Christian Churches of God
The Lord’s Supper
(Edition 3.0 19950413-19981226-20080120-20140403)
This is a shorter paper that may be read at the Lord’s Supper. It examines the sequences and meaning of the foot-washing and the bread and wine. The texts of John 14 and John 17 are explained.
The Lord’s Supper
The Lord’s Supper is probably the most sacred occasion of God’s Calender year because this is the anniversary of the death of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. We keep this service in memory of Christ’s death. The following passages explain the origin of this service and its ceremonies.
Luke 22:7-16 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it." 9They said to him, "Where will you have us prepare it?" 10He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house which he enters, 11and tell the householder, `The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I am to eat the Passover with my disciples?' 12And he will show you a large upper room furnished; there make ready." 13And they went, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. 14And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him.
It has been assumed by some that this was the hour to eat the Passover, but that is incorrect.
15And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." (RSV)
Christ did not eat the Passover meal; he ate a Passover meal. He wanted to eat it with them but he knew he would be dead. Thus Christ foretold his death before the actual Passover meal. He was in fact the Passover Lamb.
We know that Christ later ordained the seventy and sent them out and the demons were subject to them and the demons recognised that fact. However, at this meal there were only the twelve again. Where were the seventy? Why did Christ have the Last Supper with his twelve only?
The explanation is that there must have been other Passover meals in preparation with other groups. Christ had decided to hold this meal (his last) with his twelve.
At that time the preparation day, the 14th, was counted as the first of eight days of the Feast (cf. Mat. 26:17-30). This established a new symbolism that is found in the preparation for a Passover yet to come. Because there will be a second exodus and new priests (Isa. 66:20-21) the Lord’s Supper symbolises the preparation of the Church for the millennial reign.
1Corinthians 11:23-26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. (RSV)
This night proclaims the Lord’s death until he comes as an ordinance enjoined upon Christians.
Every single sentence of John 6 shows how it prepares everyone for their calling, their placement in the elect and in the tribes as part of the 144,000 and the Multitude, under the twelve Apostles as Judges of the tribes.
The first ceremony of the Lord’s Supper is the foot-washing. This is an act of love to serve other people and it is the Holy Spirit that makes that possible.
Christ literally laid down all his trappings and apparel. He firstly laid aside his status as an elohim and became a man in order to serve us. He knew that he had to come down to Earth not just to show us because we lived under a system that the demons had set up but also to show the demons that he had to lay his life aside.
By their rebellion the demons had no sacrifice for their sin to restore them to God. One of them had to assume human form and be killed to reconcile himself to God in order to show the way. It wasn’t simply that God desired a blood sacrifice. Christ instituted this ceremony for his followers as an example of sacrifice.
Judaism looks back to the Passover and sees it in physical terms. We look forward to the Passover and see it in both physical and spiritual terms. Christ knew he would be betrayed and that he was required to lay down his life.
John 13:1-5 Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2And during supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel. 5Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded. (RSV)
The most basic lesson concerning the foot-washing is that of self-sacrifice and humility. Jesus’ attitude was one of being willing to lay down his life for humanity and for each one of us personally. So too we ought to be prepared to lay down our lives for one another.
Peter didn’t want Christ to wash his feet (Jn. 13:6-8); he wanted a King Messiah. He did not understand the Day of Atonement or that there were two Messiahs. He wanted to sit Jesus Christ on the throne of the Caesars and rule this world as unjustly as the Caesars had done but from Jerusalem. However, Christ said at the Lord’s Supper that he was among them as one who serves.
Peter and the other disciples at this meal were unconverted. They were baptised but had not received the Holy Spirit. However, the real lesson is that Peter did not want to lay down his life and serve the Gentiles; he was a Jew. We have to serve everybody.
We must allow our feet to be washed – symbolic of our lives being washed clean by Christ on a continuing basis – if we are to have our part with him in the Kingdom and in everything that he does. Peter realised the necessity of the act but not its significance (Jn. 13:9-11).
