The Idea That The Bread and Wine Actually Become The Body and Blood Of Jesus Christ

Jesus said something to his disciples that both shocked and horrified them:

John 6:53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.

Was Jesus saying that we must literally eat His flesh and drink His blood? Or was there a deeper spiritual meaning behind these words?

Whenever we hear the word “Bread” in the New Testament, we should immediately go back to that place in the Old Testament Book of Exodus Chapter 16, where Manna is given to God’s people in response to their hunger.

Exodus 16:35 “And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.”

Later in the New Testament, Jesus reveals that the Manna, described in the Book of Exodus, was really an illustration of Himself.

John 6:49-51 “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

Jesus said that He is The Bread of Life, available to anyone who wants to partake of Him:

John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

The intended purpose of the Manna in the book of Exodus was to point us to the New Testament where Jesus would give His body as the Bread of Life. The people described in the Book of Exodus who wanted to live had to partake of the bread that God gave them. There was no hope of life apart from it. Each person had to willingly partake of the bread themselves, of their own free will. In order to live, they had to take the bread into their body and allow it to become a part of their life.

What did Jesus mean by the term: …unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you?

The Jewish leadership in Israel also wondered at Jesus’ statement. They were curious whether Jesus was commanding them to literally eat His flesh in order to have eternal life, or did He have some other intent in mind?

John 6:52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?

These men did not understand what Jesus was saying because they were not really seeking spiritual truth. They heard only the surface of Jesus’ words but did not perceive their deeper meaning.

The question is: “Why didn’t Jesus clearly explain to these men what He really wanted them to understand? Why does He hide the spiritual truth of His words under the illustration of eating His flesh and drinking His blood?”

Most people have only a surface awareness of God. Many will say that they “know who Jesus is”, but upon further examination of their life, it is apparent that they do not know Him intimately. If a person comes into a sincere relationship with Jesus, it will affect the words they say, the places they go, the things they look at and the manner of living for their life. It is impossible to surrender yourself to Jesus and make Him the Lord over your life without it drastically changing you. A person who claims to know Jesus, yet lives a life that is a contradiction of the character of Jesus Himself, does not truly know Him.

Those who were well acquainted with Peter and John were aware of their character before they came to know Jesus. In the process of following the Lord, they began to change so drastically, that those who formerly were acquainted with them were shocked and amazed.

Acts 4:13 “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

By Jesus telling the Jews that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood, one of two things should have happened:

One: They would hear the story and not understand it because their hearts were not really seeking spiritual truth.

Two: They would hear the story and not understand it but be driven to dig deeper and ask, “What is Jesus really saying? Surely He is not asking me to eat His literal flesh and drink His actual blood. What does He mean by this statement?”

A relationship with God does not come by casual hearing and a surface understanding. God only reveals Himself to those who are diligently seeking Him with all of their heart:

Jeremiah 29:13 “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Jesus desires that all people know Him and have a personal relationship with Him. The person who comes to the Lord must want to know Him with every fiber of His being. Without sincerity and a diligent seeking of God, He will not reveal Himself to us.

Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is God, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

With these things in mind, we can understand the purpose behind Jesus’ statement in John 6:53:

John 6:53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”

As the children of Israel had to take the Manna and eat it in order to live, so also must everyone, who is sincerely seeking a relationship with the Living God. As we take bread into our bodies and digest it, the elements of that bread become a part of every cell of our body.

So also must each one of us, if we want to obtain eternal life. Jesus must be taken into every fiber of your being and become a part of you. He must become your life and the reason that you live.

John 6:54-56 “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

In response to Jesus’ statement, many of those who heard Him were offended. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is an offense to many people because it reminds them that they are a sinner and that they need a Savior. Many people do not want to accept this truth about themselves. People want to believe that they are basically good with a few bad attributes. The truth is that all of us are morally corrupt because of our fallen nature, and there is no cure for this inherent fault except that our old life should die and we are given a brand new life by God.

John 6:61 When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you?

The purpose of Melchizedek bringing bread and wine, in Genesis 14:8, was to point the way for Jesus who would come in the New Testament and show us the significance of the Bread and Wine. The Bread is Jesus’ body which was broken for all of us. The Wine represents His Blood that was shed for the forgiveness of our sins.

When Jesus said that we must Eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood, He was speaking a spiritual fact that a relationship with Him must be deep and personal and become a part of every area of our life. It is not by a casual knowledge of Jesus that a person is saved. It is through a complete and utter surrender of ourselves to Him as Lord (Master) and Savior (The method for removing our sins).

Jesus words: “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”

These words were meant to drive us to find the deeper spiritual meaning of what He was saying. The fact that Jesus was speaking by a spiritual illustration is clear from John 6:63:

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.

“The words that I speak to you are Spiritual…

In other words, what Jesus is referencing to here in the illustration of His body and blood are spiritual and have to do with a changed heart. Eating the bread and drinking the wine does nothing for us, if we have not first surrendered our life to the Lordship of Jesus. The Catholic doctrine of Transubstantiation is incorrect. Jesus never implied that the bread wafer nor the wine in the chalice were going to become His literal body and blood. He was speaking in a spiritual sense, the deeper meaning of coming into a true relationship with Him by our repentance from sin, and a complete turning to Him as the Lord (director) of our life.

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.

Matthew 26:27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29 But I say to you, 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.”

The message that Jesus was seeking to convey to every person on the earth is: all those who partake of Him as the Bread of Life and those who appropriate the blood of His sacrifice as the only way for their sins to be removed, are seen as righteous in the sight of God and have, as their present possession, eternal life.