I found a list of “15 Most Asked Questions of Communion“. One question I uncovered was appropriate to my blog regarding “The Mystery of the Bread”.
Question #5. “What type of bread should be used during Communion?”
The answer given was anything from a “small round wafer”, an “oyster cracker” a “piece of bread broken off a loaf passed down the row”. I personally like the use of the Jewish matzoh bread. When Dianne and I take communion at home, that is what we use. I will give some reasons later on why we do so. Probably the best answer to the question is, “…God understands each situation, and the faith of God’s obedient servants is what is important.”
In uncovering “The Mystery of the Bread“, let’s go to a familiar verse in the bible; 1 Corinthians 5:6-7. I will begin my investigation into the “Mystery” there:
“…Do you not know that [just] a little leaven will ferment the whole lump [of dough]? Purge (clean out) the old leaven that you may be fresh (new) dough, still uncontaminated [as you are], for Christ, our Passover [Lamb], has been sacrificed.”
In looking for clues this morning about the Mystery of the Bread, I wanted to see what is said about The Matzah (The Unleavened Bread) portion of the Messianic Passover Seder booklet.
The Leader begins with, “It is both a duty and a privilege to answer the four questions of Passover and to recite the mighty works of our faithful God.” He then explains to the believers why they eat “matzah”; unleavened bread at Passover versus on all other nights we eat bread with leaven.” The people all respond by reading together 1 Cor. 5:6-7. After reading scripture they say, “During this season of Passover, let us break our old habits of sin and selfishness and begin a fresh, new, and holy life.” The unseen leaven represents sin. “Jesus then said to them, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, Moses did not give you the Bread from heaven [what Moses gave you was not the Bread from heaven], but it was My Father Who gives you the true heavenly Bread.” (John 6:32)
God had provided supernatural nourishment for 600,000 men and their families for 40 years (Exodus 12:37; 16:35). For six days a week, a supernatural bread (manna) fell on the ground at night like dew (Numbers 11:9). Perry Stone says in his book “The Meal that Heals” that there is “something of a mystery about this manna which Israel ate in the wilderness.” Psalms 78:25 it says in the Amplified Version, “Everyone ate the bread of the mighty [man ate angel's food]…” When Israel saw the small white wafers lying on the ground they called it “manna.” The root word for manna is Hebrew is mah, which simply means what. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” They didn’t know what it was (Exodus 16:15).
In the Christian Communion, the bread represents the physical body of Christ. The Bible says, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our guilt and iniquities; the chastisement [needed to obtain] peace and well-being for us was upon Him, and with the stripes [that wounded] Him we are healed and made whole.” Wholeness means ALL; body, mind and spirit. (I will discuss this in my next blog in detail).
In the Jewish Passover, three matzoh are wrapped together. I found out that there are various explanations for this ceremony. Some consider it a unity of the patriarchs–Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Others explain it as a unity of worship–the priests, the Levites, and the people of Israel. As a Christian, I see “wholeness” here; the unique triunity of God–Father, Son, and Spirit. Three in one. Also, in our “wholeness”; body, soul, and spirit.
If you hold up the matzoh, you will notice some interesting patterns in the unleavened flat bread. The matzoh is square-shaped and white in color, with long rows and holes piercing the bread and is slightly browned on the surface. Lines running across the bread form a picture of the furrows placed in the back of Christ; the holes symbolize the piercing in His hands, feet and side; and the brown spots allude to the bruises on His body. “This visual might help you the “rememberance…” of what Jesus has done!
The Leader of the Passover removes and breaks the middle matzoh in half and says, “Just as the middle piece of the bread of affliction is broken, Messiah, too, was afflicted. One half is now called the “afikomen, meaning in Greek: “I came”. It is wrapped in a white cloth just as Messiah’s body was wrapped for burial. (wraps the “afikomen”). If the children will cover their eyes, I will hide the “afikomen”, so Messiah was placed in a tomb, hidden for a time. But just as the “afikomen” will return to complete our Passover Seder, so, the sinless Messiah rose from the dead to ascend into heaven.”
