There is much taught in Scripture about eating and drinking. Some of it refers to literal partaking of food and drink, other portions deal in a metaphorical or symbolic manner. An example of the symbolic sense is a passage, precise and appropriate, in John 6:53-55:

“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. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Of course, in reading and studying Scripture, we should be careful to distinguish between a literal description or account and one that is teaching a spiritual truth. The Lord wasn’t talking of a literal eating of His body, but rather the whole chapter is teaching that our Lord is “the Bread of Life.”

With the introduction and inception of the passover in Exodus 12, God gave to the people of Israel a memorial of their deliverance from bondage. He gave the literal and specific instructions as to the preparation and partaking of the unblemished lamb. There was no question or confusion as to where, why, or how to partake of the deeply significant event. This then became a very important part of the worship of the Jews. Although it is not the intent of this presentation of Bible truth to study this important theme, yet its place in the Bible and its meaning to the Hebrews is important. Its connection to the new testament makes it necessary to understand. It surely was “a supper that satisfies.”

The Lord Jesus Christ, when contemplating the ending of His earthly ministry, instructed His disciples to make ready to eat the passover. These accounts are found in all four gospels. Jesus and His disciples were following the Old Testament pattern in the observance of this most holy observance. They ate the supper and “as they did eat” (Mark 14:1822) Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave it them, and said,

“Take, eat: this is my body; and he took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them; and they all drank of it. And He said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you, I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:22-25)

There are many wonderful and significant things to be gleaned from these passages. They partook of a meal and as part of the occasion, Jesus gave a lesson on the “bread” and the “cup.”

This allowed the disciples to fulfill the requirements of John 6. Remember He said,

“Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you (vs. 53) … For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.” (vs. 55)

When we understand that the “Jews require a sign” (I Corinthians 1:22) and that God had taught them through the ages with visible lessons, it is understandable that this method was used during the passover meal.

There is no real scriptural reason for believing that our Lord instituted something “new” during or “after” He ate the passover with His disciples. Sometimes we see this idea advanced in headings of verses of the Bible. These words put by man at the beginning of verses are only “man’s words,” not Scripture. Also, we see no observance of a “Lord’s Supper” after the passover was observed by our Lord and His disciples as recorded in Mark 14Luke 22Matthew 26; and John 13. It would seem as if there would be some instructions or mention of its observance before the passages found in I Corinthians. A careful look at the passage concerning the “breaking of bread” in Acts 2:42 will show us that this was no more than a fellowship meal. The same word for “breaking” is found also in Luke 24:35 concerning the Lord’s feeding bread or food to His disciples after His resurrection. In another familiar passage found in Matthew 14:19when Jesus fed the five thousand, it is said that He “blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude.” Were these instances the observing of an ordinance or ritual or just the feeding of a hungry multitude? The context and truth taught makes it obvious that it was simply the provision of food for a meal. The passage in Acts 2:42 is followed in Acts 2:46 by the statement that, “they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking of bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.” In Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, he shows this to mean “an ordinary meal.”

The passages found in I Corinthians 10 and 11, given through the Apostle Paul, refer to Paul’s ministry during the transitional period covered by the book of Acts. It is evident from I Corinthians 10:1-10 that he was addressing “his brethren concerning the flesh; who are Israelites” (Romans 9:3-4). It is also highly significant, and cannot be passed over lightly, that the quotations he spoke are similar, if not just a slight variation, of the words of the Lord Jesus in the Passover passages. In Gaebelein’s Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 10, he says, “the preferred interpretation; however, is probably that Paul received (paralombano) the words of the institution of the supper through its being passed on through others just as he then passed them on to the Corinthians—i.e., through a process of repetition. Observe the similarity of Paul’s words about the supper with Matthew 26:26Mark 14:22-25Luke 2214:20.” It surely appears evident that the apostle Paul was reminding these “brethren” that they were corrupting the passover and had forgotten or had no real knowledge of its meaning. He had earlier told them,

“Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (I Corinthians 10:31)

Their actions were certainly not in accord with the purpose of observing the passover. He had admonished them in I Corinthians 10:20,

“But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.”

They were to have “communion” not chaos. The “communion” is also translated “fellowship” and really has nothing to do with a ritual or ordinance. Note its use in the many other passages where it is translated “fellowship.” For instance in I John 1:367, it speaks of the fellowship we have with the Father and the Son. In II Corinthians 8:4, it refers to the “fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” Paul tells the Philippian saints that he thanks God “for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” And in a passage found in Ephesians 3:9 the word “fellowship” is found in some translations as “dispensation.” Can we have “communion” around this great truth of the fellowship of the mystery today without a symbol or a ritual?

Suffice it to say, that there is a spiritual communion or supper we can all partake of today, that is the partaking of God’s Word. If we can see a “spiritual” baptism, a “spiritual” circumcision (Colossians 2:9-13) surely we should see a “spiritual” communion or fellowship. The confusion that surrounds the ritual of the “Lord’s Supper” cries out for that which brings all saved people into a common fellowship around the Word and the ministry of the Holy Spirit today. We need that which is real and satisfying, not a ritual that is so misunderstood and misused. The “One Body” of Ephesians 4:4-6 cannot be broken into many pieces and the unity of the Spirit be observed. Thinking that the body of Christ can be (even in symbol) broken and distributed to all people, is not in accord with God’s message to the church of this age. We are “to remember” the death baptism of the Lord without a ritual to remind us (Romans 6:3-4Colossians 2:12). Surely we can also remember a fellowship or communion without a ritual. The Lord Jesus, in speaking of the ministry of the Holy Spirit, said,

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

The Apostle Paul in II Timothy 2:11-15 instructs believers of great truths about our life for Him and our life in eternity. He then admonishes Timothy (and us) to “put them in remembrance” of these things. He then follows with the familiar and important verse on “rightly dividing the Word of Truth.” Also in I Timothy 4:6, he instructs,

“If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.”

The Word of God is what we really need to remind us of what our wonderful Lord has done for us. It was in God’s plan for His chosen people, Israel, to be reminded by a “memorial” (Exodus 12:14). Should we, as members of the Body of Christ, need a ritual to remind us of the work that our Lord accomplished on our behalf? We need to remember that He is now in glory as the “head of the church” (Ephesians 1:22-23) and that, we are to know the truth of Colossians 3:1-4:

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”