We do not believe that the Eucharist as presented by the Church is the Eucharist of Jesus, nor of very early Christianity. We know that Jesus planned a special meal between him and his inner circle of Twelve Apostles for Wednesday evening, April 3rd, A.D. 30. This was not the Passover meal. Jesus thought he would get to eat the Passover meal with his family, his mother and siblings, all his close associates, the women who supported him, and his inner circle of Twelve on Thursday evening. No Jew would eat the Passover meal apart from the whole family.
The Wednesday meal was to be alone with his inner circle of The Twelve and no one else. It was definitely not the Passover meal, which would only occur on the evening when Passover began; in that year the Passover meal would have been held on Thursday evening, not Wednesday evening.
As was the custom during all Jewish meals, bread was broken, wine was shared and blessings were said over each. This is what was done at the meal on Wednesday evening that Jesus shared with The Twelve. Jesus never said anything about eating his flesh and drinking his blood. Such a thing was absolutely forbidden under Jewish law, and Jesus was an observant Jew who never would have ever even thought of such a thing, let alone said it.
The words that came to be said decades after Jesus’ crucifixion came from Paul, not from Jesus. In a letter to his followers at Corinth in A.D. 54, Paul said, “For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is [broken] for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me’ ” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
Mark, the earliest gospel, was written between 75-80 A.D. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written at least 20 years earlier than Mark. When you read about the Eucharist in the Gospels, the Gospel writers got the information from Paul’s letter.
Paul says he “received” those words from Jesus. How or when he “received” the words from Jesus is not revealed. Certainly, Paul was not present at that Wednesday evening meal; Paul never met Jesus. Furthermore, Paul wrote those words approximately 24 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. Paul was imagining his own theology for his own reasons rather than following what The Twelve Apostles knew.
Unfortunately, Paul’s contrived theology served the later organized church of the gentiles very well for their own purposes, wanting to separate themselves from Jesus’ Jewishness. Jesus’ Apostles knew that Jesus never said those words because they were at that Wednesday evening meal. Two of those Twelve were Jesus’ brothers and they never spoke of any such words said by Jesus.
There is a record of the Eucharist in an ancient Christian instruction manual titled, “The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.” (Didache). In the early church, it was used to instruct candidates for Christian baptism. It contains these words, “With respect to the Eucharist you shall give thanks as follows. First with respect to the cup: ‘We give you thanks our Father for the Holy Vine of David, your child which you made known to us through Jesus your child. To you be the glory forever.’ And with respect to the bread: ‘We give you thanks our Father for the life and knowledge that you made known to us through Jesus your child. To you be the glory forever.’ “ Those are the words we use in our communion service.