Summary: An exploration of the Holiness of God in light of the Lord’s Supper.
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.
27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;
28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
In this sermon, I want to spend just a few moments discussing the Passover and this ordinance that was instituted at the time of the Passover. We call it “The Lord’s Supper”, “The Lord’s Table”, or the “Communion” service. These verses account to us that Jesus used the two elements, the bread and the fruit of the vine. These were elements of the Passover that the disciples were familiar with.
This feast took place every year. It was originally instituted as a memorial to the fact that God sent a tenth plague upon Egypt to free the people of Israel from bondage. In that night when the plague was to come (it was the plague of death) God had Moses instruct the people to sprinkle the blood on the door post on the two sides and the lintel above. That night when the plague was sent, the death angel would pass over the homes where the blood was applied (Exodus 12).
From that point the people would celebrate the Passover. They would use these two elements, the bread and the fruit of the vine. Jesus in the upper room that night took these two elements and placed them before the disciples. He uses them as an illustration of what is about to happen to him in his life.
Please notice that Jesus took the bread. He blessed it. He broke it. Then he said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body which is broken for you.” In the same manner after they had taken the bread, he took the cup that contained the fruit of the vine. He held it up before them and blessed it. He then instructed them to drink all of it because this was the blood of the New Testament that was shed for the remission of sins. These two elements that we still use today, the bread and the fruit of the vine remain unleavened in the tradition of the Passover.
The Holiness of God
Let us take a few moments to explore a little deeper into these elements. I believe that this will help us to understand something of the blessing of this table. You will recall that in the book of Exodus, when the Lord came to Moses to institute the Passover, the one thing that was stated was that no leaven was allowed to be in the home during this celebration.
The Jewish tradition has been that when the Passover is celebrated, they will make and use unleavened bread. Leaven, of course, is yeast. Yeast is a common ingredient used in bread. Without yeast, the bread usually does not rise the way that we would like for it too. In this time of Passover, the leaven was to be taken out of the food, the drinks, and thoroughly cleaned out of the house. Even today, in Jewish tradition, when the time for Passover comes, there is a time of thorough cleaning looking for any trace of leaven at all (Exodus 12:15).
All throughout scripture, we find that leaven is a picture of sin. For just a moment, let me remind you that the bread, of course, is unleavened bread. It is noteworthy, however, that in each account of the Gospel’s the word “wine” is not used in reference to the Lord’s Supper. It is always referred to as “the fruit of the vine” (Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). This is why I believe that this is true. If they were to celebrate the Passover in accordance to the law given in the book of Exodus, there was to be no leaven at all in the food, the drinks, and the house. This means that they would have had to use the juice of the grapes as they came off of the vine. This would be in accordance to the law.
While grape juice can ferment over time on its own, it is true that if yeast is added, this will speed up the process of fermentation. By the way, fermentation is nothing more than the natural sugar in the juice being broken down. So when yeast is added to the juice, it interacts in such a way that it breaks down the sugar in the juice.