Mark 14:22-26

Sunday Morning Bible Study

July 10, 2005


I think that sometimes we get some pretty incorrect ideas about what communion is all about.


A little 2 ˝-year-old girl, Kelli, went with her neighbor friend to church for First Communion practice. The pastor has the children cup their hands, and when he gives them piece of bread, he says: “God be with you.” Apparently this made quite an impression on the little girl. She came home and told her mother to cup her hands and bend down. Kelli took a piece of bread from her sandwich, placed it in her mother’s hands, and whispered, in her most angelic voice: “God will get you.””

:22-26 The Last Supper

:22 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.

bread – it was made it in the form of an oblong or round cake, as thick as one’s thumb, and as large as a platter.

At the beginning of the Passover meal, the head of the family, would say thanks using these words:

“Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth bread from the earth.”

The meal was to remind the people of the great deliverance that God performed in delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt.

Jesus would add new significance to this meal. This would be a different deliverance, a deliverance from sin caused by His death on the cross.


What Communion isn’t

Transubstantiation – which means “change in substance”. Transubstantiation became an official doctrine of the Roman Catholic church in AD 1215.
This is a great word to impress your friends with. It has to do with what the Roman Catholic church teaches on the subject of communion.
The RCC teaches that when the priest says the words “This is my body” and “This is my blood”, that the bread and wine change literally into the body and blood of Christ.
The Catholic church teaches that the event that takes place during communion is a continuation of the sacrifice of Christ. Jesus again dies for your sins and you now participate in this through taking the bread and wine.
The Creed of Pope Pius IV stated: “I profess that in the Mass is offered to God a true, proper, and propitiatory sacrifice for the living and the dead;...there is truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ; and that there is a conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the blood.”

There are a couple of problems with this teaching:

1. This gives the idea that the work of Christ on the cross was unfinished because the sacrifice is reenacted over and over again each time the Mass is performed.
Yet on the cross, Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30)
The writer of Hebrews said,

(Heb 10:11-14 NKJV) And every priest stands ministering daily and offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. {12} But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, {13} from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. {14} For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.

2. It ignores the concept of human speech, the “metaphor”.
Jesus said He was the “vine”. Does that mean that He is a vegetable?
Just as when we are looking over a map and say, “This is England,” “This is America,” “This is Mexico,” etc., we do not mean that that piece of paper is England, but we mean that those marks upon it represent those respective countries.
At the Last Supper, Jesus Himself was actually, literally physically present at the Last Supper, yet He said that the bread was His body and the wine was His blood. Would the disciples have thought that the bread before them had turned into Jesus’ flesh?  No, they would have seen it as a symbol.
This was meant to be a symbol.
3. If the wine becomes actual blood, then Jesus is asking the Jews to do something forbidden in drinking it. God commanded the Jews to never eat or drink blood (Lev. 17:10-11).

:23 And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it.

given thankseucharisteo – to be grateful, feel thankful; give thanks

This is where the word “Eucharist” comes from. It means literally, “Good Grace”.

all – all of the disciples present in the room. But this doesn’t include Judas Iscariot who had already left the meal.

:24 And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many.

testamentdiatheke – a disposition, as in “the last will and testament”. It’s an agreement, a contract. The first two-thirds of your Bible is called the “Old Testament”, meaning the old contract that God had with man through the keeping of the Law of Moses. The last third of your Bible is called the “New Testament”.

At the end of the Passover meal, there was a closing blessing and then a cup of wine shared by the family. This cup was the third of four cups on the table, and was called the “cup of blessing” (1Cor. 10:16)

Jesus called this cup the blood of a new covenant.

The Old Covenant, the Law of Moses, had also been initiated with blood.  At the foot of Mt. Sinai, Moses read the Law to the Israelites and then sprinkled the blood of a sacrifice on the people calling it the “blood of the covenant” (Ex. 24:8).

But this would be a “New” covenant, a new agreement between God and man. Jeremiah spoke of the “new covenant”

(Jer 31:34 NKJV) "No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more."

How did God make it possible for our sins to be forgiven?

Through the blood of Jesus Christ. Matthew records Jesus saying,

(Mat 26:28 NKJV) "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.


You can be forgiven

The Bible teaches that Jesus is God. The Bible teaches that Jesus made the choice to leave the glory of heaven and take on lowly human flesh. Why would Jesus do this? Jesus came to earth in order to become a sacrifice. When He died on the cross, He didn’t just sacrifice a single human life. He sacrificed an eternal, immortal, infinite life. That means that His sacrifice was like no other. His sacrifice could pay for the sins of the entire world, once for all time. His death was enough for the world. His death was enough for you.
You may think that you’ve done things that can never be forgiven, but you’re wrong.
God can forgive you because of what Jesus did for you on the cross.

:25 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.

Jesus will not be drinking any grape juice or wine until He comes back and sets up His kingdom on earth.

One of the elements of communion is to remind us that He is coming back. Paul wrote,

(1 Cor 11:26 NKJV) For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.

It would seem that Jesus would not drink of the traditional “fourth” cup of wine or the “cup of consummation”. This is the cup He’ll drink when He comes back.

