I come from a VERY Catholic family. This Christmas was naturally a very…interesting time. ANYWAYS, they brought up a statement/question that I felt ill equipped to answer. They made the statement that back in OT days, when Jews made a sacrifice, they would have to partake (i.e. eat) the sacrifice to consummate the covenant. They said this was a very natural thing. So they say, that every day they partake of the bread (which they think is literally Jesus’s body and the wine..etc)they are consummating the covenant. They said unless a sacrifice is eaten, the process of sacrifice is not complete. They trace back to the accuracy of their communion to the passage where Jesus made that Statement "This is my body, eat of it" and many disciples ran away saying this is a hard teaching to accept. My family continued to say that the ancient Greek translation of the word "eat" in this passage is literally "to chew". They said this is an indic
ation that Jesus literally meant to chew on His Body….Now, I do remember that sacrifices were eaten after they were sacrificed,but I have NO idea how this worked back then and I was wondering if you could help me have clarity with this issue. I mean, I do not think Jesus would want me to eat Him weekly/daily but I want to be well informed and get to the truth, not rely on feelings. I want to be able to share my faith with a real authority of the Truth, you know? I really like to study things out as well, so if you can give me resources I could probably use to examine this stuff along with your answer, that would be GREAT! Thank you so much!
The typical tactic of those who defend Catholic teaching is to search whatever scriptures or early church fathers to support their belief, not to discover what the scripture says. Their goal is not to discover what the Bible says, but to justify what they teach by tradition. The example you give here is typical of this pattern. First of all, when they quote John, it is true that he said to eat the bread. That is natural, because it was a meal and they ate the meal. This does not prove at all that the bread in the Communion service is literally the physical body of Jesus. It is much more natural to interpet the scripture to mean that the bread and the wine represented his body and blood, because when he said these words he was still alive and had not yet shed his blood or given his body.
It is true that the Greek word means chew because that is what the apostles did with the bread. Again, this does not imply what your friend says it implies, which is that what he gave them was literally his body, because it obviously was not. Nowhere in scripture is there a single passage which teaches that the elements in the communion are transformed when the church takes the bread and the wine. There is literally zero biblical evidence for this teaching. If you push your friend further, what he/she will do is resort to quoting church fathers in the third and fourth centuries who began to teach the false idea that the elements in the communion were literally transubstantiated. Even these quite do not mean exactly what Catholic teachers say today until the fifth century.
About sacrifices, your friend is definitely incorrect in his/her analysis. He/she is misunderstanding the Jewish sacrificial system. The Jews did not eat the sin or guilt sacrifice. They ate the fellowship offering, but that was not a sacrifice for sins. It certainly did not consecrate any covenant when they ate the fellowship offering. None of the Jewish sacrifices which were to remove the sin of the people were eaten. There were sweet savor offerings and there were sin sacrifices. The sin sacrifices did not smell good to God, they were not sweet aroma sacrifices, and they were never eaten. This is a misunderstanding of the Mosaic sacrificial system.
Whether or not Jesus would want you to literally eat his flesh or his blood is established, not by our emotion or our logic, but by the clear statements of the Bible. There is no scripture in the Bible which says that the Communion substances are literally transformed into the blood or flesh of Jesus. If we were to analyze the content of the cup and the bread which Catholic believers consume, even in their stomachs, I will guarantee you that it will not include the DNA of a human being, never mind the DNA of Jesus Christ. Not only does the scripture disprove this doctrine, science does as well.
Perhaps your Catholic friend will say that it is a matter of faith or a mystery. My response would be faith in what. Personally, I do not want to put my faith in tradition, as Jesus had much to say about this. In my opinion, this is not a salvation issue, but you should not be confused or led astray by poor and unbiblical arguments such as these.
As for studying this subject, I suggest you get a copy of my book From Shadow to Reality, which is available at www.ipibooks.com This book discusses in detail the OT sacrifices and offerings so that it can be more clear that the sacrifices were not eaten, but only the offerings.