Simple question for non-Catholic/Orthodox Christians. What does the “flesh and blood” of Christ refer to when he said,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his 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 at 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.” (John 6:53-56)
For Lutheran, eating Christ’s Body and drinking Christ’s Blood is for the forgiveness of sins. From Luther’s Small Catechism:
VI. THE SACRAMENT OF THE ALTAR
As the Head of a Family Should Teach It in a Simple Way to His Household
What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.
Where is this written?
Answer: The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write:
Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”
In the same way also, He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?
Answer: That is shown us in these words, “Given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” This means that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
Answer: It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words, which are given here, “Given … and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” These words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, the chief thing in the Sacrament. The person who believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.
Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?
Answer: Fasting and bodily preparation are, indeed, fine outward training. But a person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, “Given … and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
But anyone who does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit. For the words “for you” require hearts that truly believe.
Oh. Perhaps I was not careful in my wording of the question. The question is directed towards non - (Catholic or Orthodox) Christians, i.e. those Christians who are neither Catholic nor Orthodox! But thanks for the link!
From the Eucharist service in the Book of Common Prayer, the prayer of Humble Access gives a good idea how we understand this:
WE do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, Trusting in our own righteousness, But in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy So much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, Whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, So to eat the Flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, And to drink his Blood, That our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, And our souls washed through his most precious Blood, And that we may evermore dwell in him, And he in us. Amen.
I see RK has been intentionally skipping verses and I wonder why.
OP, Catholics and Orthodoxs have valid eucharist, meaning that the church have valid clergy to consecrate bread and wine. Many denominations also believe in the real pressence, but not the Catholic version (i.e. Jesus’ actual body and blood under the appearances of those species) and/or they don’t have valid clergy to minister the eucharist, such as Luthereans, Anglicans, etc.