On page 13 of the Mormon tract, entitled The Gospel of Jesus Christ, a brief and presise explanation of holy communion is presented:
"The Sacrament. After you are baptized, you can renew you baptismal covenants each week by partaking of the sacrament. During the sacrament service, bread and water are blessed and passed to the congregation as a reminder of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The bread represents his body, and the water represents His blood."
The reason water is used instead of wine is because the use of any acoholic beverages were expressely forbidden in Joseph Smith's Word of Wisdom, a set of guidlines every good Mormon must follow. In the above statement, the reader will notice a clever usage of Catholic language and phrasing, such as 'sacrament', the blessing of the bread and water, and the giving of communion only after baptism. However, on the same note, it is clearly stated that the bread and water do not change into the literal Flesh and Blood of Christ, according to Mormon theology, but rather they are mere representations of Christ's body and blood. The late Mormon Apostle, James E. Talmage, in his book Jesus the Christ (p. 342), expounds further. He speaks concerning Christ's words in John 6, wherein Christ makes the scandelous statement that men must "eat my flesh and drink my blood" to have everlasting life. The early martyrs and saints, the church fathers and theologians, even some of the reformers, up to this day, have always maintained that the Lord spoke of Holy Communion, or Eucharist. The Mormons hold a different view:
"There was little excuse for the Jews pretending to understand that our Lord meant an actual eating and drinking of His material flesh and blood. The utterances to which they objected were far more readily understood by them than they are by us on first reading; for the representation of the law and of truth in general as bread, and the acceptance thereof as a process of eating and drinking, were figures in every-day use by the rabbis of that time*. Their failure to comprehend the symbolism of Christ's doctrine was an act of will, not the natural consequence of innocent ignorance. To eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ was and is to believe in and accept Him as the literal Son of God and Savior of the world, and obey His commandments." (James E. Talmage, 'Jesus the Christ', p. 342)
In Note 10 (in reference to the asterik), on page 347 of the same book, reads:
"'The idea of eating, as a metaphor for recieving spiritual benefit, was familiar to Christ's hearers, and was as readily understood as our expressions - 'devouring a book', or 'drinking in' instruction."
Notice the slick blend of Catholiscm and Protestantism, with a slight twist of facts, and voila! you have a somewhat, on the surface, a hybrid belief concerning communion. With Catholic words and phrases, they appear to believe as we do that the bread and wine (water) become the Flesh and Blood of Christ. But in truth they believe as do the liberal Protestants of today, that the bread and wine are mere symbols, emblems of something that happened in the past. Not so with Christian orthodoxy: the bread and wine are not simply mere symbols, but are in actuality after the words of consecration and the invocation of the Holy Spirit, the true Flesh and Blood of Christ. How this happens is a Mystery, and cannot be understood by mortal intellect. In this tract, we will take the Mormon understanding of communion, and break it down by using Scripture (the KJV), to show how erroneous their stance is on the matter.
The Beauty of Context!
To be certain we have a well-founded understanding of what Christ said, we have to look at the context. Context includes entirety of the passage, the original Greek or Hebrew autographs, the time it was written, who wrote it, and what was the author's intent. When context is not applied to any given Scriptural passage, the two fallacy belief categories usually are as follows: letterism, and gnostism. Letterism is when each and every word in the text is taken absolutly literally. I.E, Christ said 'I am the Door', now He's wood and hinges. 'He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings thou shalt trust,' now He's a chicken. Gnostisism is an attempt to symbolize everything that is to be taken literally in the passage. I.E, the Jehovah's Witnesses maintain Christ didn't really physically resurrect from the tomb, but that He only arose spiritually. New Agers and persons of that like say God is simply a spiritual manifestation inside each and every one of us, that the concept of God is merely symbolic to explain who mankind really is on the inside. The doctrine of the Eucharist is situated perfectly between the two: it is a very literal understanding of the passage, while at the same time it has heavy spiritual elements. As we walk deeper into Scripture this will clearly be seen.
Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy, Lutherans, Anglicans, Episcopalians, United Methodists, and others from mainstream Protestantism look to John 6 as a fundamental proof text concerning Eucharist. In verse 35, Jesus tells His disciples, "I am the bread of life", in verse 51 He says, "...the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world", and into verse 53 He states, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat of the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." In verse 55 He erases any doubts as to the literalism or the symbolism of His words, "My flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed." This is important to note. The Greek word 'alethes' is used in verse 55 and it is defined as follows: true, loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful. There is no room for an allegorical defintion of 'alethes', and especially in the context given, must always according to Greek grammar must be taken literally.
To note, the Jews "strove amongst themselves" in verse 52. The KJV translation of this phrase waters down what the original Greek actually says. In the Greek, it says they "quarelled spitefully with each other". This was no ordinary discussion between them, but a loud, heated, perhaps even physically violent argument! They asked, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" In reply, Christ puts stress on eating His flesh and drinking His blood, offering no comforting explanation for them. Talmage says the Jews actually understood Christ spoke symbolically, meaning that one must believe in Him and follow Him, but they didn't want the responsibility nor to admit they were in the wrong doctrinally. He cites that in Jewry 'eating and drinking' were used metaphorically by rabbis all the time. Thus, Christ simply spoke in metaphor. True, 'eating and drinking' was a symbolic term in Jewry, and it did indeed mean to take in, or to fully believe. But 'eating the flesh and drinking the blood' in Jewry, when taken symbolically, took on an entirly different meaning. We see strong examples of this in the ancient Jewish Scriptures:
Psalm 14:4 - "Have all the workers of iniquity no knowledge? who eat up my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord?"
Psalm 27:2 - "When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell."
Ecclesiastes 4:5 - "The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh."
Isaiah 49:26 - "And I will feed them that oppress thee with their own flesh; and they shall be drunken with their own blood, as with sweet wine..."
Micah 3:3 - "Who also eat the flesh of my people..."
And also in the New Testament such language is again presented:
Revelation 17:6,16 - "And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints...these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire."
As is seen, the Jewish term 'eating the flesh and drinking the blood' meant severe judgment, persecution, blasphemy, and death. The term is still used among the Jews and Arabs of today. So essentially, if He were speaking metaphorically, Jesus would have been saying to His disciples, "Judge me, persecute me, condemn me, blaspheme me, and you will have eternal life." This is ludicrous to assert, and it is well certain the Jews did not understand Him to say this.
To complete the full picture, we must now look at briefly the Gospel of John, the bold title pronounced over Jesus by John the Baptist, and an ancient Jewish feast, which all ties into the Mystery of the Eucharist. Then we'll come back to John 6, and examine the Greek behind the English translation.
Mary had a little Lamb...
John 1:1 sets the awesome tone for the unfolding tale: "In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
Here we have a basic definition of who Jesus Christ is. The Word is God Himself, preparing to be spoken into the world. Verse 14 gives us a simple sentence that is fundamental to orthodox Christianity: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." The Greek says that the Word was made flesh and "tabernacled among us", literally took a tabernacle of flesh and bone to dwell among men. Incidentally, this passage was so strong in defining that Christ was equal with Heavenly Father that Joseph Smith had to 're-translate' the verse to say: 'In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word...and the Son was of God.' Smith's perverted texts will be dealt with in another tract. For now, we will go with the abundant evidense made available to us that the first citing of John 1:1 is "translated correctly."
Around the time of St. John's writing of his Gospel, many heretics, called Gnostics, claimed that Christ's body was simply an illusion, a hologram if you will, that He didn't truly beget real flesh and blood. We see John lashing out in righteous anger against these people, whom he labels as "antichrists", in his letters. In the Gospel, he uses the most graphic Greek terms available to wipe away any doubt whatsoever that Jesus took a body to dwell in. He uses the Greek word 'sarx', translated as 'flesh.' 'Sarx' is the more graphic rendering of the Greek word 'soma', which simply means 'body.' 'Sarx' literally means: flesh [the soft substance of the living body, which covers the bones and is permeated with blood] of both man and beasts, the body, the body of a man. Symbolically, the word refers to our sinful nature, depending on the context. Here, St. John makes use of 'sarx' to drive the point home that God the Son took on human flesh, and was made man, "God from God, light from light, true God from true God." Born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, for the first time in universal history, took on human form. His Deity He took from God the Father, and His humanity from Mary His mother.
