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Bible Q

Is Jesus Christ actually present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist/communion?

No.1 Jesus instituted the Lord’s supper for Christians to do in memory of him:

And [Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” {20} And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. [Luke 22:19-20]

…the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, {24} and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is foryou. Do this in remembrance of me.” {25} In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” [1 Cor. 11:23-25]

The Lord’s supper is done both to help Christians remember what Jesus has done, and also to proclaim what Jesus has done (‘For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes’: 1 Cor. 11:26).


1. The theological idea for the notion that Jesus is actually present in the bread and the wine at the Lord’s supper is sometimes called “the real presence” of Jesus Christ. The idea that the bread and wine literally turns into Jesus’ body and blood is sometimes called “transubstantiation”.

5 Replies to “Is Jesus Christ actually present in the bread and wine of the Eucharist/communion?”

  1. I think in terms of the Eucharist, a valid argument can be made either way. But in the Gospel of John, Jesus goes to great lengths to explain the literal nature of the bread as the body. I don’t have my notes with me at the moment, but his language in the Greek would certainly imply a less-than-symbolic meaning. He was forcing the idea that the flesh was REALLY food and that the blood was REALLY drink.

    In any case, I think the truest interpretation is a combination of the Catholic and the Protestant. To the Catholic, Jesus is literally and physically present in the Eucharist. To the Protestant, Jesus is symbolically present, as a memory of his death (which taught us about self-sacrifice and gave us the means to “work out our own salvation” as Paul said). But in truth, the Eucharist does literally contain Jesus.

    The question then becomes “Who is Jesus?” Is Jesus more properly understood as the body, the human – or is he better thought of as the Word of God, the Spirit of Truth, that was incarnated within his humanity? Obviously, the answer is the latter, and it cannot be denied that it is the Word of God – the Spirit of God – that we derive from the Eucharist.

    The Eucharist is a sacrificial memorial we make to the Lord in memory of Jesus and his teachings. It is a sign to God that we are willing to sacrifice ourselves (our egos or “Satans”) and empty ourselves, allowing his Word and Spirit to enter into us and make us instruments of his will. Thus, in offering this sacrifice, which is symbolically of bread but literally of self, we honor the truest nature of the Christ, the divinity within him.

    So the answer is yes and no. It depends on context and interpretation.

    • Thanks for the reply, Acharya.

      I take it that, at the start of your comment (‘in the Gospel of John, Jesus goes to great lengths to explain the literal nature of the bread as the body’), you’re referring to Jesus’ words after the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6). I think it’s worth remember that Jesus spoke to the people in parables, so his words here are symbolic (Mat. 13:34; Mark 4:11; Luke 8:10).

      • Namaste, Luke. Consider John 3. Jesus tells Nicodemus that he must be born again. Obviously, this specific wording is symbolic of the rebirth into spiritual awareness known as Baptism. But Nicodemus is confused. Jesus’ words are too “out there” for him to grasp. So Jesus stops speaking figuratively, and speaks literally – a man must be born once – of a “water”, natural birth – and once again – of the spirit. For the sake of understanding, Jesus spoke literally.

        Now, in John 6, a similar situation occurs. Jesus tells the disciples to eat his flesh and they freak out. They are confused, angry, and disoriented by his words; “Who is this man who can offer us his flesh to eat?” At this point, like Nicodemus, the Jewish disciples don’t completely understand Jesus’ intent.

        Unlike John 3, however, Jesus doesn’t correct his symbolic speech with literal speech. Instead, Jesus reinforces the idea that his original words were literal, and further forces the fact. If he was speaking symbolically, to the Hebrews of the time, that would have meant torturing him grotesquely. If he was speaking literally, it would mean that he was truly food.

        He uses the word “trogo”, implying a very graphic “gnashing” of his flesh. It is no longer simply eating, but thrashing of teeth. Further, his use of the word “alethes” implies a more enhanced literal sense.

        Of course, these Greek words were used by John, who, while very orthodox in his teachings on spirituality, was not Jesus personally, and therefore, may have made a mistake in recording the events. It is impossible to truly know.

        Regardless, I think my point still stands. For those who partake of the Eucharist, it is the Word of God (which “became flesh” through manifestation in Jesus) that is consumed by us. In other words, when Jesus prays the words, “Give us this day our daily bread”, he could actually be praying for the Word, or Spirit, of God to come upon us and fill us with the truth.

        Thanks for the comment. Be blessed.

        Namah Shivay.

  2. Oh, I really don’t think Jesus was kidding when he said, This is my Body, This is my Blood.

    • See As that states, Jesus instituted the bread and wine before he had died, so he clearly wasn’t talking about a physical body given and physical blood poured out before it had happened. Believers are spoken of as “the body of Christ”, and clearly this too wasn’t literal. Also consider the fact that the disciples eating the bread and wine then were Jews, and so were not even allowed to drink blood.

      I would not say that Jesus was “kidding”. It was a serious time and he was perfectly serious about how much he wanted to spend time with his disciples. But that doesn’t mean that we should take his words as literal without considering whether it makes sense to do so or not.