Eating His Body And Drinking His Blood: Mistake, Command, Metaphor Or Reality?

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. 60 Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

juanes_avondmaalI must admit that for some time I have dreaded having to deal with this passage. The reason is not because this passage has been a subject of age long debates within Christian circles as to the meaning of eating the body and drinking the blood, but rather because I keep coming back to a sense of intense personal discomfort with the whole idea. Because of this, I’ll begin with the last verse of this section (John 6.60) where we read of a similar reaction from Jesus’ disciples: “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?”

Reading this in retrospect, actually from a distance of 2000 years, we can say the disciples were wrong about the second part of their statement – “who can listen to it?” The fact remains that in one form or another, all Christ-followers worldwide, have indeed participated in a ritual rooted in these very words. We now know that while their fears were understandable, they did not materialize. Quite the opposite is the case. No matter how the ritual is practiced, it remains if not central as in Catholic and Orthodox Christian traditions, it is at least very important (and in some cases also central) for most Protestant denominations worldwide.

The disciples were, however, right about one thing – this was indeed a hard saying! It may seem offensive to explain why this idea is hard “to stomach” (pan intended). Simply speaking, it sounds like cannibalism. Basically cannibalism is defined as eating human flesh or human internal organs. It comes from the Spanish Canibales and is thought to refer (at least allegedly) to the flesh eating practices of the Carib people. In fact when early Christ-followers were still a persecuted minority in the Roman Empire, along with other accusations of criminal behaviors, the Christ-followers were also accused by their Roman enemies of cannibalism. Only after time were the early Christ-followers cleared of this false charge.

So, yes, this was a hard saying. At least I continue to think so. Having said that, I think we can see the passage in several ways. I think there are four ways we can approach this issue. Each view has consequences for how God is viewed.

Neither the King, nor the Father: One view would be a secular way of dealing with the passage. We can see this statement as wrong or an unfortunate/unwise thing to say. It was a poor choice of words or a wrong metaphor. In this case it could be said that God is neither Father, nor is he King and our approach would reflect this belief.

The King, but not the Father: A religious way to deal with this same issue would be to say, that despite the intense discomfort, we should not question God. We must simply accept it “as is” without doubt and leave it without discussion. Who are we to doubt Jesus’ wisdom! In this case God is the King, but not the Father.

The Father, but not the King: A liberalized religious approach to this would be to say: while God did speak to us in his Son, we need to realize that mistakes were made, but the spirit of love and compassion should occupy our minds and not the hypercritical dissection of words and details. Who cares if it was flesh and blood, it might as well have been the heart of Jesus (instead of flesh and blood). It could have been any other metaphor he could have chosen at the time! In the end, it is all about being close to him. In other words, he is the Father, but not the King.

The Father and the King: I believe there is another way – the way of faith and trust, being honest and using your mind. Here’s how this approach works: While trusting God who loudly and clearly spoke in his son Jesus, we come to Him with our doubts, discomforts, and suspicions, not dismissing any of them. Like children who know the mercy, goodness, and patience of their father; we lay it all out before him, seeking to understand his thoughts and logic, based on one important premise – He is both good and right. In other words, he is both the King and the Father.

It should be obvious that my approach can be best described as guided by the very simple conviction that the God of Israel is both Father and King. In the words of the famous Jewish traditional prayer, I believe God should be approached as “Aveinu Malkeinu” – Our Father and our King.

So, did Jesus perform a mistake? Did he confuse the metaphors? Was it the lack of his Greek education in rhetoric that got him in trouble? You can probably guess my answer to this question is a clear “No.” I will continue with this passage in the next section of the commentary, hopefully in another week. What is your opinion? Is this a good approach? If yes, then why? If no, why not? Make your comment now!

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  1. Drew McKenna

    Could it be the real problem we have with John Chapter 6 and in particular the last part about eating flesh and drinking blood is our traditions and not those of Yeshua?

    As I carefully read the entire passage I see a continual comparison between Moses and Yeshua, a theme which is often used in the Gospels, and the mana provided by God in the Desert. These particular passages do not seem to directly be referencing the Passover nor a reference to Yeshua’s last Passover with the twelve. While the next Feast mentioned in Sukkoth might be imply this is a reference about Passover I believe it is more about the feeding of the people and a comparison to God’s provision in the desert.