Peter could not really understand then because the full significance of Christ’s death and sacrifice had not yet occurred. However, he should have known from the Old Testament Scriptures that Christ had to die and that it was Christ’s death that reconciled men to God.
Everybody who had taken part in the baptismal service was clean through baptism because of the death of Christ, which would come. In the same way the guests who had been invited into the Marriage Supper of the Lamb had their garments given to them which were spotless because they had been cleaned in the blood of Christ. So only their feet, from travelling through the world, became stained and had to be cleaned.
Foot-washing regenerates us and brings us into a state of contemplation and reconciliation with God. If this symbolic refreshing was not good enough we would have to be rebaptised every twelve months to repeat the cycle, or there would be no meaning in what is done at the Lord’s Supper.
We see also that Judas Iscariot was baptised, and he had his feet washed as well. The sequence of this foot-washing was done early in the meal. The bread was broken at the end of the meal and the wine was taken after the meal. Judas Iscariot took part in the body and blood of Jesus Christ yet he allowed himself to be possessed and used by Satan because his motives were wrong.
Judas could not be washed clean and we will see Judas Iscariot continually. In fact, if we look at the Knox translation of the Vulgate, we will see that the Philadelphian Church is allowed to have those of the synagogue of Satan placed within it. We have to keep our mind on the spiritual concepts behind this point and not think in physical terms. We are spiritual Jews and not members of the tribe of Judah, but members of the nation of Israel.
Every year, spiritually speaking, we collect sins as we walk the path of life and so we need to have our baptism covenant renewed. We symbolically accept that rewashing as we go through the foot-washing.
From John 13:12-17 we look again at that concept.
John 13:12-17 When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (RSV)
From verse 16 Christ was emphasising the placing of himself at a level below God so that we understood that none of us is greater, and we do not have the expectations of the fallen Host of taking over from God. We wash one another’s feet in order to show each other that we are introspectively developing our own positions and our own spirituality with Jesus Christ.
Following Jesus’ instruction and his example, we now wash one another’s feet.
The symbolism of the washing is twofold. Initially it was a physical form, and in 1Corinthians 10 we will understand that physical salvation of our people was done as an example to prepare us for this second phase of our salvation. Through baptism we participate in the Holy Spirit, which was closed to Israel before Christ.
1Corinthians 10:1-13 I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3and all ate the same supernatural food 4and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless with most of them God was not pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance." 8We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come. 12Therefore let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (RSV)
They did not put their minds on God. One of the reasons is that they did not have the Holy Spirit. It doesn’t mean we’re any better than they were except that God has chosen us and put His Holy Spirit in us in order to overcome our own carnality and problems.
1Corinthians 10:14-20 Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. 15I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. (RSV)
What altar we go before determines what God we worship, and that is the most significant concept we face. We cannot go with impunity before the altar of a false god. The penalty is death.
1Corinthians 10:21-22 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? (RSV)
The participation in the table of demons is forbidden. We cannot give or receive tithes and offerings of false gods which is clearly in contravention of the injunctions in Acts 15:19-29. We are not even allowed to take the money of people who are in the employ of the organisation of a false god. If we do not know the meat has been sacrificed to false gods or foreign gods, there is no problem with eating because we eat in ignorance to the glory of God. However, when we know the origin we have no option. The doctrine of the Trinity is a false god.
There is only one bread, the Body of Christ. This makes us all one body, partaking of this one bread. There is only one cup, the cup of the Lord. So do we denigrate Christ by saying there is only One True God? No, we do not. Christ is our Lord and Master but he is not the One True God. Christ lives in us as God lives in all of us, as all of us were redeemed from death.
By this symbolism we are set apart. The first Exodus was to take us out of Egypt and establish the nation of Israel so that a place could be established in which God could reveal His Plan through His prophets (Jer. 31:31-34).
