You must eat my flesh

How does one respond to a Protestant who says it is only the Spirit that gives life and not the bread and wine?

John 6: 58-63 This is the bread which has come down from heaven; it is not like the bread our ancestors ate: they are dead, but anyone who eats this bread will live for ever.9 This is what he taught at Capernaum in the synagogue. After hearing it, many of his followers said, ‘This is intolerable language. How could anyone accept it?’ Jesus was aware that his followers were complaining about it and said, 'Does this disturb you? What if you should see the Son of man ascend to where he was before?

63 'It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life

timhollingworth.blogspot.com/2011/01/spirit-and-real-presence.html

-Tim-

They are fundamentally misunderstanding what He is saying.

Ask them in reply if the flesh of Jesus counts for nothing? Ask them if His flesh had “nothing to offer”?

If His flesh has nothing to offer, then the sacrifice on Calvary was meaningless, and their sins remain.

He is talking about the “flesh” in terms of this world, and that He IS the Word, and the Holy Spirit gives life. So His actual flesh, that He gives to us in the Eucharist and was offered on Calvary is special because of WHO He is.

Initial observation; you can agree with him that it is not the bread and wine that give life because you are not eating bread or drinking wine. There is no bread or wine on the altar after the consecration. Instead there is a body lying on the altar and there is blood drained from a body and filling a chalice that is set next to the body that is on the altar. A sacrifice - a body without blood in it and blood next to the body but not in it, and both on the altar of sacrifice. That is what we are eating - flesh, and what we are drinking - blood, to be in covenant with God.

It seems clear that the bread and wine is NOT like the manna of the desert (fleshly/earthly).

John states that the bread and wine is from heaven! (ie not fleshly from the earth).

So I cannot quite see your difficulty.

I’d reply with a sincere question: Have them read his words in John 6:54.

“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

Then ask them what his words mean. If you don’t agree with their interpretation, don’t tell them they are wrong. Just ask another question about their answer. Eventually they might see that the most logical explanation of his words is the most plain one. Whoever eats his flesh and drinks his blood has eternal life.

:slight_smile:

We have to be a little measured if we go in this direction because the Eucharistic “flesh” we speak of here is not exactly the same as that of the earthly Jesus (which is why the senses only experience bread not flesh) - otherwise we are defining cannabilism which the Eucharist certainly is not.

Grasping at Straws: John 6:63

Let’s examine another common misunderstanding that arises from the text we just read. In verse 63, Jesus said:

“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken are spirit and they are life.” (John 6:63)

Some people claim that these words prove that Jesus was speaking metaphorically because he said “the words I have spoken are spirit”. They take this to mean that Jesus was not speaking literally when he commanded us to eat his body and drink his blood. However, this would be a misunderstanding of what Jesus meant when he said, “the flesh counts for nothing.”

First, notice that whenever Jesus referred to his own body and blood, he said “my flesh” or “the flesh of the Son of Man”. Here are the examples:

“This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:51)

"Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, 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 real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53-56)

At this point, the narrative explains that the disciples were on the verge of revolt over this teaching. Jesus tells them that they cannot understand this teaching with their natural minds. Here is the verse in context: “On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.’” (John 6:60-63)

In John 6:63, Jesus uses the phrase “the flesh” instead of “my flesh” or “the flesh of the Son of Man” because he is not talking about his own body; he is referring to man’s natural, unenlightened rational intellect.

Jesus tells the grumbling Jews (who can’t understand how he would give them his flesh to eat) that they cannot grasp it with their natural minds because it is a mystery beyond the ability of “the flesh” to understand. This is the same manner of speaking used by Paul in 1 Corinthians 2 & 3 when he is distinguishing between fleshly or carnal Christians and those who are discern the things of God with their spirits.

Second, it might be worth noting the obvious fact that Jesus cannot be saying that HIS own flesh “counts for nothing”; otherwise, his death upon the cross would be meaningless. Instead, we know that his own body, his flesh, was broken and pierced for our sake; no Christian would deny that. Therefore, since HIS flesh does count for something, he must have been referring to “flesh” other than his own in v. 63.

