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November 19, 2013
John 6 and the Eucharist

 

In my 2011 debate with Dr. Peter Barnes, a Presbyterian minister and apologist in Australia, the topic was the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and it centered on Jesus’ famous words in John 6:53: “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” After about three hours of debate, I could sum up Barnes’s central objection in one sentence—a sentence which just happens to be found in the New Testament:

How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:52)

Dr. Barnes could not, and would not, deny the Lord said what he said in Scripture. His only recourse (as is the case with all who deny the real presence), ultimately, was to claim Jesus was speaking “metaphorically.” And after all, he had to be… right? I mean, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” In other words, his ultimate objection to the Catholic and biblical position is not so much rooted in the text as it is in a fundamental incredulity when it comes to the words of the text.

I argued in that debate, and I will again in this post, that if we examine the text carefully, not only is there nothing in it that indicates Jesus was speaking purely metaphorically, but the text itself actually points in the opposite direction.

Here are the Facts

First, everyone listening to Jesus’ actual discourse 2,000 years ago believed him to have meant what he said. That is significant. This is in stark contrast to other places in the gospel where Jesus did, in fact, speak purely metaphorically. For example, when Jesus spoke of himself as a “door” in John 10, or a “vine” in John 15, we find no one to have asked, “How can this man be a door made out of wood?” Or, “How can this man claim to be a plant?”

Compare these to John 6. Jesus plainly says, in verse 51, “I am the bread come down from heaven and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world” (vs. 51). The Jews immediately respond, as I said above, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” They certainly understood him to mean what he said.

Moreover, when people misunderstand Jesus, he normally clears up the misunderstanding as we see in John 4:31-34 when the disciples urge our Lord to eat and our Lord responds, “I have food to eat which you do not know.” The disciples ask each other if anyone had brought any food because they thought our Lord was saying he had to bring his own food because they had forgotten to do so. They misunderstand him. But our Lord immediately clears things up saying, in verse 34, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work.”

A Real Barnes Burner

In our debate, Dr. Barnes had a very interesting rejoinder to this point. He claimed, in essence, that in at least some cases when his listeners misunderstood our Lord, he purposely made no attempt to clear up the misunderstandings. And Dr. Barnes then cited three more examples claiming this to be a pattern in the gospels.

1. In John 3:3-4, Dr. Barnes claimed, Jesus left Nicodemus in the dark when after he declared to him, “… unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” Nicodemus responded, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Response: Even a brief perusal of John 3 and John 6 shows a substantial difference between the two. In John 6:52-53, the Jews were “disputing among themselves and saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’” That is the context in which Jesus then appears to confirm them in their thoughts and reiterates, “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.”

No matter how one interprets Jesus’ response to Nicodemus beginning in John 3:5, he doesn’t come close to saying anything like, “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you climb back into your mother’s womb a second time and be born anew, you cannot have eternal life.” He says you must be “born of water and spirit… the wind blows where it will, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit (vs. 5-8).” This seems to me to be clarification that he is not speaking about climbing back into a mother’s womb. Being “born anew” is a spiritual experience that transcends literal birth from a womb.

2. In John 4:7-15, Dr. Barnes claimed, Jesus left the famous “Samaritan woman at the well” in her misunderstanding when she thought Jesus was offering her literal, physical water. But is that really what we find in the text?

Response: When Jesus asked this Samaritan woman for a drink in verse seven, she was most likely not only shocked that a Rabbi would speak to a Samaritan woman in public, but that any Jew would ask an “unclean” Samaritan to draw water for him. But in verse 10, Jesus answered her,

If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.

The woman then responds, in verse 11, “Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water?” To which, Jesus responds, in verse 13-14,

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

In verse 15, the woman then begs our Lord, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”

There is no doubt the Samaritan woman has it wrong here. But far from leaving her in her error, our Lord responds most profoundly, beginning in verse 16, “Go, call your husband…” And when the woman responds, “I have no husband,” in verse 17, Jesus reads her soul and tells her, “You are right… for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband.”

