Is 45:15 Truly, thou art a God who hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior.
Lk 2:34 34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against..."
The Problem: Most Christian denominations deny the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. At best, Christ is seen as being truly present, but His presence does not completely replace the substance of the bread in the host. At worst, communion is seen as strictly a symbolic memorial, used in worship very much as liturgical Christians use icons and statues.
Only the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches adhere to the ancient understanding that Jesus Christ is present Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, only the Roman Catholic Church explicitly understands Him to completely replace the substance of the bread and wine. Interestingly, these are also the only two faiths which teach an infallible Church, and maintain the seven sacraments. The more attenuated the idea of Christ's presence in the Eucharist, the more attenuated the idea of the Church as the Body of Christ, or the sacraments as conduits of God's grace. Therefore, baptism becomes only a seal, and not regenerative, because there is no sacramental life to be baptized into.
The Truth: In the extension of the Cross which is the Mass, at the words of consecration, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the glorified Christ is made present to all, so that we may consume His flesh and His blood as Christ commanded in His Scriptures, and so that we may worship and adore Him in spirit and in truth. Jesus Christ is fully present in both the consecrated host and in the consecrated cup, so that, though one be called His Flesh, and the other His Blood, and though both be separately consecrated, yet they each contain the fullness of Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity who is Jesus Christ.
God dwelt among His people in the Old Testament in the Ark of the Covenant:
Psalm 68:7-8 O God, when thou didst go forth before thy people,when thou didst march through the wilderness, [Selah] 8 the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, at the presence of God; yon Sinai quaked at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
God dwelt among His people when Jesus walked the earth:
Jn 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father..
God dwells among His people in the ages since the crucifixion in the Resurrected Body of Christ present in the Eucharist:
Mt 28:20 and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
Acts 13:29 And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb.
Rev 22:14 Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates..
Christ was hung on a tree. He is the source of life. Jesus Christ is the fruit of the tree of life.
Gen 22:9-13 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. 10 Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son.
Abraham offered up his only son on the altar he built on Mount Moriah, the future site of Jerusalem. God saved his first-born son, as He would later save all the first-born sons of Israel in the land of Egypt, providing Abraham a substitution sacrifice - a ram, caught by its crown in thorns nearby. The ram was offered instead of Abraham's first-born. The flesh of sacrificial animals was eaten by the worshipper.
Ex 12:1-10 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month they shall take every man a lamb according to their fathers' houses, a lamb for a household; 4 and if the household is too small for a lamb, then a man and his neighbor next to his house shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old; you shall take it from the sheep or from the goats; 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs in the evening. 7 Then they shall take some of the blood, and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat them. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled with water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning, anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
The Passover lamb had to be eaten - it was a divine commandment.
Ex 12:11-15 In this manner you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord's passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will smite all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, upon the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall fall upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 "This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread; on the first day you shall put away leaven out of your houses, for if any one eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel.
The Passover sacrifice is a perpetual ordinance. The Hebrew people are to keep this sacrifice for the entire life of the people. They must sacrifice the Paschal Lamb and consume its flesh.
Lev 17:11-12 For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it for you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life. 12 Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.
As the Israelites would later write in their legal code, blood was the source of all life. By marking their houses with blood, they were proclaiming themselves to be the seat of life for all peoples, thus the angel of death would pass over them. Those with no blood on their lintels were people dead to God. But God put a strong stricture on the Hebrews - they could not consume blood. They were not yet ready to incorporate the source of life into their lives. The Mosaic law would be an external source of life, as the blood on the door signified, but it was not an internal wellspring of life. That internal wellspring of God's life within them had not yet come into the world.
Ex 22:21 "You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Ex 23:43-49 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the passover: no foreigner shall eat of it; 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No sojourner or hired servant may eat of it. 46 In one house shall it be eaten; you shall not carry forth any of the flesh outside the house; and you shall not break a bone of it. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 And when a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you."
While the foreigner and sojourner had to be respected and well-treated, they could not partake of the Passover. Only those who belonged to God could do so. Also, of all the Old Testament sacrifices, only the Passover was "an ordinance forever." While all sacrifice prefigured Christ's one sacrifice, the Passover, being a perpetual ordinance, prefigured Christ in an entirely unique and superlative way.