John 1:29 calls to mind a very Jewish rite as we see the wildman in the desert, the Baptist, seeing Jesus and cries out: "Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world!" The haunting phrase 'Lamb of God' must have brought upon Jesus a sort of heavy burden, and yet at the same time a peace and luminous joy. The phrase is haunting because it explains, if only implicitly, what Christ's purpose on earth is for. The lambs of the Old Testament covenant were used as sacrifices, killed upon stone altars for the covering of sins. The lambs had to be without blemish, having neither spot nor disease. With Christ, we see a sinless man, a perfect God in human flesh, without spot in any way. And at His baptism, we hear the grand announcment: "Behold! the Lamb of God..." Any good Mormon will agree that Calvary was the great Altar on which the Lamb of God was sacrificed for the sins of world - and during Passover. The Priest and the Sacrifice were One and the Same Person, who was slain not to cover up sins, but to wash them away "white as snow."
The rite of the slaying of the Passover lambs was instituted by God in the Exodus.
"And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you. Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying...take to them every man a lamb...Your lamb shall be without blemish..." (Ex. 12:1-5)
The purity of the lamb is stressed. Its purpose is explained:
"...and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it (the lamb) in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door part posts of the houses, wherein they shall eat it. And they shall eat the flesh that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread: and with bitter herbs they shall eat it...And this day shall be unto you for a memorial: and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations, ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever...It is the sacrifice of the Lord's passover, who passed over the houses of children of Israel in Egypt...and delivered our houses." (Ex. 12:7a-8,14,27)
It is the memorial feast of freedom from bondage, life after living in death. Notice that the lamb's blood not only was to be shed, but also to be eaten? The Lord says that this shall be kept FOREVER. 'Forever' does not mean "only for a few centuries", it means FOREVER, never ceasing. And indeed, though the Jewish feasts have ceased, the Passover feast and the eating of the Lamb has continued up until this day. The Sacrifice has not left the earth, but has stayed as the Memorial from life out of sin. Interesting still, is in verse 46 of the same chapter it again says, "In one house shall it (the lamb) be eaten...", and adds to that, "...neither shall ye break a bone thereof." This is the same sign that was given as an attribute to the Jewish Messiah in Psalm 34:20, "He keepeth all his bones, not one of them is broken." It is again prounounced over Christ in the narrative in John 19:26 as He dies on the cross, "For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken."
We see the literal slaying and eating of the Passover lamb, just as we see the literal slaying of Jesus Christ our Pascal Lamb...but do we really see the literal eating of His flesh? Well, ironically enough, the time in which the John 6 discourse took place was at Passover, the same time Jesus later died at Calvary. John 6:4 says, "And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh."
The Bread and the Fish
In orthodox Christendom the Church looks at the events of John 6 as a sort of implicit example of the Liturgical Celebration. Seeing the great mass of people gathered before Him, Christ says to Phillip, "Whence shall we buy bread that these may eat?" (vs.5). Phillip's response is that they barely have enough to feed such a multitude. The point is made that there is hunger, a great hunger among the people, and the nourishment is no where to be found. Circumstances prevent the apostles from buying food for their company. An act of faith, literally that of a child's, gives Christ the materials needed to perform one of the greatest miracles ever recorded. A boy from the crowd brings forth gifts to St. Andrew. The gifts are "five barley loaves, and two small fishes" (vs. 9). It is interesting that the number of food items adds up to 7. In Hebrew thought, the number 7 signified completeness, in a way it was God's special number. The meal brought forth to the Apostle, though it seemed like nothing to him, was in fact all that was need: it was complete. Interesting still are the fish distributed with the bread. In early Christian symbolism, Jesus was identified by the symbol of the fish. In Greek, the initial letters of 'Jesus Christ Son of God, Savior', spelt FISH. Later in the passage, Christ identifies Himself with bread. Two earthly elements, symbolizing Christ, are passed to the crowd to satisfy their hunger. The implicit message here is that Jesus is enough to satisfy the spiritual hunger that burns in every person's soul. He is all we need. He is complete.
