THE LORDS SUPPER
As the children of the Israelites would ask why they kept the passover as they did, we as the children of God may ask from year to year, why we keep the Lord’s Supper (called passover by so many of the Church of God). .
Ex 13: 3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.
Ex 13:14 And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
There is a vast difference between the substance of the children’s inquiry and ours. The children’s question was in response to the Israelites following the instructions of Moses concerning the annual observance of passover. Their direction came through the instructions that God gave Moses since the people requested that God not deal with them in a personal manor.
But, we have been dealt with by God in a direct and personal way, for an awesome purpose. A purpose that is so great that we are continuously growing in an understanding of its glorious destiny. We have been delivered from the bondage of a sin-full “nature”. This is a type of bondage that humanity is simply not aware of. God the father and our Savior are leading the first fruit toward a “completeness” of an understanding of the control that bondage has over mankind through our human nature and they are giving us the desire and the means and the will to come out from under it.
The result of Gods involvement in our lives is an ever-increasing capacity to love, a type of love that can only be understood through the work of God’s Spirit in us. The children of the Israelites could understand and appreciate the physical deliverance of the original passover event and Israel was instructed to include the children in the passover ceremonies. But, their historical disobedience to God reveals the fact that the Israelites could not fully grasp the love and compassion that God had for them in bringing them out of Egypt. It is also impossible for those who have not been called to the truth to understand the significance of our deliverance through the acceptance of Christ’s death and the wonder of his living presence in us as “children of God”.
Today, we can question why Paul did not use the term “passover” in 1 Corinthians 11:20 for the period of time generally referred to as passover? He could have, but instead used the term “Lords Supper” for good reason. Israel came out of Egypt and its influence, being a type of sin. We are coming out of our own human nature and the “deadly” influence it imposes on us. To do that requires the power of Gods own Spirit working in us. That Spirit was never given to the physical nation of Israel. That power is given to us and that power is embodied in the meaning of the “bread” and the “wine” that we receive at the Lords Supper.
Our annual memorial of the Lord’s Supper replaces the old testament passover. It is, a serious time without parallel when we may deeply look into the love God has given us. The love that made possible the sacrifice of Christ and the gift of our opportunity to replace our nature with Christ’s own nature. Through the deepening love of God that is growing in us we will not only be able to be a unique continual blessing to our children and family, but also to our neighbors, coworkers and eventually to the whole world.
The words in the 6th chapter of the book of John are so familiar to us. Yet, it seems that a closer look is needed, particularly since there are questions concerning the subject of the night of the 14th day of the first month. They offer the avenue to fully understand the meaning of the bread and wine that Christ gave to his disciples on the last Passover meal. So to help set the tone for this study, I think it would be profitable to take extra time to consider the implications of selected verses in John 6: 47-68
6:47 (KJV) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.
48 I am that bread of life.
49 Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.
50 This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die.
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.
54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.
58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.
59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?
62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?
63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
These words provide us with the direction our thoughts should focus on at the annual “passover” season, as it is commonly called, and the opportunity to appreciate the difference between the meaning of the original passover and the salvation of Jesus Christ. But most importantly those words provide us with a most graphic picture of the only way to receive that salvation.
So then let’s briefly look at the basic relationship of the “Lords Supper”, that was instituted by Christ, to the first passover and the instructions given to Israel.
Ex 12:5 (KJV) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the LORD'S passover.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.
13 And the blood shall be to you for a token [more properly a signal or mark] upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
We should consider that the blood on the door-posts protected the first born of the Israelite families. Yet the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel was instructed to eat the roasted lamb. The blood was evidence of the peoples obedience which was sufficient to save the physical lives of the first born. We have been shown that passover is about salvation. And when we look at the original passover from a prophetic viewpoint it is apparent that that a “first born” will figure prominently in the future. It is through the first born, who become the wife of Jesus Christ, that the rest of humanity will have their opportunity for an eternal salvation. (see the Bride of Christ paper). Though, it is interesting that only a part of Israel received that physical salvation, whereas ALL Israel ate of the passover lamb. The eating of the lamb held great significance in all that was done in accordance with the passover instructions. It was the eating of the passover lamb, which would relate to a future Spiritual meal that would figure in the salvation of ALL mankind. As Keil and Delitzsch puts it “The deeper ground fore this was, that in this meal Israel was to preserve and celebrate its unity and fellowship with Jehovah”. This is precisely the purpose of the Lords Supper.
