Here are 7 reasons why we can know that Jesus is truly present (Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity) in the Eucharist:
1. Jesus said it! “Take, eat, this is my body. Take, drink, this is my blood.” (Synoptic Gospels - Matthew 26; Luke 22; Mark 14). If Elijah can have the power to call down a consuming fire from heaven (2Kings 1:10), why can’t the words of Christ transform the elements?
2. God gave us “Bread Crumbs” all throughout Scripture and Salvation History, starting with Genesis:
“And Melchizedek, King of Salem (peace), brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High…” (Genesis 14). The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek." (Psalm 110:4) Jesus is a Great High Priest like Melchizedek (Hebrews 5, 6 and 7).
"For from the rising of the sun even to its setting, My name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense is going to be offered to My name, and a grain offering that is pure" says the LORD of hosts.” (Malichi 1:11) “You shall set the Bread of the Presence on the table before me on the table at all times.” (Exodus 25:30) "This day (Passover) shall be a memorial feast for you, which all your generations shall celebrate with pilgrimage to the Lord, as a perpetual institution." (Exodus 12:14) “And surely, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt 28:20)
Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35); He was born in Bethlehem (which means “House of Bread”) and laid in a manger (where sheep are fed and come to eat - we are the sheep); Christ is the Good Shepherd who feeds and provides for His sheep (Psalm 23); “Jesus appeared to them in a different form” (Mark 16:12). “They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread.” (Luke 24:35);
3. The Eucharist is the Fulfillment of the Jewish Passover.
- On the second to last Passover Jesus celebrated with his disciples, He laid the groundwork for the Last Supper. At the start of John, Chapter 6, Jesus feeds 5,000 men with 5 loaves and 2 fish and has 12 baskets of leftovers. This refers to the “Bread of the Presence” (Exodus) and points to a new exodus. After this miracle, He goes on to tell his followers that He is the the new manna (New Covenant) and you must eat His flesh to have life within you. He backs up His claim 7 times in John 6 to emphasize His point!
- The Bible uses the word “Trogo” which means to gnaw or to chew and is never used figuratively; He lets the disciples who struggle with this teaching leave and He doubles down when His apostles question Him ("Do you want to leave too?"- John 6:67).
- In the Jewish Passover, the Jews had to kill the unblemished lamb and actually eat the lamb. Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:36) who fulfills the the Old Covenant, and we know that ALL of the fulfillments are perfected in the New Covenant.
- "God will provide the LAMB ... then Abraham beheld a RAM caught in the thorns..." (Genesis 22) Where is this lamb that God will provide? This is foreshadowing Christ, the pascal sacrifice; who takes our place (He paid a debt he did not owe since we owed a debt we couldn't pay), just as the ram took the place of Isaac. Isaac is obedient to his father and carries the wood up Mount Moriah (Jerusalem) to the altar where he (the child of promise, like Jesus) is to be sacrificed. The father, the son, the wood, the sacrifice, the covenant, the offering, the thorns ... God will provide the Lamb! JESUS IS THE LAMB!
- While the Eucharist is a mystery, we can come to accept that Jesus has the power to give us this miracle: Jesus transformed water into wine (He can change the elements); God speaks things into existence - “Let there be light!” (Gen 1:3); Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) What Jesus says, is (little girl get up! - Mark 5:41) His words effect and transforms reality. “Lazarus come out!” (John 11:43); “Your sins are forgiven!” (Mark 2:9), etc. “When two or three are gathered in His name” (Matt 18:20), Jesus is truly present. He is truly speaking to us in His written word, the Sacred Scriptures and He is Truly present in the Eucharist. Ya gotta have faith!
- While the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist has never been an easy teaching (John 6:60), it has ALWAYS been accepted as doctrine for ALL Christians from the time of Christ through the 16th century (and Catholics and Orthodox Christians still accept this teaching).
- Throughout Christianity, Christians have debated about everything; from the canon of Scripture, to the divinity of Christ, Circumcision, Baptism, Interpreting Scripture, the Trinity, etc. While the Eucharist is a mystery and requires faith, there was no serious theological concern with this doctrine until the 12 hundreds when the Church was required to define Christ’s teaching more fully (hence the term: "Transubstantiation").
- Theologian, Dr. Peter Kreeft says, “If the first 1500 years of Christians were wrong about the Eucharist (and it is just a symbol), than they were not only idolators, but the stupidest idolaters in history! They’re bowing down to bread, and worshiping wine, thinking that it’s Almighty God. How could they be that stupid, and more important, how could the Holy Spirit fall asleep and wait until the reformation to reveal this mistake?”
5. The 4th Cup.
For those who study and understand the Jewish Passover (as Jews then and now know), you will learn that there are 4 cups of wine that are drunk throughout this sacred meal (as well as other songs and rituals). At the Last Supper, Jesus and the Apostles are celebrating the Passover, but they do not complete it. Jesus goes through all the traditional rituals, but He himself has taken the place of the lamb and He intentionally postpones the drinking of the 4th and final cup of sour wine: "Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God." (Mark 14:25) Jesus is then handed over, scourged and hang on a cross (turning this crucifixion into a sacrifice). From the cross He exclaims “I Thirst.” (John 19:29) He was given a sour wine (the 4th cup) “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished.” And bowing His head, He yielded up His spirit.” (John 19:28-31). What is finished? Is salvation complete? No! He hasn’t risen yet. The New Covenant (Luke 22:20), started in the upper room on Mount Zion at the Last Supper and completed with the final sip of sour wine on the cross at Calvary is now complete and FINISHED!
6. The Bible.
We’ve seen how the Bible repeatedly supports Jesus’ claims that the Eucharist truly is His Body. Another biblical approach would be to recognize that nowhere in the Bible does it claim that the Eucharist is just a symbol. If we are to be consistent and take the Bible as God’s word, we cannot say that the Eucharist is “just a symbol” since the Bible NEVER makes this claim.
7. Eucharistic Miracles.
While this tough teaching requires faith, God often strengthens our faith through miracles. There are numerous public miracles and countless private miracles attributed to Jesus in the Eucharist that can be researched, studied and understood to help strengthen our faith in His teachings. I encourage you to look up the “Miracle of Lanciano” that took place over a millennia ago and has been examined be scientists. You can still view the flesh of Christ (flesh from His heart) in the host that has been miraculously preserved today!
We are not only spiritual, but also physical. We relate to and comprehend things on spiritual and physical levels and that is why the physical is important and significant (“My words are spirit and life” - John 6:63). God took on human flesh (John 1:14) to fully reveal Himself to us. Jesus gives us his body in the Eucharist to nourish our bodies and souls and to help us grow in intimate union with Him. Reducing the Eucharist to a symbol is like reducing marriage to friendship. Like the disciples we “Beg Him, ‘Lord, give us this bread always.’” (John 6:34) We want to see, touch, feel and be nourished by Jesus Himself. Jesus told them, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you … Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)
“They ate and had their fill, and what they craved the Lord gave them; they were not disappointed in what they craved.” (Psalm 78:29-30)
I close by asking the same question that Jesus asked his Apostles after the Eucharistic discourse in John Chapter 6: “Do you want to leave too?” (John 6:67). My hope and prayer is that you answer with faith in Jesus’ words and teachings, along with Simon Peter who replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life.”- John 6:68
"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." - 1 Corinthians 11:27