    Additionally one must question the time in which the author of John wrote his account of Yeshua. Many scholars (David Flusser for one) I read seem to think it is the most “Christianized” of the four and may be later in date and have different, less Jewish, source material. Could the writer possibly have been more effected by a sychronization of the mystery religions than the others and therefore for put a greater and different emphasis on the recollection of Yeshua’s statements on eating and drinking?

    In the end I side with those who reject the idea Yeshua was instituting any form of actual eating and drinking of His flesh and blood. I also believe the further Christian’s were removed from the Jewish roots of Passover and Yeshua’s last supper the greater the institutionization of a beautiful time of community and family the Eucharist became.

    May we know Him and love Him in all we do.

    Dr. Eli thank you for your work and allowing us to express our views.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      You are welcome, Drew. You should feel free to write anything in this forum as long as it is respectful toward people sometimes opposing views ;-). I far and almost always prefer clarity to agreement. By the way it sounds like you haven’t read or listened to my new book The Jewish Gospel of John. On this issue (David Flusser) I show convincingly that my predecessor and esteemed pioneer of Jesus research in Israel was completely in the dark. Here is the link to Amazon’s page – http://www.amazon.com/Jewish-Gospel-John-Discovering-Israel/dp/B01DWQSCAI/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 it is priced so that most people can get it. Read and make your judgement. Write me to let me know what you think, OK? Blessings and much peace. Eli

  2. jane z. mazzola

    I do hate to jump in here, but I, too, have just read this @3x this afternoon&evening, because it is really an issue w/which I still wrestle. I do think that whether or not we see God as father and/or king or neither does have some bearing on Jesus’s words. First of all, to my way of thinking, if we don’t see God as father or king, first creator, supernatural, then whatever Jesus said is nonsense, gross or otherwise. We can all pack up, go home, and sleep tight. So the divinity issue is important to even Jesus as Incarnate..

    My concern is that even if the disciples & others who heard his sayings re: His body & His blood thought it was “a hard saying”, were they (and so many we’s) taking His words too literally? But not symbolically, hence even to live the sacrificial life that Jesus lived could be symbolic of “eating his flesh and drinking his blood”, as well as the ritual meal of remembrance.

    When and if it truly is “eating my flesh and drinking my blood”, actual, in a bloodless(using wine) form, then again, I come back to God, Jesus Incarnate, as well… If G-d, the Divine Being is omnipotent, omnipresent, & omniscient, that actual could be true & the ritual meal is possible. And believe me when I say that I am a “show me” kind of person!

    Now, I want to read the “2nd part of the story”, but I wanted to address Ms. Gaine’s comments, and in the spirit of all due respect.
    Jane M.

  3. marciagaines

    Dr. Eli, thank you for the response. I agree Christ did not employ an actual physicality – which is what I do think the Apostles (and many non-Christians later) thought He was doing. It is why, in my opinion, they reacted so strongly – because believing He meant it that way, then that would certainly defy the Judaistic dietary restrictions. Regarding the divinity question, indeed I am not following – but then I’m not saying His divinity isn’t critical – I’m saying I don’t know why you left the topic to go into a discussion on His divinity – the point of Christ’s message in the passage is a beautiful one that does not require the debate in order for it to be made.

    But, then, I am not concerned about the dignity question very much…it makes literally no difference to me whether or not someone someday provides proof that He was or was not divine. My faith requires neither truth to be Truth in order for me to believe Christ was exactly who He claimed to be. But that is a much larger topic and my thoughts on it would likely be welcomed as much as Christ’s message was by those in the synogogue.

    In the passage you’ve cited, Christ was clearly making the point that His flesh and blood are metaphorically the Spiritual meal – that His sacrifice would be a greater deliverance than the Passover had once been…and with it He would be changing what the Jews were meant to remember during the Passover itself. While He intended His statements to be taken as metaphor – that He was making Himself to be a Spiritual meal – there is no question that all who heard Him believed He was speaking literally.