The head of Christ is God and the head of every man is Christ. Because we have the Holy Spirit we know God and we know Jesus Christ. That is the fulfilment of the Scripture of Jeremiah. That is why no minister can place himself between any one of us and Jesus Christ. No Elder has the power to diminish the Law.
Christ made a covenant with us but like all covenants it required the sacrifice of blood (cf. Mat. 26:26-28). He was appointed as our High Priest from Hebrews 8:3.
The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies for the blood sacrifice which pointed to Christ’s sacrifice. As leader Christ had only himself to offer. No other sacrifice would have been good enough, nor would it have demonstrated the way God thinks and the way He would have us think.
The concept of the body of salvation as the bread is seen from John 6:58.
John 6:58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever." (RSV)
Manna was the prototype, the example for us that we would eat of the bread of Jesus Christ. That bread was from Heaven and symbolised that nothing we could make or do would suffice. Only through Christ and his sacrifice would we achieve our capacity to be sons of God.
Mark 14:22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." (RSV)
That is to be done now.
Lord God, Eternal Father, we ask your blessings on the bread and the wine. We ask also your inspiration in the understanding of the symbolism. We ask it in Christ Jesus’ name. Amen.
The covenant mentioned by Jeremiah in 31:31 could only have been at this time, and established on an ongoing basis. Therefore, the blood of Christ could only be once. When Christ had ascended there could be no more sacrifice because he would be a spiritual body (Lk. 24:39). There could be no further stage in which the covenant could be introduced. It is a continual and ongoing covenant. The wine is symbolic of the High Priest’s sacrifice, where yearly, through the blood of bulls, he entered into the Holy of Holies. By his blood Christ tore the curtain veil and, once and for all. He entered into the Holy of Holies and made it possible for us also to enter into a relationship with God and receive the Holy Spirit. In order to do this we had to be purged from sin, which was a symbolism of Christ’s sacrifice (cf. Heb. 1:3).
This sacrifice was twofold, and wine was also symbolic of Christ acting as the vine.
John 15:1-6 "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. (RSV)
This concept of the wine coming forth from the fruit is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit, where every one of us produces fruit of the Spirit through Christ by the power of God. The simple symbolism of Christ’s sacrifice is reflected in these two symbols of bread and wine. We will now partake of the wine.
It is perhaps important to realise that the bread and the wine of which we have just partaken added a new dimension to the understanding of Christ’s sacrifice that was not understood through the Passover lamb. The bones of the lamb were never broken to symbolise a righteous man having his bones remain intact to fulfil Psalm 34:20; but the body of Christ was broken on the stake. The bread represents the body of Christ being made up of many different people and hence the bread is broken into different parts. The lamb’s blood was never drunk but we drink the wine as symbolic of Christ’s blood being shed for us. It has been said that having taken these symbols we should go through the next day recognising that Christ is going to suffer in a terrible manner for us. We shall examine one of the prophecies that dealt with this (cf. Isa. 52:13-15 and 53:1-12).
We see that Isaiah understood the exact nature of Christ, and he saw that Christ had to die to be numbered with transgressors and yet he would see his offspring. Now Christ was not married and bore no children but this prophecy has to be fulfilled. We are the initial offspring given to Jesus Christ. We are also the ‘Bride of Christ’ and the offspring of us are to become the era of righteous judgment, namely, the thousand years of the Millennium. That is why we are likened to a bride and become part of a system, and why Christ becomes an everlasting father, from Isaiah 9:6. Only by this meal can we understand that or take part in it.
After the disciples had gone through the ceremonies, Jesus gave them fervent instruction.
John 14:1-31 "Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
The rooms in the Temple of God were constructed in specific sequence to be occupied by the priesthood from the High Priest down.
4And you know the way where I am going." 5Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me. 7If you had known me, you would have known my Father also; henceforth you know him and have seen him."
