A Christian Evangelism and Discipling Ministry
The Cup of Blessing
(6th in the series of expositions on Communion delivered on Aug 29, 1978)
Communion is a family meal. In 1 Cor 10:16 "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?", the cup is called the cup of blessing. The word "blessing" is used but it depends on who is blessing who. If it is we who are blessing God in our relation to God, then it means to praise God. We see this in Rev 5 and Rev 7:12. "To bless God is to praise Him and to give thanks to Him for all that He has done for us" expresses thanksgiving which comes from joy. If it is God who blesses us, then it has a meaning of benefit or gift - God's gift to us that expresses His grace to us.
Does "the cup of blessing" mean the cup that blesses us or the cup that we bless God with? Here is where Paul purposely leaves the place vague because both of these points are true. It is the cup of salvation and also because of the cup of salvation that we give thanks to God. Paul particularly expresses the idea of thanksgiving and praise as he said "the cup of blessing which we bless". Many times we come to the Communion with the notion that because we are remembering the death of Christ so it has to be with groaning, that it is inappropriate to remember any joy. So the Communion becomes very heavy instead of joyful, instead of offering worship and praise to God.
The Passover is the time when the Lord instituted the Communion. Passover is a joyful occasion though the Passover lamb is slain, but because of that there is a deliverance out of Egypt, and because of that God's salvation gives us this joy. This cup is the cup of salvation, therefore it is a cup of blessing. God has blessed us and we give thanks to God.
Grape juice is usually used in place of wine on the table during Communion. In England, blackcurrant juice is used. So it is hard to be reading the Lord's word especially in Mt 26:29 and its parallel passage Mk 14:25. The Lord Jesus said in Mk 14:24,25, "This is my blood that is poured out for many, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day." Blackcurrant juice is served in England because the color is similar to wine and is cheaper, but it has nothing to do with the fruit of vine.
Fruit of the vine in Judaism is an expression of wine on which we only can find the information from the "Mishna". It is always related to the Passover meal, a festive meal, which becomes a liturgical formula, a formula that expresses the goodness of God in giving us the fruit of the vine, i.e., the wine.
At the Passover, wine is absolutely required. Each Jewish person drinks no less than three cups of wine. If one is poor and cannot afford to buy wine, you will buy the wine for him so that he can also join the joy of salvation.
1 Tim 5:23 says, "Stop drinking only water and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses." Normally people drink water rather than wine as water is cheaper, but Paul advised Timothy to stop drinking water but to drink wine for his stomach's sake; Paul wanted him to discipline himself.
In the ancient days there was no method of storing unfermented juice as the grape juice cannot be preserved unless you put the preservative in it. It goes moldy very soon. Passover took place in spring, 6 months after the harvest; by that time there was no fresh grape juice to drink but just wine.
There are certain objections against wine as against lots of alcohols, which is the result of the statement made for wine in Young's Concordance; "Grape Juice" is put there as the heading. It is the prejudice which causes us to displace the word of God with our tradition. In the Hebrew dictionary "wine" always means wine. So in our tradition once more, we are putting the word of God away. One will say that wine will make drunkards, but drunkenness is the least sin in the Bible. It is the sin of sexual immorality that is number one. Because there is a constant danger of sexual immorality, then should we divide the church, one section for men, the other for women? By no means! So to prohibit wine should not be reasoned.
"Juice" occurs in the authorized version in the OT once in the Songs of Solomon and is used in connection with wine; the pomegranate juice becomes pomegranate wine. So the only occurrence of the word "juice" is even connected with wine.
The Meaning of Wine
1. Wine is used for cleansing and disinfecting, therefore
it has a medical purpose.
2. It is the cup of praise, the cup of joyful thanksgiving.
As in the OT wine is always a constant symbol of joy.
3. In Hosea 9:4, wine is used for rejoicing in the Lord. See also Deut 14:26.
4. Wine is also used in the OT as the sacrifice to
In the NT, wine is also a symbol of joy. For example, Jesus turned water to wine at the wedding feast, lest there be no joy. If the wine runs out, the joy also runs out (Jn 2).
5. In the Lord's teaching, wine is the joy and power
of the new life.
6. Those who are filled with the Spirit is constantly
related as if they are drunk.
Ps 116:13,17 says, "I'll take the cup of salvation, I'll give thanks to the Lord." Let us stretch out our hands to take the cup of salvation - the cup of blessing, as Paul said.
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