Lev 7:7 The guilt offering is like the sin offering, there is one law for them; the priest who makes atonement with it shall have it.
Sacrifical offerings had to be eaten.
Lev 7:15-20 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it until the morning. 16 But if the sacrifice of his offering is a votive offering or a freewill offering, it shall be eaten on the day that he offers his sacrifice, and on the morrow what remains of it shall be eaten, 17 but what remains of the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned with fire. 18 If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering is eaten on the third day, he who offers it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be credited to him; it shall be an abomination, and he who eats of it shall bear his iniquity.
19 "Flesh that touches any unclean thing shall not be eaten; it shall be burned with fire. All who are clean may eat flesh, 20 but the person who eats of the flesh of the sacrifice of the Lord's peace offerings while an uncleanness is on him, that person shall be cut off from his people.
The "thanksgiving sacrifice" ("eucharasis" in the Greek) can also be translated "fulfillment sacrifice." It was offered up at the fulfillment of a vow or promise, not as reparation. Its characteristic feature was the sacred banquet at which the offerer and his guests ate of the meat of the sacrificed animal on the same day it was offered. Interestingly, the meat could not be eaten on the third day, and the people who partook of it had to be utterly clean.
Lev 7:35-36 This is the portion of Aaron and of his sons from the offerings made by fire to the Lord, consecrated to them on the day they were presented to serve as priests of the Lord; 36 the Lord commanded this to be given them by the people of Israel, on the day that they were anointed; it is a perpetual due throughout their generations."
Lev 10:16-20 Now Moses diligently inquired about the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it was burned! And he was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar, the sons of Aaron who were left, saying, 17 "Why have you not eaten the sin offering in the place of the sanctuary, since it is a thing most holy and has been given to you that you may bear the iniquity of the congregation, to make atonement for them before the Lord? 18 Behold, its blood was not brought into the inner part of the sanctuary. You certainly ought to have eaten it in the sanctuary, as I commanded." 19 And Aaron said to Moses, "Behold, today they have offered their sin offering and their burnt offering before the Lord; and yet such things as these have befallen me! If I had eaten the sin offering today, would it have been acceptable in the sight of the Lord?" 20 And when Moses heard that, he was content.
For each of the sacrifices offered by the Aaronic priesthood, the sacrifical meat absolutely had to be eaten, and it had to be eaten in a state of cleanness. Aaron was rightly concerned that his sons didn't fulfill the prerequisites.
Ex 16:16-30 This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Gather of it, every man of you, as much as he can eat; you shall take an omer apiece, according to the number of the persons whom each of you has in his tent.'" 17 And the people of Israel did so; they gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; each gathered according to what he could eat. 19 And Moses said to them, "Let no man leave any of it till the morning." 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and became foul; and Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.
22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers apiece; and when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, "This is what the Lord has commanded: 'Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay by to be kept till the morning.'" 24 So they laid it by till the morning, as Moses bade them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, "Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none." 27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28 And the Lord said to Moses, "How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days; remain every man of you in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day." 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.
Again, we see that the manna could be kept for two days under special conditions, but never for three. The bread which fell from heaven for the physical sustenance of the Chosen People, and the flesh sacrifices in which man fulfilled his portion of the covenant promise did not avail by the third day - they were things of this world, and they passed away into corruption, useless in the sight of God and of man.
1 Cor 10:3-4 and all ate the same supernatural food 4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Paul recognized that the water from the rock, the manna, were both prefigurements of something far greater.
Ex 24:9-11 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. 11 And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.
The Mosaic covenant was consummated with a covenant meal in the presence of God.
1 Sam 16:1 The Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you grieve over Saul, seeing I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons."
The name "Bethlehem" means "house of bread." Remember this. Samuel is going to the House of Bread to find the King who is to be consecrated. From this king's line will come the Messiah.
1 Sam 16:5 And he said, "Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; consecrate yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice." And he consecrated Jesse and his sons, and invited them to the sacrifice.
