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A Supper of the Lord,



Question 1:

Since most churches believe that in the statement, "As often as ye do this," there is no command how often it should be done, on what authority do you base the teaching that it should be done every day, and every meal?


Most Bible students and scholars agree that the only true way to understand Scriptural statements is to view them in the context of the times and the practices of the people to whom the statements were made. Likewise, scholars, both Jewish and Christian, acknowledge that it was the common practice of the Israelites to take their daily bread, pronounce a blessing, and then break the bread and distribute it to those present. They also would take the cup of their meals, pronounce another blessing and pass it also.

This custom was performed by all the Jewish households that same Passover night when Jesus instituted the memorial of His death and second coming. So in what way was His doing this different? Just this. Prior to this, their custom had been to bless the Name of Lord – "Blessed art Thou, Lord (YHWH) our God, King of the universe, Who bringeth forth bread out of the earth." In saying, "Do this in remembrance of Me," He was saying to them "I am the King of the universe, remember this! I, who have walked among you, who have called you brothers end sisters, who have forgiven your sins, and brought you health and restoration, am your Creator and King of the universe; and I love you and have provided you with this food to sustain your lives!"

It was not a new form that He was teaching them, but He was giving a new meaning, a new thought to their everyday custom. This simple memorial was lost sight of when it was supplanted by the priestly ministration known as the Mass. That the Mass was, and is still, a daily event is not controverted. It was late in the 1st century A.D. that the table began to be called the altar, and at that same time divisions were beginning to be made as to who could perform this. Women were eventually forbidden to do this, and everybody who would not bow to the false notions which were being propagated (such as transubstantiation) were excommunicated.

There is no record in the New Testament, nor in the earliest historical records that it was ever done apart from a meal. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 ( the only place where we find the phrase "supper of the Lord"), written between 55-60 A.D., shows a regular meal only, not two separate events – a meal and the emblems. The two earliest non-Biblical references, The Didache and Pliny, in the late 1st century, and early 2nd, respectively, both bear testimony to a meal with the emblems as a part of it.


Question 2:

Since Ellen White, and most health experts, counsel against mixing fruits and vegetables at the same meal, and also against drinking with meals, how can grape juice be taken with every meal?


Remember, that at that last Passover meal, Jesus, Himself, ate "bitter herbs" along with the "wine" (reconstituted grape syrup which had been stored in new skin containers). Those "bitter herbs" are understood to have been lettuce, chicory, endive, or watercress – a salad. Jewish and Christian sources testify to this. Was that sin against His body? When He passed the cup to His disciples, was He causing them to defile their bodies? Of course not.

The main reason for the testimonies against drinking with meals, is that most people drink to wash down the food, which prevents it from mixing with the saliva (which is necessary for proper digestion), or dilutes the stomach juices so that they would be too weak to do their work. The juice of fruits, separated from the body of the fruit, has a different effect on the body than whole fruit.

The proper amount would be about 1-4 ounces (depending on the height of the person) of pure juice, mixed with 5-15 per cent of water (depending on the strength of the juice). Juices made from concentrates already have the water mixed with them. The mixing with water not only symbolizes the dual intercession of Christ and the Holy Ghost, but also balances the iron in the juice with the oxygen in the water, making it more complete. This should be sipped; a greater amount at the beginning of the meal (at the giving of thanks), a couple of times during the meal (between courses), and the last little bit at the closing blessing of the meal.

There are also other benefits to our health in taking some grape juice with every meal. Health researchers have come to note that concord grape juice is quite good for the body, as it contains nearly 6 times the beneficial ingredients of fermented red wine (which is mistakenly being recommended for good health). In addition, the small amount of grape juice taken with the two daily meals makes up 2 of the 3 to 5 recommended daily servings of fruits. (Offsite link for more information on the health benefits of grape juice)

Some may quote Isaiah 1:22, "Thy silver is become dross, thy wine is mixed with water," as a condemnation of this practice. But that is taking it out of its historical context. Since the ancient world didn't have refrigeration to preserve their juice, they would boil down the juice to a thick syrup, then store it in "new skins" ("bottles" – KJV) until used. This would keep it from fermenting. It was then mixed with water to reconstitute it. The Lord in making this statement through Isaiah was saying to His people that their wine was not "new," – fresh. Which, in effect, is saying that they had not the living, active Spirit of Prophesy in their midst – Divine Guidance. See Hosea 12:13, and Amos 3:7.


