Bread and Wine

The nature of the elements of the Lord’s Supper are not the most important thing. If we must strive for perfect imitation of the original Lord’s Supper, we would have to know the exact ingredients of the bread and the exact kind of grapes from which the original wine was made. (Some of the church fathers during the first few centuries strictly prescribed that the wine had to be diluted with water, otherwise the Eucharist was being practiced improperly.)

Bread and wine were some of the most common elements of the ancient Jewish meals. Jesus gave profound significance to two things that were incredibly common, foods that practically everyone consumed each day. Had He visited another culture at a different time in history, the first Lord’s Supper may have consisted of cheese and goat’s milk, or rice cakes and pineapple juice. So any food and drink could potentially represent His body and blood at a common meal shared among His disciples. The important thing is the spiritual significance. Let us not neglect the spirit of the law while succeeding at keeping the letter of it!

It is not necessary that common meals be deathly solemn. The early Christians, as we already read, broke “bread from house to house…taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46; emphasis added). Seriousness, however, is certainly appropriate during that portion of the meal when Jesus’ sacrifice is remembered and the elements are consumed. Self-examination is always appropriate before eating the Lord’s Supper, as indicated by Paul’s solemn words of warning to the Corinthian believers in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. Any transgression of Christ’s commandment to love one another is an invitation to God’s discipline. Any and all strife and division should be resolved before the meal. Every believer should examine himself, and confess any sins, which would be the equivalent of “judging yourself,” to use Paul’s words.