    The passage does not require Christ to be divine in order for His message to keep its meaning, and for that reason I do not believe the divinity question matters in the slightest to the passage.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      I don’t think it had anything to do with the food restrictions. After all gentile Christians who for the most part have almost no food prohibitions also have trouble with thinking of physically eating Jesus and drinking his blood :-). Disciples understood what Jesus meant very well, i.e. the implications of this claim. It is not the physicality (this was a non-issue) that got them scared.

  4. marciagaines

    Dr. Eli, I realize this is quite an old post, but having just read it I am not sure I understand why you left the topic of what was meant by Jesus’ statement regarding eating his flesh and drinking his blood to move into a debate on His deity. Do you make this topic change because Christ’s statement somehow carry less impact – or less meaning – if He were NOT God Incarnate?

    To my mind, the message of the statement is powerful beyond the matter of such a debate. Whether Christ is or is not deity has no relevance whatsoever to the point of what He says to those who were present.

    He knew exactly what He was saying – and to whom He was saying it. He knew they would have difficulty with it precisely because of the reason for why He was saying it in the first place!

    It isn’t like He expected them NOT to know about the Jewish dietary restrictions against drinking blood – they were all Jewish, after all. So, whether He said what He said as a man – whether God is King or Father or both – I feel it necessary to submit to you that the debate is entirely counterproductive to the entire point of the passage at hand.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Let me be clear Christ did not employ nor did they understand it in a physical way. But something can be literally true without it being physical. Once again you will have to see the whole study to see this point. His DIVINITY is of critical importance here. Perhaps, that is the point that you are not following :-). By the way at some point I had on the blog everything now there will in a book. Now I do the same thing with Revelation. In two years this will be a book based on the blog, so only some blog posts will remain on the blog.

  5. gustavo vargas angel

    Dear Dr.: I have always think who Jesus came to teach us about the Law with the intention and spirit what with this was written: take your own burden, make your best endeavour, do not harm anybody, do the right and good always. After that, you will get the eternal life. But this was twisted by those who took the job of priests as a business, yet today, no matter if is a rabbi, catholic priest, protestant, or some other. Jesus also said :Give by grace which by grace you received. None of them do this comandment. Very painfully.

  6. Eric de Jesús Rodríguez Mendoza

    BS”D

    I put here the great and convenient fragment of Qohélet Rabáh, in which was writen:

    And I admired the happiness, (is not other thing to men) but eating and drinking and to be happy, and he stay in his work the days of his life (8:15).
    ושבחתי אני את השמחה… כי אם לאכול ולשתות ולשמוח, והוא ילונו בעמלו ימי חייו (ח’ ט”ו).
    And his explanation is in his Midrash:
    Any eating and drinking that was said in this Scroll, speaks about the Torah, and good actions
    And about the rest: “that he stay in his work the days of his life” means: In this world till he comes to the tomb.
    ודרשו במדרש:
    כל אכילה ושתייה שנאמר במגילה הזאת, בתורה ובמע”ט הכתוב מדבר.
    והוא ילונו בעמלו – בעולמו, בעולם הזה;
    ימי חייו – לקבר וכו’.

    So, it’s possible that Yehoshúa’ Hamashíaj, was speaking in this sense… eating his body and drinking his blood, means, learning his words and doing his commandments and not the rules (The Halachah) of the Pharisees… so that it was a hard speech… 😀
    Eric

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you Eric for this insight. It is very possible indeed.

  7. Rob Smith

    It’s pretty clear from the writings of Luke and Paul that the dietary restrictions of the Covenant Code were one of the breaking points between Gentile and Jewish Christians. The reaction in the West was to set “law” as a counterpoint to “gospel”. The “law” that is put forward, however, is somewhat of a straw soldier which reflects the idea of Roman Law more than the guidance of the Covenant in which God instructs the People. (There’s an unspoken ambivalence about this among Christians that shows itself in an insistence on “faith alone” while demanding adherence to the “Ten Commandments”. This might set off a whole new discussion, but it’s just meant as a little mile-marker on my way to a point.) The fact is that in it’s effort to eliminate dietary restrictions, the church under-appreciated the theological message of the kosher table. (By the way, my tradition is Protestant.) In Genesis, the use of animal flesh for food is given to Noah following the flood (9:3) with the command that anticipates Torah. The animal shall not be eaten with the blood in it (kosher slaughter). The reasoning for this is also explained in the text, “you shall not eat any flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (9:4). When grace is given prior to a meal, properly speaking, the food is not blessed (only God is worthy of blessing). God is blessed for being the provider of food. In the case of meat, to allow another “breather” to be a source of human sustenance. It is a gracious gift (hmm, “law” is grace) and the draining of the life, that is “the blood”, during the preparation is the pious reminder that all life comes from and belongs to God. If I stretch this thread, to drink Jesus’ blood is to take into the self the life that comes from God.