Question 3:

Ellen White, in The Desire of Ages, in the chapter entitled In Remembrance of Me, has said, "The family board becomes as the table of the Lord, and every meal a sacrament." DA, p. 660. She also says, "Bread that is leavened must not come on the communion table." Review and Herald, June 7, 1898. Does that mean that we should not eat leavened bread with our meals?


At the time these statements were written the church was still following the practices of the Presbyterians as stated in the Westminster Confession; that the bread on the church table is "set apart from a common to a holy use." The Reformers; Luther, Knox, etc. generally understood that the "supper of the Lord" spoken of in the Scriptures was a real meal, but because other important doctrines, such as "the just shall live by faith," and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, were more important for the people of that time, they compromised their understanding of the truth of the meal aspect of the "supper" to preserve unity among themselves.

Luther, himself, said, "The mass is a bad thing; God is opposed to it; it ought to be abolished; and I would that throughout the whole world it were replaced by the supper of the gospel." Martin Luther quoted in The Great Controversy, p. 189.

In these last days, in these times of the "restitution of every Divine institution," the Truth, in practice, must be restored to the remnant church, even though it may cause a "division." Keep in mind that Lutheran and Presbyterian ministers then, as now, embraced the practice of wearing special clerical garb, thus separating themselves from the "laity." Many of the "laity" preferred it this way, for they were willing to let others bear the work of the Lord's "House."

In light of this, the "communion table" was understood to be the meeting of the congregation, in the "sanctuary" of the Church building, around the "altar." But, in the apostolic congregations, the home was the "sanctuary," and their home tables became "the table of the Lord," as was the table in the upper room at Jesus' last Passover. There is no record of the apostles teaching that leavened bread was not to be eaten, but it was never used as the symbol of Christ's "body" in the breaking of bread, for to them leaven generally was a symbol of sin, and in Christ there was no sin. But that leaven has another symbolical meaning can be seen in the following;

" 'The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened' ... In the Saviour's parable, leaven ... illustrates the quickening, assimilating power of the grace of God ... the Holy Spirit." Christ's Object Lesson, p. 95-97.

In light of these things, let us read the whole paragraph of that section of The Desire of Ages, p. 660, which was quoted in the question –

"Our Lord has said, 'Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. . . . For My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.' John 6:53-55. This is true of our physical nature. To the death of Christ we owe even this earthly life. The bread we eat is the purchase of His broken body. The water we drink is bought by His spilled blood. Never one, saint or sinner, eats his daily food, but he is nourished by the body and the blood of Christ. The cross of Calvary is stamped on every loaf. It is reflected in every water spring. All this Christ has taught in appointing the emblems of His great sacrifice. The light shining from that Communion service in the upper chamber makes sacred the provisions for our daily life. The family board becomes as the table of the Lord, and every meal a sacrament."

Therefore, thoroughly baked leavened bread, of whole-grain flour, without any defiling ingredients such baking soda or powder, can be present on the "table of the Lord," but should not be used during the memorial "breaking of bread" when the blessings are said.


Question 4:

Since the practice of most churches has been to eat only one morsel of bread in remembrance of Christ, and then dispose of any that is left by burning it, burying it, giving it away, or keeping it in a holy bread box, how much should be eaten and what should be done with the leftovers?


Jewish custom is that any bread eaten that is "smaller than an olive" is not considered a meal, and thus does not require a blessing. But Christ has said,

"I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:20.

Moreover, the Testimony of Jesus tells us that "Never should a morsel of food pass the lips between meals." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 2, p. 374.

Therefore, if we follow the higher way as revealed in this testimony we won't have to worry about the minimum amount we should give thanks for, for any amount which can be broken in memory of Christ is enough.

Also, many Jews, Arabs, and others have only unleavened bread at meals. Yet regardless of whether the bread is leavened or unleavened, the maximum of it eaten at a meal would be that amount which is healthy, which is about 20% of the meal.

If "thanks" has been given for more than has been eaten, it can be put in the bread box, or any other place that would keep it from spoiling, with any other "food," for that is what it is, and nothing more. If it is not spoiled, "thanks" can be given for it again, as a "symbol" of Christ's undefiled body, and consumed.


Question 5:

If the bread of the memorial of Christ's sufferings, death, and second coming is indeed only symbolical, would it then be proper to put upon it a spread or some other healthy topping and truly eat it as ordinary food?


The answer is in the Bible, in Jesus' own example. When disclosing to his disciples at the Passover feast who would betray him, Jesus said, he it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped it. And when He dipped the sop, He gave it to Judas Iscariot... He then having received the sop went immediately out." John 13:26, 30. The Spirit of Prophecy shines more light on the timing of this event, as follows; "From the memorial supper he went out..." The Desire of Ages, p. 655.

This statement can be proved to be true by a comparison of the Gospels. The order of the events that are recorded in Matthew, Mark, and John are the same, while Luke's is different. Luke places Jesus' statement that one among them would be his betrayer, and the disciples questioning of whom it would be, after the institution of the memorial (Luke 22:17-23). Whereas the other three place the statement in question before the memorial (Matthew. 26:21-26, Mark 14:18-22, John. 13:21-26). As there was only one eating of bread after the questioning, that being the institution of the memorial, then it is obvious that it was the "communion" bread which was "dipped." We would be safe in following His example, no more, no less.


Question 6:

In The Desire of Ages, pg. 650, Sr. White says that the washing of feet is Christ's appointed preparation for the Lord's Supper. In light of this, is it practical, or necessary, to have a washing of feet before each meal, each supper of the Lord?


The answer is the same as the one for the question, "Is it practical, or necessary, to sin every day?" – and that is, "no, it is not." On the same page as quoted above, it is stated that during the preparatory service "Blessings forgotten, mercies abused, kindnesses slighted, are called to mind. Roots of bitterness that have crowded out the precious plant of love are made manifest. Defects of character, neglect of duties, ingratitude to God, coldness towards our brethren, are called to remembrance... Sins are confessed."

We can see by the typical sacrificial system that as there was no sin offering, during which sins were confessed, ordained as a regular, daily event. God never intended to lead his people to assume that sinning and repenting was to be a daily occurrence. The remnant church is to stand before the throne without an Intercessor when probation closes (Early Writings, p. 280), but, they are to be ready for that experience, "without spot or wrinkle," long before that time, because, "Only those who have withstood temptation in the strength of the Mighty One will be permitted to act a part in proclaiming it [the Third Angel's Message] when it shall have swelled into the Loud Cry." Review and Herald, Nov. 18, 1908.

While under the typical ceremonial system, burnt offerings were to be offered twice a day, every day, and additionally on the Sabbaths and other feast days, there were no sin offerings ordained on a daily basis. In the typical service, the daily burnt offering symbolized the daily consecration of the congregation made possible by the Life (symbolized by the blood) of the Lamb of God. It was not a sin offering.

Other than the yearly feast days, the only times at which sin offerings were regularly presented were on the new moons. While one could offer a sin offering when a need arose for it, the fact that there were none ordained on a daily basis shows that God intended for His people to realize His sustaining grace which could keep them from falling into sin on a daily basis. This daily consecration was (is) obtained by a true realization and appreciation of that which was symbolized by the daily burnt offerings – Christ's continual intercession in imputing His righteous life to our record, and the impartation of His righteousness within us by the Holy Ghost, cleansing us from all unrighteousness and restoring us to God's image and likeness.

If the washing of feet is a part of the anti-typical memorial service, it must have a counterpart in the typical service. As the only time that sins were openly confessed was during a sin offering, and as during the washing of feet, not at the table of the Lord, confession is made, then one is clearly the anti-type of the other, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law." Hebrews 7:12.