Note the kind of sacrificial banquet Samuel offers - this is the fulfillment banquet spoken of in Leviticus, the eucharasis.
1 Sam 16:6-7 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, "Surely the Lord'S anointed is before him." 7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
The very first person Samuel sees seems good to him. Samuel is ready to consecrate the king. But God stops him. We are not to judge by appearance when searching out the son of Jesse, the anointed King who resides in the House of Bread, Bethlehem. We find the King only when we see as God sees, because man sees only the appearance, but God knows the heart of everything. Remember this.
1 Sam 16:10-12 And Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel. And Samuel said to Jesse, "The LORD has not chosen these." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Are all your sons here?" and he said, "There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep." And Samuel said to Jesse, "Send and fetch him; for we will not sit down till he comes here." And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. And the LORD said, "Arise, anoint him; for this is he."
Seven sons passed by, it was the eighth who was anointed king. Christ will rise after three days in the tomb, but He will not arise on the seventh day, the Sabbath. He rises on the eighth day, the day of New Creation.
1 Kings 19:4-8 But he himself went a day's journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree; and he asked that he might die, saying, "It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers." 5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree; and behold, an angel touched him, and said to him, "Arise and eat." 6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank, and lay down again. 7 And the angel of the Lord came again a second time, and touched him, and said, "Arise and eat, else the journey will be too great for you." 8 And he arose, and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.
Elijah was strengthened for his journey to the holy mountain by the eating of the bread provided by God.
2 Kings 4:42-44 A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, "Give to the men, that they may eat." 43 But his servant said, "How am I to set this before a hundred men?" So he repeated, "Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, 'They shall eat and have some left.'" 44 So he set it before them. And they ate, and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.
Elisha miraculously multiplied the loaves - he has a double portion of Elijah's spirit. Christ will do a greater thing than this.
Prov 9:1-5 Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars. 2 She has slaughtered her beasts, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. 3 She has sent out her maids to call from the highest places in the town, 4 "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" To him who is without sense she says, 5 "Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed.
Psalm 116:13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
Psalm 31:20 O how abundant is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for those who fear thee, and wrought for those who take refuge in thee, in the sight of the sons of men!
Ex 29:44-46 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar; Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate, to serve me as priests. 45 And I will dwell among the people of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them forth out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them; I am the Lord their God.
Mal 1:1,10-11 The oracle of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi..... Oh, that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire upon my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand. 11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts.
We know this to be a true oracle, for it is canonical Scripture. The temple gates have been shut for two millenia. Yet, who but Christ can offer "a pure offering?" How could this sacrifice be brought "everywhere?"
A manger is an eating trough. See also "Sacraments Confer Grace."
Jn 1:35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples; 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!"
John's comment specifically refers to the one perpetual sacrifice, the one ordinance of God which the whole Hebrew people had to keep, the Passover. The ram offered by Abraham on Mount Moriah, the future site of Jerusalem, the Passover lamb, the Levitical sacrifices, the manna, the manger - the whole covenantal theme of God's salvation plan is coming to fruition. Its theme is our need for sustenance. The Passover lamb had to be eaten.
How does Christ use food metaphors?
Mt 16:5-12 When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 7 And they discussed it among themselves, saying, "We brought no bread." 8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, "O men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? 9 Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 10 Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? 11 How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees." 12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jn 4:7-8, 31-38 There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." 8 For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.... Meanwhile the disciples besought him, saying, "Rabbi, eat." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know." 33 So the disciples said to one another, "Has any one brought him food?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest. 36 He who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor; others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."
When using such metaphors, Christ explains exactly how the food imagery is a metaphor, He corrects the disciples when they mistake His food metaphors for literal truth. Compare the two passages above to the passage in which Christ does not intend His food reference to be taken as a metaphor at all. Christ will combine every thread of Old Testament foreshadowing in order to teach His disciples the living reality.
Jn 6:4 Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand...