He now has her attention, to say the least. And he then turns the conversation to what he was really speaking about in terms of the “living water” he came to give that would “well up to eternal life.” In verse 23, he declares,

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. [24] God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

When the woman then responds, in verse 25, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ); when he comes, he will show us all things,” Jesus then tells her plainly, in verse 26, “I who speak to you am he.”

It seems clear that the woman then understood that Jesus’ words were metaphorical concerning the “living water,” because she immediately “left her water jar,” went back to her fellow countrymen and urged them to, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ” (verses 28-29)? And according to verse 39, “Many Samaritans… believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” Notice, she did not go and say, “You’ve got to meet this man that will give us a limitless supply of water!” She came to realize Jesus was about much more than filling war jars.

3. Dr. Barnes also claimed that when Christ said “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” in Matthew 16:6, the apostles thought he was speaking literal, which is true. But Matthew 16:11-12 could hardly be plainer that Jesus did not leave them in their ignorance:

How is it that you fail to perceive that I did not speak about bread… Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.

Spirit vs. Flesh

There is much more about the text of John 6 and the greater context of the New Testament in general that make a “Catholic” understanding of John 6:53 unavoidable. In our debate, Dr. Barnes and I grapple with many of those texts.

But John 6:63 is probably the most important of all to deal with as a Catholic apologist. This is a verse that is set within a context where not only “the Jews” who were listening, but specifically “the disciples” themselves were struggling with what Jesus said about “eating his flesh” and “drinking his blood.” “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it” (verse 60)? It is in this context that our Lord says to the disciples: “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”

The Protestant apologist will almost invariably say of this text, “See? Christ is not giving us his flesh to eat because he says ‘the flesh is of no avail.’”

There are at least four points to consider in response:

1. If Jesus was clearing up the point here, he’s a lousy teacher because he didn’t get his point across. According to verse 66, “many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him” immediately after this statement. They obviously still believed his earlier words about “eating [his] flesh” to be literal because these “disciples” had already believed in and followed him for some time. If Jesus was here saying, “I only meant that you have to believe in me and follow me,” why would they be walking away?

2. Jesus did not say, “My flesh is of no avail.” He said, “The flesh is of no avail.” There is a big difference! He obviously would not have said my flesh avails nothing because he just spent a good portion of this same discourse telling us that his flesh would be “given for the life of the world” (John 6:51, cf. 50-58).

“The flesh” is a New Testament term often used to describe human nature apart from God’s grace (see Romans 8:1-14; I Cor. 2:14; 3:1; Mark 14:38).

3. That which is “spiritual,” or “spirit” used as an adjective as we see in John 6:63, does not necessarily refer to that which has no material substance. It often means that which is dominated or controlled by the Spirit. For example, when speaking of the resurrection of the body, St. Paul writes: “It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (I Cor. 15:44). Does this mean we will not have a physical body in the resurrection? Of course not! Jesus made that clear after his own resurrection in Luke 24:39:

See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.

The resurrected body is spiritual and indeed we can be called spiritual as Christians inasmuch as we are controlled by the Spirit of God. Spiritual in no way means void of the material. That would be a Gnostic understanding of things, not Christian.

4. In verses 61-62, Jesus had just said, “Do you take offence at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?”

Jesus wants to ensure the apostles do not fall into a sort of crass literalism that would see the truth of the Eucharist in terms of gnawing bones and sinew. It is the Holy Spirit that will accomplish the miracle of Christ being able to ascend into heaven bodily while also being able to distribute his body and blood in the Eucharist for the life of the world. A human body—even a perfect one—apart from the power of the Spirit could not accomplish this.

Thus, Jesus words, “It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail” refers to the truth that it is only the Spirit that can accomplish the miracle of the Eucharist and it is only the Holy Spirit that can empower us to believe the miracle.


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Talk About It!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:07-26-2014
Comments:
Robyn,
You planted the seeds. Now let's both of us pray that the Lord will "bring the increase!" I am so glad I could help you, Robyn!


