Skip to comments.The Institution of the Eucharist in Scripture
Posted on 01/28/2010 9:32:41 AM PST by Mad Dawg
The Institution of the Eucharist in Scripture
from a talk by Scott Hahn
The Catholic Church claims that Christ is really present in the Eucharist, that the sacrifice of calvary is repeated at every Mass, and that he gives Himself to us in Holy Communion as food unto eternal life.
With this in mind, let's look at Scripture. Luke 22, verse 15, our Lord says, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you." So we are assured that the Last Supper in the Upper Room was a Passover meal. In Mark 14, verses 22 through 26, we hear the words of institution, "And as they were eating He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them and said, 'Take, this is my body.' And He took a cup and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them and they drank all of it and He said to them, 'This is my blood of the New Covenant which is poured out for many. Truly I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.'"
You could also say it this way: that if the Passover isn't finished until Calvary, I would suggest that Calvary is really begun in the Upper Room with the Eucharist. When does Jesus' sacrifice really begin? Well, He insists on the fact that His life is not being taken away from Him. He is laying it down. Now in the trial, in the passion, it's being taken away; but in the Upper Room, prior to all of that, Jesus lays it down. He says, "This is my body. This cup is the blood of the New Covenant."
What happens when you differentiate and separate body and blood? You signify death. When your body and your blood are separated, death begins. That's obvious, I think. So Jesus is symbolically and actually beginning the sacrifice. St. Augustine has said that Our Lord held himself in his own hands and commenced the sacrifice of the New Covenant Passover as He was transforming the old. Calvary really began in the Old Testament Passover being celebrated in the Upper Room, when the Eucharist was instituted and the Passover Eucharist of the New Covenant really isn't over until Calvary, when He says, "It is finished."
No wonder St. Paul says in 1st Corinthians 5, "Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed for us." Therefore, what? Therefore we don't have any more sacrificial offerings or ceremonies or feasts and so on to celebrate because all those ceremonies are outdated and done with? No. He says, "Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed; therefore, let us keep the feast." And he goes on to talk about how we take out the leaven of insincerity and we have this unleavened bread. What's he talking about? Christ, our Passover has been sacrificed; therefore, we've got to achieve the whole goal of that sacrifice, the second half is communion where we eat the lamb.
Now you can't eat a lamb cookie in Egypt. If you didn't like lamb, you couldn't have your wife make lamb bread, little biscuits in the shape of a lamb and say, "God, you understand, we just can't stand the stuff." No, you do that, your firstborn would die. You had to eat the lamb. Jesus Christ has said to us, "My flesh is food indeed and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life."
Let's turn to John 6 and see the context in which he says that. John 6, verse 4 tells us, "Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews was at hand." So everything that transpires within John 6 is within the context of the Passover. Jesus is talking to them now. At the time of the Passover, after multiplying these loaves, ending up filling twelve baskets with the fragments from the five barley loaves, He uses that as his point of departure for one of the most important sermons that He ever preaches and also one of the most disastrous from a human perspective.
He goes on talking about this bread and He goes on talking about Moses in context with that bread. For instance, in verse 32, "Jesus then said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven, for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.' They said to him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.'" Welfare state! "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall not thirst.'" And He goes on talking about this some more. The Jews would then murmur at him in verse 41 because He said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."
They're thinking, "What is He talking about? This guy is Joseph's son. How does He say, 'I've come down from heaven?'" They only look at it from a human perspective. They don't see that He's the divine Son of God. Verse 47, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven.'"
How often did they eat the manna? Every day. How often do we receive the Bread of Life? Every day. This is not a once for all sacrifice, like many anti-Catholics allege in the sense that Christ is sacrificed and now there's nothing more to be done. Jesus Christ is sacrificed as priest and as victim, as lamb and as firstborn son and as the Bread of Life, he gives himself to us as well as the unleavened bread of the Passover meal, which commenced, of course, the whole feast of unleavened bread the week after the Passover celebration. Jesus Christ is the Bread of Life, the unleavened bread of God which came down from heaven which the Israelites received every day, the manna of the New Covenant.
Christ through the Holy Spirit makes himself available as the Lamb of God to be consumed continuously. That's the whole point of the Resurrection, incidentally. The Holy Spirit raises up that body and glorifies it so supernaturally that body and blood which is glorified may be internationally distributed through the elders and priests of the Church so that all of God's children can be bound back to the Father in the New Covenant sacrifice of Christ. He didn't die again. He's not bleeding and he's not suffering. He's reigning in glory and giving us his own flesh and blood.
Where do you get that? From the Old Testament -- the manna, the Passover, the sacrifice as it's described on Calvary as it's initiated in the Upper Room and as he states right here in verse 51. "If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh." Jews stop, wait a second. Hold the phone. "John, what do you mean 'my flesh?'" Verse 52, "The Jews then disputed among themselves saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'" Cannibalism, paganism, barbarism, sin in the highest degree.
So did Jesus say to them, "I didn't mean it, guys. I was just kind of, you know, using hyperbole or metaphor." No. He actually intensifies the scandal. He actually raises the obstacle even higher. "He said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood,' which Leviticus condemns, the drinking of blood, 'unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on 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.'"
