Eating God? A History of the Eucharist and a Glimpse of Roman Catholicism

Jesus, since His ascension into heaven, possesses a spiritual body. This spiritual body consists of His flesh, which He assumed at the incarnation and subsequent development, and Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man (Lk. 2.52 NIV). This flesh of Jesus is enlivened by God’s Spirit, resulting in a spiritual body (more on this later). Jesus, in His resurrection, was the “firstfruits” from the dead, which was part of the prophetic Jewish Passover Feast, signifying a transference of holiness to the rest of the harvest: For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him (1Cor. 15.22-23 NIV).

Jesus’ body is now in heaven, seated upon His Father’s throne, waiting for His enemies to be made a footstool (Ps. 110.1). Jesus doesn’t somehow magically indwell a wafer used in a Eucharist; this is not how Jesus inhabits His people on earth during this present era before His return. Instead, Jesus indwells believers through the third person of the Triune God: the Holy Spirit: But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate (Holy Spirit-paraclaytos) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you (Jn. 16. 7 NIV). While Jesus, fixed in His resurrected body, can appear on earth at rare times, such as His appearance to Paul of Tarsus, His usual place is in heaven, as the appearance to Steven in Acts 7.55: But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God (NIV). Therefore, Jesus is in heaven, not in the Eucharist. His method of indwelling His people is through the Spirit. Just before Jesus’ arrest, and immediately after He instituted the commemoration of The Lord’s Supper (the term “Eucharist” is not in the bible and can be misleading. The meaning is “good grace,” but no grace is actually given by receiving it. Instead, grace is given to believers who memorialize Christ’s death in faith. Grace comes through our faith in God, if we practice this memorial with believing hearts), He prayed what is commonly known as “His High Priestly Prayer,” recorded in Jn. 17 (see below).

At Capernaum, the day after Jesus fed the 5000 on the opposite side of Lake Galilee, Jesus gave the Bread of Life Discourse, recorded in Jn. 6.23-65. This discourse is a rebuke and general condemnation of the mindless crowd who were not impacted by the spiritual significance of the sign of “the multiplication of the loaves.” Therefore, Jesus spoke to them in a parable to hide the truth from the superficial and shallow followers. In Mt. 13.10-15, Jesus told His disciples that the parabolic use (metaphors) was that the calloused followers: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand (vs. 13b NIV). Therefore, this metaphorical discourse of “The Bread of Life” was to obscure the spiritual realities from the unseeing crowd. When Jesus spoke of eating His flesh, in Jn.6. 53-56, He was using a metaphor of people needing to accept the enfleshment (incarnation) of the Eternal Son and His sacrificial ministry on earth: Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them (NIV).

This “remaining in Me and I in them” is revealed to His disciples in Jesus’ prayer to the Father before His arrest, mentioned above: I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me (Jn. 17.20-21 NIV).

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