When I found these words read iby the Leader in the Messianic Passover Seder several years ago, the meaning brought understanding and brought me into focus. I needed next to focus myself in obedience to the Word in Communion. Not just “partake” but to “enter” into a “fellowship” first; a preparation. Does it happen every time I take Communion on the first Sunday of every month in church? NO, but when I take communion at home I am able to:
3. Release anyone who has harmed me; physically, emotionally or spiritually.
Should we do the same in our Communion services in church? Perhaps. BUT if not we should have an informal Communion in our homes.
Why is “releasing anyone” so important? 1 Corinthians 11:28, 30 says,
“Let man [throughly] examine himself, and [only when he has done] so should he eat of the bread and drink the cup.”
In verse 30 comes a “mystery” clue.
“That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason many of you…”
Might there be “weakness” and “sickness” and even “death” in the body of Christ? God’s word says we must examine ourselves before we “break the bread” and “drink from the cup” in Communion.
In Southern California in the early 70′s, after church we would go to a restaurant for lunch with several families. Someone would ask, “Let’s break bread at ….after church” and we would fellowship together. “Koinonia” is the Greek word for Communion. It means an “intimate partnership”. It becomes a very personal and intimate ceremony. You might be asking yourself a question at this point in this particular blog, “Yeah, all that is interesting Mel but that “stuff” was all done a long time ago…and, I am not a Messianic Jew?
The “Breaking of bread” was a consistent daily practice in the first church in Acts 2:46-47:
“And day after day they regularly assembled in the temple with united purpose, and in their homes they broke bread [including the Lord's supper]. They partook of their food with gladness and simplicity and generous hearts, Constantly praising God and being in favor and goodwill with AL the people; and the Lord kept adding [to their number] daily those who were being saved [from spiritual death].”
Is there a lesson to be learned in those two verses about the bread breaking and Communion in our churches and homes today? Another question might come into your heads, “Don’t you believe that if a person receives Communion too often it will become commonplace and soon lose its effectiveness?” That was Question #7 in the “15 Most Asked Questions about Communion”. This is like saying, “if I read the Bible too much I will tire of the Scriptures, or “if I pray too much I might lose sight of prayer”. A person who loves Christ, who has “Koinonia” will never fear spending too much time with Him, including Communion, will water down the awe and majesty of intimacy with Him. Last Sunday, Pastor Rick started a new series called the “How’s, What’s and Why’s of Worship.” He mentioned that “relationship” was the key to “worshipping” our heavenly Father. “Relationship” is also a key in Communion.
I uncovered valuable clues to “The Mystery of the Bread” along with “The Power of Communion” in John 6:51-58. Remember, the truth that might have been hidden from you has been there all the time. The Word Detective is bringing it out to you while the Easter season approaches. If you don’t have your bible close by, get it and read along.
Verse 51, “I [Myself] am this Living Bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he will live forever; and also the Bread that I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh (body). Verse 53 …you cannot have any life in you unless you eat the flesh of the son of Man and drink His blood [unless you appropriate His life and the saving merit of His blood].”
The verses continue this theme as you are reading, showing us that the Lord’s table gives or appropriates STRENGTH, HEALTH, AND LONGEVITY. “…he who takes this Bread for his food shall live forever.” Verse 58.
I found a “mystery” of EMPOWERMENT that was said over the Communion or Passover table in Matthew 26:26:
“Now as they were eating, Jesus took the bread and, praising God, gave thanks and asked Him to bless it to their use, and when He had broken it, He gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat; this is My body.”
He Blessed it… He Broke it… He gave it… The Power of Communion becomes a power table for longevity. Imperfection gives way to perfection. Death gives way to life.
In my investigation of the “Communion and Passover Connection” series I discovered and have appropriated the “The Healing Covenant of Communion” in my life. I have given testimony in how this seldom used “mystery” is put in effect. My hope is that you will have faith enough to believe; not my word by the Word of god. The last in this series will look into this truth. How you can see the empowerment in you own lives?