The Aaronic sacrifices were performed every day, through all the wanderings in the desert, during the conquering of the Promised Land, and after each rebuilding of the Temple, offered for a thousand years until the final destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. By Christ's time, the sacrifices had been established for generations. Thus, when Christ speaks the words of John 6 in the synagogue at Capernaum, He speaks to an audience which knows full well what the priests were required to do with the sacrifices offered in the temple every day, an audience which was itself preparing for the greatest sacrifice of all, the Passover, even as the Lamb of God spoke.
Jn 6:10-14 Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost." 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"
Slaves stood when they ate. Only free people ate while reclining. Christ's multiplication of the loaves not only reminds us of the plenitude of the Messianic era, it also reminds us of the manna with which God fed the Chosen People after their release from bondage in Egypt.
Jn 6:19-20 When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat. They were frightened, 20 but he said to them, "It is I; do not be afraid."
Moses parted the Red Sea. Christ supercedes that - He does not even need dry ground. He walks on the water. He has complete mastery over the physical world. Remember this.
Jn 6:22-31 On the next day the people who remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 However, boats from Tiberi-as came near the place where they ate the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the people saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Caperna-um, seeking Jesus.
25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?" 26 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal." 28 Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?" 29 Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." 30 So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
The word Christ uses for "endures" in the phrase "work for food which endures" is a primitive verb. It means "to stay, remain." There is no shadow of movement or transition in this verb. Common meals, manna, even the sacrificial offerings, all of this food becomes corrupt and perishes. But He is about to tell them of a food that does not perish, as the food of the table and of the Aaronic sacrifices do. Indeed, later in John's Gospel, the crowd will affirm that the presence of God is a gift which God gives and does not take back:
Jn 12:34 The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Christ remains for ever.
Jn 6:32-33 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven, and gives life to the world."
The crowd is looking for food, but Christ rejects the idea that simple physical bread, even that created by supernatural means (manna), is worth discussing. He says they need the only true bread there is, the true bread of God.
Wis 16:20 Instead of these things thou didst give thy people food of angels, and without their toil thou didst supply them from heaven with bread ready to eat, providing every pleasure and suited to every taste.
Jn 6:34-40 They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
35 Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me; 39 and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
They still think He is talking about manna or a loaf of normal bread, and they ask for it. He corrects them a second time. They are to look for Him. He is the bread of life. They look straight at the bread of life and fail to see it (Him) because they look with the eyes of man instead of with the eyes of faith. He commands them again to have faith, and see as God does, see as Samuel did, see the truth.
Jn 6:41-42 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven." 42 They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
The crowd is confused by His correction. So far, He has commanded them to come to Him, and they are His disciples. Have they not already done this? He must be speaking in a metaphorical sense. He clearly did not descend from heaven. They know His father. Yet how can one metaphorically "come down from heaven"? They are asking the wrong question. Christ will re-focus their attention on the REAL mystery.
Jn 6:43-51 Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. 46 Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
Christ insists that they stop murmuring - the reason the Israelites got only manna after they were freed from slavery in Egypt and walked through the Red Sea parted by Moses was due to their murmuring. Christ has fed the free man and walked on water. The Old Testament is being played out again. But the bread that comes this time will be different - it will be His own flesh. Seeing may be believing, but believing is not enough. They must eat this bread. This is the first of six repeated commands to do so.
Jn 6:52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
His Jewish disciples suddenly realize that He is not speaking metaphorically. They still don't see the supernatural reality, but even their limited understanding of what He is saying has just been radically altered. He does not correct them when they ask how He can give them His flesh to eat. Now that they understand His real point, He goes on to say something far more shocking:
Jn 6:53 So Jesus 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 you...
His Jewish disciples know their Scripture:
Is 49:26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh, and they shall be drunk with their own blood as with wine. Then all flesh shall know that I am the Lord your Savior, and your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob."
2 Sam 23:17 and said, "Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?"
Job 39:30 His young ones suck up blood; and where the slain are, there is he."