The doubt of the Apostle Andrew - ironically enough, the very same Apostle who first believed in Jesus, and thus led his brother, Simon, surnamed Peter, to Him - is crushed as Christ takes what little food the child brought. As He takes these gifts, the Gospel narrative says He gave eucharista, literally, gave thanks. This is where we get the word 'Eucharist'. After He finishes consecrating the items to the Father, He calls His Apostles, the first bishops, and gives the food over to them that they may distribute it to the people. Neither the Apostles nor the people knew what they were experiencing. All they cared about was the satisfaction of their hunger. But Christ had something far deeper in mind. After the people eat their fill of the bread and fish, the Apostles are commanded by Christ to gather up the fragments. The fragments are enough to fill twelve baskets. Twelve, for the Apostles, and for the tribes of Israel. With these baskets filled with the consecrated food, the Apostles bring them before Christ, reserved and whole. The crowd, astonished by such power, rush to crown Jesus a king. But this was not His purpose for the miracle, so He 'departed again into a mountain himself alone.' (vs.15).
A God of Flesh and Bone
John 6:16-21 gives us an account of Christ's walk on the water, which in turn terrified His Apostles as they saw Him from the boat. A terrible storm nearly sank the boat, but in the midst of this, and their fear of His walking on the water, He says "Be not afraid, it is I." The Apostles thought they were seeing a 'ghost' walking on the sea (Matt.14:26). A ghost is a phantom, a spirit that "hath not flesh and bone" as Christ has. When Jesus tells them it is in fact Him upon the sea, verse 21 says that they "willingly recieved him into the ship." Contrary to their fear that He was a ghost, the Apostles see now that it was instead Jesus, a man as physical as they were. The contrast between this account and that of the following verses may have been St. John's way of further stressing the fact that Jesus' body was not a hologram, or an illusion, but in fact just as real and tangible as any man's. In Christendom, Jesus is indeed the God of flesh and bone.
'The work of God' - That's Greek to me!
When the people finally find Christ, He calls it like it is, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled." (vs.26). They probably hoped that He would supply them with multiple weapons for war against the Roman Empire, and at the same time keeping them fed so that they may never run out. However, whether they would admit it or no, the Jews were really searching for something deeper, so much deeper than what they supposed they sought. To this, Christ says in verse 27, "Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you." Namely, Himself...but in reply, the Jews ask "What must we do to see the works of God?" And to this comes a very simply answer, so simple in fact it's shocking: "This is the work of God..." Christ says, as the crowd holds their breath awaiting this special secret, "...that ye believe on him whom God hath sent." Believe. Faith. Concerning the Eucharist, St. Augustine noted the stress of faith in the passage, and once wrote "Believe, and you have already eaten (of Christ)." This is the work of God: faith. Faith in Jesus Christ, without which the doctrine of the Eucharist, and all Christian fundamental teachings are void.
Continuing His discourse, Jesus speaks of the manna which God gave to Israel through the Prophet Moses. Then, He adds, "the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world" (vs.32). The startling comparison is made between the heavenly bread, namely the manna, which perpetually descended from heaven, and the Heavenly Bread, namely Jesus Christ, which "cometh" down. Not "has come", nor "will come", nor "at one time did come", but "cometh", continually, both into the hearts of all who trust in Him, and also at the consecration of the Eucharist.
In their excitement, the Jews beg, "Lord! gives us this bread always!" (vs. 34). And it is here where the "blasphemy" of Christ's words begin: "I AM the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (vs. 35). The horror! This mere carpenter, "whose father and mother we know", has claimed that He Himself came down from heaven! What arrogance! What pompous, sickening, arrogance! But this was nothing compared to what was coming. The Truth was being brought out, and like a two-edged sword Jesus had His mind set on dividing the crowd into two camps: the believers, and those who fall away. It must first be said that if the Mormon you encounter stops you after reading John 6:35, he will no doubt say: "There! Jesus has just explained that eating His flesh means coming to Him, obeying Him, and you will 'never hunger.' Drinking His blood simply means ' belieiving on Him', and you will never spiritually thirst."
