Flesh And Blood Or Bread And Wine?
By Jack Kelley
My question regards the teaching of Jesus in John 6:51-58. I hear Catholics say that they are taking these verses literally. Hence at their communion ceremony they are only following the word of God. My question is, what is Jesus really saying here?
Q. I have been reading on your site for over a year now. Your teachings have been instrumental in increasing my understanding of God’s word. The daily “Ask a Bible Teacher” has been wonderful spiritual food. I have now been equipped to speak with others. God is truly amazing.
My question regards the teaching of Jesus in John 6:51-58. I hear Catholics say that they are taking these verses literally. Hence at their communion ceremony they are only following the word of God. And if they are using these words to their literal meaning, then the rest of us are not. And, we are supposedly the ones who believe in a literal translation of the Bible.
My question is, what is Jesus really saying here? I understand it to mean that we are to accept his spiritual food and drink, accept his words and teachings. How would I respond to a Catholic on this point? Jack, as a former Catholic I want you to know that I have no intention of disparaging them, and only hope that anyone of this faith that I (through the Holy Spirit) can touch will be enhanced in their understanding of the Lord. God Bless you, and thanks for your help
A. I assume you’re talking about the Catholic doctrine of trans-substantiation, wherein the communion wafer literally becomes the body and blood of Christ. Genesis 9:4 specifically prohibits the consumption of blood. Jesus is the exact representation of the God who issued that prohibition and therefore could not advocate the violation of his own laws. By this we know that He was speaking metaphorically. And if that’s not good enough, at the last supper He made it unmistakably clear. The bread symbolized His body and the wine His blood. We’re to partake of the symbols, not the real thing.
So why did He seem to be intentionally misleading the people? This discourse came on the heels of His miraculous feeding of the 5000. In John 6:26, after a large group had followed Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, he accused them of following Him just because He fed them, not because they believed in Him. When He tried to explain that it was Himself that He was giving them, not just bread, many went away disappointed. He was separating the true believers from those who just wanted a free meal.