    My point is that one does not need to go to the pseudepigrapha to find ideas that could inform first century idioms. They are in canonical scriptures as well.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Rob, thank you for another well put and meaningful comment. Agreed to all, with the exception to your last point. I think there are times when biblical information alone is simply not sufficient. It presupposes that the readers would be familiar with para-and extra-biblical material as well. There many many examples. Now… does this destroy the sola scriptura? I don’t think so. (We are not talking about things upon which salvation depends upon.)

      1. Rob Smith

        I did not mean to imply that extra-canonical sources are not important. (I have, however, met people who argue that something from a “gnostic gospel” must be already tainted- this is why I attempt to show parallels to the canon.) Obviously, the first century faith communities were diverse and ideas which were later suppressed, intentionally or inadvertently, can still provide great insight. I am very interested in how language functions within,and varies between cultures. The differences often explain how people of good will easily talk past each other.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Got it! Sorry for misunderstanding. We are on the same page.

      2. Eric Rodríguez

        BS”D

        I acknow this as a Methatextual reading… knowing historical, cultural etc. context is fundamental for a most precise approach to the sense of the text.

        1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

          Yes!

  8. gustavo vargas angel

    A couple of days ago, I read the so called “Gospel of Thomas” on which are given some news teachings of Jesus, and one of that, is like this:”The lamb(cow,bird,ram)who you eat after kill it, lives again after you ate, because this takes life from you, and so you give new life to the cow(bird,ram, lamb). In this way, when we eat bread and drink wine, we eat Jesus and drink his blood(semblances).

  9. Rob Smith

    It seems to me that Christians (maybe all humans) have a tendency to confuse what Augustine called “signs and things”. I think I’m correct to say that Aramaic and Hebrew were languages that were not particularly abstract. Physical realities have to stand in for abstract concepts. If you miss that shift, you miss the point. So the parable of the sower and the seed is not about sowers or seeds. One of my favorites is with the woman at the well when Jesus says to the returned disciples that he has bread that the do not know about and they think he has food stashed somewhere. Why not this use of language here? Body and blood are life. Human beings are a psychosomatic unity. To be a disciple means to participate in the life of Jesus, that it, to take him into the self and be sanctified into his image and likeness. (We become what we eat- spiritually.)

    Is this a sacramental discourse, or a simple affirmation that new life begins in nourishment toward faithfulness to the One?

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Well put, Rob. Thank you. Eli

  10. […] see my comments in Eating His Flesh and Drinking His Blood Part 1 and Part […]

  11. […] we discussed in the previous section (read here), our approach to this text will be that of acknowledging the author of the sacred scriptures to be […]

  12. […] we discussed in the previous section (read here), our approach to this text will be that of acknowledging the author of the sacred scriptures to be […]

  13. Martin B McNamara

    Yeshua’s word is perfect. The Word is placed in a manger, a feeding trough for animals, within a ‘cave’ of animals, a darkened place. We are what we comsume. The Word of the Spirit is light & life everlasting. A way through, a release, into light and eternity from where one came from, a rebirth of the spirit. All things physical are but a shadow of the heavenly reality. Spirit gives birth to spirit. All things may now given life and made new through the word of the Spirit of God. Jesus Christ, the bread of life, the very substance of life everlasting.

  14. gustavo vargas angel

    I think that “king” related to God, is ok, because in those days, the king was the owner of life and goods of everybody, as you can see in Kings II and others; Father is who takes care about you, no so fine as God does, but father is not the owner of your life and goods as the king is(read Ezekiah”three days and you will die”).

