Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Real Presence, Part 3


Third reason to believe:  Scripture

For Scriptural verses supporting the Real Presence I will reference only two sections of our Bible.  John chapter 6, verse 51 and 1 Cor 11. 

JOHN 6 (Bread of Life Discourse)
Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.

-- Jews grumble at this.--

[…]
 47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

52 Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”
53 Jesus said to them, “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. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. 56 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

Many Disciples Desert Jesus60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! 63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit[e] and life. 64 Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

1)       The first thing to notice is “what else could Jesus have said to make it any more plain?”  Six times He tells them that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood.  6 times!

 

2)       Second, He doesn’t correct those that leave Him for misunderstanding Him since they thought He spoke literally while He supposedly spoke only symbolically.  My question is: why didn’t He say so before they left Him?

 

3)       Thirdly, the apostle John recounts Jesus using two different words when speaking of ‘eating’ His flesh.  In the beginning of His discourse He uses the word “PHAGO” which is defined as ‘eat’ and which can sometimes be taken symbolically.  But when the Jews have difficulty accepting Jesus’ second attempt at clarifying His teaching Jesus switches to the word “TROGO” in verse 54 when speaking of ‘eating’ His flesh, a word which is NEVER used symbolically in Scripture and means to ‘munch, gnaw or crunch’ His Flesh making it extremely clear that Jesus was speaking literally.

And so Jesus let the Jews leave because they understood Him correctly, they just couldn’t accept this ‘hard teaching.’

My favorite verse of the whole ‘Bread of Life’ discourse is verse 51.
Verse 51 of John 6 says this: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven.  If any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, for the life of the world.

Jesus is the living bread.  We are to eat this bread.  This bread that He gives for us to eat is the flesh that He will give for the life of the world.    If the bread is symbolically His flesh then the flesh that He gives for the life of the world must be symbolic as well.  That’s how Jesus describes it.  Was the flesh on the cross symbolic? Or real?  The flesh that we are to eat, is it symbolic or real?  If the flesh on the cross is real then the bread that we are to eat is that same flesh.

In 1 Corinthians 11, verse 27.  Paul writes to the Corinthians about eating the bread and drinking of the cup unworthily, to do that is to be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  Paul explains it this way: “Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”  How can one sin against the body and blood by eating and drinking unworthily of the bread and wine UNLESS the bread and wine are now the body and blood of the Lord.

Two verses later, verse 29, Paul explains how it can be a sin to eat and drink unworthily.  It’s a sin because: “…anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.  How can one DISCERN the body of the Lord in the bread if its NOT the body of the Lord?  To discern it as the body of the Lord means that the bread is, in fact, the body of the Lord.

And the last Scriptural verse that I want to bring to prove the Real Presence in the Eucharist are from the words of God Himself at the Last Supper.  Jesus raised the bread and said “This IS my Body.  He didn’t say that the bread was just a symbol, a sign or a figure of His body.  He lifted up the bread and said “this IS my Body”.  He never pointed to a door and said “This is my body”.   God Himself said “Let there be light.  And there was light”.  God the Son said “This is my body” and so, no matter what our senses might tell us, we are obliged to believe Him.  That His Word has power.  For God, to say it is so…makes it so.
 

God Bless
Nathan

2 comments:

  1. Greetings.
    I have enjoyed reading many of your articles and have a comment on this issue. There seems to me to be two ways or "theories" of looking at John 6 when it comes to what the disciples thought about Jesus saying, " I am the bread of life" and "you must eat my flesh" The first one is that He meant literally that He expected His followers to commit an act of cannibalism and digest a piece of His flesh. This repulsed many of the disciples and they left because they were not willing to either physically or spiritually accept this command. If you accept this theory you believe that those who did not leave were expecting to soon be eating human flesh. Not that they were looking forward to this but if Jesus said it, so be it. The other theory is that the disciples were shocked that Jesus was plainly claiming that He was much more then a prophet of God but that He was God. This was hard for most of His followers to believe since many thought He was to be a earthly king and they left Him. Not because they thought He was speaking literally but because they could not accept a God in the flesh walking on Earth. Both theories have merit but both can not be true.
    The greatest argument that the first theory is correct is the wording itself. Jesus never said that He was speaking metaphorically even after many of His followers abandoned Him. I myself must admit that anyone just reading this passage would conclude that He was speaking literally. It would take not only great faith to accept this teaching but also a strong stomach to fulfill it. On the other hand, if the second theory is correct and He was speaking metaphorically then this commandment is easier to accept if you believe that Jesus is God, which most people who call themselves Christians do. So the question now is which theory is correct?
    The answer is, unlike many other Biblical questions, has a very simple and unbiased way of knowing the truth. Just examine the bread, is it flesh? If it is flesh then "case closed", but if it is just bread then He was speaking metaphorically. This is a simple example of "common sense trumps theory". There are many hard questions that Christians debate from the Bible, I wish that they were all as easy to address as this one. If you find flaws on this train of thought I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your time and effort on this blog.

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  2. Hello again, David. This article was actually written by my friend Nathan, perhaps he will chime in here too. Now, of course, our position on this is that Jesus was speaking literally. As you aptly pointed out, an objective reading of John 6 leaves one with little doubt that Jesus spoke literally and meant it, especially when He didn't back down even after most of His disciples "turned and walked with Him no more." In fact, He further challenges the Twelve stating, "Will you also leave?" They did not, for they had faith in Him, like Abraham had when he was to offer up his son, Isaac.. "the Lord will provide." Our Lord DID provide on Holy Thursday when He offered the first Holy Mass of the Catholic Church. That which was just bread and wine becomes for us His body and blood, though it still has the appearance of bread and wine, the essence or substance IS His body and blood.

    I'm not so sure this topic is an "easy" one, as many today still have trouble accepting that Jesus did indeed command we eat His flesh and drink His blood, or we have "no life" in us. For that very reason many refuse to become Catholics.

    If today you hear the voice of God, harden not your heart...

    AMDG,
    Scott<<<

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