A word that few understand or have even heard of but for which many have died a most cruel death. According to the Merriam-Wester Dictionary it is “the miraculous change by which according to Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox dogma the eucharistic elements at their consecration become the [actual] body and blood of Christ while keeping only the appearances of bread and wine.” But is this what the Bible teaches?
“And as they did eat, Yahushua took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat: this is My body. And He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And He said unto them, This is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many” (Mark 14:22-24). Were we to actually eat Him and drink His blood?
The Roman Catholic Council of Trent (1545-1563) defined Transubstantiation this way:
“By the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation” (Session XIII, chapter IV)
As well, there is an abiding curse (anathema) placed on all Christians who deny this doctrine:
“If anyone denies that in the sacrament of the most Holy Eucharist are contained truly, really and substantially the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ, but says that He is in it only as in a sign, or figure or force, let him be anathema [a formal curse by a pope or a council of the Church, excommunicating a person.].” (Session XII, Canon I)
It is very important to note that Roman Catholic Church not only believes that taking the Eucharist (the Christian ceremony commemorating the Last Supper, in which the bread and wine are consecrated and consumed.) in the right manner is essential for salvation, but that belief in the doctrine is just as essential. As discussed in the study on the Truth About Easter, it should be rightfully called the Passover and not the Eucharist or the Last Supper.
1. It takes Messiah too literally
There does not seem to be any reason to take Messiah literally when He institutes the Eucharist with the words, “This is My body” and “This is My blood” (Matt. 26:26-28). Was it really His body and His blood? No! Messiah often used a metaphor (a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.) in order to communicate a point. For example, He says “I am the door,” “I am the vine,” “You are the salt of the earth,” and “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14), but people know that we do not take such statements literally. After all, who believes that Messiah is literally a door swinging on a hinge?
2. It does not take Messiah literally enough
Let us say for the sake of argument that in this instance Messiah did mean to have it to be taken literally. What would this mean? Well, it seems hard to escape the conclusion that the night before Messiah died on the cross, when He said, “This is My body” and “This is My blood,” that it actually was His body and blood that night before He died. If this were the case, and Messiah really meant it to be taken literally, we have Messiah, before the atonement was actually made, offering the atonement to His disciples.
3. It does not take Messiah literally enough (2)
In each of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, we have the Passover meal. When the wine is presented, Messiah’s wording is a bit different. Here is how it goes in Luke’s Gospel: “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood” (Luke 22:20). Here, if we were really to take Messiah literally, the “cup” is the new covenant. It is not the wine; it is the cup that is holy. However, even the Roman Catholic Church would agree that the cup is symbolic of the wine. But why is one symbolic and not the other? Why cannot the wine be symbolic of His death, if the cup can be symbolic of the wine? Is the cup actually the “new covenant”? That is what He says. “This cup . . . is the new covenant.” Is the cup the actual new covenant, or only symbolic of it?
4. The Gospel of John fails to mention the words of Messiah using the bread and wine.
Another significant problem I have with the Roman Catholic Church’s interpretation and its abiding anathemas is that the one Gospel which claims to be written so that people may have eternal life, John (John 20:31), does not even include the bread and the wine. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of Messiah giving the disciples the bread and the wine, but John decides to leave it out. Why? This issue is made more significant in that John includes more of the “Upper Room” narrative than any of the other Gospels. Nearly one-third of the entire book of John walks us through what Messiah did and said that night with His disciples. Yet no breaking of the bread or giving of the wine is included. This is a pretty significant oversight if John meant to give people the message that would lead to eternal life. “But these are written, that you might believe that Yahushua is the Messiah, the Son of Elohim; and that believing you might have life through His name” (John 20:31) and not through the partaking of the bread and the wine. From the Roman Catholic Church’s perspective, John’s message must be seen as insufficient to lead to eternal life since according to the Catholic Church’s practice and belief in the Mass are essential for eternal life and John leaves these completely out of the Upper Room narrative.
“And He took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is My body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19). “This do in remembrance of Me.” That is why we are to observe this ordinance. It is to remind us of the sacrifice that was once made for the “remission of sins.” “For this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28, emphasis added).
In the Mass of the Catholic Church, it is called the Sacrifice of the Mass. According to the Bible, Messiah’s made an end to the sacrifices for sin (Daniel 9:27). All sacrifices were to come to an end with Messiah’s death!
Having been brought up in the Catholic Church, I was taught that the changing the bread and wine into the actual body and blood of Messiah was creating God out of the bread and wine. Can you imagine? Man creating Elohim! What could be a more blasphemous (Sacrilegious and profane assertions against Elohim.) assertion than this!
Ultimately, we are to follow the Bible and the Bible only in forming our opinions which will have eternal consequences. “For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do shew the Lord's death till He come” (1 Corinthians 11:26). Nothing mentioned of any transformation of the bread and wine into the literal body and blood of Messiah. It is to remind us each time we partake of those symbols of the great sacrifice made by Yahushua for our salvation. It was commemorative and transformative! HalleluYah!
It should be noted that not only the Roman Catholic Church but the Episcopalians were also guilty of burning dissenters of this teaching at the stake. They may have left the control of Rome when they separated from her, but the spirit by which they have conducted themselves show under whose rule they operate. See 2 Corinthians 4:4.