Eating His Flesh, Drinking His Blood

We are called to hunger & thirst after righteousness.  I understand that True righteousness has nothing to do with us but only comes through the blood of Christ…Isaiah tells us that our righteousness is as filthy rags.  Only when we are hidden in Christ is God able to see us as righteous. 

My question relates to how that hunger & thirst are satisfied…in the Gospel of John Jesus commands us to eat his flesh & drink his blood.  Jesus also said he is the Bread of Life & Living Water.  I’ve always understood that Jesus is referring to consuming the Word of God and the Spirit of God.  I guess what confuses me is that some faiths teach that during the taking of Holy Communion, the cracker/bread actually becomes the physical body of Jesus and the wine becomes His blood, as opposed to other faiths that practice communion as symbolism of his death & resurrection .

“ The quintessence of these doctrinal decisions consists in this, that in the Eucharist the Body and Blood of the God-man are truly, really, and substantially present for the nourishment of our souls, by reason of the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and that in this change of substances the unbloody Sacrifice of the New Testament is also contained.” The Catholic Encyclopedia

“the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar in its twofold aspect of sacrament and Sacrifice of Mass, and in which Jesus Christ is truly present under the bread and wine.”

Is this a Biblical teaching?  I’m interested in additional study but googling it has left me overwhelmed.  The more I read, the more I’m confused and the more questions I have.

 

The bottom line is that I’ve always believed the elements of communion are symbols whereby Followers remember the death & celebrate the resurrection of Christ.  And I’ve come to believe that when Christ talked about eating his flesh, drinking his blood he was emphasizing the importance of heeding his Word & walking in the Spirit…that these are what we are to “hunger & thirst” after.  Am I way off-base?  Can you share your perception of this mystery and how you arrived at it?

 

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2 responses to “Eating His Flesh, Drinking His Blood