He said that four times in four different ways.
In verse 60, "Many of His disciples when they heard it said, 'This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?'" That is an understatement. "Jesus, however, knowing in Himself that His disciples murmured at it" (the disciples, the followers, the spiritual proteges, not just the crowd now, the disciples themselves are taking offense at this and murmuring and grumbling), "said to them, 'Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the son of man ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.'"
What words? That you've got to eat my flesh and drink my blood, those words.
In 63 we discover why Christ's flesh and blood will be so powerful and animating for supernatural life. Verse 66, "After this, many of His disciples drew back...." We get the impression that the vast majority of them said, "This is just too much." "...and no longer went about with him. And Jesus turned to the twelve;" he didn't apologize. He didn't say, "Now that we're down to twelve, I'll tell you what I really meant." He didn't say that at all. In fact he is perfectly willing for this obstacle to remain scandalous even to the twelve. "Do you also wish to go away?" But "Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?'" Almost implying we would leave if there was somebody else that we could trust more than you because what you said is rather baffling. But he says, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God."
So we have reason to believe that this sacrifice of the New Covenant Passover begun in the Upper Room and consummated on Calvary and ultimately as 1st Corinthians 5 suggests continued and celebrated as a climactic communion on the altars of the Church around the world when we receive the Eucharist in Communion. All of this is right from the Bible but you've got to know your Bible. You've got to know John. You've got to know Matthew, Mark and Luke. You've got to know Exodus. You've got to know the Psalms. You've got to know Corinthians and you also have to know Revelation.
Abridged from Scott Hahn's audio and video tape presentation,
Full text available in our library.
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1 Corinthians was written in about AD 56 and is prior to all four Gospels. The Eucharistic Liturgy precedes the Gospel.
I always appreciate Hahn’s clarity. Thanks for posting.
It certainly seems to to me. Paul seems to quote many rites and hymns in my opinion.
Generally pretty good article. This is spot on.
However, most churches today don't actually observe the feast of Passover and Unleavened bread as Jesus Christ himself did in the pages of the bible. It's also evident that since Christ partook of the wine and bread on Passover and that Passover is a yearly observance that he intended his followers to do the same.
Paul said "Let us keep the feast". The feast was Passover and Unleavened Bread.
[Lev 23:4 KJV] - These [are] the feasts of the LORD, [even] holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
[Lev 23:5 KJV] - In the fourteenth [day] of the first month at even [is] the LORD'S passover.
[Lev 23:6 KJV] - And on the fifteenth day of the same month [is] the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
These are the Lord Jesus Christ's days.
Things are rarely evident, when it comes to Scripture, or to life in general, IMHO.
I think the usual reading of "They devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers." is generally thought to refer to celebrating the Eucharist. I would say that those who want to assert that the Mass should only be celebrated on 14 Nissan would want to explain how in fewer than 100 years that notion was lost, and how, once lost, it was recovered by the Jehovah's Witnesses and others 1800 years (give or take) later.
What an appropriate post for the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, in view of his great Eucharistic hymns! :)
Jesus laid down His life at the trial as well, it was never and could never be taken from Him.
Following the Lord's instructions in scripture was never "lost". However there was a movement by the traditional church away from practices that resembled Judaism due to anti-semitism generated by the Jewish revolts of the 1st century. Those who continued to observe the feast days of the Lord Jesus Christ were eventually branded as heretics by those who didn't. The history of those who observe these days isn't prominent for understandable reasons.
But the bottom line (at least to me) it that Jesus observed it on Passover, one of his feast days that was created through him. As Christians, followers of Christ, we should do the same.
Celebration in place of the sacrifices in the temple.
I think what you are saying only makes sense in the context of when to celebrate Easter. There was a dispute for many years about that. In the end, the decision was to focus on Friday as the day on the cross and Sunday as the day of resurrection. The text itself leaves the matter open.
For a fantastic look at the Liturgy of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist — read Hahn’s book “The Lamb’s Supper.”
we have reason to believe that this sacrifice of the New Covenant Passover begun in the Upper Room and consummated on Calvary and ultimately as 1st Corinthians 5 suggests continued and celebrated as a climactic communion on the altars of the Church around the world when we receive the Eucharist in Communion
I think you're correct that those are the decisions that were made. But I think the text speaks for itself when put into the context of the early Christian church observing the biblical holy days.
Yep. Read it. Very good.
I always get hooked by stuff like that.
How is that any different from saying, "I think the text says what I think it says?"
Some of us DON'T think the text says, suggests, or implies that the Mass is to be celebrated only once a year. So what in the texts can we turn to, in your opinion?
Or should we look outside the text to determine the practice of the early Church?
And two questions follow:
(1) are there texts which describe the Church's practice before the accommodation with the Gentiles of Acts 15?
(2)Is there any reason the practice of the early Church, especially that before the events of Acts 15, should be a standard to which we should conform? Where shall we find that recommendation or rule?