The answer to this oft-made fallacy lies within the context of the passage. Of course, faith is required. Of course, one may 'eat' of Christ by believing in Him, as St. Augustine tells us. Our spirits do indeed eat the truth of Christ when we believe. But the mistake in interpretting this to mean 'eat my flesh and drink my blood' means to just believe and follow Christ is that the passage is not carefully examined. In the first part of His discourse, Jesus speaks of faith. In the second part of His discourse, His language changes dramatically to a scandelous literal understanding. To say "he that believeth on me shall never thirst" means drinking His blood is symbolic, is to take the meaning out of context. At this point in time, Jesus has not mentioned the drinking of His blood, so it is not affected by His words in verse 35. As a matter of fact if one cross-references John 6:35 with John 4:14, one finds Jesus saying to the woman at the well, "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The original manuscript of the Gospel had no chapters nor verses dividing it, so no doubt the ancient Jewish reader, upon reading aloud John 6:35, would easily make the connection that Christ is simply again reiterating what He said before. In fact, later in the Gospel of John we are told exactly and clearly what Jesus means when He says "he that believeth on me shall never thirst":
"If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should recieve: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given..." (John 7:37-39a).
The quenching of thirst is actually the Holy Spirit, not the 'metaphorical' drinking of Christ's blood. Now as for the Jews hearing Christ speak in John 6:35, they no doubt would have noticed the startling nearly verbatim language He uses in comparison to God the Father's language in Isaiah 55:1,2:
"Ho, everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight in fatness."
Blatant still, is the fact that Christ makes mention of Moses and the manna in the preceeding verses of John 6:35. With this in mind, in contrast to Christ's words "...he who comes to me shall not hunger, he who believes...shall not thirst", the Jews most definetly would have had in mind the event briefly described in Nehemiah 9:15:
"And [He (God)] gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst..."
We see how the Mormon misinterpretation of verse 35 falls apart when looked at in simple English context. Now to get to the Greek. In John 6:53 Christ says, "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." The word in focus is "eat." The Greek word is 'phago', which means: to eat, literally or figuratively. The Mormon, if he knows a bit of Greek, will of course focus on the fact that 'phago' may be used FIGURATIVELY, and therefore the Christian concept of the Eucharist is faulty. It's no more than a metaphor, the Mormon will tell you, your precious Greek has disproven your belief!
Really? Humble pie is on the menu for the Latter-Day Saint, after a bountiful dish of crow. The Bible says that a fool boasts in his folly, but the wise man keeps silent until the opertune time. Suppose such a situation where to occur: the Mormon concentrates of the figurative usage of 'phago', but the Christian isn't finished yet. You see, 'phago' is the word used in verse 53, but in verse 54, there is an entirly different word used. Verse 54 says, "Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life,". In verse 54, the Greek word translated as "eateth" is 'trogo'. 'Trogo' literally means: to gnaw, crunch, to chew audibly. This is a word, in Greek, that is never used metaphorically in the New Testament, nor in ancient secular Greek. It is always used literally, and has a graphic definition. St. John could not have picked a better word to show Christ spoke of literally chewing His literal 'sarx', His flesh. This left no room for Gnostics to look at the text and try and reinterpret the words to a figurative meaning, as they could have done with 'phago', but certainly not with 'trogo'. Like the Mormons, and other cults, the Gnostics had to throw out context, throw out the meaning of the Greek words, perhaps even throw out the Gospel of John to support their erroneous belief!
No attempt to clear up a misconception
In answer to the crowd's question, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?", Jesus does not even attempt once to clarify His graphic termonology. Instead, He adds more scandelizing language when He says not only must they literally eat His flesh, but they must also literally drink His blood! The drinking of blood was forbidden by God in Jewish law, but the point the Jews missed was that the Blood they would recieve gives life to the world: it is not common blood, but the sanctifying, glorified, Blood of Jesus Christ the Lord, without this Blood no human being can spiritually live, nor can we enter heaven.
