Recently we received an e-mail asking, "Why is it such a big deal to use unleavened bread for Communion?"
Ask Moses. Moses was a pretty bright guy. But like many other Biblical characters, he was human and had his share of flaws. Not unlike David, Peter or Paul. David had Bathsheba, Peter denied Christ and Paul imprisoned believers before his conversion. Many would say that Moses’ greatest offense was killing the Egyptian while defending an Israelite brother. But all that cost him was a 40 year exile. No, his greatest offense cost him a trip to the Promise Land. As you may recall, Moses had led the Israelites out slavery in Egypt and during one of their typical faithless diatribes, they complained to Moses about a lack of water. So Moses took the issue up with the Lord and in Exodus 17: 5, the LORD answered Moses, “Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” But soon, they again ran out of water and the Israelites once again began to doubt God’s provision.
God’s response and Moses’ reaction are recorded in Numbers 20: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water…” …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.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, ‘Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.” So Moses pays the ultimate price: No Promise Land! Why? He made light of something that God took very seriously: typology (symbolism). God planned it so Moses would paint the perfect picture of the crucifixion: Rock = Jesus (I Cor 10:4) and Moses' rod = Cross. The rock was struck (Jesus was crucified) with the wooden rod (the Cross) and living water poured out (new life in Christ/Holy Spirit - John 7:37). From then on, all we have to do is speak to the rock (pray to Jesus) to receive the living water of new life! But when Moses hit the rock twice, he spoiled that picture and God kept him out of the promise land for his misrepresentation. SIDEBAR: God knew Moses would do this and wove that into His tapestry of typology by having Joshua take Moses’ place and lead the people into the Promise Land. The picture? Moses represented the Law, Joshua in Hebrew is Yeshua. Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua. So Moses (representing the Law) could point the way, but only Yeshua (Jesus) can actually take you into the Promise Land. We have that same type of picture with baptism. It typifies Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. That’s why most Evangelicals immerse you at baptism rather than just sprinkle water. Sprinkling does not picture Christ’s death like immersion does.
So what does all that have to do with Communion? Jesus said that the two parts (the Bread and the Grape Juice) represent His Body and His Blood. He reconstituted Passover and said to do it (Passover) in rememberence of His Sacrifice. And at the Passover, the bread was unleaven, because leaven has always been a symbol of sin, and as we know, Christ was sinless.
So if God says to use unleavened bread to represent the sinless body of His Son, then we have no right to change that. Otherwise, let's use Bacon and Vodka, or a Big Mac and a Coke. It's a slippery slope, and I would rather not follow Moses down that path.
In I Corinthians 11, Paul says, "So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world."
So Paul goes on to say that if we partake of the Lord's Supper in an "unworthy" (irreverent) way, or without "discernment" it literally can lead to illness or even death!
Paul probably said it best in I Cor 5, "Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
So if you want to honor the Lord, and partake of Communion in a worthy manor, do not misrepresent His Body by defiling it with leaven.