John 6:22-7:1 (spring, AD 29)
According to the doctrine of the Eucharist, taking the Lord’s Supper is not only a memorial, but also part of how we receive salvation. It claims that the bread and wine literally turn into Jesus’ body when and because the priest prays over them (known as ‘transubstantiation’). It also states that the sacrifice of Jesus, on a small scale, happens all over again, every time the ritual is observed.
The doctrine rests in part on a literal understanding of this passage, which is understood to be confirmed by Jesus at the Last Supper. So what’s the problem with that idea? Can it not just sit alongside Protestantism as another way of understanding things?
Unfortunately not, and not simply because I believe it’s not what the Bible says (there are many interpretations of Bible passages that Christians can disagree on, and it doesn’t affect our siblinghood in Christ).
First, believing that the ritual of the Lord’s Supper will save you is denying the gospel. It doesn’t matter how much you soften it by saying you still need faith, and the more faith you have, the more God will bless you through doing these sacraments. If you are trusting in your obedience to performing the sacraments, then you are trusting in yourself and you will never see God.
Secondly, it does away with faith, which is what God says will save us. Faith plus works isn’t faith, it’s just works with an attitude.
Thirdly, it says that Jesus’ work is not yet finished. By saying that we need fresh sacrifices, it means that what Jesus did on the cross was only partially effective, that his death only paid for some sins.
Finally, it would mean that there is no need for repentance. You can be a sacramentalist who is very sorry for their sin, but there’s no NEED to be sorry. But repentance – the thing we’re actually commanded to do – is impossible without a hatred and sorrow for sin.
Instead, this is what God tells us about faith and belief:
- Trust that Jesus is from God and is God (v.29, 38-40)
- Trust that going to Jesus and believing in him will be enough (v.35, 47-48)
- Trust in God keeping his promise (v.39-41, 44)
- Trust in Jesus’ finished work
- Believing isn’t easy, but it is simple (v.60, 66)
Do you struggle with Jesus’ claims on your life?
Do you struggle with knowing you are powerless?
Do you struggle with having to trust him for everything and yourself for nothing?
Do you struggle with not being able to get closer to heaven through doing the right things?
Then you are not alone. Grace is a tough concept when we have grown up thinking that ritual or moral performance will get us right with God. But the more we lean into grace, the more free and grateful we will be.
 “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship men offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”
 “the liturgy in which the mystery of salvation is accomplished”, para 1332
 “to receive in faith the gift of his Eucharist is to receive the Lord himself”, para 1336
 i.e. someone who believes in the Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist