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John 6:55

“My flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.”

God has given us an inerrant revelation that is sufficient to direct us in how we are to please Him (2 Tim. 3:16–17). He expects us to apply our minds diligently to His Word so as to be transformed by it (Rom. 12:2). Yet while we can make great progress in unfolding the depths of Scripture, we eventually reach a point where we must be silent and simply worship the Lord for who He is and what He has done. We are finite, He is infinite, and we will always encounter biblical truths that we cannot fully explain, things that can only move us to praise our great God (Rom. 11:33–36). As we continue our discussion of the Lord’s Supper, we must confess that this sacrament is, at least at the present, mysterious in a way that lends itself more to adoration than explanation. We are certainly not advocating the adoration of the host (bread) or any of the other idolatrous practices that have crept up around the Lord’s Supper in other traditions. We are simply saying that we do not fully know what happens in the Lord’s Supper. We know the bread and the wine do not literally become human flesh and blood (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 78). We also know that a true feeding of our souls takes place in the sacrament because of John 6:55 and other passages (Q&A 79). John Calvin writes: “Our souls are fed by the flesh and blood of Christ in the same way that bread and wine keep and sustain physical life. For the analogy of the sign applies only if souls find their nourishment in Christ” (Institutes 4.17.10). Still, at least at the present time, we cannot understand completely how this feeding occurs, even if we know it is a spiritual refreshment. Calvin also writes that “nothing remains but to break forth in wonder at this mystery, which plainly neither the mind is able to conceive nor the tongue to express” (4.17.7). Jesus’ presence in the sacrament is somewhat mystical, but it is nonetheless real. We commune truly with Christ and the brethren when we eat the bread and drink the cup. Dr. R.C. Sproul comments: “We come to the Lord’s Supper to have communion with [Jesus] and with each other. That is the mystical element. When he is here and we enter into this relationship with him, there is a real communion with the real Jesus. . . . While I am communing with Christ, I am also communing with everyone in his body. This is what binds us together” (Truths We Confess, vol. 3, p. 141).

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

Although Christ is not advocating the view of transubstantiation, He is saying something true when He refers to His body as our bread and His blood as our drink. As noted in Calvin’s comments above, there is a real spiritual correspondence such that in the Lord’s Supper we receive true nourishment of our souls. If we neglect the sacrament, then, we are starving ourselves and refusing the refreshment our Savior offers at His table.

For Further Study
  • Genesis 18:1–8
  • Leviticus 7:11–21
  • Acts 20:7
  • 1 Corinthians 10:21

Speaking Sacramentally

Rekindling the Flame

Keep Reading Drawing the Line: Why Doctrine Matters

From the July 2012 Issue
Jul 2012 Issue