As we reread the verses in John, this truth, which was given so long ago begins to be given shape and form. Yet when the disciples first heard it they didn’t understand. And they didn’t understand it when Christ fulfilled the meaning of passover at that last passover he had with them. John 6:51 show’s plainly that the “living bread” is equated to Christ’s “flesh”. The flesh that the Israelites ate on the original Passover symbolized a nation united with God. So, in verse 51, IT IS THE EATING of the bread or flesh that also provides for the salvation of a people united with God.
Many believe our hope for eternal life comes from the blood Jesus shed for the remission of our sins, his resurrection and accepting Jesus Christ as our savior! That is simply the beginning of what Jesus and the Father is looking for in us. Look at verse 54. “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life”. ---------- The drinking the blood is first mentioned to the deciples in John 6:53-54 and completes the establishment of the symbols that were used by Christ on that last passover night. We all know that we are learning to think in spiritual terms. What Christ said in John 6:54 is the most significant statement in all the Bible that should be understood by its spiritual meaning. The bread represented Christ himself; all that he was. The wine represented the agreement which is the new covenent that would be offered to mankind through the blood shed by Christ.
Luk 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
Co 11:25 After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
Now, the important thing is, these symbols are consumed on the night of the 14th day of the first month by those who would want their lives to reflect that of Christ’s and have accepted the terms of the new agreement. On that last passover night Christ gave to all mankind the WAY to be brought into eternity. When Christ said “this is my body”, “this is my blood” he was literally fulfilling the spiritual intent of the original passover.
The first passover was about physical salvation. In the Lord’s Supper, (the bread and the wine) Christ showed us so clearly the way to eternal or spiritual salvation. We are saved by accepting Christ’s sacrifice AND taking Christ into our lives. This is the new agreement as stated in John 6:54, (taking Christ into our lives) and (personally accepting the payment Christ made for our sins),
There are those that believe that the salvation we receive by accepting Christ’s sacrifice AND taking Christ into our lives is our passover. But accepting Christ’s death and resurrection and the words of truth that he spoke isn’t our passover. It will only be Christ continuously dwelling in us that will save us from being consumed in the lake of fire (the second death) in the final analysis. There will be those who had accepted Christ’s blood for the penalty of their sins and accepted and lived “the way”, who may be castaways. Their past act of accepting Christ’s sacrifice and all that he stood for won’t save them if they depart from the way of Jesus Christ. We should deeply consider the following verses.
Heb 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.
2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;
3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened,
and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of
the Holy Ghost,
Heb 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of
the world to come,
Heb 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto
repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God
afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
1Th 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
1Th 5:19 Quench not the Spirit.
1Co 9:27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection
: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself
should be a castaway.
Rev 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This
is the second death.
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life
was cast into the lake of fire.
In the past, during the night called passover, we have mainly considered how the death of Christ has taken away our sins and think of ourselves as clean as the driven snow. Our focus was on the death of Christ and what it meant to us. Once again some have thought that personally believing on His death and resurrection and teachings represents our spiritual passover. Christ’s death, as needed as it is for our salvation, is simply not what our primary consideration should be each year that we take of the Lords Supper. That is a time to meditate on the agreement we made that was signified by our baptism and consider all that the life of Christ stands for. With that, we can build upon our dedication to take more and more of Christ into our lives (being obedient to desires and commands of Jesus Christ and his Father). His death should not be our overriding concern, especially as some go to the point to go to any extreme to fit the timing of the New Testament memorial to coincide with the actual “time” of his death.
We know that there were two meals eaten on that final passover that Christ spent with his disciples. The one being the usual meal that was instituted in Egypt, with its physical significance. The second one being the spiritual meal, with meaning that mere words simply can’t describe. We know that Christ did not need the spiritual food of the supper that He gave His disciples to eat. He WAS the spiritual meal. ----- Paul’s correction given to the Corinthians was about this spiritual supper. The eating of that spiritual food was the purpose of the assembly spoken of in I Corinthians 11:20.
20 When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.
21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.
In John 6:54-56 we are told that this food must be eaten if anyone is to have eternal life. There were those of the Corinthians whose priority was NOT to eat the Lord’s Supper but to have a physical banquet in the most carnal of terms. They had previously accepted the terms of the new covenant and the significance of Christ’s death. But there were those who were acting as if it all meant nothing to them. They were placing themselves in jeopardy of the second death having lost the appreciation of the symbols of that spiritual supper and, what it took in order that it could be offered to them.