Name: Robyn
Date:07-25-2014
Comments:
Tim

Thanks! That was a lot of help. I passed this on to him. He still thinks we're wrong, but he did say that he hadn't heard before that Catholics believe that the Eucharist is BOTH a symbol and what it represents, and that was interesting to him.

I feel like I've said everything that can be said to him. I guess all that's left now is prayer huh?

Anyways, thanks for taking the time to help me out with this. I appreciate it.

God bless!
-Robyn


Name: Tim Staples
Date:07-17-2014
Comments:
Robyn,

You need to explain to him that the Catholic Church does not take those verses in a strict literal sense either. We agree with Augustine and Tertullian that the Eucharist is "figurative," or "symbolic." In fact, the Church teaches sacraments are "external signs instituted by Christ, to give grace." A "sign" is a "symbol." But we do not believe they are "mere" symbols because they actually communicate that which they symbolize. And in the Eucharist, it is what it symbolizes. This is not a case of "either/or" it is "both/and."
An analogy: JW's will say Jesus is a "man" because of texts like I Tim. 2:5. We agree. But where they go wrong is saying Christ is a man "alone." He is also revealed to be God in verses like Titus 2:13, etc. The Eucharist also is both a symbol (it is figurative in the sense that the bread and wine symbolize that which is essential for us to live physically as a sign of that which is necessary for us to live spiritually), and it is what it symbolizes, the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ.


Name: Robyn
Date:07-15-2014
Comments:
Thanks Tim! That helped make sense of those quotes in my mind, and I think it helped my friend a little, at least with regards to Tertullian.

But...he's still convinced that the Augustine quote he gave me backs his own position on John 6. He says:

"While the cannibalism thing makes sense in theory, I'm not seeing it here. Augustine doesn't look like he's condemning crass literalism in this quote like you say. He's talking about how to tell apart literal speech from figurative, and uses John 6:53 as an *example* of figurative speech. But why use *that* particular verse as an example if Jesus was really speaking literally in John 6 about his flesh in the Eucharist?"

Anyways, I told him that that was a good point and I didn't have an answer to that right now, but I'd get back with one soon. So what do you suggest I say to him here?

P.S. He does at least admit now that Augustine's belief in the Eucharist was closer to Catholicism's than Evangelicalism's. So he is getting there. Slowly. ;)


Name: Tim Staples
Date:07-08-2014
Comments:
Robyn,

Both Tertullian and St. Augustine are warning against a crass literalism that would have us gnawing on bones with blood running down our chins when consuming the Eucharist. And remember: in the early Church, Christians were sometimes accused of cannibalism precisely because of our belief in the Real Presence. But, as Tertullian and St. Augustine make clear, we do not receive our Lord in a cannibalistic form. In cannibalism, the victim is killed and parts of him consumed. In the Eucharist, Jesus is not killed, does not bleed, in fact, he does not change in the slightest. Those receiving are the ones who are changed. And we don't consume "parts" of him. We receive him wholly and entirely, body, blood, soul, and divinity in a manner that is beyond our ability to fully comprehend.

Here is the key to our understanding. We do not receive our Lord in a cannibalistic form, but under the appearances of bread and wine. What we see, feel, and taste "in the flesh" (the appearance of bread and wine) is not what we receive. It's what you don't see that you actually get - the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ.

In order to understand Tertullian from "On the Resurrection of the Flesh of Christ," 37, I recommend going back and reading paragraph 8 from that very same document where Tertullian has already made clear that he believes that we consume the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ in the Eucharist:

"The flesh, indeed, is washed, in order that the soul may be cleansed; the flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated; the flesh is signed (with the cross), that the soul too may be fortified; the flesh is shadowed with the imposition of hands, that the soul also maybe illuminated by the Spirit; the flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may fatten on its God. They cannot then be separated in their recompense, when they are united in their service."

I would also recommend you read Tertullian, "On Prayer," 19, and "On Modesty," 9.

