THE BLESSING / THE B'RACHA
By Barri Cae Mallin
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks,
He gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.”
~ Matthew 26:27 ~
Blessed are You, O LORD our God, King of the Universe,
who creates the fruit of the vine. (Amen.)
Friday night, Jewish people usher in the Shabbat with three blessings,
one for the lighting of the Sabbath candles, one blessing for the bread
and one for the wine, the fruit of the vine. We Jews have been brought
up reciting this blessing. For celebratory occasions, for the Passover,
for Shabbat, this blessing is recited. When I came to faith in Yeshua,
Jesus, and heard this verse, I knew immediately that Jesus would have
recited this prayer. It is the prayer we say EVERY Friday night to
welcome Shabbat, to greet the Sabbath. This is the same prayer that
Yeshua Jesus also recited in Mark 14:23-25 and Luke 22:17-18. He gave
thanks to God, acknowledging that God creates the fruit of the vine.
One of the stumbling blocks that my Orthodox father had about my faith
in Jesus was that I drank blood. He never really quite understood the
symbolic meaning of embracing communion with Jesus through the elements
of the fruit of the vine and the bread. No matter how much I did try to
explain to him the deep meaning, he never really understood. Years
later, I should not be as surprised as this seems to be a stumbling
block for many individuals. Some believe that we are cannibals because
we “eat flesh” and “drink blood.”
In the Old Testament, God required blood to be shed, to atone for sin.
Life for life; substitution was required. This was God’s plan, it was
not our plan. In Egypt, the blood was needed to be applied
to the doorpost of the houses.
The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses
where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no
plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt
(Exo. 12:13). God was true to His word and indeed, no plague came upon
any home upon which the blood had been applied to the doorpost.
When the children of Israel came to Mount Sinai, God required another
covenant by blood. Instead of having the blood applied the houses, the
blood was to be sprinkled upon the children of Israel.
Then he [Moses] took the book of the covenant
and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, "All that the
LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!" So Moses took the
blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the
covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these
words" (Exo. 24:7-8).
Now, the blood had to be on them. God’s
connection with them had to be closer. There is a difference in placing
blood upon your home and now having blood sprinkled upon you. In
obedience, the children of Israel obeyed Moses and God.
Yet, Yeshua Jesus tells His disciples (and us who follow Him), to DRINK
from it. We are to take him in. Yeshua
Jesus is speaking at the Kehilat Kfar Nahum, the Capernaum Synagogue,
and He said to them, Truly, truly, I say to
you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you
have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has
eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is
true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks
My blood abides in Me, and I in him (John 6:53-56).
Yeshua exhorts us to drink, to eat. Unless we do, we have no life within
ourselves. It must have been very difficult for Yeshua to admit this
truth, standing in a synagogue amid many detractors. I appreciate the
statement in verse 60 that there were many disciples who admitted that
this [was] a difficult statement, who can
listen to it? This verse echoes my father’s dilemma.
Yet, for those of us who believe, this is music to our souls, music to
our spirits. Yeshua wants to abide with us; Yeshua wants to abide in us. The gospel is simple and yet
profound. He gave His life for us so that we can have life
in Him. Forever. Not only does He want us
to come near, He wants us to come in and dwell in Him and allow Him to
dwell in us.
The blessing over the fruit of the vine is profound. As we take Him in,
we enjoy fruitfulness. He is the vine and we are the branches and we are
told that if we abide in Him, we will bear fruit for His glory. What a
glorious blessing, not only for the present, and for the future, but for
Perhaps the next time that you take communion, that you take the Lord’s
supper, that you partake of סעודתו של־האדון the LORD’s supper, you will
pause and remember and maybe even recite that beautiful blessing. Enjoy
His drink, for eternity!
Barri Cae Mallin holds a PhD
in Biblical Studies from
Trinity Theological Seminary. Other
Barri Cae may be found at www.barricae.com.
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