Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Real Presence

Malachi 1:11

For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the LORD of hosts.


This passage in Malachi, written around 450 BC, is a prophecy of the Sacrifice of the Mass. At the time this was written, the Lord's name was not great among the nations nor was there a pure offering in his name in every place from the rising to the setting of the sun. But today, this describes the re-presentation of the one sacrifice of Christ on the cross that is offered in every nation all day long. Christ is the only pure offering that we continue to celebrate in an un-bloody manner through the Eucharist.


John 6:51-57

I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.


Many say that Christ was only speaking symbolically here. But there is nothing in this passage that indicates he was speaking symbolically. He does not tell us that we must symbolically eat his flesh and symbolically drink his blood. If this was symbolic, then why did they take him literally and ask, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" It is obvious they were troubled by what he was saying but he did not offer them an explanation to help them understand he was not to be take literally. Instead, he reiterated his words. If this was symbolic, then how do we do this? How can it be that the bread and wine we receive at communion can give us eternal life if they are only a symbol? What other way are we to eat his flesh and drink his blood in order to have this eternal life he speaks of?


John 6:60

Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"


Even after he further explained, those listening to him still understood this in a literal way, saying it was difficult to listen to.


John 6:64-66

But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him. And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.


Did Jesus call the disciples back to him to explain? No. He said, "But there are some of you that do not believe" and He allowed them to leave because of it.


1 Corinthians 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.  


Here, Jesus tells us that the bread IS his body. He does not say, this represents my body or this is symbolic of my body.


1 Corinthians 11:27-30

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.


How can you eat the bread and drink the cup in an unworthy manner if it is only a symbol? How do we profane the body and blood of the Lord if the bread and wine is only a symbol? Christ tells us we must discern the body and blood in the bread and wine or we bring judgment upon ourselves! If the bread and wine are merely symbols, why would those who took it unworthily become weak, ill or die?


This simply cannot be written any clearer. But Christ told us that some will not believe. Today, many still do not believe. They limit the power of God by claiming this is not possible. They try to find all sorts of ways around it. But Scripture is SO clear, that it must be severely twisted in order to conform to any other view.


It must also be pointed out that early Christians understood this literally as well. I can quote at least 14 different early Christians who believed in the real presence but for the sake of brevity, I'll quote two.


St. Ignatius of Antioch

"Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again. They who deny the gift of God are perishing in their disputes" ( Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1 [A.D. 110]).


Justin Martyr

"We call this food Eucharist, and no one else is permitted to partake of it, except one who believes our teaching to be true and who has been washed in the washing which is for the remission of sins and for regeneration [ i.e., has received baptism] and is thereby living as Christ enjoined. For not as common bread nor common drink do we receive these; but since Jesus Christ our Savior was made incarnate by the word of God and had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so too, as we have been taught, the food which has been made into the Eucharist by the Eucharistic prayer set down by him, and by the change of which our blood and flesh is nurtured, is both the flesh and the blood of that incarnated Jesus" ( First Apology 66 [A.D. 151]).


In John 6:55, Christ himself said, "My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."


To think of the Eucharist as anything less is to not believe in what Christ clearly taught us by his own words. It is to be as the disciples who could not take this teaching and who, therefore, walked away and followed him no more.

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