  1. Hey Di, I definitely plan to write more on this subject, but I have to give at least a couple of important truths for you to consider. First, the “sacrament” of holy communion that the religious speak of is man made. Jesus never intended for his upper room dinner to become a liturgical ritual to the degree we now see in most denominations. I never pass up the opportunity to participate in a communion service, and for me, it is an intensely personal and beautiful moment no matter how it’s conducted, no matter the agenda of the server. The same goes for the Lord’s prayer. Every word moves me deeply. But it saddens me to recognize that the Lord’s supper has for most been transformed into a modern day ritual just as the Lord’s Prayer is being used as a rote chant. Both are incredibly important elements of the Gospel message, and both are to be revered and considered as often as we eat (any meal, anytime) or pray, but neither was taught by Jesus to become a ritual act or rote prayer. As Jesus said, “even the pagans do that.” Furthermore, it amazes me that most folks don’t realize that in that historic event we call the Last Supper, Jesus was actually partaking in the final Passover meal of His life as a human (we also call this the “Seder” today), which was in fact a ritual act in adherence with Jewish tradition and law of Moses (Torah). The Seder is still practiced annually during the Passover by most believing Jews, and occasionally if not annually by many Christians – myself included – and especially by Messianic Jews, but for differing reasons. The ritual of the Passover meal was part of the old law code and the old covenant, and Jesus broke his flesh and blood later that night to establish the new covenant, thus transcending all legalism and replacing the commands relating to rituals (even the beautiful ones) with the new covenant; the crucified life, born again in Christ – with His mind, His heart, His strength, His ways. I still practice the Seder from time to time not to be ritualistic or legalistic, but to enjoy the history and to make deeper sensory contact with the traditions of my faith, and – more importantly — to remember all God did for the father’s of our faith, both the Israelites on the eve of the Passover and the disciples on the eve of the passion, but only as He leads me; and never as rote liturgical ritual. So Jesus was telling us that insomuch as we break the bread and drink the wine, whether as part of the Passover/Seder meal or as part of our daily meals, we are to do so in remembrance of Him, and specifically what He did for us that night… not for sentimental reasons nor for ritual, but to remind us DAILY that we too must be crucified with Him, daily. So the last Passover meal was no mere ritual. It was a directive that was actually the continuation and completion to His “Bread of life” discourse recorded in John 6. He was pointing back not only to the Passover/exodus; the historical event/era when God weeded out so many false or partial believers under the old covenant, but also to the day He himself weeded out the multitude of false or partial disciples at a critical Passover in His own ministry, the day He made perfectly clear that the sayings and attitudes he taught in His previous sermons were not simply suggestions, nor were they part of a self-improvement program for his followers to hover over as if they were in some spiritual salad bar. These sayings and attitudes and activities are His very flesh to be eaten daily and to be desired as the only sustenance for spiritual life. The wine and blood are likewise His symbols for the indwelling of His own life — His Holy Spirit — that would become an ever flowing self sustaining river of living water for those who are born again in the Spirit, just as He explained to Nicodemus (John 3), though only in part. In His discourse recorded in John 6 Jesus showed that He had grown weary of crowds who followed Him around simply to worship Him as the Messiah and to receive His healings and material sustenance (as surely He gave freely) but were not yet eating His flesh or drinking His blood – that is – living only by His words AND being born again of the Spirit to where they move like the wind and no longer move according to the flesh, i.e., going where their flesh is fed loaves and fishes; but instead moved by EVERY word that proceeds from the mouth of God (the mouth of Jesus). And as we know also from John that “the Word became Flesh,” we see that Jesus left no doubt to what he was driving at. Those who chose not to understand His Bread of Life discourse made a tragic error. The Passover and exodus experience for the Israelites– a 40 year refining furnace that left all but 2 men among millions dead in the desert — likewise denied entry into the promised land for those who chose not to trust entirely upon the word of the Lord. When Jesus told Nicodemus no one would enter the Kingdom of Heaven unless he were born again, OF SPIRIT, Jesus meant it — just as His Father meant every word of what He told the Hebrews through Moses during their exodus. Believing God was God and following Moses for survival meant/proved nothing to God. He required, TOTAL surrender to His word, or else they died. It was that simple. Jesus made the same point in His Bread of Life discourse, and made sure his born again message to Nicodemus also referenced the Israelites testing in the wilderness. Believing Him to be the Messiah and following him around the countryside means nothing to Jesus. He expects total and complete adherence to His gospel. He is the ALL or NOTHING God. Always has been, always will be. Yes, the new covenant is much easier on the flesh level, but it’s far harder in the spiritual, and if you believe Jesus, many will be called to this life, but few will make it. Jesus arrived at the crossover point in His ministry where He did more to drive away the masses and multitudes than He did to attract them. For this it is quite ironic that the communion sacrament is for many a ritual conducted among gatherings of the masses. Jesus knew/knows which among us are truly eating His flesh and drinking His blood and which are just eating the loaves and guzzling the wine; which among us are simply swallowing the wafers and sipping the grape juice. When the multitudes of followers and masses of disciples insisted that they didn’t understand his Bread of Life message, He knew they simply did not want to understand, for they were not His “own”, as His own always hear His words and understand; His own have ears that hear and eyes that see, and we no longer avoid His hard teachings or claim confusion as our excuse for why we don’t adhere to His way of Life to the very last red letter; every last drop of blood. So in a matter of minutes Jesus was able to chase away those who were following Him for flesh reasons and thereby whittled the crowd down to just His TRUE disciples, and they were just a handful. They were those who knew He had the words that are Life to be lived with every breath, not wafers to be sampled on the Sabbath; and that His Spirit is a river that is to flow without ceasing, a river that nourishes seeds of truth to produce massive trees of faith with much fruit of the Spirit. So in effect, Jesus began at this moment to prove His words were not merely suggestions for living, but were Life itself, and began to prove that He will only accept those who understand what He is saying and obey, for surely all who are born again of the Spirit have the Holy Spirit counseling us and delivering to us divine understanding of His words… ears that hear, eyes that see. As Jesus so plainly stated time and again, it will only be His chosen — those who are His – who will understand His flesh and blood message, so I pray all who stumble onto this post hear His voice, not my pen, as I say nothing but that which my Father in heaven whispers in my ear, or even better, has spoken to all the world when He delivered His gospel message 2000 years ago. In the meantime, I pray you take your communion experience to the deepest level as defined by Christ, and please consider these sayings of Jesus:
    “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Lk 6:46)“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” (Jn 5:39-40)
    “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” (Lk 14:33)
    “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me.” (Jn 8:24-25)
    “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Mk 8:34)
    “Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.” (Jn 8:43-47)

    Food for thought, and for life.

  2. @ Wayne…AMEN! And THANK YOU for the heart you poured out and the time you invested to peel back the layers of this life giving command to Eat His Flesh & Drink His Blood. You’ve given me much to ponder and even raised a few new questions in me {oh boy, I feel another blog coming on…}. It couldn’t get much clearer than this. One of your statements that got my attention…and there were many…but this one in particular…”Jesus knew/knows which among us are truly eating His flesh and drinking His blood and which are just eating the loaves and guzzling the wine; which among us are simply swallowing the wafers and sipping the grape juice.” I have been in services where the communion was “open” to anyone, believer & seeker alike. While it is important to encourage the lost to continue to seek, we must be careful not to desecrate the memory of the sacrifice of Christ…this act, as often as we do it is ONLY for true believers/followers who are in that moment declaring in their bodies the New Covenant and are again answering the call to live the crucified life.

    For those of you who haven’t yet linked to Wayne’s site {it’s on my front page} & don’t yet know him, Wayne emerged from a Catholic background & writes with authority on the sacraments & rituals of the Catholic faith. I encourage you to read more about his journey & passion for the Gospel at http://www.Jesusdna.com.

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