Thursday, February 08, 2007

Is John 6 About the Eucharist?

Is John 6:53-66 about the eucharist? In the most technical sense, no. There is no mention of the eucharist in the text. On the other hand, the text is obviously about the need to eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood. Of course one could argue he only means that figuratively, but he never says he means it figuratively.

I would argue that the text tells us we need to eat Christ's flesh and drink his blood. The question that needs to be asked is, "How do we do that, especially since he has ascended to heaven?" This is where the eucharist comes in. The only place scripture and the tradition of the Church has ever taught one can find Christ's body and blood to eat and drink is in the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Communion.

1 Corinthians 10:16 couldn't be plainer, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (RSV)


+ Alan said...

So... it is. It's prophetically about the Eucharist. That's the problem people have I think, not realizing the statement wasn't necessarily focused on that time and place.

I always like to note that He didn't take time to further explain what He'd said even to His own disciples. He let it stand as said. And so should we I reckon. Peace.

Peter said...

Good point. A bunch of people were offended and walked away -- and Jesus did not correct them and tell them he only meant it figuratively or metaphorically. This lends weight to the interpretation that he meant we really need his real body and blood.


Adam Gonnerman said...

I'm not certain John 6 is about the Lord's Supper/Eucharist. It may be, but I don't think that's what Jesus is talking about in this passage. I'd have an even harder time attaching it to a doctrine of transubstantiation. I'm glad you brought this up. I'll give it another look.

Chris said...

There was a very good discussion recently at regarding John 6 and the Eucharist. See both the posts and the comments at and at

An important insight I gleaned from the discussion is that John's Gospel is the most doctrinal and least purely historical (in the sense of just reporting the facts of who said and did what) of the Gospels. So it seems that part of the answer to the question of whether John 6 is about the Eucharist is not just, "Did Jesus intend to refer to the Eucharist when these words came out of his mouth?" (which he may well have), but also, "What did John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit intend to teach the Church by featuring this event the way he did?" I think it is logically true that John was writing at a time after Jesus had the post-Resurrection opportunity to teach the Apostles more fully before his ascension, and also after they had received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to lead them into all truth. So, Jesus' words in John 6 may have legitimately taken on much deeper meaning and context by the time they were recorded in the Gospel.

SaintSimon said...

I can only ask you to read on to get the full picture of these extracts.

In John, when you red on, you find that Jesus is likening himself to manna -God's provision from heaven, which muct be taken hold of. But more importantly in verse 63 he says "The spirit gives life, the flesh counts for nothing". And so he is talking about something spiritual, not the physical bread of the Eucharist.

I do believe there is a link, but it is a more ephemeral one than has been mae in the above post.

taking the Corinthinas passage, again you need to get the whole picture. The passage talks about unity in the one loaf. the body in which we are particupating is (in that context) primarily the Church. there is again a link, agian more ephemeral than the post alludes.

The trouble with EXCESSIVE emphasis on the eucharist as tran- or consubstantiation is that you end up with doctrines that salvation is by eating it rather than by faith, and you end up bowing down idolatrously in front of a lump of bread. The non-conformist overreacts to these by excessive emphasis on the Eucharist as a symbol only.

We need to try to find the middle road.