An Advent Christian brother asks, “Is the ‘form’ or ‘order’ of the Lord’s Supper — Bread first, then the Wine, or Bread and Wine together — important because of the order in the Gospels and in I Corinthians, or is it important for some other reason?”
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Matthew, Mark and Paul (by revelation) all report that Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took and blessed and gave his disciples bread and wine — investing these most basic elements of a common meal with perpetual significance of his impending Passion (Matt. 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26; 1 Cor. 11:23-25).
In Luke’s account, Jesus blesses and distributes the wine during the meal and before the bread, although Luke has Jesus speak the “words of institution” about the bread first and then the wine (Lk. 22:17-20). John has no record of the “Last Supper.” Instead, he reports Jesus’ discourse in the Capernaum synagogue concerning the Bread of Life, in which Jesus explains at least in part what it means to “eat” his flesh and to “drink” his blood (John 6:32-59).
The Bible never makes a specific point of the order of the elements, although to my knowledge Christians of all persuasions generally take the bread first, then the wine. In my own mind, the body of Christ brings to view Jesus’ perfect “doing” in a human body, and the blood of Christ speaks to me of Jesus’ perfect “dying” for our sins. Christ’s life of obedience preceded his atoning death, and the bread logically precedes the wine for that reason. But this is my own rationalization, and it is not explicitly stated anywhere in Scripture.
Here most Christians consider the exemplary value of the Last Supper to end. A few, indeed, insist on meeting in upper rooms, or on having the Supper at night rather than during the day. In America since Prohibition, most Protestants use unfermented grape juice rather than wine as Jesus did. And while it is certain that the Last Supper was indeed a meal, almost all Christians today reduce it to “a pinch and a sip” instead.