  15. gustavo vargas angel

    I think, as Peita Shipstone think, that the “body and blood to eat and drink” are a semblance of holly ghost of God Himself, which in anymoment will come to us and will give us the necessary light to walk on the gospel path.

  16. gustavo vargas angel

    However, He realized the main and biggest sacrifice of all: He gave himself to get the forgiveness of sins of everybody, in this way, we all are saved from last destruction in doomsday(I mean believers, and anyway, followers), fullfilling the necessary sacrifice for redemption, stated in Torah many years before.

  17. Peita Shipstone

    Could the Body & the Blood be a metaphor for the Holy Spirit, but as the timing was wrong for that at that moment. So Jesus used another metaphor so to speak He used his perfect body to say what He wanted to say now. Peita.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Peita, I do not think so. I am preparing next section and it should be ready soon.

  18. Dr. Denis O'Callaghan

    Here is a wee bit of fodder to ruminate upon

    The Torah strictly forbade Jews from drinking blood (Lev. 17:10-12). The life that was “in the blood” was reserved for sacrificial atonement upon the altar of YHVH. Yeshua’s statement, then, is perhaps best understood as hyperbole meant to scandalize. Yeshua was trying to shake the disciples out of their preconceptions, similar to the way he dashed their hopes of a reformed Judaism when he predicted the destruction of the Holy Temple (Matt. 24:2). On the other hand, he was clearly associating his sacrifice on the Cross with the ritual of the Passover Seder….

    Yeshua used many metaphors in his teaching. For example, in John’s Gospel (from which the quotation about drinking blood comes), Yeshua called himself “the bread of life” (John 6:48), “the light of the world” (John 8:12), “the door” (John 10:9), “the true vine” (John 15:1), and referred to his body as the Temple (John 2:19). That doesn’t mean we should consider him a literal loaf of challah, a cosmic lightbulb, a door with hinges, a leafy plant, or that his physical body somehow resembled the Temple of Herod…

    When Yeshua taught at the synagogue in Capernaum, he referred to himself as the Living Bread (????? ???????) that came down from heaven.

    Just as the physical manna sustained the Jewish people in the desert, so the heavenly manna embodied in the life of Mashiach would sustain people forever. Yeshua identified this heavenly manna with the sacrifice of his flesh: “the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). When his audience questioned this, Yeshua went on to say, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (6:52-53).

    Some of Yeshua’s disciples were mystified by his teaching and said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Yeshua then asked them: “Does this offend you?” He further asked what they would think were they to see the Son of Man ascend to where he came (referring to the idea of manna that came down from heaven). Notice his further explanation: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:60-64).

    Later, near the end of his earthly ministry, Yeshua celebrated his last Passover Seder with his disciples. It was there that he again spoke of “drinking” the “blood of the covenant which is “poured out for many for forgiveness of sins.” He went on to say, “I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:26-30). Note the context here: A Passover Seder. The fruit of the vine is represented by the (third) Passover cup (the “Cup of Redemption”). The same can be said regarding the eating of the Afikomen (matzah), identifying it with the breaking of his body. Luke’s Gospel adds that this ritual act was to be done “in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). Paul later confirms the association as a symbolic act of remembrance, similar to other Jewish Passover Seders (1 Cor. 11.23-26). The shock value of the hyperbole Yeshua used was intended to show that this Seder symbolizes the New (and greater) exodus, gained at the expense of his own shed blood and broken body. Moreover the Mishnah (Pesahim 10:6) interprets the Passover wine as a metaphor for blood that seals a covenant between God and his people. The life is in the blood. The cup symbolizes completely identifying with the life and mission of the Mashiach. It is not some crude ritual carried over from pagan mystery religions and later incorporated into the idea of the Catholic Mass, etc.

    1. RamonAntonio Sanchez

      Very interesting line of reasoning and overall concept. My only comment is that the overall understanding I can infer from reading this is that Yeshua was a Great Communicator, such as Americans have labeled Ronald Reagan, i.e., someone with an uncanny ability to find the right words and the right speech at the right moment. And I think He was absolutely more than that.

