After the verbal discussion to now, let us strip our minds of confusing nonessentials, and try to get to the CRUX POINTS IN QUESTION. What, then, is our question? What are we trying now to SETTLE?
The sole QUESTION to be settled is: AT WHAT TIME SHALL WE TAKE THE BREAD AND WINE TODAY? Such points as time of killing of lamb, or time of eating of lamb, or time of going out of Egypt, enter the discussion ONLY insofar as they have bearing on the CENTRAL QUESTION: When shall we, today, take bread and wine.
If that point is fixed in mind, to gain UNDERSTANDING, let us ask,
What IS the ordinance in which we take bread and wine (regardless of whether it ought to be called "Lord's Supper," or "Passover," or "Communion," or "Eucharist"). WHY do we take it, WHAT IS it, and HOW do we find in God's Word WHEN to take it? These are the questions we must UNDERSTAND. And we must avoid getting so close to a tree we can't see the forest. We might be in a forest of 999 fir trees, and one oak tree, and get so close to the oak tree that we could see none of the others and so declare we were in an oak forest. Let's not get so close to whether "Passover" means "sacrifice," or eating of roast lamb, or death-angel PASSING OVER that we lose sight of the UNDERSTANDING of the meaning, the purpose and the TIME of the bread and wine today. Let's ask, then, "WHAT MEAN YE by these things?" and HOW? and WHEN?
First, then, what is the bread and the wine? What do they represent? "Jesus took bread, . . . and said, Take, eat; this is My body." What is the wine? "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," Matthew 26:26-28.
What does the bread mean? Paul explains that to take it unworthily is to eat damnation to ourselves, "not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep," I Corinthians 11:29-30. Jesus Himself took our sicknesses and diseases. How? "By His STRIPES we are HEALED." His body was BROKEN that we might be healed -- He thus suffered our sicknesses in our stead. Because many do not discern this and TRUST in it for healing, they take it unworthily and are weak, sick, and some die. His body was broken for our healing. Therefore we break the bread. Our BREAKING it, or the minister's breaking it, does not heal us. It means nothing till we ACCEPT it, by EATING it. When we do so we show we ACCEPT His broken body, lashed with stripes, that we may be healed. When we DRINK the wine, we show again (annually) that we ACCEPT the blood of Christ for the remission of sins, that we may be spiritually saved. Jesus' ministry was devoted to healing the sick (His broken body) and preaching the Gospel (His shed blood) -- and the efficacy is not accomplished merely by His having shed His blood and been sacrificed, or by His body having been broken, but by OUR ACCEPTANCE of these in faith believing. We testify to this anew annually by TAKING, into our mouths, the bread and wine. The PURPOSE of the sacrifice and the stripes is not accomplished until WE ACCEPT AND PARTAKE of them. And today, regardless of the ancient Passover, the ORDINANCE which is the crux of our question has to do with our EATING, and actually TAKING into our mouths, of these emblems.
What does this ordinance of bread and wine MEAN? What does it PICTURE?
Jesus said, "This do IN REMEMBRANCE of Me," I Corinthians 11:24, etc. It is a MEMORIAL. In remembrance, or a memorial OF WHAT? "Ye do show THE LORD'S DEATH till He come." It is a memorial of CHRIST'S DEATH.
Now memorials are observed ON, not a day after, the EVENT they commemorate. But we must look to Scripture to see if that, which rings true, is correct. Why do we, unlike other worldly denominations, take this ordinance ANNUALLY?
We turn to the accounts of Luke and Matthew, and find that WHEN Jesus introduced the bread and wine it was "AS THEY WERE EATING," that Jesus took the bread, and the wine. Eating what? EATING THE PASSOVER (Matthew 26:17, 19-21, 26; and Luke 22:13-15; Mark 14:12, 18, 22, etc.). IT IS BECAUSE OF THESE TEXTS, IS IT NOT, THAT WE LOOK BACK INTO THE INCEPTION OF THE PASSOVER, BEGINNING EXODUS 12, TO SEE WHEN JESUS WAS EATING THIS PASSOVER AT WHICH HE INTRODUCED BREAD AND WINE, AND COMMANDED US TO PARTAKE OF IT TODAY?