The significance of Holy Thursday (institution of the Eucharist and priesthood)
Beginning Catholic: Receiving the Lord in Holy Communion [Ecumenical]
The Catechism of St. Thomas Aquinas THE HOLY EUCHARIST
Beginning Catholic: The Eucharist: In the Presence of the Lord Himself [Ecumenical}
Faithful Invited to Follow Pope, Adore Eucharist [Catholic Caucus]
Christmas and the Eucharist(Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
Eucharist kneeling request sparks controversy [Catholic Caucus]
Eucharist vs. the Word (which is more important in the Catholic Church)
Bill Donohue Addresses Eucharist Desecration(VIDEO)
Catholic League Takes Lead Against 'YouTube' Desecrations of the Eucharist
Christ the Miracle Worker in the Eucharist(Catholic Caucus)
Imitating Christ in the Eucharist(Catholic Caucus)
The Meal of Melchizedek
Institution of the Real Presence(Catholic/Orthodox Caucus)
One More Time: It's All About the Eucharist
Bread -- Big B or Little b? [The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist]
The Eucharist: The Sacred Adventure of Life
What You [Catholics] Need to Know: Eucharistic Mystery [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
What You [Catholics] Need to Know: Eucharist (Real Presence) [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
The Catholic Doctrine of the Real PresenceCatholic Caucus)
Pope Benedict at 80: Blowing on the coals of faith
A series of reflections from St. Peter Julian Eymard Blessed Sacrament(Catholic Caucus)
Prayer Before the Blessed Sacrament
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The Disposition of Priests [Valid Mass, Valid Holy Eucharist?]
Sign of Reverence (when receiving the Holy Eucharist
Eucharistic Miracles and Faith in Christ's Presence
THE HOLY EUCHARIST: NOURISHMENT TO FINISH OUR COURSE
LITANY OF REPARATION TO OUR LORD IN THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament
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The Discipline of the Eucharist Holy See Releases Redemptionis Sacramentum...
Vatican: Matters to be observed or to be avoided regarding the Most Holy Eucharist (April 23, 2004)
CATHOLICS AND BAPTISTS WITNESSED UNUSUAL IMAGES IN BLESSED SACRAMENT
Devotion to the Holy Eucharist Advances Devotion to Jesus' Person
New rules on the Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday
The Reverence due to the Holy Eucharist
The Holy Face of Jesus Christ as appeared on the Holy Eucharist
The Fourth Cup: The Sacrament of the Eucharist [Holy Thursday] [Passover]
Holy Father stresses Need of Devotion to Holy Eucharist outside of Mass: Pope Paul VI
Early Christians on the Holy Eucharist
EUCHARIST: HOLY MEAL
Lev 23:4 'These are the feasts of the LORD, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times.
Lev 23:5 On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD's Passover.
Once a year for thousands of years. Christ comes:
Luk 2:41 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover.
Luk 2:42 And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.
The custom was once a year every year.
Luk 22:14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him.
Luk 22:15 Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
God arranged it so Christ died on the Passover. The hour had come, the day of the Passover. Once a year.
1Co 5:7 Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed on Passover, which was observed once a year. What feast was kept by Paul and the first Christians? The feasts of God, the Passover and unleavened bread.
1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
1Co 11:24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, "Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me."
1Co 11:25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me."
1Co 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes.
The ceremony is a memorial to the death of Christ. Memorials in all human cultures are nearly always observed on a yearly basis. In this case once a year on Passover.
I would suggest that the only reason people don't think they did it once a year on Passover is that they ignore the thousands of years before this occurrence and focus on the post biblical traditions of the last several hundred years.
I think the standard is in the bible. The Passover is a yearly festival. Christ waited until the Passover to institute the ceremony of the bread and wine. The Passover had and has a significance to Christ because it was a day he created.
In that context and in the context of two thousand years.
What those unfamiliar with the Passover feast are ignorant of, is that Jesus used the 3rd cup, and the hidden half of the center matzah (the Afikomen) to perform the first Communion. He REVEALED HIMSELF in these two pieces symbolically, revealing their purpose.
But their presence within the Passover has been from time immemorial - right back to it's institution in Egypt.
The third cup is The Redemption Cup... The Fourth, The Cup of Thanksgiving is taken later... There is more to come. The Passover feast must still have relevance, as it has not yet been perfectly revealed.
Christ instituted nothing new, but only revealed the Communion within the Passover - He is the promised "Redemption". It is part and parcel of Gods appointed Holy Days.
I am still learning, so I may not be speaking with perfect accuracy, but without investigating the Passover as instituted by God (and all the other appointed Holy Days), one cannot see the truth.
I encourage you to research the Passover, and wonder why Jehovah would have left it undone - substituting a different ceremony in the context of the Eucharist or Communion.
The answer, ultimately, must be that He wouldn't. His Holy days are "shadows of things to come". They are part and parcel, part of the Prophecy. Those who reject them do so at their peril.
Ergo, the entire scheme of the Eucharist/Communion are anti-Christ... "replacement" for the real thing. To say otherwise, one must first explain the fulfillment of every single action and symbol of the Passover, and that cannot be done.