      As you correctly point out, the blood’s life …”was reserved for sacrificial atonement upon the altar of YHVH”… Understood as that, Yeshua, as God Incarnate Himself was simply reversing the custom, He was using the known concept of life of the blood offered to the God of Israel (HIMSELF) and offered it as life to the Father in atonement for the sins of many. Then, in order to humans be able to participate in that sacrifice thus entering the Presence of God the Father, they have to drink the blood which is akin to spreading iut over the new alter of the new temple which is the human heart in the human body. Altar and temple become heart and body.

      Only this sacrifice was capable of restoring the balance of the original Creation where the fruit of the Tree of Life was taken by humans against the will of God. A life eternal taken from God by humanity for a life eternal given by God Himself on their behalf.
      I really don’t see a metaphor in this but an absolute and objective reality. The problem is that we humans still refuse to believe in the trascendent meaning of things which is what Paul said somewhere… “pros ten ephytimian ton hyperkeymemnon”… which roughly menas …”yearning for the trascendent realities…”

    2. Fred Aguelo

      Well said, Dr. Callaghan. I totally agree with you.

      Fred

    3. David W.

      Well said Dennis. Of course, the whole Passover points to Jesus – the delivery from slavery to the evil ruler, baptism in the Red Sea, a new covenant, provision of bread in the desert, and entry into the Promised (heavenly) land. Jesus said, “Do this [perhaps He meant the whole Passover] in remembrance of me.” They grumbled against Moses, Exodus 16, just as they grumbled against Jesus. But all these things, including much of Moses’s whole life, only point to the much greater, real fulfillment in Jesus. John 6:49-50, [Our] “forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” That’s why Jesus tried to shock us to attention onto the only issue that really counts – Who is this man!?

  19. gustavo vargas angel

    In the times of Jesus,as nowaday, He was against some kind of priests, as surely He would be today, and very possibly, He would have token the bullwhip with nine tails to take off the temple( or church)the traders of faith or abusers or molesters, because according the Word of the Lord, “My house shall be named House of Praying and light to Nations, but you have made it a cave of thieves”. Respectfully, the catholic priest is not the representative of Jesus and nor of God, because their facts.

    1. RamonAntonio

      No problem with your comment. I’m also no direct fan of priests just by being priests. In fact I combat the Catholic notion that priest should be protected and pardoned if wrong and let continue abusing children or whatever at hand. I have publicly stated that Jesus said clearly and not figuratively, that those who scandal children should be tied to a mill stone and launched to the sea. He couldn’t be clearer than that.

      But Catholic priest are priest who believe in Jesus by definition. Some may be bad but a vast majority are not. They are not priests smilar to the ones you mention who refused to believe in Him. And that’s a significant difference.

      For a Catholic, in corpore Christi, means that an ordained priest, when consecrating the bread and wine is Jesus Himself doing it following the direct meaning of his words when he said ” do this in memorial (not in memory) of Me”.

      But please, this is only an explanation of the issue. It is not my ntention to Evangelize or proselitize. If someone felt that, my excuses. Tis forum should continue an exchange of ideas and an oportunity to learn from both directions. This wa we enrich ourselves as up to today.

      Thanks for your comment.

  20. Dr. Denis O'Callaghan

    My Friend,
    You have started our brothers and sisters thinking once again!“It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” Keep it up!

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, Denis! Eli

  21. RamonAntonio

    As a planner by training, I’m accustomed to assume other people’s position in order to translate their positions into plans. So I think I may have a sensible understanding of the excruciating pain a Jewish has to try to understand this verses which, on their face, are obviously catastrophic in your religious sensibility. On the contrary, Catholics, having been ingrained with Catholic understanding of these words since birth, do not have the same, lets say discomfort, in them. Which is not to say that everyone of us understands the same or feels all the way comfortable. So I express my admiration of the plain fact that all of you are engaged in this discussion because of the daring leap of entering to walk over this really deep waters by Dr. Eli.

    I think, plain and simple, that Jesus said what He said, meant exactly what He meant and expect everyone to understand exactly what the words say. That is, that the bread is His Body and the wine is His Blood. But why?

