nor you, Clint, have forgotten it. I was just saying that forgetting what the Lord’s Supper is about seems to be a “general rule” for many congregations I’ve visited.

  3. cthoward says:

    Agreed, Brian…we can over-analyze and forget that the Lord is central in the Lord’s Supper.

    But, still, if we want to be pleasing to Him then the question of how to take the LS becomes important. And I know you agree with that. I understand what you are saying. Perhaps we are generally too mechanistically rather than relationally or spiritually focused.

    I was recently surprised at the amount of response I had to a sermon that was focused on the Lord’s Supper. It wasn’t about the elements and mechanisms, but about the relationship aspect…with Christ and with each other. The word “communion” was the connecting theme. The service was structured to be centered around and focused on the Supper, and everyone seemed grateful for the reminder.

    And, as I think about it, nearly all of the sermons I have heard on the Lord’s Supper were more about “how to.” They addressed questions about how often and when and what with less emphasis on why. I think we as preachers could do a better job of focusing on the why on a regular basis.

  4. David says:

    Very good thoughts all-around, brothers.

    We absolutely need to revive ourselves as we partake of this memorial.

    Several weeks ago i had the blessing of preaching and reminding the brethren at Moss Bluff (including myself especially) what the Lord’s Supper is, how it is a memorial (mentioned some of the Old Testament memorials such as the rainbow, the passover, the Sabbath, and the stones from Joshua 4) and how important it is for us to partake of it “in a worthy manner.”

    Sadly, when most people in this country and other places think of the Lord’s Supper they think of a row of men, nearly dressed identically (white shirt, black coat) with their arms folded, standing by a table and passing a bunch of trays around.

    And in addition to that, in most places i’ve been (and i’ve been around in my short life!) it has the setting of a funeral service – very somber, very sad.

    As we read in Scripture, we certainly need to reflect upon the death of Christ. We must think about the long road Jesus walked to the Cross but the greatest news is, although Jesus was graveyard dead, He arose and He is living and breathing at this very moment – and He will always live! If Christ never arose from the dead, we have no hope, all preaching would be in vain, and we’re still in our sins (1 Cor. 15)!

    Therefore, the Supper is a rememberance as well as a celebration.

    Often i really wish we would do away with the altar and the little trays and sit at tables and partake it together with reverance, but also with joy, as we focus on His death and resurrection together.

    But as far as far as the authority to eat the crackers and drink the juice, i personally don’t see anything that has been added to the command.

    I just wish we would make it a priority to prepare ourselves mentally and spiritually for what we’re about to do and for there to be more joy in it.

    It’s more than possible to partake of it and for your heart and mind to be a million miles away (what’s for lunch, when so and so’s coming in for Christmas, what so and so is wearing, etc.).

    As Gerald Paden said, “You can just eat a pinch of bread and drink a shot of grape juice.”

    Or we can examine ourselves, give thanks, and do so as one – in unity, as we await our Lord’s return.

    It’s very important that we partake of it in a worthy manner, so i appreciate this question. Thank you brother.

  5. Johnny B says:

    Thank you for your responses. This was a question that a new believer asked in a men’s study group.
    These are the questions that e must prepare ourselves for from the new converts we will have.
    One thing that I have witnessed being out here in California is that culture is headed more and more to where we will have people that will be either biased against church (parents woundedness passed along) or have no clue to what happens in church (I actually had a man ask, “so what do you do in church?” he had no idea about singing or preaching…).

    Within this next generation, we will face people much like Paul faced on his missionary journeys, people who are the descendants of those who have followed the path of Rom 1:18ff.
    I have to be diligent in answering questions like this one.

    This has been a test of your loving response system. If this had been an actual emergency, you would have been alerted about a specific prayer need.

  6. Brian King says:

    Thank you brother.

  7. cthoward says:

    I wonder if first century Christians also struggled with the commonality of the elements. After all, they partook of everyday unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. The elements were just as common to them….perhaps moreso since they seemed to drink grape juices and wines more frequently than we do…and their unleavened bread was probably a staple in their diet, a food item that was quick and easy to make, whereas for us matza crackers typically only show their faces on Sunday (we like Zesta salted tops by Keebler with our cheese, soup, and chili).

    The funny thing is…if the wrong type of unleavened bread is ordered for the Lord’s Supper…like, say, you usually have Matza, but one time you get the soft little bland squares…probably everyone is focused on why it’s different or how they don’t like the change or anything else other than Christ. Just goes to show how easily distracted we are, and why we need the Lord’s Supper to begin with.

    I wonder what we can do to change that and to help others change that…to remember better. Any thoughts?

  8. Brian King says:

    Alright, I know you guys may think this is crazy or otherwise just looking for a fight, but let me tell you what is actually going on with the topic about to be posted…

    There is a contentious brother here who is trying to force this on others. He won’t accept the possibility that he might be misunderstanding the passage… neither will he be silent about the issue as Rom 14-15 teaches. But, what I am asking from you all (who dare) to please please give me your exegesis of the passage.

    Clint can you post this question for me?

    Does Paul teach in 1 Cor. 11:3-16 that women must wear a head covering when they are “praying in worship” or not? Please prove by sound exegesis.

  9. Brian King says:

    I am as serious as can be.

  10. cthoward says:

    Certainly Brian…

    And the topic of the Lord’s Supper will remain open as well to any who would like to comment.

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