Christ’s Incarnation: Scriptural support that the elements of communion change into the Literal Body and Blood of Christ?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published February 29, 2024
  • Word count 2,527

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At Communion, Is the Changing of the Bread and Wine into the Literal Body and Blood of Christ Supported by the Scriptures When Christ Lived on the Earth?

While there might not be many Scripture sections to look at during the Incarnation of Christ concerning this topic, every additional area hopefully will provide us with further insight into formulating an opinion as to whether the elements of the bread and wine change into the literal body and blood of Christ at communion. Don’t you agree that we should know the WHY behind what we believe unless we’ve decided that everything we’re taught from church leadership is from God, and therefore, there’s no need to question it? Even if we were to believe that whatever teachings from the pulpit are from God, are there reasons to still investigate what’s being said?

I’ll say it this way. If this teaching on the subject of communion seriously causes you to reconsider your view on this topic, then what other doctrines have been disseminated might be needed to be looked into further? I’ll leave you with one question to consider before we continue on in this study. If you were to die right now, would you know that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’d go directly to heaven? If you were to answer, I hope so, I’d respond by saying this would be another topic of study for you to take a look at. With that said, let’s see what the following Scripture sections reveal to us on the subject of partaking in the elements of communion.

Let’s begin with the book of Matthew. Here’s the question I’d like you to consider.

When Jesus said that the bread was His body and the wine was His blood, was this to be taken literally?

Suggested Reading: Matthew 26:17-29

Jesus and his disciples were preparing for Passover, one of the four main Jewish feasts, which was to be observed on the evening of the 14th day of the first month Nisan.It was kept in remembrance of the Lord’s passing over the houses of the Israelites (Exodus 12:13) when the firstborn of all the Egyptians [was] destroyed.17That same night an angel of the Lord passed by, and the houses marked with blood were spared the death of the firstborn son and animal while those houses without blood experienced the death of the firstborn. This event, also known as the 12th plague, caused Pharaoh to finally allow God’s people to leave Egypt.

Matthew 26:19, 26-29 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

At Jesus’ last Passover celebration, He offered bread and wine to His disciples, saying that the bread was His body and the wine was His blood, which is shed for the remission of sins. The bread that was consumed was actually unleavened and is analogous to Christ as the sacrificial lamb on the cross without spot or blemish who suffered in our place. And the wine represented His blood atonement for the remission (forgiveness; pardon) for sins. With that said, here are a couple of questions to consider.

When Jesus said to His disciples eat the bread for it is my body, was He saying that it would become His literal flesh, or was He saying that it would represent His sacrifice of suffering for sin on the cross?

When He spoke of the wine, was He saying that it would literally become His blood or that it would symbolize what it was shed for, that being the forgiveness of sins?

I don’t know if there’s much more that we can learn from these verses. Let’s proceed in our Bibles to the book of Luke. When you turn there, please consider the following question.

Is the purpose of partaking of the elements of communion for an increase in Christlikeness or for remembering what took place on the cross?

Suggested Reading: Luke 22:7-20

15-20 And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer; For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

At the last supper, Jesus told His disciples that He wouldn’t eat the Passover again until that of which the Passover is a type that was fulfilled by His death, through which the kingdom of God, or heaven, is established among men.18 After which, He gave each of them bread and wine and told them to continue this tradition in remembrance of Him.In Koine Greek, this word means to keep in mind.

What should be kept in our minds when we partake of communion?

We should reflect upon what Jesus told His disciples that would be given by Him for them, i.e., His body and shed blood. Could it be that we’ve found the purpose of communion? If this is indeed the case, then this question remains. Is there another purpose for communion, as has been alleged, and that’s for the purpose of spiritual growth? Let’s keep on pressing forward and find out.

Where I’d like us to proceed next is the book of John. What we’ll attempt to answer is the following question, what do the words no life in you in this particular verse mean?

John 6:53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.

As we’ve already been made aware, this verse is the prominent one used to support the conjecture that the elements of the body and blood are to be considered as eating the literal body and drinking the literal blood of Christ. What’s especially interesting are the words that follow this declaration which says that if a person doesn’t partake of them, then no life will be in them. According to certain faiths, these words refer to Christ’s actual life coming into their body after consuming such.

Is there another way to interpret these words? Learning what the word life means should enlighten us about what’s being said. This word in Koine Greek is zooeen derived from zoe. What does this mean? After looking it up in a concordance, I realized that it’s used quite frequently. I think this would warrant further study in and of itself. Don’t you? So, let’s table this for now and take a look at it more closely in a future chapter.

What we learned from this dispensation was highly informative.

That one of the purposes of communion is to contemplate in our mind Jesus, who gave His body and blood for us.

Second, to have no life in you could have a different meaning than the one many ascribe to it, which we’ll attempt to study further in an upcoming chapter.

And third, we were able to find a statement that Jesus made probably in front of thousands of Jews who attended the feast of Tabernacles, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you, which if there was no analogy given, would have categorized Him as someone who had lost it. However, like most declarations that seem too hard to believe, we should see if something was said afterward that clarifies its actual meaning.