    Flesh and blood is a known Jewish reference to the whole body along the Bible for generations. So the meaning of flesh and blood is a clear depiction of a whole person. In this case, Jesus uses the term for Himself IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SON OF MAN WHO HAS COME FROM HEAVEN. So Jesus is saying that His whole Person is One with the Father who sent Him to the people. And He is also saying that in order for the people to return to the Father we have to go through Him and become Him in a similar way as we will see Him shortly ascending to the Father. And then, in order to become Him we need to commune with His whole person, that is, actually become Him in our body by actually eating, digesting and turning the sign He left of His whole person into ourselves, into our body. So we are not eating flesh and drinking blood but being in communion with His whole person by eating the sign, the Holy Eucharist that later the Church established as a sacrament.

    That is why Jesus established a Church, to make possible the perpetual existence of this sign of his presence and communion with every single person to the last one. That His Church became what it is now is a matter of debate, evolution, involution and devolution. But that is for another text.

    Suffice to say, neither a Jewish nor an orthodox Catholic are cannibals when we eat the Holy Eucharist. When we do that we are eating the same sign of bread that came from heaven that He Himself instituted in the Last Supper. Its not a recreation, nor a reenactment. Its the same bread because the priest, “in corpore Christi” is Jesus doing the same, again and forever.

  22. Fiona Johnson

    I suppose we should not get too carried away with the verbs that too easily characterise our modern idioms and instead get carried away with our union with Yeshua our living Lord and daily bread and be consumed with the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh),our guide in all things and our living water and sustainance….focus on Him and the meaning and intent of His Words take root..

  23. Janet Henriksen

    The distinctions you have made seem curious. I am wary of the idea of ‘king’, as it emerged in a context
    And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.
    (1Samuel 12:12)
    ‘Father’ due to the creation of Adam, is more direct.

    Do you go further with a more direct view. The first view of God is God is Creator. Then there is: God as Covenant maker and God is truth (Num 23:19). Using Creator as a viewpoint, you might go to what was said of blood.”Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou may not eat the life with the flesh.” (Deut 12:23) What did they know of blood and flesh via the law? There was only one way you could drink his blood was to drink his life. If God is creator then what does the life in the blood mean? If God is a creator what did eating clean flesh do? Why did the 70 elders eat and drink with Elohim after the sacrifice was made and the book of the covenant was read?

    Due to it’s context and audience I suspect it is a communication meant to make his audience think and designed to make those who didn’t believe his works turn away (then and now).

    Looking forward to your article…

  24. gustavo vargas angel

    I am fully ok with the idea about God Father and King, and about Jesus”s words,this has been misunderstood by many years, because in those days as today, nobody makes the role of cannibal, is was simply a metaphor, just alike many others on his teachings, and whoever thinking otherwise, must read the four gospels in whole context, one and once again, and again, until understand the real meaning. Best regards.

  25. Greg Tenni

    As Michelle points out above, there is a real link between this passage and the Passover. In fact, most commentators believe that this is John’s version of the Last Supper, which was of a course, the Passover meal. It would make perfect sense then, just as everyone in the household was required to eat of the sacrificed Passover lamb, in the same way everyone who was trusting in the true Passover lamb would have to eat of it as well.
    Admittedly, the “drink my blood” doesn’t sit well in Torah tradition, but it may well be that this is now going beyond Torah in that this is different blood. Originally the blood of the sacrifice was reserved for God, since the life of an animal was in the blood. But now, having accepted the perfect sacrifice, God is in effect giving that life back to His people, who need the real life. This blood is different from the blood of bulls and goats, because it has fully satisfied God’s requirements and the overflow of it gives life to His people.
    It may be a long bow to draw, but I think it has some merit.

  26. Bill Martinez

    Hi Dr. Eli:

    Eating his flesh and drinking his blood is a metaphor for the Word of God that was spoken to humanity through him. It is what was done in the flesh body that matters, and so, he was not speaking of literally eating his flesh and blood, and he explains to the disciples by the following scripture:

    Jhn 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

    And prior to this statement:

    Jhn 6:51 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.

    Love in Christ,
    Marty

    1. Seann McGovern

      But notice, verse 59. “These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
      The Words of Eternal Life.*
      60
      Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

      It would seem that vs 60 or so would be a separate conversation. That would seem to indicate that it is a separate conversation. The tradition meaning is that the Eucharist is literal: Jesus *IS* the Bread and Wine. IE The bread and wine becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, the Lord.