Those Corinthians simply had not taken Christ into their lives. If they had they would have never done the things Paul chastised them for.
It is of prime importance to note that Paul did not refer to this time as a passover memorial but as the “Lord’s supper” (with all that it implies). In 1 Corinthians 10:20 Paul previously referred to the Lord’s supper as the “Lord’s table”. It is clear that Paul was not concerned with the past history of the Jews and Israel in general but with the life saving elements for ALL mankind. And there were two places that Paul gives reference to the Lord’ supper and never refers to keeping a passover.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
So we are brought again to the fact that we are not “saved” by his death or the blood he shed. It will only be those who are found in the book of life who will be saved. It will only be those who have accepted the sacrifice of Christ, and in whom Christ will be living at the time of the second death, who will be saved. As we have seen, this is the message Christ gave to the disciples on that “Passover” night. “Take eat this is my body”. Then in John 14: 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. And in verse 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
In Mark 14:15 Christ asked “where is the guest chamber where I shall eat the passover with my diciples?” And then in Luke 22:15 Christ said “With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer”. --- It’s important to notice that even though Christ was about to suffer greatly he did not put emphasis on it. The emphasis was put on that last “passover”. Why was he looking forward to that passover? This was the fulfillment of his life’s work as the “son of man” --- changing the meaning of passover from the physical elements of physical salvation, to the spiritual elements of eternal salvation, and knowing that the salvation of man will have been made possible by his perfect life-giving example.
There is an additional aspect of the period of time relating to the original passover and the Lord’s supper. It is the night following the institution of the new covenant. For so many in the “Churches of God” that night is called “the night to be much observed”. It has been a tradition of churches that had a historical relationship with the “World Wide Church of God” to observe the “night to be much observed”. The night after their annual “passover” has been the time that has been determined to keep this occasion. It is interesting that there is an adamant belief among various churches that the time and purpose for this occasion is founded on Biblical evidence. The principle reason that they observe it is to commemorate the Israelites having come out of Egypt. In considering the fact that Egypt was pictured as a type of sin, they also feel that it has to do with the fact that, as Christians, they have come out of sin. The big question is how Biblically accurate is this belief ???
The following provides the evidence that results in a distinct difference in the understanding of the term “night to be much observed” as it is found in Exodus 12:42 of the King James Translation. First of all, the word “observed” leads one to an inaccurate conclusion.
Exo 12:42 ItH1931 is a nightH3915 to be much observedH8107 unto the LORDH3068 for bringing them outH3318 from the landH4480 H776 of Egypt:H4714 thisH2088 is thatH1931 nightH3915 of the LORDH3068 to be observedH8107 of allH3605 the childrenH1121 of IsraelH3478 in their generations.H1755
H8107 --- shimmûr
Strong’s Definition: From H8104; an observance: - X be (much) observed.
Evidently, the originators of the purpose and time of the occasion, that is so popular today, only used Strong’s H8107 for their conclusions! They used the word “observed” as it would relate to an event or occasion. Even though H8104 is given by Strong’s as a reference.
H8104 --- shâmar
A primitive root; properly to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc.: - beware, be circumspect, take heed (to self), keep (-er, self), mark, look narrowly, observe, preserve, regard, reserve, save (self), sure, (that lay) wait (for), watch (-man).
The above word, "shâmar", points to careful watching and not to an event that should be kept. This use is consistent with the definition that the Brown Driver Briggs Lexicon gives it.
H8107 --- shimmûr
1) night watch, watching, vigil
Part of Speech: noun masculine
A Related Word by BDB/Strong’s Number: from H8104
Also --- “Analytical Key To The Old Testament” by OWENS clearly shows that it is a night of “watching”
The following commentaries give a good understanding of Exodus 12:42
Exodus 12:42. This first passover night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover night, in which Christ was betrayed, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed, when a yoke heavier than that of Egypt was broken from off our necks, and a land better than that of Canaan set before us. That was a temporal deliverance, to be celebrated in their generations; this an eternal redemption, to be celebrated world without end!