St. Augustine, similarly, emphasizes that the Eucharist is a spiritual reality that cannot be understood in crass terms, but the fact that he believed in the Real Presence is beyond dispute:

In Sermons 234, 2, St. Augustine says most plainly:

"The Lord Jesus wanted those whose eyes were held lest they should recognize Him, to recognize Him in the breaking of the bread. The faithful know what I am saying. They know Christ in the breaking of the bread. For not all bread, but only that which receives the blessing of Christ, becomes Christ’s body."

In his "Explanations of the Psalms," 33,1,10, St. Augustine comments on Psalm 119:109 in the Vulgate. The modern translations will say "I hold my life in my hands," or "my soul." Or, "my life is at risk." But the Vulgate says, "And he was carried in his own hands."

St. Augustine says:

"'And he was carried in his own hands.' But, brethren, how is it possible for a man to do this? Who can understand it? Who is it that is carried in his own hands? A man can be carried in the hands of another; but no one can be carried in his own hands. How this should be understood literally of David, we cannot discover; but we can discover how it is meant of Christ. For Christ was carried in His own hands, when, referring to His own Body, He said: 'This is My Body.' For He carried that Body in His hands."

St. Augustine and Tertullian were most Catholic in their understanding of the Eucharist.


Name: Robyn
Date:07-03-2014
Comments:
Hi Tim! Great stuff. I recently encountered an objection to this though that I couldn't answer, and was wondering what you would say.

I'm currently in a discussion with an Evangelical friend about John 6, and he gave the usual argument from John 6:63. So I gave him your argument. But then he said something that I hadn't heard yet. He said Augustine and Tertullian both viewed John 6 figuratively like he does. He gave me these two quotes: (sorry for the length)

Augustine -

If the sentence is one of command, either forbidding a crime or vice, or enjoining an act of prudence or benevolence, it is not figurative. If, however, it seems to enjoin a crime or vice, or to forbid an act of prudence or benevolence, it is figurative. Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man, says Christ, and drink His blood, you have no life in you. John*6:53 This seems to enjoin a crime or a vice; it is therefore a figure, enjoining that we should have a share [communicandem] in the sufferings of our Lord, and that we should retain a sweet and profitable memory [in memoria] of the fact that His flesh was wounded and crucified for us.

- On Christian Doctrine. Book 3 Chapter 16.

Tertullian -

They thought His discourse was harsh and intolerable, supposing that He had really and literally enjoined on them to eat his flesh, He, with the view of ordering the state of salvation as a spiritual thing, set out with the principle, It is the spirit that quickens; and then added, The flesh profits nothing -- meaning, of course, to the giving of life. He also goes on to explain what He would have us to understand by spirit: The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. In a like sense He had previously said: He that hears my words, and believes in Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but shall pass from death unto life.

Constituting, therefore, His word as the life-giving principle, because that word is spirit and life, He likewise called His flesh by the same appellation; because, too, the Word had become flesh, We ought therefore to desire Him in order that we may have life, and to devour Him with the ear, and to ruminate on Him with the understanding, and to digest Him by faith.

- On the Resurrection of the Flesh 37

I have to admit, this stumped me. It does look like both these writers took at least John 6 symbolically. Especially the first and last sentence of Tertullian. I did point out to him that both Tertullian and Augustine DID believe in the RP (and gave the relevant quotes).

He admitted that, but he said his point was that they took John 6 figuratively, which proves that the Evangelical understanding isn't as far fetched as we think. That maybe Jesus really wasn't referring to the Eucharist in this discourse.

What should I say? Any help would be appreciated!


Name: James Joyce
Date:06-25-2014
Comments:
Tim u r a genius.

This Choudhury fellow though is a pain in the fundament. Clearly a wannabe scholar whose qualifications won't bear scrutiny. Lots of sound and fury - signifying nothing.

JJ


Name: Tim Staples
Date:12-17-2013
Comments:
Hey Mike,
Good catch! I just changed it. Thanks!