While they had heard exactly right, Jesus goes on to explain that the spirit "quickenth, the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you are spirit and life" (vs. 63). In essence, He explained that they could not understand through mortal intellect, but needed to understand by the Holy Spirit, through the eyes of faith. "But there are some of you that believe not" (vs 64), and indeed there are many now in Christendom that do not believe. Outside Christendom the cults further the attempt at symbolizing Christ's graphic discourse.
The Mormon will no doubt point to verse 63 as absolute proof that Jesus' words were metaphorical: "it is the spirit that gives life...the flesh profits nothing." Therefore, the Mormon says, Jesus is saying to literally eat His flesh does no good, and He even says His words are symbolic!
Answer: the word "spirit" in ancient eastern thought was never synonomous with "symbolic". Today, modern thought has seen the two as synonyms, but never is it so in biblical understanding. There is a problem posed to the Mormon if he insists with this claim: in verse 62 Christ says "What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend to where He was before?" Verse 63 says "...my words are spirit..." which would include all of Christ's words as mentioned in the discourse. Also, 1 Corinthians 10:3 speaks of the manna as 'spiritual meat', but this in no way indicates the manna was not true tangible bread. If verse 63 implies that Christ spoke metaphorically, then Christ's ascension into heaven is metaphorical too! The Mormon will never admit to that. He's stuck. It's either black or white - there's no room for gray. The context, the original Greek, and the intention of the author all support the clear doctrine of the Eucharist.
Explains other things which are misunderstood
We mentioned that Jesus made no attempt to clarify any misunderstanding concerning the Eucharist. The Mormon may mention that there were plenty of times when Jesus didn't clarify Himself. Not so in the Gospel of John. Let's look at another example in John, which also involves eating, and was mistakenly taken as literal.
"In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him out to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." (John 4:31-34).
Notice the clarification given immedietly when the disciples misunderstood or took things literally? Let's look at another example from John:
"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? ... Jesus answered...Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God." (John 3:3-5)
Notice again the words of Christ, the literal misunderstanding of the listener, and the immediet clarification by Jesus. We see this pattern also in the second chapter of John. This time though, when Christ does not clarify for us, the narrative itself gives the explanation for the mistakenly-taken-literally symbolism:
"Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them..." (John 2:19-22)
We could continue giving more examples, but suffice it to say Jesus always clarified His speech when mistaken by either His Apostles, or His disciples.
The Last Supper
We can only imagine what went through the minds of the Apostles when they noticed there was no lamb for the Passover Jesus intended to celebrate. What a startling contrast this is to the inquiry Isaac gives his father Abraham...
"...where is the lamb for the burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb..." (Gen. 22:7,8a)
Abraham's answer could not have been anything less than inspired by God Himself. Indeed, God spared Isaac's life and provided a sacrifice for them. Abraham's answer may be spoken again in the New Testament with the slight interpolation of a word: it would read thus, "God will provide himself as a lamb..." which is exactly what happened during the holy hour of the Lord's Supper, and upon the altar of Calvary. As for Abraham, this patriarch seems to have two things in common with the Eucharist: the sacrifice of Isaac, and before that the offering of bread and wine by another Priest:
"And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God." (Gen. 14:18)
We are told in Hebrews 7 that Christ now holds the priesthood identical to that of Melchizedek's. However, contrary to the Mormon claim that they alone also hold the Melchizedek priesthood, the Bible (Heb 7:24) in the original Greek reads that Christ alone holds the priesthood, and that it is literally 'untransferrable.' This is not the place to expose the fallacy of the Mormon priesthood, but it is worth mention where Melchizedek is concerned.
