Water from the RockThe Cup After Supper
by Larry C. Hamner
November 16, 2010
Everybody Does It This Way
The authenticity of modern Christian rituals often goes unchallenged because of the uniformity of practice by Christian churches. One should not under estimate the paradigmatic influence and significance of; “thats how it's always been done” and the assumed theological correctness of the masses. I point this out because The House of God is often criticized for its bread and water sacrament tradition. Christians who practice the wine or juice, as often as you would like tradition; somehow see bread and water as not scriptural and borders on sacrilege. There is, however, ample biblical and historical evidence for a bread and water only sacrament. I believe the position of the House of God is a correct one and was practiced by many in the first century church. Let me explain. The Gospels of the New Testament tell us about the events of Jesus “Last Supper” with his disciples. Since the story is so familiar to many it is easy to assume that the Gospels all tell the same story in the same way. It is true that they are telling the same story. But the way they tell it is considerably different. Luke the physician, author of the third narrative of the Synoptic Gospels, gives particular attention to two cups that Jesus partook of with his disciples. I ask you to take a fresh look at the Lord's Supper through the lens of Dr. Luke. The first noteworthy difference between Luke's narrative and Matthew and Mark is that Luke supplies us with a chronology of the evening's events. Let's resist the urge to do a historical reconstruction of the Last Supper narrative. Let's not try to determine the aims of Jesus at the Last Supper. Let's just assume that Luke realized the importance of the event that he was describing and wrote exactly what he wanted us to know. It is also worth pointing out at this juncture that the four cups of wine and other features of the Jewish Passover practices are extraBiblical. The use of wine or grape juice during the Passover is wholly Jewish tradition and was not part of the law given in Exodus 12.
According to Luke Jesus makes a couple of vows during supper; one he says he will not eat of the Passover anymore until he eats it in the Kingdom with his disciples and two to abstain from drinking the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God shall come.
“And he said unto them, with desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: for I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, take this, and divide it among yourselves: for I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.” (Luke 22:15-18 KJV)
If we take Luke 22:15-18 literally then indeed the two declarations of abstinence were vows and Jesus didn't eat another bite of the Passover Lamb nor did he drink another sip of the fruit of the vine after these declarations. What Luke didn't record in these verses is also note worthy: this do in remembrance of me. According to Luke there was no request by Jesus for the partaking of these two elements to be done in his remembrance. This would mean that there should be no lamb or fruit of the vine on the Lord's Table. This also suggest that redemption history is about to move from the age of “The Exodus” to the realm of “The New Covenant”. At this point the Gospel of Luke records Jesus taking the bread braking it and blessing it then taking up a second cup “the cup after supper”. These two elements the bread and the contents of the cup is thus introduced by Jesus as the sacrifice of the New Covenant Passover.
“And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, this is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:19-20 KJV) ”
Luke's account of Jesus' statement at the table relating bread to his body and the cup after supper to his blood is clear implication that the Lord's Supper was instituted following the Jewish Passover meal. Dr. Luke appears to be concerned here with only two details, the two elements Jesus instituted for the Lord's Supper. In 1Corithians 11:23-28 Paul also shows a lack of concern for anything other than the same two elements, the bread and the cup. We should also note that in verses 20 of the same chapter Paul coins the phrase The Lord's Supper.
“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. (1 Corinthians 11:23-28 KJV)”
Absent the abundance of theological and extrabiblical fog one can clearly see that both Luke and Paul were concerned only with two elements of the Lord's Supper, namely the bread and the cup after supper. It is my hope that the fog, mystery and obscurity with which they are surrounded in some minds, may be cleared away by plain Bible truth. Jesus instituted an ordinance designed to proclaim his death and to be a visible testimony to the unity of the one body. Such an ordinance had to be the essence of simplicity as it would be observed by unlearned and illiterate as well as by those of advanced knowledge. Why was the Lord's Supper instituted by Christ? Lay aside all the transubstantiation and other theological and scholarly ramblings the biblical answer is a very simple one. In the words of Jesus “this do in remembrance of me” Paul adds, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come”. Again the biblical truth is simple; Jesus wants us to remember the sacrifice he made for us. When the Bible speaks so clearly, why can't theologians and scholars be content with it?
Now let's look at the biblical truths that form the nucleus for the House of God's bread and water sacrament tradition. From the accounts in Matthew and Mark respectively we read:
“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom. (Matthew 26:29 KJV)” “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. (Mark 14:25 KJV)”
First let's establish that there were two drinking occasions worthy of note that night in the upper room. The first drinking occasion, according to Luke's narrative, occurred immediately after the eating of the lamb (Luke 22:16-17). For the sake of clarity let's call this the first cup. It is here that Jesus states that he will drink no more of the fruit of the vine. Again according to Luke's narrative there was a drinking occasion that happened after supper. For the sake of clarity let's call this the second cup. This is the cup that Jesus declares “this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me”. What seems quite obvious here is that Jesus takes away the first cup to establish the second cup. It is the after supper cup that Jesus designates as the cup of remembrance and the cup of the New Testament church. And it is the after supper or second cup that is the focus of the House of God. The first cup (the fruit of the vine) was associated with the eating of the lamb. The second cup was associated with the eating of the bread (the body of Christ). Although most Christian churches use either wine or grape juice in the communion cup neither Luke nor Paul tells us what was in the cup after supper. Most of these churches make no mention of a second cup; they simple ignore its existence. So then why water? There is a biblical precedence and pattern that gives credence to a bread and water tradition. God tells Moses, “See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount”. As He did with Moses God gave us a pattern to follow as well. Paul in his instructions to Timothy writes, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV) Many features and events of the Old Testament (Law of Moses) were put in place by God, to depict what would eventually become reality through the work of Jesus Christ, our great High Priest.