Name: Mike L
Date:12-14-2013
Comments:
Hey Tim, hate to be a nit picker, but your quote in the article "How can this man give us his flesh to eat? (John 6:53)" should read "John 6:52", not 53. Other than that - great. Going to pass this on.


Name: Tim Staples
Date:12-02-2013
Comments:
I only have it on CD, Mary Lynn. However, you might be able to get it on DVD from the folks at Parousia Media in Australia. I think they might have it on DVD, but I am not sure.


Name: mary lynn reichelt
Date:12-01-2013
Comments:
Do you have this debate with Dr Barnes on DVD? If so, I know a lot of people who would be interested in buying it.


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-30-2013
Comments:
As a Protestant many years ago, I became very uncomfortable with using one verse that I had to admit was obscure at the very least in order to explain away texts of Scripture that are emphatic, unambiguous, as well as manifold. The theologies that come out of that approach end up contrived and forced, and as you said, "under-developed and immature," because they really don't flow exegetically.


Name: Tailler
Date:11-30-2013
Comments:
Well done. I thought for a moment that you were going to overlook "the flesh is of no avail" but you brought it out and your argument is spot on. In "Spirit vs. Flesh" we understand that the Protestant theology is so under-developed and immature that it lacks a true faith in the power of God to do whatever He wills for our good and for the sake of Love. Also, I find that many Protestant theologies have as a basis anti-Catholicism instead of veracity of Divine Revelation and true faith in the Trinity. I do not mean to look down on anyone here, but I do call out the utter weakness of the flawed Protestant theology and the resulting ignorance of those who are indoctrinated into that theology.


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-30-2013
Comments:
Send them to my brand new blog post-- -- I just put up a few minutes ago, Jude Thaddeus!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-30-2013
Comments:
Hello Christopher,
I think your answer was very good. Perhaps you could add the idea that I John 1:7-9 says, "If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son [continues to] cleanses us from all unrighteousness... if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us..."
This text makes clear that our participation in the cleansing flood of Christ's blood is dependent upon us doing something. WE must walk with God. WE must confess in order to partake of the blood.
I Cor. 10:15-17 tells us that communion is another way that we "partake" of the body and blood of Christ:

"The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?"

Pretty plain to me!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-30-2013
Comments:
I would tweak that just a bit, Doug. John 10:6 represents St. John's commentary on the situation. Jesus never said to the Jews to whom he was speaking that he was speaking figuratively. He didn't have to. No one thought he was doing anything else. They did not get the deep meaning of his words, but no one is recorded to have thought Jesus meant he had a door knob and hinges on him.
In John 15, Jesus is not clarifying things saying, "For those of you who thought I was speaking literally..." Once again, he didn't have to. No one thought he meant he was a plant.
However, everyone hearing Jesus thought he was speaking literally according to the text of John 6. You can't compare John 6 with these other texts. That's one point I was making in the post.


Name: Christopher B.
Date:11-29-2013
Comments:
Tim, I shared this on my FB and a fundamentalist member of my family responded by saying he believes the whole sacramental economy is error, and then said the question isn't whether Christ is actually present in the Eucharist, but what does participation in the "scarament" (he used quotes there) accomplish?

I answered by saying that we are obeying Jesus' command to "do this in memory of me" and because of John 6:53-54. I also threw in there that the protestants talk about 'having a personal relationship with Jesus" and added that it doesn't get any more personal than receiving him body, blood, soul and divinity. Is my answer adequate? What else should I have said?


Name: Doug Creamer
Date:11-29-2013
Comments:
When Jesus speaks of the door, in verse six scripture tells us "this parable". We know its a parable. With the vine Jesus makes it clear that he is using a metaphor by stating "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abide in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in me." It is an explicit comparison.


Name: Jude Thaddeus
Date:11-29-2013
Comments:
Dear Mr.Tim,

How do i defend myself against the protestant's whom claim we roman catholic's are worshiping statue's.

