The Elements of the Lord’s Supper
What Kind of Bread and Fruit of the Vine Are We to Use?
The first reaction many have to an article on this topic is that it is too picky. After all, they reason, what difference does it make if we use leavened or unleavened bread, wine or grape juice? The important thing is that we take the Lord’s Supper. The details are unimportant.
I find it especially odd when I get comments like this from Baptists. Concerning the ordinance of baptism, Baptists are concerned about such “details” as who is baptized and by what mode (immersion only). And this concern is right and proper. So why do so many Baptists balk at the idea of being concerned about the details of the ordinance of communion? It just does not make sense.
Of course, what really matters is whether God is concerned with such details. So, before getting into my main points, I am going to show you that God is concerned with details.
A God of Details
Those who denigrate details have apparently not noticed that God is a God of details. Think of the Creation. From the vast expanse of the universe to a butterfly sitting on a flower, to the scales on that butterfly’s wings, right down to the sub-atomic level, God is a God of details. He has woven every minute detail together to work perfectly.
God is the same God of details in the Bible. When God showed Moses the pattern for the tabernacle, He said, “And let them [the Israelites] make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it” (Exodus 25:8-9). God said it was to be made “according to all that I shew thee.” Moses was not to gloss over or compromise with the details. And there were details, many of them. In the verses and chapters that follow, God told Moses the measurements, the materials things should be made from, what they were to look like, and precisely where things were to be placed.
Were these details important? Of course they were! Would the great Creator God of the universe have given Moses these details if they were not important? One of these details concerned exactly how the Ark of the Covenant was to be carried. When, centuries later, David ignored that detail, it cost a man named Uzzah his life (see 2 Samuel 6).
God also gave details in the Pentateuch for exactly how the children of Israel were to worship Him. When Nadab and Abihu decided they could ignore such details and worship God their own way, “there went out fire from the Lord, and devoured them, and they died before the Lord” (see Leviticus 10:1-2). The details are important, and the Bible is full of details.
When I was a young man and had no understanding of the Bible, I tried reading it from cover to cover. I got as far as the details of the sacrifices in the first few chapters of Leviticus. I kept falling asleep trying to read these details, closed the Bible, and gave up reading it for a couple of years. But, do you know, Jesus Christ is in those sacrifices. They picture in intricate detail various aspects of His sacrifice. The details are important.
Maybe you think that such details are just Old Testament stuff; the New Testament is not so detailed. Think again. In fact, read the New Testament again, this time thinking in terms of details. Notice the dates, the timing of events, the numbers, the places, the meaning of the names mentioned, the types of diseases Jesus healed, the context of the miracles, who Jesus was talking to when He said certain things, the place settings in which Jesus said certain things, and so on. These details have meaning, and are part of God’s intricate composition.
This small article is, of course, not the place to discuss all of these details. We are concerned here with only two details, the two elements Jesus instituted for the Lord’s Supper.