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The Holy Eucharist: Real Presence Real Power (Part 1)

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Uploaded on Sep 18, 2010

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From a talk called The Holy Eucharist: Real Presence Real Power given by Father Bill Casey. The entire recording is free from embracethegrace.com

Jesus left no room for doubt on the importance of receiving the Eucharist. In John 6:35-59, Jesus tells us again and again that we must eat his flesh and drink his blood. He uses very strong language, such as "Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you" (John 6:53). Some people have tried to argue that Jesus was only speaking figuratively when he told his disciples this. But Jesus made it clear that his flesh is true food, and his blood is true drink (John 6:55). Then, a few verses later in John 6:66, it says that many of Jesus' disciples left him and returned to their former way of life. Why would they do this if Jesus was only speaking figuratively? Or if it was a misunderstanding, why didn't Jesus try to stop them? He had worked so hard to gain followers. Do you think he would let some leave over a misunderstanding? Wouldn't he have cleared up the misunderstanding like he did so many other times in scripture, such as in John 3:1-5 when Nicodemus misunderstood being "born again" or in Matthew 16:5-12 when the disciples misunderstood when Jesus spoke about the "leaven" of the Pharisees and Saducees? Mark 4:34 says that Jesus always explained everything to his disciples. Why would he not do so here?

Some also argue that Jesus spoke symbolically in other places in scripture, like when he calls himself the door (John 10:7) or the vine (John 15:1-5). While it is true that Jesus sometimes speaks metaphorically and sometimes literally, notice that the disciples understood him to be speaking symbolically in these verses. They do not ask Jesus "Are you really a door" or "Are you really a vine." But there is no question that his disciples took him literally in John 6. That is why they said "How can this man give us his flesh to eat" (John 6:52) and "This saying is hard; who can accept it" (John 6:60). Would it really be so hard to accept if Jesus was only speaking symbolically? Remember, this is the first and only time that Jesus' own disciples actually left him and returned to their former way of life. But Jesus never calls them back or says that he is only speaking symbolically. Jesus even asks his twelve apostles "Do you also want to leave" (John 6:67). Jesus felt so strongly about this teaching that he was willing to lose his twelve apostles over it. Can anyone who claims that Jesus is speaking symbolically in John 6 find any other place in all of scripture where Jesus loses his own followers over a misunderstanding?

The truth is that Jesus was not speaking figuratively. If you read all of John Chapter 6, you will see it begins by telling us in John 6:4 that Passover was near (prefiguring the Last Supper). Jesus then performs two other great miracles. The miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish and walking on water are performed by Jesus the day before he tells everyone about the Eucharist. That is because he knew this teaching would shock them. He was trying to prepare his disciples for the miracle to come. So if Jesus can multiply loaves, which proves that he can do anything with bread, and then walk on water, which proves he can defy the laws of nature, then why can't he turn bread and wine into his body and blood?

Another interesting point is that the Greek text uses the word phago in verses 23-53, which translates into eat or consume. But after the Jews start quarreling over the teaching, the Greek changes to trogo in four places (John 6:54,56,57,58), which translates to gnawing or chewing with one's teeth. This does not sound like the words of symbolic language to me. In Greek, trogo is never used metaphorically. Also, Jesus says in John 6:51 "The bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world." But Jesus gave his flesh for the life of the world on the cross, right? So if Jesus is only speaking symbolically in John 6, then wouldn't that mean that he only gave his symbolic flesh on the cross? Also, every time the Bible mentions symbolically eating body and blood, it is always in a negative context to a physical assault and destroying an enemy (Psalm 27:2, Isaiah 9:20, 49:26, Micah 3:3, Rev. 16:6). It just does not make sense that Jesus would say that those who assault him will have eternal life.

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