There are innumerable variances in the approach various religious denominations take towards the Lord’s Supper. Some actually never consider it. Others profess to observe it from time to time, annually, semi-annually, monthly or perhaps on some special occasion. Also the method and adherence to its specified food and drink is often non-existents.
Several years ago on a Lord’s Day morning, a young lady called and asked if we knew where they could purchase an unsliced loaf of bread. When asked why she needed an unsliced loaf, she informed us that this was the day their small congregation observed the Lord’s Supper and they had unwittingly overlooked the purchase of such. And her contention was that it must be a complete loaf and be “broken” as it was recorded in the New Testament. It was admirable that they desired to follow the instructions in the inspired word, yet from all appearance, that was about the only point that was being followed.
Other amazing things concerning many denominations is that they will put forth extreme effort and expense to observe a partially converted pagan holiday, such as Christmas, Easter, Halloween and others which have no authorization or mention in the Holy Bible, and yet will ignore, or nearly so, the commanded observance of the Lord’s Supper. If the Bible was not so replete with warnings concerning such alterations of worship to God, it would be somewhat understandable. However, dire warnings are there.
It is very obvious in the holy writ, that no suggestion is given concerning the time or observance of Jesus birth, or anything else except his death. And that is commanded, by Jesus himself, to be observed as a remembrance of him until he returns. The items to be used are explicit, and the times it is to be observed is plainly given by example of the inspired apostles. So the only thing to alter it is simply some human’s preference. And such alterations are plainly condemned in the Bible. Let us look at some scriptures which lay out the necessity of strict observance.
First, let us look at the setting of the introduction of the supper by Jesus and what he had to say about it. Jesus and his twelve apostles were gathered together to partake of the feast of preparation for the Passover celebration. As the custom was, there was saved one half of a loaf and fruit of the vine for an additional glass an which was normally taken as one might have a dessert.
It was this loaf and the final glass of wine which Jesus used as the emblems of his body. Now we know that this was unleavened bread and non-fermented wine (fruit of the vine). We can know that because it was required of the Jews to eliminate every possible bit of any leavening agent from their residences which included any thing which would include fermentation prior to the preparation of the Passover Feast. For more information on this position visit: Clarifying the three days and nights Jesus spent in the tomb.
With those things in mind, let us look at the introduction of these emblems by Jesus himself according to three of the gospel writers.
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. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (Matthew 26:26-30 KJV)
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to 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. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. (Mark 14:22-26 KJV)
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:15-20 KJV)
One may see the wisdom of God, in Jesus’ selection of this supper as an everlasting memorial to his sacrifice for mankind. Any memorial made of wood, steel or even marble will decay and eventually perish. This symbolic memorial will be everlasting. As long as the world stands, there will be, at least, remnants of the Lord’s kingdom and they will partake of these emblems. His kingdom is everlasting.
Those three scriptures show, with no room for error, the proper bread and the proper drink which Jesus chose to symbolize his flesh and blood. They were taken after a prayer and then when finished, they sang a hymn.
The instructions as to when and where to take this memorial, is not described here, for reasons that are simple. First of all, it was not time for them to be in place at all since he had not yet died. It was merely an introduction of the thing they were to do after his kingdom became a reality, and which did so on the first Pentecost after this Passover and is described in Acts chapter 2.
The time and circumstances can easily be found in the writings of the New Testament. We have several such indicators. First of all, Jesus rose from the grave on the first day of the week, which is without doubt the reason for the setting aside the first day as a day of gathering for worship of the new church (kingdom).
The apostles gathered together on the first day of the week, the day he had risen:
Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. (John 20:19 KJV)
Then we have the first instance which mentions the Lord’s Supper being observed:
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. (Acts 20:7 KJV)
And when Paul was admonishing the church to make an offering he gives this which infers they met on the first day of the week:
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2 KJV)
We also have an instance of Paul reprimanding the church at Corinth for their failure to properly partake of the Lord’s Supper. By studying this scripture, one may understand much clearer, the reason for the, observance, and the proper way it is to be conducted. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34.
In conclusion, a brief explanation, the emblems are to be taken each Lord’s day at the worship service. It is to be unleavened bread and non-fermented grape wine. It is a solemn observance and all should concentrate on the suffering sacrifice Jesus made for us while participating in this memorial. Children should be restrained from noisemaking as much as possible.