EUCHARIST, HOLY MEAL
In this program Scott brings to life the Biblical background of the
Eucharist as a sacrifice and as the establishment of the New Covenant.
Focusing on the Biblical concept of covenant or blood-oath, Scott
explains how the Eucharist is the way in which God swears His final and
eternal promise to His children. Finally, Scott highlights the specific
objections some have with the Catholic Mass and provides listeners with
key scriptural passages that will help anyone to understand the true
nature of the Eucharist.
We're going to be focusing on the very center of the faith this
morning, and I feel so woefully inadequate because there is just so much
to say about the Blessed Sacrament. It's a sacrament and it's a sacrifice
in which Our Lord Jesus Christ not only establishes a covenant, but
really, is the covenant. And the sacrament contains our Lord Jesus
Christ, body, blood, soul and divinity; but it's also an offering. So in
the Eucharist Our Lord Jesus Christ body and blood, soul and divinity is
offered to the Father continually in an unbloody manner. Then, finally,
it's not just contained. It's not just offered but it's received. All
three of those elements are crucial to understanding how the Eucharist is
both a sacrifice and a sacrament. And when it's received, we call that
Holy Communion. All three of those belong together. They are inseparable.
They are critical.
Now we've got to say one thing right off the bat. We are talking
about an unbloody sacrifice and we are talking about a sacrifice in which
Christ's death is represented. We are not talking about a bloody
sacrifice where Christ is still bleeding. We are not talking about the
fact that Christ is still dying on Calvary. He's not dying. He's been
buried. He's been raised. He's ascended. He's enthroned and there he is
in glory. But as he is in glory, he is the Lamb of God, enthroned as the
Pascal Lamb; and so all of this belongs together in a very deep and
mysterious way and I for one do not pretend to think that I can
encapsulate or summarize it all adequately.
Now let's just also remind ourselves of another important
theological doctrine. God is omnipresent. God is present everywhere; but
Jesus Christ in His humanity, that is the flesh and the blood that He
assumed for Himself from the Blessed Virgin Mary, that is only in heaven.
That is spatially limited. In addition to its space, to its place in
heaven however, we also say that through the miracle of the Mass and the
Eucharist, Jesus Christ, not just in His divine nature, which is present
everywhere; but in His human nature is present on the altars of the
Church around the world as Mass is celebrated daily approximately 300,000
times each day.
So we are talking about the humanity of Jesus Christ which is
inseparably united to His divinity. This is done, of course, to establish
the New Covenant. Jesus Christ wants to be with us. His name, in a sense,
is Emmanuel, God with us. God is with us in such a unique way with the
New Covenant that we have to say it's a completely different kind of
covenant because in the Old Testament, the covenants were all
In a sense, the first time a covenant is mentioned explicitly is
with Noah and the covenant is that rainbow. So that covenant prepares for
Christ because we see that when the Lamb is enthroned in Revelation 4 and
5, around his throne is that rainbow. Then the next covenant is with
Abraham and Isaac and that oath covenant is established in Genesis 22 on
Mount Moriah when Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only beloved son,
but God stopped him. That covenant was not really completed until Jesus
Christ, God the Father's only beloved firstborn Son went to Moriah to a
peak called Calvary and there He was offered. And on it goes.
When Moses led the people out of Egypt and to Mount Sinai and he
slew the animals and he took the blood and he threw it upon the people
and he said, "This is the blood of the covenant." Those exact words were
taken by Jesus in the Upper Room when he instituted the Eucharist, only
to insert the word, "new" covenant, but it's there, practically verbatim
because what Moses was doing was only a symbol or a shadow of what Christ
Likewise when David, seeing in himself and then in his firstborn
son, Solomon, a priest king after the order of Melchizedek, there in
Salem, there in Jerusalem as he took the Ark up and as he requested the
building of the temple and as he gave the people bread and wine; all of
this was a shadowy anticipation of what Christ would accomplish. But it
was only a partial picture. So how can we possibly exhaust the meaning
and beauty of the sacrament? It's impossible, but we can say this: God is
not done in history until he is with us, until he is one of us.