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary
12:37-42 The children of Israel set forward without delay. A mixed multitude went with them. Some, perhaps, willing to leave their country, laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love to them and their religion. But there were always those among the Israelites who were not Israelites. Thus there are still hypocrites in the church. This great event was 430 years from the promise made to Abraham: see Ga 3:17. So long the promise of a settlement was unfulfilled. But though God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed and in which the first passover, with the rest of the Jewish ceremonies, was done away, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed. Then a yoke, heavier than that of Egypt, was broken from off our necks, and a land, better than that of Canaan, set before us. It was a redemption to be celebrated in heaven, for ever and ever.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord,.... Or "a night of observations" (t), in which many things are to be observed to the honour and glory of God, as done by him, wherein his power, wisdom, goodness, truth and faithfulness, are displayed; partly by the destruction of the Egyptian firstborn, and particularly for bringing them, the children of Israel:
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
42. The night is to be observed in perpetuity as a night of watching, or of vigil, unto Jehovah; cf. Isaiah 30:29. Both the margins are preferable to the text. ל, however, cannot mean for (i.e., apparently, in return for), though it might mean with regard to; but its natural meaning here would be in order to; hence Bu. Bä. may be right in rendering, A night of watching was it for Yahweh to bring them out, &c.; Jehovah Himself was on the watch that night to protect His people from the destroyer, and to bring them safely out of Egypt: v. 41b will then be a later addition, transforming the night of vigil kept by Jehovah, into a night of vigil kept to Him (cf. Nowack, Arch. ii. 149). throughout your generations. See on v. 14.
Young's Literal Translation
A night of watchings it is to Jehovah, to bring them out from the land of Egypt; it is this night to Jehovah of watchings to all the sons of Israel to their generations.
JPS Tanakh 1917
It was a night of watching unto the LORD for bringing them out from the land of Egypt; this same night is a night of watching unto the LORD for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.
It has been taught that the night after the passover commemorates the beginning of God watching over the Israelites on their ensuing journeys. But it should be remembered that H7107 definition is to keep a watch or to keep a vigil. That first night after the Passover there was simply no need to be vigilant because the Egyptians ---- “were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men”. Additionally, the night of watching was “a night of watching unto Lord”. It was one single night!!!
It does seem that there are many who are committed to putting aside the true translation of the King James translation of “night to be much observed. For so many decades now a great many have observed a celebration on the night after they kept a “passover”. But, this is a sincere dedication to something that is not found in the Bible.
The original night of watching was in reference to the night that the death angel did it’s work. There was a watch for the fulfillment of all that Moses spoke to Pharaoh. The words were fulfilled. But, what was to be kept by Israel for a memorial for ever? There was a need to memorialize that night of watching when they were freed. It was the death of all Egypt’s first born that brought about the freedom for the Israelites. Remembering the events of that night (Ex 12:26-27), eating of the lamb and the unleavened bread fulfilled the annual observance of the ordinance of the passover.
Young’s Literal Translation
Exo 12:42 A night of watchings it is to Jehovah, to bring
them out from the land of Egypt; it is this night to Jehovah of
watchings to all the sons of Israel to their generations.
Exo 12:43 And Jehovah saith unto Moses and Aaron, `This is
a statute of the passover; Any son of a stranger doth not
eat of it;
But, as we have seen this ordinance has been changed as ordinances of the Mosaic law have been replaced as referenced by 2 Corinthians 3:10-11 and Hebrews 8:13
2Co 3:10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
2Co 3:11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
Heb 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.
A suitable conclusion would be to think about the words Jesus said to his disciples the night he gave mankind the way to eternal life. They continue from the 13th chapter of John to the end of the 17th chapter. The following are a very few selected verses.
A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
All of the words in these chapters were directed to the disciples. These men were to be the foundation that the first fruit would be built upon. This last sermon by Jesus was the principle instruction that guided the lives of the disciples who fulfilled all that the Father and the Son had planned for them. The disciples had just listened to the precious life saving words of Jesus. But it wasn’t until God came to dwell in them through, the Holy Spirit, that they were able to understand and appreciate what they had heard. So then, on that last passover night, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus ask if they would watch with him but they had trouble “staying awake”. The word “watch” has the very same Greek definition as the word “watching” used on the first passover night.
My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
For a final thought we have the words of Peter. In only two verses Peter, in 2 Peter 1:3-4 epitomized the revelation of the new covenant and the instruction in the way of righteousness given by Jesus on that fateful night.
2Pe 1:3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
2Pe 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust (evil deeds).