Now the BREAD AND WINE, clearly as proved above, MEAN the blood and body of Christ, which, if we accept, cause the penalty of sickness, and the angel of eternal death to PASS OVER us -- to spare us from these penalties, since Jesus, by His shed blood and broken body paid these penalties in our stead. That is what this service PICTURES and MEANS. It means the DEATH of Christ, not the resurrection, not our putting sin out of our lives, not the coming of the Holy Spirit, not the Second Coming of Christ. Let's HEW TO THE LINE, bear that constantly in mind, and NOT BECOME MIXED AND CONFUSED as to what this is, how, or WHEN.
Now we say one of the KEYS to UNDERSTANDING is knowledge of GOD'S PLAN as pictured by the FESTIVALS. Each has its MEANING. And one of them MEANS the same thing as the BREAD AND WINE today. Let's keep it straight and clear.
The FESTIVALS begin (annual festivals) with the PASSOVER. Now, whatever Passover is, or MEANS, or pictures, or represents, it IS on the 14th of Abib. That point is not in question. No scripture says Passover begins on the 14th. But such expressions as "IN the 14th day of the first month is the Passover," and "ON the 14th," etc., and "they kept the Passover UPON the 14th," -- not beginning the 14th.
Now turning back to OT passages re: Passover, to see WHY Jesus introduced and commanded the bread and the wine, we find these points:
They took a LAMB, a type of Christ, without spot or blemish. Its legs were not broken. It had to be entirely eaten at once, for its body must not begin decay or see corruption. The type is perfect. Now the KILLING of the lamb -- the shedding of its BLOOD was INSIDE OF the 14th of Abib. On that we are agreed, the only question being which time of that particular day. In any event, the BLOOD was shed ON and STILL WITHIN the 14th, which ended when the sun WAS SETTING at its end. But they did not STOP with the blood sacrifice alone. The lamb was ROASTED, and then EATEN -- the Israelites PARTOOK OF IT, took it into their mouths. Its BODY was broken, but no bone of it. The same with Christ. And that night, whichever night it was, the death angel PASSED OVER every house where the blood was splashed on the door-front.
Now notice Exodus 12:26 -- "When your children shall say unto you, WHAT MEAN YE BY THIS SERVICE? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord's PASSOVER, who PASSED OVER the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt."
STUDY THAT CAREFULLY. It is a KEY to our solution. Now what was included in "THIS SERVICE?" The paragraph begins verse 21. Moses gave instruction, take a lamb for a house, and kill the passover, sprinkle its blood on door-fronts, REMAIN INSIDE YOUR HOUSES UNTIL MORNING -- the Lord will PASS OVER and spare YOU -- and "ye shall observe THIS THING for an ordinance to thee and thy son FOREVER."
What is THIS THING? What is to be OBSERVED? Is there any meaning to the killing of the lamb UNLESS THE DEATH-ANGEL PASSED OVER them, sparing them? What does it MEAN? Does it mean coming out of Egypt? NO! Not a word is here mentioned in connection with THIS SERVICE about their GOING OUT OF EGYPT. It MEANS, according to verse 27 in answer to the question in verse 26, that "THE LORD PASSED OVER THE HOUSES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL IN EGYPT, WHEN HE SMOTE THE EGYPTIANS, AND DELIVERED OUR HOUSES." It means, not going out of Egypt, but DELIVERANCE FROM DEATH.
It -- this thing -- this service which means DELIVERANCE FROM DEATH -- was to be observed FOREVER -- WE ARE TO OBSERVE IT TODAY.
Now when Jesus took bread and wine, He merely CHANGED the eating of the roast body of the lamb to the eating of unleavened bread. BOTH MEAN THE SAME, there can be no question about that. Today, instead of eating the roast body of a typical lamb, we eat the unleavened bread to represent the broken BODY of our Lord. Then, they ate it LOOKING FORWARD to that event. Today, we eat the bread looking BACK, as a MEMORIAL, on the exact anniversary of the event it commemorates. Then they shed the blood of a typical lamb, to picture the shed blood of Christ, looking forward -- today we take what Jesus substituted, the wine, looking back, BUT PICTURING THE SAME THING.
