The intention of the Father through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is to re-establish the relationship He had with mankind by Adam prior to "the Fall". This intention is evident in the following verses where Jesus is speaking to the church of Laodicea:
"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me." (Rev. 3:19-20, NKJV)
Now, notice the phrase in verse 20 - "dine with him". Why do you suppose Jesus used this wording? Could this be a reference to the "Lord's Supper"? What's so special about the word "dine"? (The original KJV uses the word "sup" instead of dine) In greek the word is translated as "supper, dinner or chief meal". Could there be some significance in the "meal", or the "breaking of bread"?
o Feast of the Passover
o Feast of Pentecost (Weeks or Wheat-Harvest or First-Fruits)
o Feast of Tabernacles (Ingathering)
"Passover" celebrated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt and the "passing over" of the "death angel". "Pentecost" celebrated the "first-fruits" of the harvest, and "Tabernacles" celebrated the time Israel dwelt in the wilderness in preparation for possession of the promised land. I won't take the time to get into a detailed teaching regarding the feasts of Israel, but the general references to the Lord's Supper are obvious. The combination of the meaning of each of these feasts follows a dramatic pattern - deliverance, salvation and possession of the promise of God.
"Besides their religious purpose, the great festivals must have had an important bearing on the maintenance of a feeling of national unity."
It's clear that part of the intention of the feasts were to bring the people into a common purpose and heritage. As the Israelites prepared to cross over the river Jordan into the promised land, they were told to do the following on Mount Ebal:
"Therefore it shall be, when you have crossed over Jordan, that on Mount Ebal you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, and you shall whitewash them with lime. And there you shall build an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not use an iron tool on them. You shall build with whole stones the altar of the Lord your God, and offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God. You shall offer peace offerings, and shall eat there, and rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write very plainly on the stones all the words of this law. Then Moses and the priests, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, 'take heed and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the Lord your God.' " (Deut. 27:4-9, NKJV)
Notice the phrase, "and shall eat there"? The Lord is about to establish Israel in the promised land and He has them stop at Mount Ebal, build an altar and eat, prior to having the laws He has given them written into stone. Furthermore, notice one more thing, "this day you have become the people of the Lord your God". In establishing a new relationship with Israel, He makes them "a people". He unites them together in serving and obeying Him. He is establishing unity!
By now, you should be noticing the pattern. God intends for His people to be unified with Him and with each other. The feasts are to be a practice and reminder of His intention - that we dwell in unity and brotherly love!
As stated earlier, the "great feasts" of Israel celebrated "deliverance", "salvation" and the "promise". Likewise, the "feast" of the Lord in the form of communion celebrates our oneness with Jesus and the "deliverance", "salvation" and "promise" He has given us. The practice of the "feasts" united the believers and revealed the intention of God. Jesus, at the last supper, spoke of unity in the new covenant:
"a new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another". (John 13:34-35, NKJV)
Jesus summed up the covenant He was establishing by telling His disciples to "love one another". This is truly the essence of the new convenant - love God and love your neighbor as yourself. In this, Jesus said, that "all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another". Strange how we are known as His disciples by the showing of love. Not spiritual gifts, not talents, but love for one another. He goes on to say, "if anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make our home with him". (John 14:23, NKJV) The relationship and intimacy is established through love. God loved us first, gave us His Son, who taught us to love one another, so that They may come and dwell with us.
The scripture picks up this story after the resurrection of Jesus :
"Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him. And He said to them, 'What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?' Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, 'are you the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have you not known the things which happened there in these days?' And He said to them, 'What things?' So they said to Him, 'the things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.' "
" 'But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel, indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened, yes and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.' "
"Then He said to them, 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. But they constrained Him, saying 'abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent'. And He went in to stay with them. Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. And they said to one another, 'did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?' "
"So they rose up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, saying, 'The Lord is risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!' And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread." (Luke 24:13-35, NKJV)
Notice how His own disciples did not know Him until He "broke the bread". Again it is clear that the intention and secrets of God concerning the purpose of His church are revealed in the breaking of bread. Jesus Himself is revealed as we have "communion" - the breaking of bread. It is through this simple act of love, compassion and fellowship that we come to "know Him" and be "known as His disciples".
This is the "Mystery of Communion", the simple, yet hidden meaning in the sacrament practiced each month in churches all over the world. Our Lord and Master is revealed to the world and to His body through this very act. Communion is the celebration of Him and what He has done in our lives. It is the remembrance of the love He first had for us that we must have for each other in order for Him to be revealed.
The "Lord's Supper" is a "feast" to be celebrated in remembrace of what Jesus has done for us. It is the church's "great feast". Through His death and resurrection, we have been delivered from death to life (Passover), have become a "harvest" of souls (Pentecost) and have taken possession of the promise of God (Tabernacles) and no longer dwell in the "wilderness". It is a "feast" which meaning we should never forget!
Willie Jefferson - 5/22/96
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