Matthew 11:33

Communion-Bread-Wine Weekly Meds

“Another parable He spoke to them: ”The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” Matthew 11:33  

Throughout church history the question of the appropriateness of having leavened bread or unleavened bread at communion has been debated. Sadly, it was the issue of leaven that was the final straw which led to the Great Schism between the Eastern church and the Western church in 1054 AD. While we certainly do not want to excommunicate one another on this issue of leaven, I thought it would be good to explain why we use leavened bread at CCM instead of unleavened bread at communion.

At Passover Jesus used wine and unleavened bread to celebrate the Last Supper which became the sacrament of communion. But we must understand that communion is not just a one-to-one fulfillment of the Passover but of all three yearly feasts, and actually of the entire sacrificial system. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross memorialized at communion replaces and brings to maturity the entire system of sacrifices in the Old Covenant (OC). In the OC, wine was the only suitable drink to be offered to God. Therefore, we use wine in the New Covenant (NC) as Jesus did. However, we find that some sacrifices required the bread to be unleavened and some required it to be leavened. Both types were suitable to offer to God, it just depended on the sacrifice. 

Passover required unleavened bread. But the second feast, Pentecost, required the sacrifice to have leavened bread or it would not be acceptable. One of the most common sacrifices, the Peace Offering, required both wine and leavened bread as well. This offering was a sign of peace with God and was the only offering where God, the priest, and the people all received a portion. It was a feast, eating with God at His table. Since both types of bread were used in the OC, which one should we use in the NC? 

The unleavened bread of the OC is called the “bread of affliction” (Deuteronomy 16:3) As such, the bread of affliction was an appropriate symbol for Jesus to use at the Last Supper, not just because it was Passover, but also because He was about to go to the cross.  

However, on this side of the resurrection, leavened bread is a far more suitable symbol. Jesus used leaven to describe the growth of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13:33). Leavened bread is a symbol of victory over the enemies of God. In Genesis 14:18 Melchizedek greets Abraham with wine and bread to celebrate his victory in battle. This, of course, was a foreshadowing of communion, Jesus being our high priest of the order of Melchizedek. The bread of affliction of the Aaronic priesthood has been replaced by the leavened bread of Melchizedek. Hebrews 7:11-19. 

Leaven, then, is a symbol of peace with God, of the growth of the Kingdom of God, and of the victory of Jesus Christ.  Like the Peace Offering, communion is a meal with God at His table. The communion meal anticipates the great feast and celebration of the victory of Jesus Christ over all His enemies at the end of history. This feast is called the “Marriage Supper of the Lamb” in Revelation. And you don’t serve the bread of affliction at a wedding feast! 

His mercy endures forever! 

Pastor Flynn