There are various ways of discovering basic truths and one way is looking for biblical patterns. Paul identifies the biblical pattern for two Christian sacraments in 1Corinthians 10:1-4.
“Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.” (1Corinthians 10:1-4 KJV)
First Paul identifies the Christian model for the sacrament of baptism. He points out that Israel was baptized in the cloud and in the sea. Next he identifies the Christian model for the sacrament of “The Lord's Supper”. The first element of the supper he identifies as the same spiritual meat and the second as the same spiritual drink, however he's not clear as to what the meat and drink is. He is however, very clear as to where the drink came from and that is “the Rock” which he identifies as Christ. Although Paul is not precise in what he calls spiritual meat and spiritual drink; it is clearly identified as manna and water in the following scriptures:
“Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:49 51 KJV “And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.” Numbers 20:11 KJV “And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.” Nehemiah 9:15KJV
Israel ate of the spiritual bread from heaven which was Christ (John 6:51), the first element of the Lord's Supper. Israel drank the spiritual drink; water (Num. 20:11, Neh. 9:15) from the rock (Jesus) which is the second element of the Lord's Supper, this biblical pattern is what serves as the model for The House of God's position on the sacrament of Holy Communion. The pattern for sacrement was established in the wilderness as was many other New Testament practices.p>
Let's be clear here, it is the cup “after supper” as described by Luke in verse 20 that Jesus used to represent the New Covenant. It is also very apparent that at no point does the bible tell us what was in this cup. If we follow the example given by Paul in 1Corinthians 10:1-4; water is obviously seen as a biblically sanctioned element for the cup on the Lord's Table. So then we eat the spiritual bread that Israel ate in the wilderness and drink of the same spiritual drink that Israel drank in the wilderness (water), by which we are all made one in Christ. Not only is our bread and water spiritual food and drink, it has been blessed by God and can never be deemed unholy.
“And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee.” Exodus 23::25 KJV
Furthermore it was water that came from the rock in the wilderness(Christ) and it was water that came from the side of the crucified Christ.
“But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water.” John 19::4 KJV
Another argument for water is the shift from an in home Passover for Israel to a New Testament Church sancutary Lord's Supper.
“For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.” 1Corinthians 11:18-22 KJV
Why is this significant? Under the law the priest were not permitted to drink wine when entering the tabernacle of the congregation.
“Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean.” Leviticus 10:9-10 KJV “Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.”Ezekiel 44:21 KJV
Paul appears to carry the same idea forward into the New Testament Church. Because of this one must seriously question the appropriateness of wine in the churches of God. These verses clearly deem it to be an unholy act for priest to partake of wine in the tabernacle. Water for sacrament than becomes a wonderful and holy answer to the question: Should the New Covenant Priest drink wine in the sanctuary?
“Cyprian's Epistula LXIII indicates that the use of water in the eucharistic cup was quite mainstream and widespread in third-century Christianity. ...................This suggests that his writings reflect concrete ritual practice of at least some circles in the secondcentury Church whose traditions may well be traced back to Johannine Christianity. Awareness of this feature of the diversity of early eucharistic understanding and practice could be an important resource today for a richer theology of the eucharist, for ecumenism, for liturgical inculturation, and for a Christian ecology.”from an article, Water in the Eucharistic Cup by: Margaret M. DalyDenton; Trinity College Dublin.
Wine or Water? Justin Martyr perhaps contemplated the use of water instead of wine, and Tatian his pupil used it. The Marcionites, the Ebionites, or JudaeoChristians of Palestine, the Montanists of Phrygia, Africa and Galatia, the confessor Alcibiades of Lyons, c. A.d. 177 (Euseb. Hist. Ecd. v. 3. 2), equally used it. Cyprian (Ep. 63) affirms (c. 250) that his predecessors on the throne of Carthage had used water, and that many African bishops continued to do so, “out of ignorance,” he says, “and simplemihdcdness, and God would forgive them.” Pionius, the Catholic martyr of Smyrna, c. 2 so, also used water. In the Acts of Thomas it is used. Such uniformity of language, (1 See Ncrses of Lambron, Opera Armenice (Venice, 1847), pp. 74, IS, 101. 4c) has led Prof. Harnack to suppose that in the earliest age water was used equally with wine, and Eusebius the historian, who had means of judging which we have not, saw no difficulty in identifying with the first converts of St Mark the Therapeutae of Philo who took only bread and water in their holy repast.excerpt from The Encyclopaedia Britannica: a dictionary of arts, sciences ..., Volume 9 By Hugh Chisholm.
“The use of water in the Eucharist is not just a rejection of wine's effect on an individual body but also a rejection of the entire GrecoRoman sacrificial system that wine represents.”an excerpt from; Ascetic Eucharists: Food and Drink in Early Christian Ritual Meals, By Andrew McGowan.
Water always has been used for salvation with the blood and should never be considered an unholy thing. The cup after supper is the cup of blessing for the New Testament Church and water is the appropriate element to be used in it. Unlike wine its use is never spoken ill of in scripture and its use often paired with cleansing and other ritual uses. So then we choose to follow the pattern established in Israel; that is to drink the spiritual drink that came from the rock and that rock is Jesus.
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