The fact that Jesus during the last supper broke bread and offered wine, is not accidental, but it is a precise biblical reference.
As a matter of fact, in the Old Testament character is mentioned who made sacrifices in this way: Melchizedek.
The Old Testament specifies he is a priest of the Most High, “El Elyon”.
The short passage, from Genesis (14:18-20), is the following:
“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.
He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram ,saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything”.
Note that Abraham gave him a tenth of everything, paid him tribute, effectively recognizing Melchisedec as superior to him.
Psalm 110, referring to king David, tells us more:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
This point is fundamental: in fact, in Jewish tradition, priests could only come from the tribe of Levi (hereditarily, the descendants of Aaron).
The psalm therefore identifies a new, different and superior mode of priesthood: not the Levitical one (by blood), but a spiritual one, the order of Melchisedec.
On the other hand, some historians believe that El Elyon was originally another divinity, then assimilated to Elohim. Actually, that precise name of God recurs only one other time in the Old Testament: significantly in Psalm 78 in which it seems to be distinct from Elohim:
“They remembered that God was their Rock and
that God Most High (El Elyon) was their Redeemer”.
The psalm concludes as follows:
“Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim;
but he chose the tribe of Judah,
Mount Zion, which he loved.
He built his sanctuary like the heights,
like the earth that he established forever.
He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them”.
Jacob (blood lineage) is defined as “his people“, while Israel (spiritual lineage) is defined as “his inheritance“.
The angel’s prophecy to Mary is not accidental then:
“Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Jesus refers to this tradition in order to point to the founding of a new order. The spiritual priesthood of the order of Melchizedek, the renewed reign of the Tribe of Judah (which formerly ruled over Jerusalem, as Melchizedek).
In fact, the Gospels themselves tell us that Jesus was descended from the lineage of David (Tribe of Judah) and that therefore many claimed He had the right to reign over the Jews (this is the meaning of the last outrage, INRI, Jesus Nazarene King of the Jews).
This expectation was due to the fact that David’s lineage had ruled over Jerusalem until the Babylonian exile. After the return home from Babylon, the tribe of Judah had lost its ancient role. However, prophecies had been consolidated that saw the return of David’s line, the Lion of Judah, to the throne of Israel.
For example in Jeremiah (23, 5):
“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord,
“When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.
In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will live securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called,
‘The Lord Our Righteousness.’
For this reason there was much apprehension about the figure of Jesus: He was a descendant of David, could He be the Messiah (the anointed one, like the ancient kings of Judah) who returned to claim the throne of Jerusalem?
This hope (or fear) is behind the insistent question asked to Jesus in the Gospels: are you the Messiah?
This is why King Herod (who rules the country on behalf of the Romans) is frightened by the existence of a legitimate descendant of David (so much so that he goes so far as to kill all the firstborn Jews).
Also in one episode Jesus sends a highly symbolic message: his entry into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. This event was full of meaning for his contemporaries.
In fact, it recalled the circumstance in which Solomon, after his coronation as king, presented himself to the people on the back of a mule, according to the custom that wanted the King Messiah to appear in public with royalty, mixed with humility, as a demonstration of being at the service of the people.
That these gestures had a “political” meaning is also demonstrated by the fact that Jesus was crucified: this was in fact the punishment for political agitators (and there were many independentists who fought against Roman domination and against the Jewish rulers under Roman mandate).
If the sentence had been motivated by blasphemy or religious reasons, Jesus would have been stoned to death, as required by Jewish law (the fate of Jesus’ brother James).
Yet Jesus never claimed such a temporal sovereignty because the kingdom of the Tribe of Judah is a spiritual kingdom: remember the words of Jesus: “my kingdom is not of this world“.
Jesus is often radical in describing how his kingdom was not about earthly things.
The connection between the figure of Christ and that of Melchisedec is also taken up by Saint Paul who, in his Epistle to the Hebrews, writes about Melchisedec:
“For this Melchisedech was king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him: To whom also Abraham divided the tithes of all: who first indeed by interpretation, is king of justice: and then also king of Salem, that is, king of peace: Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but likened unto the Son of God, continueth a priest for ever.
Now consider how great this man is, to whom also Abraham the patriarch gave tithes out of the principal things. And indeed they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is to say, of their brethren: though they themselves also came out of the loins of Abraham. But he, whose pedigree is not numbered among them, received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction, that which is less, is blessed by the better. And here indeed, men that die, receive thithes: but there he hath witness, that he liveth. And (as it may be said) even Levi who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham: For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedech met him.
If then perfection was by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchisedech, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being translated, it is necessary that a translation also be made of the law. For he, of whom these things are spoken, is of another tribe, of which no one attended on the altar. For it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: in which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And it is yet far more evident: if according to the similitude of Melchisedech there ariseth another priest, Who is made not according to the law of a carnal commandment, but according to the power of an indissoluble life:
For he testifieth: Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchisedech.
There is indeed a setting aside of the former commandment, because of the weakness and unprofitableness thereof: (For the law brought nothing to perfection,) but a bringing in of a better hope, by which we draw nigh to God”.
Then we understand that the tribe of Judah, the earthly manifestation of the eternal order of Melchizedek, is a spiritual community, to which one belongs by calling and not by blood.
This was the ancient meaning of Israel, in the days when it was distinguished from the “nations of the world”, understood as expressions of sin, separation, selfishness. This was the ancient meaning of the flight from Egypt, as a symbol of completed sinfulness (identified in idolatry, which represents the loss of the relationship with the transcendent).
On this last reading we are helped by an eminent rabbi, one of the greatest kabbalists of the last century: Yehudi Ashlag, known as HaSulam (The Ladder), because of his precious commentary, thus entitled, to the book of the Zohar, mysterious jewel of Jewish esoteric wisdom.
This prominent figure in the international Jewish community, a great expert in theology, wrote in fact: “the Book of the Zohar, like the entire Torah, speaks exclusively of man (creation) and his relationship with the creator. The Torah names man’s inner qualities using the names of the earthly world. Therefore the inspiration towards the Creator is called “Israel” and the aspiration to selfishly receive the pleasures of the world is called “the nations of the world.” However, there is no relationship between these names found in the Torah and the relationships that exist between the Jews and the other nations of the world. The Kabbalah refers to man, to creation!”
He further defines the “inner Israel” as “the point in the heart.”
Belonging to the tribe of Judah does not mean belonging to the Jewish people, nor to a particular religion.
Besides, Paul himself (who was Jewish), tells us that Melchizedek “was of a different lineage“.
It means not belonging to this world. But it also means respecting devotion in whatever way it is manifested. And to find points in common with every authentic message, from Sufism, to Tantric Shivaism, to Advaita Vedanta.
It means in the first place to belong to the Eternal Religion, or as they call it in India, Sanatana Dharma. It has been described by many different peoples, but it does not belong to any particular tradition.
It means to belong to the Christic (and not Christian) religion. Christ was the first, in “modern” times, to revive the Eternal Order of Melchizedek.
In the Christian world, some centuries ago, there have been two (apparently unsuccessful) attempts to revive this Order and save the eternal (or Christic) religion: the Franciscan Order and Joachim’s Order of the Flower.
The Eternal Order, even if concealed, has never stopped existing and beating its subtle frequencies on the world. Always, when ancient structures of domination have set up plans against human civilization, It has taken a historical form to assist the world manifestly or has continued to protect it subtly.
Today is one of those times.
Men and women of goodwill, fear not, for you have never been alone.