What does the bread and wine MEAN? It means the SAME as this service instituted FOREVER in Exodus 12:24-27. Then they looked forward to it, now we look back as an annual MEMORIAL. And the SERVICE which MEANS all this included, -- verses 21-23 of Exodus 12, the killing of the lamb, the accepting of the blood and dipping (on that one original time) on door fronts, and the PASSING OVER of the death-angel, SPARING them. And also, as other texts, the EATING of the lamb, which was BEFORE the PASSING OVER of the angel. Plainly, when we see what this MEANS, to give PURPOSE to God instituting it, if nothing was done but kill the lamb, it would have been MEANINGLESS. They had to TAKE the blood, accept it, put trust in it, and sprinkle on doorposts, as we now TAKE IT, and accept it by drinking the wine. They also had to EAT THE BODY -- and all BEFORE the PASSING OVER. The purpose was not the killing of the lamb nor eating its roast body, but the SPARING FROM DEATH by the PASSING OVER of the angel. This ordinance, therefore, means nothing unless ALL THOSE THINGS ARE INCLUDED, as they indeed ARE included in God's Word. If YOU dare exclude them, you take away from the holy Word of God, and are in danger of having your part in the Book of Life blotted out.
Regardless of getting SO CLOSE to technical meanings, such as meaning of word "Passover" -- if you try to say, as I understand, that the word "Passover" does NOT include the eating of the body, or the PASSING OVER of the angel -- the ordinance MEANS NOTHING unless it includes all the events including the accepting and utilizing of the blood, the eating of the body, (thus accepting), and the SPARING FROM DEATH thereby. The OBJECT of the sacrifice and everything else was to SPARE THEM FROM DEATH by the PASSING OVER -- and the OBJECT of the bread and wine today is the SPARING US from sickness and first death, and from eternal death, by being PASSED OVER if we accept, and partake of, the body and blood of Christ. Now verses 21-27 DO INCLUDE, specifically, the events of the service from killing of lamb to final PASSING OVER, after the eating of the bread. It is not TWO services, but ONE SERVICE. It is to be OBSERVED FOREVER. It means DELIVERANCE -- verse 27. That's its MEANING. It does not symbolize going out of sin, but deliverance from its consequences -- from past guilt. That is what is called PASSOVER. The Hebrew word means "to skip over," -- and the LAMB was called by the term "Passover" ONLY because its sacrifice WHEN APPLIED AND ACCEPTED -- and WHEN SOMETHING WAS DONE BY PEOPLE FOLLOWING ITS KILLING -- did PASS the people OVER from death. If you try to say the EATING OF THE BODY was no part of the Passover, THEN WHY DO YOU EAT THE BREAD TODAY.
FIRST, consider this: The Scriptures plainly state that "IN the 14th day of the first month is the Passover" -- IN, not out of, or after. And "ON the 15th day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread."
If ancient Israel was commanded to actually OBSERVE the Passover ordinance -- or EAT the Passover -- on the beginning of the 15th, after having killed the lamb during afternoon of 14th, then is not this true:
The BLOOD of the lamb, one half of the ordinance, representing the blood of Christ, was shed on the 14th, but the BODY of the lamb, the other half of the ordinance, was eaten and accepted by the people on the 15th -- actually on a different day of the month! Is it consistent to DIVIDE the ordinance representing the BLOOD and the BODY of Christ, into two different days of the month -- one of the two emblems on one day, the other on another day? And if they ATE the Passover -- OBSERVED the ordinance -- on the 15th, how could they be observing the DEATH of Christ annually, looking forward to it, on its anniversary, when He died on the 14th?
AND, if that be considered what God commanded, then when we come to the NEW Testament time, since the ONLY CHANGE is in the emblems (PASSOVER WAS COMMANDED AN ORDINANCE FOREVER) -- the bread and wine being now substituted for the blood and roast body of a literal lamb -- then, those who so believe MUST TAKE THE WINE ON THE
AFTERNOON OF THE 14th, and then wait until the next day, and TAKE THE BREAD IN THE EVENING OF THE 15TH. Those who take the Passover on the 15th believe the BLOOD was spilled, in literal lambs, on afternoon of the 14th. But they take the wine on the beginning of the 15th. IS THIS CONSISTENT?
AND, since Jesus said, "This do in REMEMBRANCE of me," it is a MEMORIAL, showing HIS DEATH till He comes. Now WHY is it ONCE A YEAR? Because MEMORIALS are observed annually on the SAME DAY OF THE YEAR as the event they commemorate. The EVENT commemorated by the Passover is CHRIST'S DEATH. He died on the 14th, not the 15th. Those who observe it on the 15th DO NOT OBSERVE IT ON THE SAME DAY OF THE YEAR on which it occurred. Can't we see this is CONFUSION -- and not be consistent?