For the first time in history, with the New Covenant, God is the
covenant in his human nature. The Christian religion is the only religion
established on the basis of the divine oath. All religions have divine
oaths in this sense but we swear oaths to God, "So help me God." "Curse
me God, if I don't fulfill this promise." But only in the Jewish
scriptures and in the fulfillment of the Christian New Covenant do we
have God swearing the oath, pronouncing upon himself the curse, and then
establishing in his own body and blood, the covenant -- absolutely unique
Now, I could say many more things about that and some other
aspects catechetical, historical and so on. But I want to stop now and
let you know something that you may be aware of. I have spoken on the
Eucharist several times and I can see the tape supply on the table
dwindling. That suggests to me that several people here may have already
purchased these tapes. Now, I have given talks on the Eucharist. One is
entitled, "The Lamb's Supper."
Another one is entitled, "The Fourth Cup,"
and one is just basically a presentation of the meaning of the Eucharist
in the series that I did on the sacraments.
Now, I don't want to repeat myself because, you know, it just
wouldn't be kosher. Many of you are going to be listening to these tapes.
We're making a tape this morning and so I want to go on and cover some
new ground, but on the other hand it would be unfair of me to assume too
much because I doubt if anybody here has had a chance to listen to any of
those tapes just this week. So, I want to suggest a plan for the rest of
our time this morning. What I would like to do is rapidly summarize the
main points of the talks that I gave, especially the one entitled "The
Fourth Cup," and then the one entitled "The Lamb's Supper." And if I had
to give a title to this one, I would entitle it "The Meal of
Melchizedek." All right, "The Meal of Melchizedek," it's somewhat cryptic
and illusive but I think you will understand as we go on.
Before I go on, I want to just read to you some quotations from
early Church Fathers about the Eucharist to give to you an awareness that
this is not some innovation. This is not some novel invention in the
Middle Ages. For instance, there at the end of the 1st Century, St.
Ignatius of Antioch, disciple of the beloved disciple John, spoke of the
heretics who were plaguing the Church in his day. "They abstained from
the Eucharist because they do not confess that the Eucharist is the flesh
of our Savior, Jesus Christ." It's a perennial problem, isn't it?
Then St. Justin Martyr in the 2nd Century, one of the great
apologists, defenders of the faith, stated, "This food is known among us
as the Eucharist. We do not receive these things as common bread and
common drink but as Jesus Christ, our Savior, being made flesh by the
word of God." Then in the 4th Century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, another
venerable Church Father, wrote, "Since then he has declared instead of
the bread, 'This is my body,' who after that will venture to doubt. And
seeing that he has affirmed and said, 'This is my blood,' who will raise
a question and say it is not his blood?"
So we have testimony throughout all of the first centuries of the
Church to this effect. You are hard-pressed, I would say it is
practically impossible to find a single statement by anybody in the first
eight centuries of the Church where you have a denial of the Real
Presence of Jesus Christ, flesh and blood, body, soul and divinity there
in the Eucharist. I remember when I first discovered that, I was still
anti-Catholic, but boy, did that bother me; because I wondered how could
John's disciple get it so wrong? How could St. Ignatius say something so
patently false and superstitious after spending all this time at the feet
of the beloved disciple, St. John? Now I'm convinced that he didn't get
it wrong. Now I'm convinced that Vatican II got it right when it said,
"In the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the unity of believers who formed one
body in Christ is both experienced and brought about." We are in a sense
what we eat. We're only in the supernatural body of Christ because in the
Eucharist we receive the supernatural body of Christ.
Now before I go on and summarize those two talks, I would like to
call your attention to something you've probably heard many, many times.
It's taken from the Eucharistic Prayer # 1, the Roman Canon. First of
all, just to kind of summarize the whole approach we've taken all week
long. "Father, accept this offering from your whole family." In the
middle of the Mass, we are told what we are and we are told what we are
doing and that is we are praising and loving and sacrificing and
worshipping our Father as he gathers his family.
