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Communion / Eucharist / Lord’s Supper, from a Jewish perspective

by Dr. Eitan Bar
1 minutes read

The Lord’s Supper (aka communion), a solemn ceremony that echoes throughout Christian communities, has, over time, become an almost weighty and alien ritual, far removed from what’s described in the Jewish writings of the New Testament. I can’t speak for its observance elsewhere, but in conservative Evangelical circles, this event often becomes a quiet, somewhat somber moment. We’re frequently urged to reflect deeply on our sins and mourn the immense suffering we caused Jesus, with heads bowed in contemplation. It’s a somewhat melancholic scene, all symbolized by a tiny piece of bread and a small, almost comical, plastic cup of grape juice.

Yet, the New Testament paints a remarkably different picture. Few things connect humans more than sitting together around a dining table for a meal and wine. Perhaps that’s why the Lord’s Supper was a genuine feast first observed during Passover. As Jews, we drink four cups of wine during the Passover Seder meal. Think of when we traditionally enjoy wine – during celebrations, festivities, holidays, and the welcoming of the Sabbath. These moments epitomize joy, celebration, and gratitude, not sorrow and self-beating.

If you’ve ever tasted my mom’s cooking, you’d understand why I fast all day in anticipation of her meal. When it’s finally time to eat, you might compare my enthusiasm to that of a ravenous buffalo. Perhaps the Corinthians had a similar mentality when anticipating the Lord’s Supper. They’d wait eagerly all day, and when the moment arrived to partake in the Lord’s Supper, they resembled famished buffalos who sometimes drink too much and get drunk, as noted in 1 Corinthians 11. This underscores that the Lord’s supper was a festive meal. A big, lengthy celebration! Paul rebuked some Corinthians for eating and drinking excessively, not leaving enough for others to enjoy. But he had no problem with them celebrating with food and wine.

The Lord’s Supper should be a poignant reminder of joy. It beckons us to find solace in knowing that Jesus has already done everything for us, leaving no stone unturned in His act of salvation. By “everything,” we mean every single thing. Reflect on this: 3,500 years ago, during the Exodus from Egypt, your status or perceived righteousness didn’t matter. You could have been the greatest sinner, but if you marked your home with the lamb’s blood, you received God’s redemption, just like the most virtuous individual.

Similarly, today, even if you regard yourself as the gravest sinner, the Lamb’s blood purifies and redeems everything. This is the central gospel message, and it should be a celebration accompanied by joy, excitement, bliss, and passion! Through the Lord’s Supper, we’re reminded not only of sacrifice but also of victory, eternal life, and boundless, unwavering love!

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Dr. Eitan Bar
Author, Theologian, Activist