Ezek 39:17-20 "As for you, son of man, thus says the Lord GOD: Speak to the birds of every sort and to all beasts of the field, 'Assemble and come, gather from all sides to the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you, a great sacrificial feast upon the mountains of Israel, and you shall eat flesh and drink blood. 18 You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth - of rams, of lambs, and of goats, of bulls, all of them fatlings of Bashan. 19 And you shall eat fat till you are filled, and drink blood till you are drunk, at the sacrificial feast which I am preparing for you. 20 And you shall be filled at my table with horses and riders, with mighty men and all kinds of warriors,' says the Lord GOD.
Num 23:24 "Behold, a people! As a lioness it rises up and as a lion it lifts itself; it does not lie down till it devours the prey, and drinks the blood of the slain."
Deut 32:42 'I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the long-haired heads of the enemy.'
Jer 46:10 That day is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, to avenge himself on his foes. The sword shall devour and be sated, and drink its fill of their blood. For the Lord GOD of hosts holds a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates.
1 Chron 11:19 "Far be it from me before my God that I should do this. Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men? For at the risk of their lives they brought it."
Interestingly, the 1 Chronicles and 2 Sam excerpts quote King David as he refuses to drink water captured for him from the cistern at Bethlehem, by three men who obtained it at the risk of their lives.
The Semite idiom "eat the flesh and drink the blood" means to do someone serious injury, especially by slander; it is an idiom used by the writers of the New Testament...
Rev 16:6 "For men have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink. It is their due!"
...and still used by Arabs today. If Jesus were speaking metaphorically, He would be exhorting His disciples to slander Him, to cheat Him, to kill Him in order to gain eternal life. The disciples realize that He cannot be speaking metaphorically. He is literally serious - they must really eat His flesh and drink His blood at some future time. They no longer dispute His claim that He came down from heaven. He has successfully refocused their attention. It seems Jesus is demanding cannibalism, for the word He uses for "eat" (phago) is very blunt. It is used in reference to the eating of meat. The noun (phagos) derived from this verb means "glutton." But Christ, ever the teacher, wants to make sure they have gotten the point:
Jn 6:54-59 ...he who eats (phago) my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats (trogos) my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats (trogos) me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate (phago) and died; he who eats (phago) this bread will live for ever." 59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caperna-um.
After the mention of drinking His Blood, He starts using a different verb. While "phago" means "to eat meat," "trogos" means "to gnaw or crunch." Once the disciples get the idea, however preposterous, that they need to eat His flesh, He follows up by emphasizing and re-emphasizing how serious He is about their doing exactly that. They will not eat as their ancestors did, they will gnaw and crunch on His flesh, the true bread. Remember, this is being said in synagogue to Jews who know the Aaronic sacrifices, and it is being said on the eve of Passover, as the lambs are being gathered for slaughter in Jerusalem.
Furthermore, He doesn't stop with just the eating of His flesh. They must drink His blood. This means He considers Himself the source of life, the well-spring of life, and He is asserting that they can internalize the well-spring of life. Instead of being externally righteous, as were the Hebrews led out of Egypt, they will be internally pure, cleansed, holy. But to be that, they must drink His blood. It is this passage which explains why Paul says the Mosaic works of the law are no longer of any use. Christ perfects those laws in a radical way.
Christ has stated twelve times that He is the bread of life, the food that endures. He has stated six times that His flesh and blood are to be eaten. No other teaching in Scripture gets the emphasis this teaching gets.
Jn 6:60-63 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Note that He does NOT mean to indicate that His flesh is of no avail. He says "the flesh." Paul explains what that phrase means:
1 Cor 2:14-3:3 The unspiritual man does not receive the gifts of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. 16 "For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.... 1 But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men?
Christ means that acting in an ordinary way is of no avail; we have to see the supernatural reality which He has given us, and which He will give them through the power of the Cross - His own flesh and blood made present in His glorified Body for our food.
Jn 6:64-66 But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. 65 And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." 66 After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.
This is the only instance in Scripture in which disciples leave Jesus. These people have been His disciples, they have seen Him perform incredible miracles, they have stood with Him despite the attacks of the Pharisees, Sadducees, the scribes and the Sanhedrin, but this teaching is too much. They cannot make the leap of faith.
Jn 6:67-71 Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?" 68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God." 70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was to betray him.
