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Communion and the Blood of Christ

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Question:  I have a question about the scriptural basis of Roman Catholic mass as compared to communion.  In communion, the mystery of their belief that the wine is turned into the blood of Christ and the bread into His body. Scriptural reference, I can not connect as being literal transformation as they see it. More so, I would understand it to mean that through God's grace He sent His Son who bled and died for the remission of our sins, rose again and has gone to be with The Father. As for the bread, I would understand that His body relates to His life, His teachings and the teachings of the apostles through Christ and the Holy Spirit. Thank you so much for your help and time. Read your Bible has been such a help. Avenues for explanation to someone else has been increased a great deal. May God Bless.

Response:  Well, I quite agree with most of what you have to say (except that Christ did not bleed to death - see below). The Roman Catholic idea of the mass wine turning into Christ's literal blood and the mass wafer turning into Christ's literal body is generally called "transubstantiation", a term not in general use until the thirteenth century and only finally "affirmed" at the Council of Trent. The entire idea is, as you suspect, non-biblical. From the Bible, we clearly understand that Christ, in speaking to us of "eating His body and drinking His blood" is talking about faith in Him, faith in His sacrifice on our behalf (that He died for us) and faith in who He is (that He is the Messiah, true God and Man in one Person), as is clear from John 6:25-71 (which is exactly what true communion is meant to commemorate: cf. 1Cor.10:17-34). It is also clear from the gospel of John that Christ did not bleed to death (Jn.19:34-35; cf. 1Jn.5:6-8). All of the gospel writers are very explicit in telling us that Christ died by personally "giving up His spirit" (cf. Matt.27:50; Mk.15:37; Lk.23:46; Jn.19:30), and John is very clear in telling us that after His death, when pierced by the soldier's lance, "blood and water" came out of Christ's side (i.e., after physical death, His blood was still in His body).

The blood of Christ is therefore not His literal blood, but an important symbol of His saving work for us on the cross (see Peter's Epistles: lesson #9 "Faith and the Blood of Christ"), with His blood standing for the giving up of His life for us; just as bread is a symbol, standing for the true substance of Him, His Person and His Word. When we take true communion, we acknowledge by drinking that we believe in His sacrifice for us; we acknowledge by eating that we believe in who He truly is. The un-biblical superstitions that many groups have proffered over the ages are not only not helpful in  bringing us closer to Him, but they actually can make it more difficult to know Him the way we are meant to know Him. It is true that such superstitions build up the power of the organizations who promote them, but that is hardly a Christian objective, especially when it comes at the expense of the faith and spiritual growth of Christians.

Please also see the following links:

The Meaning of the Communion Memorial

The Blood of Christ (in Basics 4A: Christology)

The Communion Ceremony outside of the local church.

Communion in Acts

The Last Supper

The Leftover Baskets of Bread and Fish in John 6

The Lord's Supper

Thanks for your kind words - hope you find this response helpful.

Yours in Jesus Christ,

Bob Luginbill


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