Have you ever been to a communion service where the priest served wine? I mean real, fermented wine. Priests are often drunk by the end of the service due to the amount of alcohol they have consumed from serving at the “Lord’s Supper.” Does this match up with scripture? Should the communion wine, representing the blood of Christ be fermented? Does it even matter? Let’s take a look at what the Bible has to say.
Manna In The Wilderness
When Moses led the children of Israel into the desert, they began to complain about the scarcity of food. So God sent manna to feed them (The story is found in Exodus 16). They were given manna six days of the week. Each day they were to gather enough for that day only (See Exodus 16:4). They were not to gather for the following day or else it would spoil (see Exodus 16:19,20). Many listened, but some were disobedient and hoarded for the next day. What was the result? The manna spoiled “and it bred worms, and stank” (vs. 20). A funny thing happened on the sixth day, however. They were told to gather twice as much so that there would be enough for the Sabbath (vs. 5). Unlike the other days, the Friday manna that was kept overnight until Sabbath would not spoil, but would remain fresh and perfectly preserved (vss. 22-24). This was a marvelous reintroduction of the Sabbath to a people who were held so long under oppression and cruelty that they had lost sight of the blessings of the Sabbath rest. It was a wonderful lesson that God was trying to teach His people. But there was another important lesson that many have often overlooked.
Jesus’ Take on Manna
Let’s fast-forward to the New Testament. We find in John chapter 6, the story of Jesus feeding the multitude with five barley loaves and two fishes (vs. 9). After this Jesus crosses over the sea and comes to the city of Capernaum, with His disciples. Many of the people followed him there and asked of Him, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (vs. 28). Let’s pick up the story as found in vss. 29-33. 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. 30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Did you catch that? In a nutshell, Jesus said that the manna which came down from Heaven was a representation of the “True bread from heaven.” The manna represented the body of Jesus.
Spoilage and Sin
So why was it so important that the manna not be allowed to spoil? Because it represented the body of Christ. This was vitally important because Jesus was to be without spot or blemish (see 1 Peter 1:19). He lived a sinless life in order that we might be redeemed from our sins. If Jesus was to have even one trace of sin in Him, His mission would have been in vain. Any form of decomposition or spoilage symbolized sin and thus could not be found in those symbols of His body. We see this same lesson played out in the Passover story, as found in Exodus chapter 12. On the night of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage, they were instructed to eat a lamb roasted with fire (along with bitter herbs), and unleavened bread (vss. 5-8). In this story, both the lamb and the unleavened bread symbolized the body of Christ. Note that the lamb was to be roasted whole, without any bones broken (vs. 46). This was a direct foreshadowing of the body of Jesus, whose bones were not broken (see John 19:33,34). Also the lamb must be “without blemish” (vs. 5), which symbolized sin. The unleavened bread, symbolized the body of Christ. Leaven symbolized sin. See also Exodus 12:15 where the people are instructed to rid their houses of all leaven for a seven day period of cleansing preparatory to their deliverance from Egypt (vss. 15-17).
Jesus Is Without Spot or Blemish
So we know that the lamb representing Christ was to be without blemish; blemish representing sin. We know that the bread representing His body was to be without leaven; leaven representing sin. So would it not make perfect sense that the wine; representing Christ’s blood be free from fermentation? Jesus Himself said of the wine, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Matt. 26:28
For further study:
Proverbs 20:1, Judges 13:14, Proverbs 20:1; 23:29-32; Isaiah 5:11, 22;
Ezekiel 44:21; Daniel 1:8; 5:1-4; Luke 1:15, Ephesians 5:18, 1 Peter 5:8