Even Peter, speaking for the Twelve, can barely restrain his incredulity. His words imply that they WOULD go somewhere else, but there is nowhere to go. Incidentally, the phrase "the words I have spoken are spirit" do not mean "the words I have spoken are symbolic." "Spirit" is never used that way anywhere in Scripture, for example..
1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit...
Remember Thomas? Thomas could put his hands into Christ's side, and watch him eat a piece of fish. In Scripture, the spiritual has a fuller reality than the merely physical. Christ did not mean something symbolic. Through His use of verbs, evocation, subject, emphasis, and timing, He brought out a teaching so scandalous that His own disciples could not accept it. The scandal of the Cross is fully revealed in the Eucharist. The spiritual does not destroy the physical, nor is it something separate from the physical, rather, the spiritual perfects the physical, grace perfects nature.
Mt 26:26-30 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mk 14:22-26 And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."
26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Lk 22:14-20 And when the hour came, he sat at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I tell you I shall not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, "Take this, and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I tell you that from now on I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 20 And likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
The commentary involving the Passover meal and the implications of the fourth cup summarizes Dr. Scott Hahn's tape presentation "The Fourth Cup".
The Passover meal is shared "in remembrance." The word used for "remembrance" is "anamnesis," which means "to make present." For a first-century Jew, the Passover, through faith, unites every present participant to the participants in the original Passover; they become one Chosen People through this sacrifice. Christ commands remembrance in a Passover context, as God commanded it of all Jews at the first Passover. Note that the Last Supper is the only time Christ uses the word "covenant" in all four Gospels.
The Seder (Passover) meal consists of four parts, each part is completed by the mixing and drinking of a cup of wine. The Khaddish, a Judaic prayer of festival blessing, is spoken over the first cup. The bitter herbs are then served. This was probably the dish in which Jesus and Judas dipped bread together.
The second course is served, and then Psalm 113, which is called the Little Hallel (little song of praise), is sung. The second cup is mixed and shared.
The third course is served, and the Passover lamb and unleavened bread is eaten, after which the third cup is drunk. This third cup is called the cup of blessing.
1 Cor 10:16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?
After this, the meal reaches its climax with the singing of Psalms 114-118, which is called the Great Hallel (great praise). Then the fourth cup is mixed and drunk to complete the ritual. It is called the "cup of consummation." It is clear that the cup which is shared among the apostles is the cup of blessing, both from the description, "while they were eating," and Paul's own testimony which will be discussed shortly.
Christ starts the Passover meal, but He doesn't complete it. He offers the unleavened bread ("This is my body") and the third cup ("This is my blood") while they were still eating the Passover lamb. He proclaims the bread to be His body, and the cup to be His blood, and these are consumed "while they were eating." He states that He will not taste of the fruit of the vine again until the coming His Father's Kingdom. The Great Hallel is sung, but Christ and the apostles leave the upper room without drinking the fourth cup. The Passover is not complete - the cup of consummation has not been consumed.
Lk 22:42 "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Mt 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt."
Mk 14:36 And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what thou wilt."
Jesus has not drunk the fourth cup of the Passover, but He has a cup to drink which the Apostles do not yet know of.
Jn 19:13-14 When Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Pavement, and in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about the sixth hour.
The sixth hour is important because it was at that hour the Passover lambs were slaughtered for the evening sacrifice. How can this be? Didn't Christ already celebrate the Passover? He did - according to the Pharisaic calendar. But the Sadducees followed a slightly different calendar. The Pharisees celebrated Passover on Tuesday, while the Sadducees celebrated Passover on Friday. God's plan allowed Christ to both offer His own flesh and blood under the forms of bread and wine with His Apostles at the Last Supper, and still truly be offered up as the Paschal Lamb on Passover at His Crucifixion. He is both high priest and victim. Standing before the crowd on the cold stone pavement, He had not yet completed the Passover sacrifice He had begun with His Apostles.
Lk 23:36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him vinegar,
Mk 15:22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). 23 And they offered him wine mingled with myrrh; but he did not take it.
Mt 27:33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it.
