Christian churches celebrate communion regularly. In some denominations it is, as it were, the focal point of services. A common belief is that Jesus instituted communion at the Last Supper. Is this really what happened?

The meal Jesus shared with his disciples on the night of his arrest was a Passover meal. Jewish families around the world still celebrate this meal at Passover each year.

As part of the Passover celebration, a part of a loaf of Matzah or unleavened bread was hidden. This piece of Matzah is known as the afikomen or hidden one. There are also four cups of wine used, each one representing an aspect of God’s promise of deliverance mentioned in Exodus.

We know from what happens in the Passover meal that the bread Jesus broke and shared was the afikomen and the cup was the cup of redemption. The bread was unleavened, striped and pierced. Jesus was sinless, striped and pierced. The picture he was portraying to his disciples is clear. Jesus, the sinless one, was about to have his body broken, striped and pierced, and his blood shed, to pay the penalty for the sin of the world.

Now what about communion?

Surprisingly, what we call communion today is drawn from the Passover meal and is part only of the Passover Seder (order of service) Jewish families still follow in the 21st century at their Passover celebrations. Yet Christians generally are totally unaware of this.