So, at the sacred Seder supper that Yeshua bar Yosef (Jesus of Nazareth) shared with his close Jewish friends he dared to suggest they replace the traditional offerings, meant to remind the Jews of their salvation from Egypt, with something new; bread and wine, shared from that time forward in honor of him. Pretty radical. Pretty scandalous, actually. Definitely heretical.
But what was his purpose? Did he want to toss out one religious custom, replacing it with another? Was the broken bread primarily as a poetic reminder of his body broken on the cross? Was the red wine a really a metaphor for the spilled blood of the “lamb of God”? Was this last meal meant to be a symbolic representation of the personal offering God would need of Yeshua, the “perfect” sacrifice made so that we Christian believers might be home free?
Is that all we are to get out of the symbolism of bread and wine? – a reminder that we have been ‘saved’. But then what does it mean to drink from Yeshua’s cup – why is this such a challenge for us?
Holy Communion is not just a mystical or symbolic meal – a sacrament (though it is that as well). It is a reminder of what we are to do if we are to follow Jesus: to sacrifice our lives and, if necessary, die. Not for Jesus (Yeshua). Not for God. But for other people. Even our enemies. Just as he did.
He wasn’t laying down a new religious tradition – creating a new ritual. He was proposing a new course of action, one that required no religion.
Boy, did we blow it.