During the Supper, having no lamb, Christ institutes the Eucharist by declaring of the bread, "This is my body", infusing both the eating of the lamb and the eating of bread into one substance: making the bread His own divine Flesh. In debate with Calvin and Zwingli, the great Reformer Martin Luther once said, "Since when does This is my body mean This is the symbol of my body?" The realism of Christ's words must be understood in light of what was usually pronounced over the meal by the head of the Jewish household: "This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt." The literal bread the Jews ate was of the same substance, grain, and wheat, as that of the bread which Moses and Israel ate during the first Passover. In a sense, it truly was the exact same bread which was eaten all those centuries ago. Christ, now bringing the holy Passover to its fulfillment, said of Himself that He was the bread which was to be eaten. Not only would they mentally remember Him, but they would be in true communion with Him every time they partake of the Supper. Is it no wonder the earliest Christian records show a great reverence and honor for the Holy Eucharist, surrounded by liturgical celebrations of thanksgiving, glory, and praise to God. The first Mass, the first Divine Liturgy, was celebrated by Jesus Christ with His twelve Apostles in the upper room.
Paul's looming threat
The Apostle Paul, when speaking of the Lord's Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 says:
"Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body."
In Jewry, to be 'guilty of the body and blood' of anyone meant to be guilty of a crime like murder. Contrast this with Matthew 27:25 when the angry mob shouts to Pontius Pilate "His blood be on us and on our children!" In response, Pilate says the exact opposite, and declares "I am innocent of this man's blood," showing them he would not be held responsible nor guilty of Jesus' death. Paul's threat is of no merit if the bread and wine during Sacrament are mere symbols. For such a threat to make sense in the context of the Lord's Supper, the 'body and blood of the Lord' must be understood in the most literal (yet at the same time spiritual) sense. This is precisely what a true sacrament is: an outward SIGN of an inward reality. The Eucharist is truly a mystery to human intellect. It combines the spiritual and the literal, just as Christ is the combination of God and Man.
Christians throughout the centuries have always held to the most fundamental doctrine of our faith: namely, the Deity of Jesus Christ as 'God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, one in being with the Father.' For Christians of the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, and Episcepol churches specifically, the doctrine of the Eucharist is the greatest testimony to the all-glorifying Deity of Our Lord and God Jesus Christ. Protestants and Evangelicals of other denominations most certaintly will not agree with us concerning Eucharist - however, because they proclaim just as boldly as we do the Gospel of Jesus as the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Word made flesh, the truly one and only begotten of the Father, they too are Christians and stand shoulder to shoulder with us against the growing heresies of Mormonism and other modern-day religious cults. Tracts like these are not about who has the right theology. You can be right in every area of theology, but if you have the wrong God, and the wrong Jesus, and the wrong Holy Spirit, you're in trouble! St. Paul warned of those who would come proclaiming a false 'Jesus' to the world. Today, Mormonism has done exactly that. They have substituted the Deity of Christ for the deity of all mankind; they have taken the Lord's Supper and made it into a memorial to a false god "whom your fathers did not know", namely the jesus-god of Mormonism; they follow prophets who command the worship of a false heavenly father, who is unlike anything the Heavenly Father of Biblical and orthodox Christianity (i.e. the God of Christendom does not have a body, He is not married, He is not one of many gods, etc). Together, arm in arm, Christians the world over will no longer tolerate the monstrous LDS blasphemy against Jesus Christ and His spiritual house. One day, when the pinnacles of the Mormon Temples fall forever, the Christian Church will still stand as a witness to Our Lord and Saviour, who redeemed us from our sins, who came to die for Mormons out of love for them, who came to free them from the spiritual tyranny that exists in their souls. Let us end this with a prayer for all Mormons everywhere, that they may come to know "the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent":
Almighty God our Father, we thank You for all You have done for us, we thank You for sending Jesus Christ Your Son to pay the price for our sins. Lord we thank you for the precious Mormons who are decieved by Satan's lies, and we pray that by Your grace You may draw them out of darkness and into Your marvelous light. By the merits of Jesus Christ Our Lord, they may come into Your Kingdom, bringing with them the Lord the Ransom in their lives, a true testimony to the grace He has shown to them. Bind all evil beings and forces that work against us O God we pray, open the eyes and hearts of Mormons everywhere that they may hear You calling to them. We ask this through the Name of Jesus the Lord, Amen. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
St. Michael, pray for us.