They offer Him wine at the beginning of the crucifixion. He refuses to drink.
Mk 15:36-37 And one ran and, filling a sponge full of vinegar, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down." 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed his last.
Mt 27:48-50 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." 50 And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.
Jn 19:29-30 A bowl full of vinegar stood there; so they put a sponge full of the vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the vinegar, he said, "It is finished"; and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Seconds before His death, Jesus drinks the wine and says "It is consummated" or "It is finished." Was He speaking of the work of redemption?
Rom 4:25 who was put to death for our trespasses and raised for our justification.
Unlikely. The work of justification would not be completed until the Resurrection. So, what was finished? The Passover. The fourth cup had been drunk on the cross. Christ was High Priest of the Sacrifice even as He hung on the Cross, His skin flayed off His back as one might skin a lamb, His flesh roasted in the sun as He carried the Cross. The fruit of the tree of life, the Paschal Lamb, is prepared. What must be done with the Lamb?
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, 29 but they constrained him, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32 They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?" 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, 34 who said, "The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!" 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread..
Note that the two disciples had all of Scripture explained to them by the best teacher the world has ever seen, yet they still failed to recognize Jesus. It was only in the breaking of the bread that Christ was recognized. Their eyes were opened, not by Scripture alone, but by word and act. What of the others?
Mk 16:9-13 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Mark summarizes the Emmaus story much more succinctly than Luke. The witnesses witness, but even the Apostles themselves do not believe. Witness and word alone were not enough to kindle faith. Christ had to act so that they would understand the truth.
Jn 20:19-28 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord." But he said to them, "Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe."
26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, "Peace be with you." 27 Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing." 28 Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" 29 Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe."
Lk 24:37-43 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
Christ was not just a spiritual presence - a ghost. He was physical being glorified in the spirit. Thus, He displaced the air in the locked room as readily as He displaces the substance of bread with His own Body while maintaining the appearance of bread. The King born in the House of Bread and laid in an eating trough is real and present. His Real Presence is what the Resurrection is all about.
Mt 28:20 and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
How did the Apostles understand it?
Acts 2:42-47 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Acts 27:34-35 Therefore I urge you to take some food; it will give you strength, since not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you." 35 And when he had said this, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.
Acts 2:24,31 But God raised him up, having loosed the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.... he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
Over half of Peter's first speech to unbelievers taught exactly one thing: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In fact, in Acts, Peter will make five speeches with this theme, and Paul will make a sixth (see also Acts 3:12-26, 4:8-12, 5:29-32, 10:34-43, and 13:16-41). This list doesn't count passing references to such speeches as:
Acts 17:32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked; but others said, "We will hear you again about this."
Acts 23:6 But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Brethren, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees; with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead I am on trial."
The Greeks at the Areopagus willingly listened to everything but the Resurrection. At Paul's trial, his mention of the Resurrection nearly caused a riot. The disciples at Capernaum didn't believe, the disciples on the road to Emmaus didn't believe, the Apostles themselves didn't believe. At two millenia distance, it is difficult to appreciate exactly how outrageous the Resurrection was and is. The Resurrection was the single largest stumbling block in the spreading of the faith. The Docetist heresy, already raging by 100 A.D., claimed Christ had not really died. It was put down only because eyewitnesses of the crucifixion still lived and categorically condemned Docetist teaching as a lie. Christ died. He rose. Witnesses knew.
The daily Eucharistic meal was and is a central proof for those who see with eyes even greater than Samuel's as he searched Bethlehem for a king, who see with the eyes of faith. It is the central scandal of Christianity.
1 Cor 10:14-22 Therefore, my beloved, shun the worship of idols. 15 I speak as to sensible men; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Paul uses precisely the same word for "bread" that Christ used in John 6. He asks us to consider "Israel according to the flesh" - as the disciples at Capernaum had considered Christ's words according to the flesh. He acknowledges that meat sacrificed to idols is nothing - it has no supernatural reality. Implicitly, he contrasts it with the Eucharistic meal, where the sacrifice *IS* something, and God *IS* someone.