Thank You.

regards,
jude


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-27-2013
Comments:
Absolutely, Christopher! It makes no sense for Christ to place such emphasis on the essential nature of his flesh and then to say, but it "profits nothing." As I said in the post, Christ did not say "my flesh" avails nothing; he said "the flesh." There are light years of separation betwixt the two!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-27-2013
Comments:
Good points all, Joe. I also think we have to remember just how difficult of a saying this truly is. If anyone reading this truly believes that when the priest at Mass says, "This is my body... This is the chalice of my blood..." he is no longer holding bread and wine in his hand and in his chalice, but he is holding the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ, he should know he possesses a great gift. There are relatively few today who truly believe this that Jesus said is essential for our salvation in John 6:53. It is only because of God's grace that anyone can believe this.


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-27-2013
Comments:
Thank you for your kind words, Paula!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-27-2013
Comments:
Thanks for your kind words, Amethyst Pal!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-27-2013
Comments:
Good points, David. I make the same points and more in my CD Set called "Sword of the Spirit," available here at Catholic Answers. Thanks for you input!


Name: Tim Staples
Date:11-27-2013
Comments:
Great point, David!


Name: David Manthei
Date:11-25-2013
Comments:
Great article! I discussed this with an Evangelical recently and he brought up the exact same verses that Dr. Barnes brought up to counter my position that Christ has clarified misunderstandings in other situations. I did not offer a good expanation then (but after reading this I'll be more prepared next time), but I DID take it right back to John 6:51. Christ says, "I am the bread come down from heaven and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world". I focused in on "the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life or the world".

How did Christ give His flesh? He was crucified. Christ makes the equation, in His very own plain speach, "the bread I will give IS my flesh...". If we contend, in this Bread of Life discourse, that Christ was only speaking symbolically, then we must necessarily conclude that Christ only symbolically died on the cross. Remember, Jesus had just said "I am the bread of life" (v. 35) and "he who eats this bread will live forever" (v. 51). And now, "the bread I will is is my flesh" (v.51). Christ is the bread, and the bread He gives is His flesh. Did He only give us His flesh symbolically? Was Christ's flesh on the cross onyl a symbol? Was His death only a symbol? Was the blood He spilled on the cross only a symbol? No. They were as real as real can be.


Name: Francis Choudhury
Date:11-22-2013
Comments:
It is impossible that Jesus was speaking metaphorically when He expressly and unambiguously said, "Except you eat the FLESH of the Son of man and drink His BLOOD, you shall not have life in you..." (John 6:54).

It CANNOT be the case, because the expressions to "eat flesh" and to "drink blood" ALREADY had a LONG AND WELL ESTABLISHED METAPHORICAL MEANING for Jews - hence just about every person listening to Jesus in John 6 would've KNOWN that He COULDN'T POSSIBLY be speaking METAPHORICALLY when He spoke to them of their need to eat His body and drink His blood!

The metaphorical meaning of those expressions ("eat flesh" and "drink blood"), for Jews (and for Arabs - even to this day), is to wage war against a person ("eat his flesh") and do harm to that person ("drink his blood").

So if Jesus was speaking METAPHORICALLY, He would've been talking absolute NONSENSE! He would've been saying, "Unless you wage war against me and do harm to me, you will suffer eternal death!" THAT'S how ABSURD His words would've been!

There are several verses in Scripture itself - containing words spoken by GOD HIMSELF - which amply demonstrate the METAPHORICAL meaning of "eating flesh" and "drinking blood". Below are a few.