The same principle applies to the footwashing service as that which applied to the sin offering. While there may be circumstances which may call for an almost daily footwashing between brethren, a daily, true, individual self-examination should be sufficient to keep our hearts and minds set upon the higher purposes of life. The purpose and significance of the washing of feet and its attending prayer are as follows:

"These ordinances [footwashing and a supper of the Lord] were established that all might have the privilege of acknowledging their wrongs, and confessing their sins at this time. And as the heart is softened, and melted under the moving of the Holy Spirit, the heavenly anointing gives them spiritual eyesight to discern their errors. Jesus has pledged himself to be present in the fullness of His grace to change the currents of the mind that are running in selfish channels....

"Christ does indeed manifest himself unto the believers who thus reveal their faith by coming together at the communion table with the simplicity of children to remember Jesus, his words, and his requirements, determined to exclude from the heart all selfishness and love of supremacy." Review & Herald, June 7, 1898. [brackets added]

"No outward forms can make us clean; no ordinance, administered by the saintliest of men, can take the place of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God must do its [Her] work upon the heart. ... Strife and contention cannot arise among those who are controlled by His Spirit." ibid., 227. [brackets added]

The purpose of the typical sacrificial service was to "keep fresh" the knowledge (memory) of the coming sacrifice for sin, the Lamb of God. This is identical to the purpose of the anti-typical service (a supper of the Lord), "to keep fresh in the memory of His followers the solemn scenes of His betrayal and crucifixion for the sins of the world." Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 227.

The new experience of the remnant church, after the "thorough revival and reformation," will be that of sinless living. Being saved from our sins, not in them. (See 1 John). As this takes place, the footwashing becomes the means of entrance into the pure church.

In figure, those who remain in the house don't soil their feet, therefore they are clean. Yet, in ancient Israel, because of the state of most of the people most of the time, sin offerings did become almost a "daily" occurrence. In the early church, in her purity, where the sustaining power in the blood of the Lamb of God was known, not only as a theory, but as an abiding reality, the confession of sin among the apostles and disciples was not needed very often because they weren't sinning against God or each other very often. Their experience of the ten days in the upper room took care of most of the problems. It was those who were entering the "white house," the pure church, that needed their feet washed. The greatest need for the church today is a true ten days of unity experience, similar to that which the apostles and disciples went through.

The true experience of justification, which takes place upon a true and honest confession of sin, and the restoration which it brings, will be experienced by every soul who has named the name of Christ, and yet, has fallen spiritually asleep (as did both the wise and foolish virgins in Matt. 25), and knows and admits that they are dead in sin and trespasses (because they say "We are cut off for our parts." – Ezekiel 37:11), when the resurrection that is prophesied in Ezekiel 37:1-14 is fulfilled upon "the whole house of Israel."

"...this simile of the dry bones appl[ies]... to those who have been blessed with great light; for they... are like the skeletons of the valley. They have the form of men, the framework of the body; but they have not spiritual life. ...The dead are often made to pass for the living; for those who are working out what they term salvation after their own ideas, have not God working in them to will and to do of His good pleasure. THIS CLASS IS WELL REPRESENTED BY THE VALLEY OF BONES EZEKIEL SAW IN VISION. Those who have had committed to them the TREASURES of TRUTH, and yet who are DEAD in trespasses and sins, need to be CREATED ANEW in Christ Jesus." Review and Herald Jan. 17, 1893, as found in the SDA Bible Commentary, Vol. 4, p. 1165,1166.

"Our faith is to have a resurrection....We need the breath of the divine life breathed into us." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 45, 46.

"Duties are laid down in God's Word, the performance of which will keep the people of God humble and separate from the world, and from backsliding, like the nominal churches. the washing of feet and partaking of the Lord's Supper should be more frequently practiced." Early Writings, p. 116.

"The spiritual energies of His people have long been torpid, but there is to be a resurrection from apparent death. [Ezekiel 37:1-14].

"By prayer and confession of sin we must clear the King's highway. As we do this, the power of the Spirit will come to us. We need the Pentecostal energy. This will come, for the Lord has promised to send His Spirit as the all-conquering power." Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, pgs. 297-8. [brackets added].

"Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling [by keeping His sacrifice fresh in your minds], and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." Jude 24, 25.

The Branch

Doug Mitchell

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