The body and blood of Jesus in the Holy Communion
The belief in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist has been an important aspect of Christian belief for centuries. However, there are some who do not believe in this doctrine, and such disbelief is contrary to the teachings of the Bible.
The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus himself said, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst" (John 6:35, ESV). Jesus goes on to say, "Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day" (John 6:54, ESV). These verses make it clear that Christ himself intended for his followers to partake of his body and blood.
In addition to the words of Jesus, the Apostle Paul also wrote about the Eucharist in his first letter to the Corinthians. He said, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16, ESV). Paul emphasizes that the Eucharist is a participation in the body and blood of Christ, and not simply a symbolic act.
Despite the clear teachings of the Bible, there are those who refuse to believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist. This disbelief is a rejection of the sacramental nature of the Eucharist and diminishes its significance in the life of a Christian.
The early Church Fathers, likewise, continuously exhort the true presence of Christ and the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist:
Ignatius of Antioch (c. 35-107): "Take note of those who hold heterodox opinions on the grace of Jesus Christ which has come to us, and see how contrary their opinions are to the mind of God. . . . They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, flesh which suffered for our sins and which that Father, in his goodness, raised up again" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans 6:2–7:1).
Justin Martyr (c. 100-165): "For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Savior, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh" (First Apology 66).
Irenaeus of Lyons (c. 130-202): "He took from among creation that which is bread, and gave thanks, saying, 'This is my body.' The cup likewise, which is from among the creation to which we belong, he confessed to be his blood. . . . He teaches the new sacrifice of the new covenant, which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers throughout the whole world to God" (Against Heresies 4:17:5).
Tertullian (c. 155-240): "The flesh is washed, in order that the soul may be cleansed . . . The flesh is anointed, that the soul may be consecrated . . . The flesh is signed (with the cross), that the soul too may be fortified . . . The flesh feeds on the body and blood of Christ, that the soul likewise may be filled with God" (The Resurrection of the Dead 8:2–3).
Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 313-386): "Do not, therefore, regard the bread and wine as simply that; for they are, according to the Master's declaration, the body and blood of Christ" (Catechetical Lectures 22:8).
Therefore, we must hold fast to the belief in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist and remember that the Eucharist is not merely a symbol, but a sacrament, a means of grace, and a participation in the body and blood of Christ. As the Apostle Paul reminds us, "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (1 Corinthians 11:26, ESV). Let us therefore approach the Eucharist with reverence and faith, recognizing it as a sacred and holy act that unites us with Christ and with each other.