1 Cor 11:23-34 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way also 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." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. 31 But if we judged ourselves truly, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are chastened so that we may not be condemned along with the world.
33 So then, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another 34 if any one is hungry, let him eat at homelest you come together to be condemned. About the other things I will give directions when I come.
Paul does not refer to either "wine" or to "blood," but to "the cup of the Lord." Can one be required to answer for the body and blood of the Lord if he eats merely natural bread, and drinks from a cup containing merely wine?
Jn 13:26,30 So when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot... So, after receiving the morsel, he immediately went out; and it was night.
Judas ate of the morsel and immediately entered the darkness. Recall that it was Judas who did not believe Jesus' teaching in John 6. The phrase "answer for the Body and Blood" is a phrase which was used against those accused of murder. Where is Christ's Body or Blood, that one must answer for it? This matter was so important that Paul wrote immediately - he dare not wait until he had free time to come and correct the error in person.
Even though he speaks in words extraordinarily reminiscent of Leviticus 7:20, he doesn't say the person eating unworthily has to answer for the bread and wine offered to the Lord. Rather, such a person answers for the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Yet we know from Leviticus that cereal sacrifices were common. How is it that Paul does not call this a cereal sacrifice, but an offense against Christ's Body and Blood? He is both the most orthodox of Jews and a devout follower of Christ. He would not profane Christ's name by confusing a cereal offering with Christ's Resurrected Body and Blood.
Heb 9:13-14 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God.
The Levitical thanksgiving sacrifice (called "eucharasis" in Greek) could not "touch any unclean thing," for if it did, it could not be consumed. We know that Christ called Himself "the food that stays" - His body does not perish as does ordinary substances of this world. The real substance of Christ's Body and Blood in the Eucharist completely replaces that of the bread and wine, there can be no mingling of the two substances. Neither could His Presence depart after the consecration, for then it would not be "the food that endures."
Acts 10:40-41 but God raised him on the third day and made him manifest; 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.
Christ only appears to those who ate and drank with Him.
Mt 8:10-11 When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,...
Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me...
Rev 5:6,9-10 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders, I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth;... and they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open its seals, for thou wast slain and by thy blood didst ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation, 10 and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth."
Rev 7:17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Rev 19:9 And the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God."
Rev 21:22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.
Rev 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband...
The wedding feast is the consummation of the marriage between the Bride and the Bridegroom, in which the Bride receives the Bridegroom into Herself, as a Bride does on her wedding night, being made fruitful thereby.
Lk 14:15 When one of those who sat at table with him heard this, he said to him, "Blessed is he who shall eat bread in the kingdom of God!"
We are called to be perfect images of Christ. Christ established for us a perfect image of His Sacrifice, an image so perfect that He Himself is fully and actually present at the sacrifice we, the Church, offer. Through this sacrifice, the sacrifice of the Mass, His One Sacrifice becomes present to His Body which is the Church. The reality of Christ's Resurrected Body in the Eucharist brings together several strands of Old and New Testament prophecy - the tree of life, the gifts of Melchisedek, the Passover, the gift of manna, the Aaronic sacrifices, the search for the king, the place of Christ's birth, the wedding feast of the Lamb. The Eucharist is the source and goal of our faith. The whole of Scripture points to it, prepares for it, teaches us how to live so that we may receive it. Through it, we are truly made part of the Body of Christ, and truly become sons of the living God.
Early Christians' comments on the Real Presence
One comment: The mystery of the Eucharist is the central sacramental mystery of the Church. Do not expect to understand it after one reading or one explanation. The best analogy I can give is as follows. You have seen a silk rose. If you touch such a rose, are you touching a rose? No, you are touching silk. Assume that the silk has been genetically engineered to give off a pleasing rose-like odor. Is it a rose? No, it is still silk. No matter how you engineer the silk, the rose which results is only a rose to the senses. It is really silk to the touch. At the consecration and forever after, until it is consumed and loses the appearance of bread and/or wine, the host and/or the cup is no longer bread and/or wine. It is Jesus Christ. Your senses may smell, see, taste, touch bread, but you really smell, see, taste, touch the flesh of Jesus Christ.