:26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

Psalm 118 would be sung at the end of the meal, including things like:

(Psa 118:22 NKJV) The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.

By this time it would have been around midnight when Jesus and the disciples left Jerusalem. They will be spending the night camping out on the Mount of Olives at the Garden of the “Oil Press”, the Garden of Gethsemane.


What Communion is:

I don’t want people to remember me for what I’m against.  I want them to know what I’m for.  I don’t just want you thinking about what Communion isn’t, but what it is.

1. A symbol to remember

Luke records Jesus saying,
(Luke 22:19 NKJV) And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
It’s meant to cause us to remember what He’s done.

2.  Healing

This is one of the wonderful things about the broken bread.
The bread represents Jesus’ body which was broken.  When was His body broken?  His body wasn’t just broken on the cross, but also during His scourging.  Isaiah wrote,
(Isa 53:5 NKJV)  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.

I don’t think this speaks exclusively of spiritual healing.  I believe there is physical healing available from Jesus.  I believe taking communion is one way we can access that healing.

3.  Cleansing

This is what the cup reminds us of.  It reminds us of His blood that was shed so that we could be forgiven.
Communion gives me the opportunity to grasp the forgiveness that Jesus offers to me.
(1 John 1:9 NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

4.  Intimacy with Jesus

Luke 24: On the Sunday after Jesus died, two of the disciples were walking on the road on the way to Emmaus, totally discouraged that their Master had been killed. As they were walking, along, Jesus started walking with them, but they didn’t recognize Him. They couldn’t understand why this stranger was so unaffected by the things that had just happened in Jerusalem. Yet as they continued to talk, this stranger explained to them how it was necessary for Jesus to die. This stranger went through the Scriptures, pointing out the prophecies concerning Jesus.
(Luke 24:28-32 NKJV) Then they drew near to the village where they were going, and He indicated that He would have gone farther. {29} But they constrained Him, saying, "Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent." And He went in to stay with them. {30} Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. {31} Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. {32} And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?"
They ran back to Jerusalem to tell the other disciples about what had happened and explained it like this:
(Luke 24:35 NKJV) And they told about the things that had happened on the road, and how He was known to them in the breaking of bread.
It was the breaking of bread that had caused their eyes to be opened.  This was the moment they realized they had actually been with Jesus.

5. Priorities: Keeping first things first.

It’s about remembering what’s important.
It reminds us of what Jesus did for us. It reminds us of who He is.
It’s something we don’t “move on” from. It’s something we never “out grow”.
The early church learned to take communion seriously. When the church was born on the day of Pentecost, there were four things that they put into practice immediately:
(Acts 2:42 NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

The two things in the middle, “fellowship” and “the breaking of bread” are both phrases related to communion.

It’s important in the church that we continue to learn to keep the main thing the main thing – that Jesus died for us and if it weren’t for Jesus we’d all be lost.

6. Togetherness

It’s about what we have in common. It’s about belonging to one another.
I don’t see any examples of communion taking place by a single individual. It seems to always take place in a group.
Paul had some instructions for the church of Corinth regarding communion.
(1 Cor 11:27-34 NKJV) {27} Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
This sounds pretty serious. What does it mean to eat in an “unworthy manner”?
I’ve known people who thought that eating in an “unworthy manner” meant having sin in your life. If they had committed a sin within two days of coming to church, they would not take communion.
Being “unworthy” is not about whether or not you’ve sinned.  Communion is for sinners.  Communion is for sinners who have found forgiveness in Jesus Christ.  Keep reading.
{28} But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. {29} For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.
This seems to be a key phrase. What does it mean to “not discern the Lord’s body”?  (NIV – “recognizing”)
I would think that at the very least, it means that we don’t understand that Jesus died for us. Communion should not be taken by a person who does not trust in Jesus.
But there’s more to it than just that …
{30} For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep.
There was illness and death in Corinth.
{31} For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. {32} But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
Learn to take care of the problems so God won’t have to.
{33} Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. {34} But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
What does it mean to “discern (recognize) the Lord’s body” (vs. 29)?

Paul isn’t talking about the bread. He’s talking about the church. The next chapter (1Cor. 12) explains how the church is the “Body of Christ”.

The problem in Corinth was with the divisions in the church (vs. 20-22).

I think Paul is talking about examining our hearts concerning our relationships with one another.

Do I realize that the people around me make up the “body of Christ”?


The movie “Hook” is a retelling of the Peter Pan story.  Peter Pan (Robin Williams) has grown up, gotten married, become a lawyer, and has kids of his own.  When his kids are kidnapped by Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman), Peter goes back to Neverland to rescue his kids.  When he arrives, none of his friends (the “lost boys”) recognize him.  They think he must be a pirate because he’s a grownup.  All grownups are pirates.  But then one of the littlest kids comes up to Peter and begins to study him.  He walks around Peter.  He touches Peter’s face.  He looks into his eyes and says, “Oh, it’s you”.  They hadn’t recognized him.

Do you recognize the body of Christ?  Do you realize that some of the brothers and sisters with which you may be having problems with are not pirates but are actually a part of the body of Christ?  Do we need to “wait” for each other before communion?