Isaiah 9 (Judgments upon Israel for their sins.)
9:19. By the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is troubled, and the people shall be as fuel for the fire: no man shall spare his brother.
9:20. And he shall turn to the right hand, and shall be hungry: and shall eat on the left hand, and shall not be filled: every one shall eat the flesh of his own arm: Manasses Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasses, and they together shall be against Juda. (Meaning: they'll fight against each other, but also fight simultaneously against Juda).
________________________________________
Isaiah 49
49:26. And I will feed thy enemies with their own flesh: and they shall be made drunk with their own blood, as with new wine: (Meaning: they'll fight and harm/kill each other) and all flesh shall know, that I am the Lord that save thee, and thy Redeemer the Mighty One of Jacob.
________________________________________
Jeremiah 19 (Prophecy of desolation for the Jews)
19:9. And I will feed them with the flesh of their sons, and with the flesh of their daughters: and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend (Meaning: they'll turn on each other) in the siege, and in the distress wherewith their enemies, and they that seek their lives, shall straiten them.
________________________________________
Baruch 2
2:2. That the Lord would bring upon us great evils, such as never happened under heaven, as they have come to pass in Jerusalem, according to the things that are written in the law of Moses:
2:3. That a man should eat the flesh of his own son, and the flesh of his own daughter. (Just like Jesus has prophesied for our own times, that over matters of the faith a man will turn against his father, and daughter against her mother, etc... Matt 10:35).
________________________________________
Ezekiel 39
39:17. And thou, O son of man, saith the Lord God, say to every fowl, and to all the birds, and to all the beasts of the field: Assemble yourselves, make haste, come together from every side to my victim, which I slay for you, a great victim upon the mountains of Israel: to eat flesh, and drink blood.
39:18. You shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and you shall drink the blood of the princes of the earth, of rams, and of lambs, and of he goats, and bullocks, and of all that are well fed and fat.
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Daniel Chapter 7 (Daniel's vision of the four beasts, signifying four kingdoms: of God sitting on his throne: and of the opposite kingdoms of Christ and Antichrist.)
7:1. In the first year of Baltasar, king of Babylon, Daniel saw a dream: and the vision of his head was upon his bed: and writing the dream, he comprehended it in a few words: and relating the sum of it in short, he said:
7:2. I saw in my vision by night, and behold the four winds of the heavens strove upon the great sea.
7:3. And four great beasts, different one from another, came up out of the sea.
(Four great beasts. . .Viz., the Chaldean, Persian, Grecian, and Roman empires.)
7:4. The first was like a lioness, and had the wings of an eagle: I beheld till her wings were plucked off, and she was lifted up from the earth, and stood upon her feet as a man, and the heart of a man was given to her.
7:5. And behold another beast, like a bear, stood up on one side: and there were three rows in the mouth thereof, and in the teeth thereof, and thus they said to it: Arise, devour much flesh (Meaning: wage war on these four godless empires).
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Micah 3 (For the sins of the rich oppressing the poor, of false prophets flattering for lucre, and of judges perverting justice, Jerusalem and the temple shall be destroyed.)
3:1. And I said: Hear, O ye princes of Jacob, and ye chiefs of the house of Israel: Is it not your part to know judgment,
3:2. You that hate good, and love evil: that violently pluck off their skins from them and their flesh from their bones?
3:3. Who have eaten the flesh of my people (Meaning: persecuted them), and have flayed their skin off them: and have broken, and chopped their bones as for the kettle, and as flesh in the midst of the pot.
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Zechariah 11
11:9. And I said: I will not feed you: that which dieth, let it die: and that which is cut off, let it be cut off: and let the rest devour every one the flesh of his neighbour.
11:16. For behold I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not visit what is forsaken, nor seek what is scattered, nor heal what is broken, nor nourish that which standeth, and he shall eat the flesh of the fat ones, and break their hoofs.
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Romans 14
14:21. It is good not to eat flesh and not to drink wine (Meaning: have dissensions among yourselves, slander, attack or do harm to each other): nor any thing whereby thy brother is offended or scandalized or made weak.
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James 5 (A woe to the rich that oppress the poor. Exhortations to patience and to avoid swearing. Of the anointing the sick, confession of sins and fervour in prayer.)
5:1. Go to now, ye rich men: weep and howl in your miseries, which shall come upon you.
5:2. Your riches are corrupted: and your garments are motheaten.
5:3. Your gold and silver is cankered: and the rust of them shall be for a testimony against you and shall eat your flesh like fire (Meaning: harm you). You have stored up to yourselves wrath against the last days.
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Revelations 19
19:16. And he hath on his garment and on his thigh written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
19:17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun: and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the birds that did fly through the midst of heaven: Come, gather yourselves together to the great supper of God:
19:18. That you may eat the flesh of kings and the flesh of tribunes and the flesh of mighty men and the flesh of horses and of them that sit on them: and the flesh of all freemen and bondmen and of little and of great.
19:19. And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies, gathered together to make war with him that sat upon the horse and with his army.
19:20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet who wrought signs before him, wherewith he seduced them who received the character of the beast and who adored his image. These two were cast alive into the pool of fire burning with brimstone.
19:21. And the rest were slain by the sword of him that sitteth upon the horse, which proceedeth out of his mouth: and all the birds were filled with their flesh.
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Esdras 15 (Apocrypha)
57 And thy children shal dye for famine: and thou shalt fal by the sword, and thy cities shal be destroyed, & al thyne shal fal in the filde by the sword.
58 And they that are in the mountaines, shal perish, with famine, and shal eate their owne flesh, & drinke bloud, (Meaning: harm and kill each other) for the famine of bread and thirst of waters (Meaning: without the food of God).
59 Vnhappie by the seas shalt thou come, and againe thou shalt receuie euils.


