Why eating bread and drinking wine?

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
WCF 27.2 There is in every sacrament a spiritual relation or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified; whence it comes to pass that the names and the effects of the one are attributed to the other.

Baptism represents a washing, circumcision a cutting of the heart. When I eat or drink something, it unites with me and becomes my body. In that sense, does the Lord's Supper represent a uniting of me with the Lord Jesus along with other Christians?

1 Cor. 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
 

joep

Puritan Board Freshman
I would reckon so. Cf. the Heidelberg Catechism Q. 75 and 76. In Q. 75, the first person singular pronoun is used. But Q. 76 speaks of what it is to eat the crucified body and drink the shed blood of Christ, and uses the first person plural pronoun, and says,
"It is not only to embrace with believing heart all the sufferings and death of Christ and thereby to obtain the pardon of sin, and life eternal; but also, besides that, to become more and more united to his sacred body, by the Holy Ghost, who dwells both in Christ and in us; so that we, though Christ is in heaven and we on earth, are notwithstanding "flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone" and that we live, and are governed forever by one spirit, as members of the same body are by one soul." [Emphasis mine.]

This is further borne out by Zacharias Ursinus in his commentary on the HC (Lord's Day 28) says the following are among the designs of the Lord's Supper:
"3. That it might be a public distinction, or badge, by which thetrue church may be known, and recognized from the world. The Lord has instituted this supper for none, but those who are his disciples.
4. That it might be a bond of love, declaring that all who partake of it aright, are made members of one body whose head is Christ. “For we being many are one bread, and one body; for we are all partakers of that one bread.” (1 Cor. 10:17) Those now who are members of the same body have a mutual love one for another.
5. That the people of God who assemble in a public manner might be united together in the closest fellowship; for it was instituted to be observed in the congregation, whether there be many or few present. Hence Christ says, “Drink ye all of it,” and Paul says, “When you come together to eat tarry one for another.” (Matt. 26:27; 1 Cor. 11:33)"
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Professor
does the Lord's Supper represent a uniting of me with the Lord Jesus along with other Christians?
That seems to be part of the imagery, especially in the daily, abide-in-me sense of being united with Christ. Even more centrally, it is a life-giving union and one that gladdens the heart.
 

Evodius

Puritan Board Freshman
I think John Calvin can answer this question. From the opening of his Institutes chapter 17, highlight my own.

"First, then, the signs are bread and wine, which represent the invisible food which we receive from the body and blood of Christ. For as God, regenerating us in baptism, ingrafts us into the fellowship of his Church, and makes us his by adoption, so we have said that he performs the office of a provident parent, in continually supplying the food by which he may sustain and preserve us in the life to which he has begotten us by his word. Moreover, Christ is the only food of our soul, and, therefore, our heavenly Father invites us to him, that, refreshed by communion with him, we may ever and anon gather new vigour until we reach the heavenly immortality. But as this mystery of the secret union of Christ with believers is incomprehensible by nature, he exhibits its figure and image in visible signs adapted to our capacity, nay, by giving, as it were, earnests and badges, he makes it as certain to us as if it were seen by the eye; the familiarity of the similitude giving it access to minds however dull, and showing that souls are fed by Christ just as the corporeal life is sustained by bread and wine. We now, therefore, understand the end which this mystical benediction has in view—viz. to assure us that the body of Christ was once sacrificed for us, so that we may now eat it, and, eating, feel within ourselves the efficacy of that one sacrifice,—that his blood was once shed for us so as to be our perpetual drink. This is the force of the promise which is added, “Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you” (Mt. 26:26, &c.). The body which was once offered for our salvation we are enjoined to take and eat, that, while we see ourselves made partakers of it, we may safely conclude that the virtue of that death will be efficacious in us. Hence he terms the cup the covenant in his blood. For the covenant which he once sanctioned by his blood he in a manner renews, or rather continues, in so far as 2558regards the confirmation of our faith, as often as he stretches forth his sacred blood as drink to us.

Pious souls can derive great confidence and delight from this sacrament, as being a testimony that they form one body with Christ, so that everything which is his they may call their own. Hence it follows, that we can confidently assure ourselves, that eternal life, of which he himself is the heir, is ours, and that the kingdom of heaven, into which he has entered, can no more be taken from us than from him; on the other hand, that we cannot be condemned for our sins, from the guilt of which he absolves us, seeing he has been pleased that these should be imputed to himself as if they were his own. This is the wondrous exchange made by his boundless goodness. Having become with us the Son of Man, he has made us with himself sons of God. By his own descent to the earth he has prepared our ascent to heaven. Having received our mortality, he has bestowed on us his immortality. Having undertaken our weakness, he has made us strong in his strength. Having submitted to our poverty, he has transferred to us his riches. Having taken upon himself the burden of unrighteousness with which we were oppressed, he has clothed us with his righteousness.

To all these things we have a complete attestation in this sacrament, enabling us certainly to conclude that they are as truly exhibited to us as if Christ were placed in bodily presence before our view, or handled by our hands. For these are words which can never lie nor deceive—Take, eat, drink. This is my body, which is broken for you: this is my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins. In bidding us take, he intimates that it is ours: in bidding us eat, he intimates that it becomes one substance with us: in affirming of his body that it was broken, and of his blood that it was shed for us, he shows that both were not so much his own as ours, because he took and laid down both, not for his own advantage, but for our salvation. And we ought carefully to observe, that the chief, and almost the whole energy of the sacrament, consists in these words, It is broken for you: it is shed for you."
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
I'm struck that our Lord used foods so common and at hand in his day as well as our own. I don't think it was an accidental choice given the passover, showbread, grain offerings, etc., but it is none the less using items that have been part of our common meals through all time.
 
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