Then it goes on in the same prayer to speak about God. We say,
"Father, we celebrate the memory of Christ, your Son," etc. "Look with
favor on these offerings and accept them as once you accepted the gift of
your servant Abel who offered himself as an oblation." It was a perfect
sacrifice of his own body and blood in an act of martyrdom, a very
substantial image of Christ, but it was not perfect because it wasn't
voluntary. It was involuntary; it's murder. "The sacrifice of Abraham,
our father in faith who offered his only beloved son, on Moriah." Another
very powerful symbol of our Lord, Jesus Christ. But then, he didn't
really kill him, did he? So it's only an inadequate image and the bread
and wine offered by your priest Melchizedek.
Now, that's taken from Genesis 14 where it says, "After his
return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings," the four kings
were with them. It goes on to talk about the king of Sodom went out to
meet him at the Valley of Shaven, that is the King's Valley, and
Melchizedek, king of Salem which we said in another setting, later is
called Jeru-salem, Psalm 76 shows us that, and "Melchizedek, the king of
Salem, brought out bread and wine for he was priest of God Most High and
he blessed Abram." This is the first time in the Bible that the word
coen, the Hebrew for priest is used. He was the priest and he brought out
bread and wine and those two things are in close conjunction. He brought
out bread and wine and then it says he was a priest. Well, what's the
Back then the priest did not need to offer the bloody sacrifices.
Those only became necessary, we learn in Exodus and Ezekial 20 when
Israel becomes enslaved and addicted to the gods of Egypt and to
idolatrous customs which God has got to break by having him sacrifice the
gods of Egypt ceremonially on Mount Sinai. But back when we had the
patriarchal family religion rooted in nature, what was the sacrifice that
pleased God? Well, bread and wine offered by God's priest Melchizedek,
the first time that somebody is called a priest, he is offering bread and
wine to Abraham who has come and paid his tithes and receives bread and
wine and then he receives a blessing.
Have you ever had that experience where you pay your tithes and
then you receive what appears to be bread and wine and then you receive a
blessing from a priest? This is the pattern of the Eucharistic liturgy,
where we give our offerings and then the priest, Christ working through
the human priest, transforms them into his own body and blood and then he
gives us that under the appearance of bread and wine and then he gives us
Now this is going to become very important as we unfold and
unpack all of this. But before I go on with Melchizedek, let's just step
back and let me summarize these two talks that are on tape. The first
talk is "The Fourth Cup." What I did in that talk I will just summarize
rapidly. I was investigating one of the last sayings of Jesus on the
cross when He says, "It is finished." I had a professor and a pastor
friend of mine ask the question from the pulpit, "What was Jesus talking
about when he said, 'It is finished?'" My first response was, "Well, it's
the work of redemption." Then he said from the pulpit, "You might be
tempted to say, 'the work of redemption.'" Well, I just did, you know.
And he said, "Well, actually, if you're going to do careful exegesis and
interpret the passage in context, there's no suggestion of that big
theological doctrine, there in the context of that passage. So you have
to ask yourself, 'What is the primary meaning of the text in context.
What is the "it" that is finished.' And besides we can't just summarize
and say, 'Well, redemption is completely finished,' because Jesus hasn't
been raised from the dead yet. And St. Paul tells us that He was raised
for our justification. So redemption still has to unfold some more."
"It is finished," boy, that bothered me. I remember going out and
really resolving to do some work. So I did. I went back and I went, I
think five or six chapters backwards in John and I started reading the
Synoptic Gospels and I believe I found a connection with the Passover,
and I'll share it with you. Luke 22, verse 15, our Lord says, "I have
earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you." So we are assured that
the Last Supper in the Upper Room was a Passover meal. In Mark 14, verses
22 through 26, we hear the words of institution, "And as they were eating
He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them and said,
'Take, this is my body.' And He took a cup and when He had given thanks,
He gave it to them and they drank all of it and He said to them, 'This is
my blood of the New Covenant which is poured out for many. Truly I say to
you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when
I drink it new in the kingdom of God.'"
And I thought, "Huh, I never noticed those words before, 'I shall
not drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in
the kingdom of God.'" Elsewhere you have the same idea expressed in the
gospels where Jesus says, "I won't drink of the fruit of the vine until,"
you know, I'm being glorified. And I thought, "Well, wait a second, what
he said, when he said, 'It is finished,' he had just taken some sour
wine." I wanted to work on that connection a little more. And then I
noticed the next phrase, "And when they had sung a hymn, they went out
into the night." They went to the Mount of Olives, in fact.
