This is one of the deep, dark mysteries which seemingly befuddles the masses. If we approach the subject from this point of view, we are certainly going to wind up in the same mess as the church did during the dark ages.
First, let me say that all scripture is easily understood, if we will just apply the miracle of the brain that God gave us! If at this point I seem cynical – you’re right! I’m deliberately being cynical, so as to focus attention on the absurdity placed upon this ritual of breaking bread for two thousand years.
Let us begin by thinking as Jesus did, for He came to earth to show us exactly how we should behave and think.
When Jesus had gathered little children about Him, He said:
“Unless you become as one of these little ones, you shall not see the kingdom of heaven.”
His meaning is simple: Be simple, do not complain.
Children are simple creatures. They will tell you something and then say, “My Father said so!” They accept teaching without question. They do not complicate matters by reasoning and forcing their own will into the matter as an adult would, thus complicating the matter.
Now let us deal with “the Last Supper”. First of all, the name is really wrong, but it will serve the purpose. The word “supper” means supper! Were the apostles in prison? Perhaps on bread and water… oops! Wine! Seriously. They were dining. They were eating supper together.
In ancient times, the custom of asking someone to have dinner with you was termed “breaking bread”. It is still in use today and means “let’s have supper, or lunch, or whatever meal, together.”
When Jesus said “do this in remembrance of me” concerning the breaking of bread, He was symbolically breaking a piece of bread and passing it around the table (not an altar), so the apostles could share what He had… the bread.
Examine the bread a little more closely. What type bread are we discussing here? Italian, or maybe French bread? Perhaps white bread, rye, or Russian black? Maybe it was pita or bagels or English muffins? Pretty silly when we examine it a little closer, isn’t it? To find the answer, examine the scriptures.
In Matthew 26:2
“ye know that after two days is the feast of passover…”
In verse 26, Jesus breaks the bread. Now we know they were celebrating the feast of passover, a very Jewish feast which does not allow – EVER – any leaven to be used in the baking of bread. So the bread was unleavened bread. No other bread may be substituted.
In Luke 22:1, we see affirmation of this fact!
“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called passover.”
In verse 19, Jesus breaks the bread.
Thus we establish three facts:
- Jesus and the apostles celebrate the Jewish feast of passover and never mention “doing away” with it. On the contrary, when Jesus says “do this in remembrance of me” He re-affirms that we are to “break bread together”, meaning believers are to become as a family and eat, at least some of their meals together, if not all.
- The bread used is unleavened bread and may not be substituted by any other type of bread.
- This feast includes the eating and drinking of other foods besides bread and wine, such as lamb.
Now if Jesus was telling us to institute a ritual in memory of Him, as some churches believe and teach, it must be a feast of many foods and drink, celebrated at the prescribed time of the year (Spring time) and the bread must be unleavened bread. The exact formula for this feast is described in Exodus chapter 12 and Leviticus chapter 23, for all the details.