  27. Dolores Luthi

    I was horrified when I first heard christians could be considered cannabalistic. That does not appeal to me at all. I cannot find the article dealing with that that Dr. Eli said he has on John. Which article deals with that? I wonder if the Quakers did away with baptism and communion over the feeling that cannabalism could be seen as a carry over from Christ’s saying we would participate in his blood and bread the way it is reported that he said we could have not part of him unless we did participate in the Passover in that sense?

    1. Seann McGovern

      Sadly this was one of the accusations that have historical significance. The early church (c. 200 AD / CE) has faced since the Roman Empire. CF http://www.academia.edu/787977/Eating_People_Accusations_of_Cannibalism_Against_Christians_in_the_Second_Century

  28. Michael Strauss

    Matthew’s account in Chapter 26 of the last supper (NIV) might help clarify this issue, as John was also present. Jesus explains the blood and the flesh as symbolic:

    “26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
    27 Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

  29. Michelle

    Dr. Eli,

    From participating in this study with you, I have learned to “read the setting” and look for clues, such as what’s just happened, where Jesus has just traveled from, what cultural aspects are present, etc.

    The first part of Chapter 6 records the Feast of the Passover as having just happened. My thought is that Jesus used the symbols of eating and drinking because He knew the Jews had just celebrated a feast that included a highly symbolic meal (eating and drinking). But, I know the word “drink” can also be used figuratively (Matt. 20:22). So I don’t know exactly which way Jesus was using the idea of “drink.”

    Like you, trusting God as both Father and King, I don’t think Jesus made any mistakes here in how He used the concepts of eating and drinking. But I agree with the Jews in the passage: this is a hard saying to comprehend.

    Yet… I suddenly have the feeling that there’s an underlying message that we’re not hearing since we’re not first century Jews, yet those people COULD hear. However, I also note that the Jews listening to Jesus were having a hard time comprehending Him coming down from Heaven (John 6:42), so it would make sense that they would also have a hard time understanding what He meant by eating His flesh and drinking His blood.

    So at this point, I give up! 🙂 There’s a way to interpret this passage that I’m just not seeing. Not yet, at least. So I eagerly await to see what you will show us next! 🙂

  30. Kat Hobaugh

    I like the premise that He is both good and right. This helps me let go of the potential unsound doctrine without letting go of God. John 6:63 says The Spirit gives life. I am lead to believe that “Our Father and our King” must allude to the trinity?

  31. Fred Aguelo

    YESHUA is GOD incarnate. He already said He is the bread that came down from the Father in heaven given so that men may have life. He is also the Word of GOD became flesh; so that anyone who eats of His flesh and drinks His blood (life is in the blood)truly believes in Him and will have life. Believers have to internalize YESHUA in all aspects of His being, then they can say “in Him we move and exist and have our being.” YESHUA is the image of the invisible GOD and we are made in His image (tselem – shadow). A shadow does not have its own personality. It doesn’t have a face but only a form. Whatever the original being (in this case, YESHUA)does, the shadow does. As believers are being transformed into the image of YESHUA from one stage of glory to a higher stage, we see more of YESHUA in them. The catalyst for transformation is the Word(Truth) and the life of His blood by the power of the Holy Spirit (resurrection power). This is true communion as we partake of the life of YESHUA in us. That’s why Shaul said the only hope of glory is YESHUA in us! Shalom!

    Fred

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thanks, Fred. Dr. Eli

    2. Eric Rodríguez

      BS”D

      I’m not agree with you. Yehoshúa’ is not an “incarnation” of God, but his body, his visible image.

      1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

        People argued about this and spilled blood :-), I doubt there is much reason for it. If we can agree that the eternal logos of God became flesh (as John puts it) I am fine with that.

  32. DaveMathews

    Jesus is King and God and since by faith we believe it impossible for God to be in error, we must also believe that Jesus,though human at the time he says this, his thoughts, his words are governed, controlled by God.

    Furthermore we must understand that Jesus often spoke in parables to teach, symbolizm was an intricate part of his ways of teachings.

    Our human eyes see a wafer and a glass of wine, but spiritually, with our spirit eyes we see the body and blood of Jesus.

    1. Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

      Thank you, Dave and welcome to our study group! Dr. Eli