This is My Body
So what exactly did Jesus ordain during the Last Supper? Here is the Bible’s description of the events surrounding the Lord’s Supper. At the Last Supper “[Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.’” (Luke 22: 19, 20). This is strong language indeed and not to be taken lightly for “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness…” (2 Timothy 3:16).
And if Jesus wasn’t clear enough about His body and blood at the Last Supper,  He certainly left no room for doubt when He spoke about His flesh and blood, recorded in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel:
“I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.” The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?” Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed.” (John 6: 51-55).
Repeatedly Jesus stated that His flesh is food and His blood drink. Taken together, these verses certainly seem to affirm that Jesus is truly present in the consecrated host. But, before putting the matter to rest, we must investigate the whole counsel of God.
Throughout the Bible, context determines meaning. Bible-believing Christians know to take the Bible literally unless the context demands a symbolic interpretation. Before exploring Jesus’ words in John chapter 6 and elsewhere, let’s review a few examples of symbolism in the Scriptures. All scholars would agree that the following verses are metaphorical. An explanation follows each verse.
Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good (Ps 34:8).
(Try and experience God’s promises to find if they are true.)
“Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
(For those who receive the gift of salvation, Christ’s Spirit shall dwell in their souls assuring them of everlasting life.)
Moreover He said to me, “Son of man, eat what you find; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat that scroll (Ezekiel 3:1, 2).
(Receive into your heart, internalize, and obey God’s Word.)
It is apparent from searching the entire council of God that the Lord often uses metaphors and symbolic language to paint images for the reader. When the Bible says God hides us under His wings, we know that God is not a bird with feathers. However, the Bible should always be interpreted literally unless the context demands a symbolic explanation. So what does the context of John’s Gospel and the other Gospels demand?
If we read the entire sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, we not only get the context, but also some startling insights into what Jesus meant when He said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood. John chapter 6, begins with the account of Jesus feeding five thousand, followed by the account of Jesus walking on water. Starting in verse 22, we find that on the following day, people were seeking Jesus for the wrong reasons, which we understand from Jesus’ words in verses 26 and 27: “you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for food which perishes, but for food which endures to everlasting life.”
These verses begin to frame the context of the verses that follow, specifically, that Jesus emphasized the need for them to seek eternal life. Jesus goes on to explain to them how to obtain eternal life, and in verse 28, when the people ask Jesus “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus replies (verse 29) “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.”
Here Jesus specifies that there is only one work that pleases God, namely, belief in Jesus. Jesus re-emphasizes this in verse 35 “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.” Notice the imperative is to “come to Me” and “believe in Me.” Jesus repeats the thrust of His message in verse 40 where He states - “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”