John 6.45-53,64-66 – The Real Presence in the Eucharist
Posted: 25 July 2012 in John

It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? 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….. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

I suppose we could share the Jews disbelieving reaction to the words of Jesus, and ask, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” But it is here that the virtue of humility comes into play, in allowing the words of God to take precedence over the wisdom of man. It matters not at all whether or not we understand it; if it is spoken by God it is true. More than that, Jesus says, if not in so many words, that the reason his listeners rebel against his words is that their hardened hearts have not been softened by the Father.

That we are in any real sense receiving the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist doubtless sounds uncomfortably like Catholic theology when it fallls upon Protestant ears, but that is what the above passage appears to say. So, as I see it, the thing which is really at stake here is whether Protestants are prepared to be as good as their word when they claim to take the Word of God very seriously indeed. On the other hand, there is nothing in the above passage to suggest that a professional priesthood needs to be involved, and I think that idea is what Protestants should rightly be very suspicious of.

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