Thus, the one verse that many non-Catholics cling to as an argument against the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist does not mean what they falsely claim it means. Ironically, their “proof text” points out precisely why they cannot understand the Eucharist: they are using their own flesh or human reasoning instead of their spirits to discern the things of God. Unfortunately, their flesh “counts for nothing”.

That is why so many disciples left him that day (recorded in John 6) - they knew he was not being “measured” in his understanding of what he was giving us to eat and drink. So, I am also not “measured” in knowing what I am eating and drinking, nor “measured” in proclaiming his resurrection.

**Jn 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

The usual reply I get when replying with this is that the flesh is worthless…Which means Jesus flesh for the life of the world is insufficient or worthless. Scripture says otherwise.

**Jn 6:63 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.

In this section ( and the following with the apostles, the understanding is that thinking fleshly will try to reason it out and discard it, those thinking spiritually understand his words as true as shown by the apostles:

**Jn 6:68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;
69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” **

Those who don’t believe his words, by the testimony of scripture, walk away as unbelievers saying his words are too hard to accept.

Obviously the flesh that is of no avail can’t be his, the flesh is that of fleshly thinking. The only other alternative is that Jesus flesh is in fact of no avail (which means every one is still in his sin)

Peace and God Bless
NIcene

I noticed that your “spirit” is inconsistent, once with caps and another without. It should read “It is the Spirit that give life”. The Spirit refers to the Holy Spirit. the HS is the giver of life as we professed in the Creed.

Go back to John 3:6.

Jesus is saying that born of the flesh , is flesh, that born of the Holy Spirit is spirit. Since the flesh dies, the flesh is of no avail. The discourse from John 6:26-69 is Jesus highlighting that even manna from heaven feeding Moses and his people still ended in death. But if you eat His body, you will have everlasting life, spiritually. Prior to verse 63, Jesus spoke MANY times to eat, chew, ngaw or munch his body. (I counted 8 times) There is not one instance of a symbolic treatment of eating. That’s why the Jews say it is a hard saying and many left. How can he give his body for us to eat?

The second sentence “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life” refers to all the words he spoke from John 6 :26-58. and that they bring everlasting spiritual life. It is not a one-liner. It is the whole episode where the crowd went to Capernaum and found Jesus there.

See John 6:27 for the cross reference.

Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; …

Protestants hoping for that V63 one-liner to dismiss all that he had said previously are deluding themselves. After 33 verses of asking the Jews to eat his body and losing so many of his followers in the process and turning around and negate all that in a sentence is simply unbelievable.

Georgemiller. You asked (bold and ul mine):

How does one respond to a Protestant who says it is only the Spirit that gives life and not the bread and wine?

It flows from a forced misunderstanding of Trinitarian theology in John 6.

If they admit the verse concerning “the Spirit” concerns Trinitarian theology, it is tougher for them to DENY the Eucharistic theological aspects of John 6. Therefore if they isolate it down to “the Spirit” ONLY, then the Eucharistic aspects become easier to deny (but that goes deeply against their own theology and ours too).

I usually just ask if we were saved by Christ’s work on Calvary? They will (correctly) respond “yes”.

Jesus

JOHN 6:51 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Also don’t ADD words to Scripture

I also ask them not to “Add” the word “only” when it is not in Scripture.

only the Spirit that gives life and not the bread and wine

The Holy Spirit

JOHN 6:63 63 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.

The Father

JOHN 6:57 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.

The Flesh

Notice also the passage states, “THE flesh is of no avail” NOT “MY flesh is of no avail”!

JOHN 6:63 63 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.

“The flesh” in John 6:63 is NOT referring to the Sacred saving flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ. “The flesh” has to do with us.

If I can, perhaps tomorrow I will elaborate upon what “the flesh” is likely referring to (but it is NOT referring to Jesus’ Sacred saving flesh that he gave “for the life of the world”).

I hope this helps with your responses that you need (presumably in your discussions).

God bless.

Cathoholic

Below is an excerpt from our local area men’s Catholic Bible study.


So What Does The Phrase: “The Flesh” Mean In A Jewish Sense?

