Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
27. Please explain John chapter 6 where it seems that Jesus is saying that there might be a real or literal body of Christ in the bread.
Many use John 6 to construct a sacramental view of the Lord's Supper, a view in which the loaf in the Lord's Supper is actually transformed into the fleshly body of Christ. In my view, this is an error in judgment. Two verses seem to indicate that Jesus speaks metaphorically; that is, he uses figurative language. John 6:27 (NIV) says, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." Jesus contrasts food that spoils, the bread he distributed in the feeding of the 5000, with that which does not spoil. He speaks of himself as the "bread of life" and the "water of life" (John 6:35). Just as in his conversation with the woman at the well (John 4), Jesus uses the figure of living water or water of life.
He is not saying he is actually H2O but is instead an unending source of refreshment. Here in John 6, he also speaks figuratively stating that he is not bread, nor does he say that the elements in the eucharist, mass or Lord's Supper, are transformed into literal bread. Instead, he says he is the source of nourishment for those who follow him. The second key verse here is found in John 6:63, "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life." (NIV*)
In other words, you don't need physical bread to nourish you spiritually. You need that which is spiritual!
It must also be pointed out that had Jesus meant his disciples to understand him as indicating an actual "eating" of his flesh, they would have been shocked. The suggestion would be tantamount to cannibalism, an act abhorrent to Jews. It is not likely Jesus would have used literal language because of that fact.
* NIV note on "spirit" in John 6:63: "Or Spirit"
Question #8: What, if any, differences are there between the Christian Church's view of the Lord's Table vs. for example the Baptist view? Do you believe in Consubstantiation -- Transubstantiation or anything similar?
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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.