By our knowledge of Jesus Christ and participation in this sacrifice we come to know God. When anyone says to us God is a mystery and is unknowable, we know thereby that they are not converted and they are not part of the elect. To know the One True God and His son Jesus Christ is eternal life (Jn. 17:3). To deny that is to have no part either in our Father or His Son, Jesus Christ.
8Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." 9Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, `Show us the Father'?
The divine nature conferred the aspects of the Father on the Son, as it also confers the aspects of the Father on us. Whenever anyone looks at us they see the Father and they see Christ.
10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me; or else believe me for the sake of the works themselves. 12"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father.
Our works are evidence that the Father is in us.
13Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; 14if you ask anything in my name, I will do it. 15"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counsellor, to be with you for ever, 17even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18"I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Any system that tries to limit Christ and the Father and separate Christ and the Father from us is a heresy. It is an attempt to steal our birthright with lies.
21He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23Jesus answered him, "If a man 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. 24He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.
Keeping the Commandments of God is necessary for the retention of the Holy Spirit and the occupation of each of the elect by the Father and the Son.
25"These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.
We are all co-heirs with Christ, tied together with the Father by the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that enables Christ and us to all become elohim.
28You heard me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
If the Father wasn’t greater He would have gone to Jesus Christ.
29And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe. 30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;
The god of this world has no power over the sons of God.
31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence. (RSV)
The relationship with the Father is maintained by the Holy Spirit and through the keeping of the Commandments in the love of Christ. We have taken of the body and blood of Christ and become fused with Christ to become one with the Father.
Christ accomplished his task in the glorification of God. He then requested to be reinstated from this sequence to the glory that he had with God before the world was made (Jn. 17:4-5).
Christ made known the name of God to the people whom God had given to Christ. The elect had kept the word of God and knew that Christ came from God and they believed that God sent him (Jn. 17:6-8). The interrelationship of the elect with God and Christ is evident from John 17:9-10.
Christ is given the name and hence the authority of God. It is a Hebrew concept that where the name is given that person carries the power of the conferring authority. That is why Moses was called an elohim. Christ was returning while the elect remained in the world. They were entrusted to God (Jn. 17:11).
Judas Iscariot had a choice. He was given the opportunity for salvation and he fell away. From the time these Scriptures were written, it was known that Christ would have a disciple who would betray him. God is not confined to our time and space problems such that His foreknowledge predetermined that Judas Iscariot would sin. God did not make Judas do it; He simply knew he would do it (Jn, 17:12).
Christ spoke that we might understand what was happening to him for our enlightenment and to fulfil his joy in us (Jn. 17:13).
The world hates the elect because they are of the word of God. Christ gave the word, the Logos (here the accusative logon) to the elect (Jn. 17:14-16). Thus the Logos is an expression or true utterance of God, which is not confined to the personage of Jesus Christ. This contrasts with the pseudo-logon from 1Timothy 4:2, translated of men who speak lies (see Marshall’s Interlinear).
The elect are sanctified by truth, which is the word of God. They are sent out into the world as Christ was sent out as a lamb amongst wolves (Jn. 17:17-19). Truth is the consecration of the Holy Spirit. Christ was consecrated by the truth so that we also might be consecrated. There should be no lie among the elect.
It is by our example that the world sees that Jesus Christ was sent by God and did indeed achieve His purpose. If we do not reflect that then the world is blind to that fact (Jn. 17:20-21). That is the responsibility placed on the elect. We share in Christ’s glory so that we can become one with God (Jn. 17:22-23). One day we also will behold the glory of God conferred in Christ (Jn. 17:24-26).
From John 22:23 we see there is no distinction in God’s love for Jesus Christ and for every one of us. He does not love Jesus Christ any more than He loves any one of us, because there is no sin in our Father – and respect of persons is sin. God loves us all equally and perfectly.
After this, Christ and the disciples sang a hymn, and then they went out to the Mount of Olives (Mk. 14:26).
The service will close by singing the hymn: The Lord is My Shepherd.
For further study see the full paper The Lord’s Supper (No. 103).