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Bread and wine

Author: Michael Pfundner, 1 March 2024

Whether or not you go to church, you’ll probably be aware that Communion is often at the heart of the service. 

It tends to be a fairly solemn, soul-searching affair. Originally it was more about Christians sharing a meal together, and, going by what we read in the Bible about the church in the Greek city of Corinth, some apparently saw it as a chance to party. 

But one thing has remained the same over the centuries. Then and now, bread and wine play a key part. Like Passover for Jews, Communion is a commemorative meal for Christians. Jews remember the rescue from bondage in ancient Egypt. Christians remember the rescue from the bondage of evil and death.

The first Jesus-followers had to accept that his messianic mission hadn’t been about national politics. The Romans were still there. In the year 70, a few decades after brutally killing Jesus, Roman armies under General Titus would raze Jerusalem to the ground. 

In other words, Jesus had been engaged in a different kind of battle. The biblical accounts of him warring with the devil and his demons may seem outlandish to many modern-day readers, but they point right to the heart of the matter: he was acting on behalf of God by taking on the forces of evil that were opposed to God and destroying people’s lives. 

The Communion bread and wine speak of his struggle with evil reaching its climax. They symbolise his body and blood. He used that imagery himself while celebrating the Passover meal with his friends on the eve of his crucifixion.

The early Church came to recognise that Jesus was a suffering Messiah who had voluntarily taken human evil and misery upon himself. The Greeks and Romans told stories of gods that were fickle, jealous, scheming, aloof. In Christ crucified, his followers discovered a God who was vulnerable and compassionate.

Jesus, the Son of God, had fought a battle, not against foreign oppressors, but of light against darkness, of love against hate. Yet as he hung there on a cross crying out, ‘My God, why have you forsaken me?’ he looked well and truly beaten.

You can read more in End of the Road?, a resource for outreach written by Bible Society’s Michael Pfundner. End of the Road?: Encounters with one who returned from the grave is a great way to introduce people you know to the game-changing story of Easter.

And you can find lots more for Easter, including children's stories and pop-up services, in our 2024 resources

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