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Did Jesus institute the Eucharist in Jn.6 as Roman Catholicism claims?

 Some things to consider

In John 6, we find the Jews continue to resist Jesus' claims of being divine. They challenge Him to prove who he is by bringing down manna from heaven as Moses had done. Jesus uses their reference to the manna, the food which was essential for their survival and life in the desert and applies it figuratively to himself. He answers, “I am the bread of life.” Jesus uses eating in exchange to represent believing. This is consistent all the way through His illustration.

The day before he fed 5,000 and proclaims that He can give “food which endures to eternal life.”

Jn.6:26 Describes those that came after Jesus because their stomachs were filled. Jesus tells them not to labor for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to everlasting life… This resumes a dispute with the Jewish authorities about who Jesus is. They were already plotting to kill him, because he was “making Himself equal with God.”

V.28-29What must we do to do the works of God?” Jesus answers: “This is the work of God. That you believe in Him whom He sent.” They insist on a sign (today Catholics ask for the same thing, except there is no proof for theirs, they must take it by blind faith).  

 V.31-33 The bread Moses gave was not the true bread, you don't literally eat it. “The bread of God is He Who comes down from Heaven, and gives life to the World.” Did Jesus body come from heaven, or did God who is Spirit come in a living body?

V.35I am that bread. He who believes in Me will never hunger or thirst.” Notice He does not say “He who eats...” will not hunger or thirst. He is speaking to those who reject him as the source of eternal life. He uses bread as an analogy to illustrate mankind's need to believe in him. Jesus never relates this to wine.  The eating of Christ, who is “the living bread which came down from heaven” (6:51), is no more a physical act than  the eating of “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God; it was offering spiritual truth to the people that did not understand.  

V.36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe.” Notice He is pointing to Himself, that is present among them, and He scolds them for not believing. It is hard to believe what you don't understand.

V.41-42 The Jews wonder at His statement about coming down from Heaven. Thinking he is speaking of his body.

V. 47He who believes in Me has everlasting life.” Here Jesus points to himself as the source, by believing not eating.

V.49the fathers ate the bread in the wilderness and they all died,” in v.50 he then points to Himself as the solution for death.

V. 51  “I am the living bread which came from heaven.” He is pointing to himself as the one who is God, that has eternal life to give. Notice He says in the present tense He is the bread.  Jesus then predicts, “The bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh.” The Catholic Church interprets this as a promise of the Eucharist. Yet the context has nothing to do with the Last Supper or physical bread. He is going to give His flesh for the life of the world. WHEN?  At the cross. HOW MANY TIMES?  Once. Not over and over on the altars.

Earlier, Jesus had identified himself as the bread of life.  Now he says he will give the bread, that is himself, his own flesh, for the life of the world. Many other times near the end of his life he made similar predictions.

V. 52-53 unless you are to eat His flesh and drink His blood you have no life in you.” the Jews begin to argue with one another, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  Because of their antagonism for Jesus, they not only rejected His teaching but lacked discernment to understand when He was using an illustration.

This is not to be mistaken for flesh of a wafer coming from a bakery of mans hands nor grapes squeezed by men. It is his flesh and blood.  “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.” Rather than teach the necessity of receiving Holy Communion, it speaks of the necessity of faith in Christ.  If you do not trust in his payment for sin on the cross, you will not have eternal life in yourself.

V. 54 he says, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” “ Moments earlier he had said, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

Notice that the results are identical in both verses: eternal life and resurrection. But although in the one we must eat and drink, in the other we behold and must believe.   The results are identically the same, as are the actions to obtain them are also: eating is a substitute for believing. His figurative statements are easily understood when read in the context of the other verses in this teaching.

V.55, he states, “For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.”   To make this as a teaching that Christ is bodily present in the host is to change the focus interpreting it out of context .  Here again, Jesus is emphasizing that he is the source of real spiritual life and nourishment. 

V.57 ...so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me” Certainly Jesus is not speaking of a wafer that would be produced later but symbolically of Himself who is able to give life. If when Jesus said you must eat my body and drink my blood meant the bread and wine then He Himself did not have to die on the cross. In Exod 12:8-10 'Then they shall eat the flesh on that night; roasted in fire, with unleavened bread and with bitter herbs they shall eat it. 'Do not eat it raw, nor boiled at all with water, but roasted in fire-- its head with its legs and its entrails. 'You shall let none of it remain until morning, and what remains of it until morning you shall burn with fire. Num 9:12 'They shall leave none of it until morning. Remember, that John had introduced as the lamb of God to take away our sins.

V.58This is the bread which came down from heaven-- Not as your fathers ate manna and died...” (He is not physical food but spiritual).  Jesus had talked about the manna that fell in the wilderness which  fed them physically and they died, but that He was the true bread who came from heaven that if they ate would never die. No one would say that all of Israel ate Christ for 40 years 1,500 years before he was born, nor is He was not saying that he would become a communion wafer later on and if this bread was to be taken they would never die.
He is explaining to partake of his sacrifice in a spiritual sense that would save the soul from separation, which had occurred 2,000 years ago.

V.63 It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. The words I speak are Spirit, it is they that are life.Nothing could be clearer it is not literal but figurative language, he used a natural example to illustrate a spiritual truth. the words are life- they are Spirit. We have seen that “to eat” is “to believe,” and that the giving of his flesh refers to his death on the cross. And so, “to eat his flesh” or “to drink his blood” would be to trust in the sacrifice of his life.  It is to rely upon his death on the cross as the payment for our sins. This interpretation fits the context of the whole teaching. By the sacrifice of his life, Jesus became the Savior of the world, he is the source of eternal life not by the Eucharist. The savior is a person salvation is not a thing that was created, this is the intent of the discourse. That He came from heaven to give salvation. (look at the emphasis on the words of Jesus as the means to life in v.63, and vs.68-69. “But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.  “Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

The idea of a wafer that becomes Jesus each time it is baked is refuted by none other than Jesus Himself. If we read further in v.57- 58 He states the bread is Himself, His body, not a wafer baked in a bakery that will  become Him by words spoken by a priest. We must distinguish the difference between the substance (who He was ) and the symbol He uses to describe Himself by, and the symbol taken afterwards (the communion that was the Passover).

 The the same language in  John 6 is used when He takes the bread in blessing and says take eat this is my body. It was a symbol of a spiritual meaning that the Jews practiced for 1,500 years. They knew exactly what He meant, the Passover. Kept in the context of the Passover service, we know that throughout the ceremony there is a consistent symbolism used to mean, “This represents that.” The salt water represents the salty tears and the Red Sea.  The Charoseth represents the brick mortar.  The parsley represents Israel in the springtime of her nationhood.  The horseradish represents the bitterness of slavery, etc.  The middle Matzah of the three (unleavened bread) represents His body and the third cup in the service represents His blood as it is the cup of redemption.  In the context of the Passover, that is all that was intended, the word we find throughout the Passover observance is “remember.” This is a reference to the Passover that they were celebrating for 1,500 years to remember this meal as the deliverance from the bondage of their slavery in Egypt. Now Jesus applies this to Himself in their deliverance from the bondage of sin.  Paul later states about the communion 1 Cor.11:24 “and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me”  in the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” It no longer was applied to freedom from slavery in Egypt but freedom from sin. We remember this by what He has done by His death that took place only once (for all) on the cross- and we remember by looking forward to His promise of His return. Once He returns we will no longer take communion (the Eucharist).

John 6 refers to receiving Jesus as the Son of God by accepting His teaching about Himself you are feeding on the food for eternal life (see the requirements for being raised up at the last day-verses 39-40, 44, 54). 


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