Today we use the term “the flesh” to refer to our fallen nature (concupiscence). This is close but not exact to how the Jews of Jesus’ day would have meant it.

Protestants use this term today the same way (regarding “concupiscence” or “fallen nature”). For example you might hear something like . . . . “Don’t fall to ‘the flesh’ brother Jones when you go to the Bible convention in Las Vegas next week.” “I won’t fall to ‘the flesh’ brother Smith, but you cover me with prayer anyway.”

“The Flesh” has a couple of specific meanings in a Jewish culture, either of which could fit in with what Jesus is teaching here.

Jesus is likely referring here to the works of the flesh on our own (we can’t save ourselves).

But even more, “the flesh” refers to specific aspects of being unable to “save yourself”. The specific aspects likely would concern Old Covenant rituals and not grace from Christ’s work, especially Old Covenant rituals such as circumcision so we need something more. We need something MUCH more—HIS (Jesus’) flesh.

“The flesh” in Biblical terms has to do with doing mere works under your own power.
Not by cooperating with the power of a special spiritual grace from God. Just 2 chapters later in John, Jesus uses this phrase again in the same way. John 8:15 is an example of this.

[INDENT]JOHN 8:15 15 You judge according to the flesh, I judge no one.


Much more fully though, Jesus is probably also referring here to the Old Covenant ritual disciplinary works of the law such as family lineage (being of Jewish heritage), ritual fulfillment (such as being circumcised on precisely the eighth day), and carrying out other ritual Old Covenant disciplines.

This isn’t good enough to save you – “THE FLESH is of no avail”.

In either case, He is undoubtedly NOT talking about His OWN flesh being of NO avail. His OWN flesh that He just said that He “gives for the life of the world” (John 6:51)!

JOHN 6:51b the bread which I shall give for the life of the world IS my flesh.”

To Jews, “the flesh” would mean things like family lineage (being of Jewish heritage), Tribe, and circumcision (especially precisely on the eighth day as the Jewish teaching prescribed). Also keeping kosher etc. “The flesh” is used that way in Scripture. St. Paul uses it that way too as we will soon see.

NOWHERE in Scripture does “the flesh” refer to Jesus’ Sacred flesh.
We cannot say . . . . “JESUS’ flesh is of NO AVAIL!”

Let’s look at “the flesh” as St. Paul applies this term to himself in giving us further insight into this term for us. We will see again that “the flesh” IS “of no avail”!

Let’s look at Philippians 3:3-6 for a reasonable example of the Jewish meaning of what “the flesh” means to an ancient Jew.

St. Paul specifically talks about the phrase “the flesh” with regards to himself. Let’s see how he uses it.

(Special emphasis will be mine)

PHILIPPIANS 3:3-4 3 For we are the true circumcision who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in THE FLESH.
4 Though I myself have reason for confidence in THE FLESH also.
If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in THE FLESH, I have more:

Why? Why St. Paul, can you say that before you were a Christian, you had so much confidence in THE FLESH?

Fortunately St. Paul is about to tell us why.

PHILIPPIANS 3:4b-6 4b If any other man thinks he has reason
for confidence in THE FLESH, I have more:
5 circumcised on the eighth day,
of the people of Israel,
of the tribe of Benjamin,
a Hebrew born of Hebrews;
as to the law a Pharisee,
6 as to zeal a persecutor of the church,
as to righteousness under the law blameless.

“The law” incidentally that St. Paul is blameless in, is ritual law, NOT moral law. Pedigrees and various rituals such as circumcision is where Paul refers to himself as “blameless”.

St. Paul when referring to moral laws in 1st Timothy 1:15, refers to himself as “foremost” among sinners and NOT “blameless”.

Since Paul fulfilled these Old Covenant ritual classifications perfectly, he considers himself blameless or perfect in these categories, and thus he could put more confidence in “THE FLESH” than anybody.

So St. Paul basically is telling these Philippians what?

**That “THE FLESH” is of no avail! **

Remember, “the flesh” refers to Old Covenant rituals (works done on your own and not accompanied by justifying grace) and tribal pedigrees, etc.[/INDENT]

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