Well, we have one final dispensation to study, i.e., the Church Age, which is the age we currently live in. Will this give us the information needed to determine whether the elements of communion are to be taken literally or figuratively? Let’s find out.

But before we do, I’d like to leave you with an article on facts about the last supper that you probably didn’t know about.

LITTLE KNOWN FACTS ABOUT THE LAST SUPPER

THE ROOM FOR THE LAST SUPPER

Jerusalem was swarming with people who had come for Passover. Every house had additional guests, [and] every room was packed, yet Jesus seemed strangely unconcerned about a place to eat the Passover meal. Confidently He told His disciples, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters.” How did Jesus know they would meet a man with a water jar?

A man with a water jar was a very unusual sight, as this was ordinarily women’s work. Why would a man be carrying a water jar in Jerusalem?

The only group of Jewish men that traditionally did carry water jars were Essenes. Since Essenes were mostly celibate, their men did women’s work. Essenes had their communities, not only in [Qumran] but in various towns. They also had a community in Jerusalem. Josephus tells us that one of the gates of Jerusalem was called “the Gate of the [Essenes.]” Apparently, it was through this gate that they entered their community.

A man carrying a water jar could only have been an Essene. From Jesus’ words, his disciples understood they had to enter Jerusalem through the Essene’s gate. Since Essenes used a different calendar, their guest rooms were still available. That’s why the Teacher knew that a room would be available for the Last Supper.

ENTERING JERUSALEM

Today, Christians all over the world know that Palm Sunday is the beginning of Passion Week, but do you know why Jesus was entering Jerusalem on that particular day? We can find an answer in the first verses of Exodus 12, where God instructed that the lamb that was to be slain on the eve of the [Exodus] be separated out four days beforehand:

In the tenth day of this [month,] they shall take to them every man a lamb… Your lamb shall be without blemish… And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

So, on the 10th of Nisan, the Passover lamb was chosen and set [apart,] and preparations began for its slaughter. This is the reason Jesus had to enter Jerusalem on Sunday the 10th of Nisan – the very same day when the perfect lamb was to be selected and set apart.

We read in the Gospels that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, “the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David! … Hosanna in the highest!”

What is the meaning of these words in Hebrew? What did people understand about Jesus, and what did they think about Him when He was entering Jerusalem that made them shout these particular words?

The English word “Hosanna” transliterates Hebrew Hoshia Na (Literally: save, please). This word is taken from Psalm 118, one of six psalms (113-118) of the so-called Hallel (Hebrew: Praise), the songs of praise and thanksgiving. There are special [occasions,] when we have an additional obligation to praise God – and on these special occasions we recite special psalms, known as Hallel.

Psalm 118:25 reads: “Save now, I pray, O [Lord.]” According to the Jewish sages, one of the most fundamental themes of Hallel is acknowledging the source of salvation. Psalm 118 was recited on the way to the Temple and in the Temple on Passover Eve, Erev Pesach, at the time of the slaughtering of the Passover sacrifice (“korban Pesach”). Jesus entered Jerusalem as the ‘Ultimate Sacrifice,’ as the Passover Lamb, and these words [from Psalm 118 not only confirmed that] but also acknowledged Him as the source of salvation. Understanding this background of the Jewish Hallel enables us to more fully comprehend the words from Matthew – “Hosanna to the son of [David.]”

WASHING THE FEET

He loved His own to the [end.]

In Genesis 18, when the Lord is about to announce the birth of the son of the covenant to Abraham, three men come to his [tent,] and Abraham offers them water to wash their feet. In John 13, when the Lord is about to announce the new covenant to His disciples, He Himself washes their feet. Why did Jesus do that? Was it a Jewish custom? John 13 takes on [an] even deeper meaning when understood against its Jewish background.

The washing of the feet was the first act upon entering a tent or a house after a journey. Usually, the host provided the water, and the guests washed their own feet. Sometimes in the richer houses, the washing was done by slaves. With all his exemplary hospitality, Abraham didn’t wash the feet of his guests – it was probably not a proper thing to do. Instead, he said, You will wash your feet (rahzu).

From Genesis 18, we see that it was not customary for the host to wash the feet of his guests. Thus, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, it could not be explained as [a] necessity or custom. John said that Jesus “loved His own to the end” [: in] washing their feet, He exemplified the most vital components of the New Covenant – love and humility. This act, so powerful in itself, becomes even more meaningful when seen against its background.

What Jesus did on the last evening of His [life] went far beyond the traditional customs – but we can only understand this when we know these customs. Understanding the Jewish background of the NT helps us, not only better comprehend those words and deeds of Jesus that belong to this [background] but also to grasp the full meaning of those words and deeds that went beyond the traditional ideas and customs.1

Endnotes

18Adam Clarke’s Commentary.

19Dr. Julia Blum. “Little Known Facts About the Last Supper,” PREACH IT TEACH IT 10 March 2023 .

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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