Name: Amethyst Pal
Date:11-21-2013
Comments:
hello :) thank you for this nice post/explanation about the HOLY EUCHARIST <3 may I share them one day to my people here :) GOD BLESS <3 <3 <3


Name: Paula Madden
Date:11-20-2013
Comments:
As usual, Tim can take Holy Scripture and make it so clear. I thank God for this man. I am a cradle Catholic, and I have learned so much listening to his talks on you tube. Thank you sharing your knowledge of Scripture with us. God Bless!


Name: Joe
Date:11-20-2013
Comments:
John Chapter 6 has the obvious factor that forces a Protestantism to go beyond reasonable thinking. The fact that many walked away because they couldn't accept this teaching makes it very clear of what Jesus meant. The slap in the face reality of this whole thing is that Jesus lets them go, He didn't say stop wait come back, what I meant is... No. It was the ultimatum, Do you really believe in me and trust me or not? And Jesus probably saw the doubt in the faces of the apostles and that's probably why He asked them, "Do you also want to leave?" What if St. Peter would have answered differently and said, we can't accept this we are leaving also. Yeah right, he dare not go there and his answer was not affirming to the topic at hand, rather he said to the Lord, "we have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One" in retrospect, it wasn't because of what He said on that day, it was that Jesus was either the real thing or not. They had never seen or heard anything like Jesus before and St. Peter knew what Jesus was saying to them was literal or else He would have been more confirming when he answered the Lord as his answer would have been directed to the teaching rather than his faith and I am positive they knew what he meant by this at the Last Supper. But that's exactly what Protestants are doing when they leave the Eucharist they are going there wherever there is and Jesus lets them go.

Was Jesus being symbolic, I think not, was he telling the Jews something that they hadn't heard before, no of course not John 6:31 mentions the manna so obviously God was revealing to the world a new bread to eat literally like before as he re-iterates to them many times. And I think it's petty to compare Nicodemus questioning to this.

This chapter has such a detrimental impact to Protestantism, that a Protestant has to go to great lengths to justify themselves from the quandary of simple reasoning. The Eucharist; a root or could be seen as the root teaching of Catholicism has to be protested no matter how true it sounds. Good job of pointing this all out Tim! I hope I get to see you speak one day in California.


Name: Christopher Barca
Date:11-20-2013
Comments:
In trying to evangelize my brother back into the Church from an evangelical group, I brought up John 6:66 and his immediate reply was indeed "the flesh is of no avail" argument. Thanks for helping me with an answer to his retort. Can we also argue that Jesus would not take the pains he did to talk about eating his flesh if he were to then simply turn around and undo it all with the "no avail" comment?


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