Now something disturbed me because I had been studying the
ancient Jewish Passover liturgy for some time and I knew the four cups of
the Passover liturgy represent essentially the basic liturgical structure
of this meal. The first cup is called the kadush. It's the blessing that
is pronounced over the first cup. The second one actually initiates the
Passover liturgy in a technical way. The second cup of wine is drunk
after you do the singing of Psalm 113, which is known as the Little
Hillel Psalm and then the third cup, which is called the cup of blessing
is drunk after grace is given. This is also done in conjunction with the
prayer that is spoken over the bread. But what is so significant about
this is that after the third cup but before the fourth and final cup, the
Hillel Psalms are sung. It's one great hallelujah Psalm. We get the word
hallelujah from hillel which means praise yah, yahweh, hallel-u-yah. And
the Hillel Psalms 114 through 118 constitute a gorgeous and majestic
Psalm of praise to Yahweh.
As soon as the third cup is drunk, you go ahead and sing that
Psalm of the Hillel Psalms and then you proceed to the fourth cup of
consummation, which is the climax of the Passover. What's so odd and what
many scholars have noticed is that Jesus -- it says, "They sang a hymn,
which is obvious, the Hillel Psalm, there's really no disputing that
point. You know Jews who read this expect them to go on to drink the
fourth cup. But it says, "They went out into the night." And right after
they drank that third cup and right before they sang that Psalm, the
Hillel Psalms, Jesus said, "I'm not going to drink of the fruit of the
vine again until the kingdom is come."
Now there are actually some scholars who suggest that Jesus
botched it. Maybe He was just so anxious. But to botch the liturgy at
this point would be a disaster. It would be like a priest saying High
Mass alongside the Pope and forgetting to say the words of consecration.
Sure, Jesus is anxious but the disciples would have stopped Him. There
would have been something else, I think. Well, somebody could still say,
"Well, you know, maybe He was just too fearful."
Well, I would suggest otherwise, and if we go on a little bit
further in the Gospel of Mark, I think we have a good reason to believe
that Jesus did this deliberately. He interrupted the Passover liturgy
right at its climactic moment. For what purpose? Well, in Mark 14, verse
32 , it goes on to read, "And they went to a place which was called
Gethsemani and He said to His disciples, 'Sit here while I pray.' And He
took with Him Peter, James and John and went up a little farther. Greatly
distressed and troubled, He said to them, 'My soul is very sorrowful,
even unto death. Remain here and watch.' And going a little further He
fell on the ground and He prayed that if it were possible the hour might
pass from Him. And what does He say? He said, 'Abba, Father, all things
are possible to thee." (Remove this cup.) "Remove this cup from me, yet
not what I will, but what thou wilt.'"
What cup? I thought He was scared about dying. Why does he refer
to his suffering and death as a "cup"? Hmm. Careful Jewish/Christian
readers would see a connection. Why hasn't He partaken of the fourth cup?
Why did He interrupt the holiest moment of the liturgy? Why does He go
out into the night after the Hillel Psalms are sung? Why does He fall
down on the ground and then ask the Lord to 'take this cup' away. Well,
somebody could say it's a reference to some prophecy Psalm of Isaiah and
Jeremiah regarding the cup of suffering, and I think that it does have a
secondary reference to those. But if we are following closely the
deliberate motions of our Lord, I think it's very plausible to draw a
connection between the interrupted Passover liturgy and this anguished
prayer of our Lord in the Garden.
Now you know how it goes on from here. He's arrested. He's
beaten. He's mocked. He's tried and then He's convicted and sent out to
Calvary. Remember when He was carrying his cross what happened? Mark 15,
verse 23 says, "On the way up Calvary they offered Him wine mingled with
myrrh," which is like an opiate, a great and powerful pain killer; but He
didn't take it. After all He said, I won't drink of the fruit of the vine
until the kingdom comes." And it hasn't come at that point, right?
Then, all of a sudden, we go on and we discover something I think
very, very significant. In John 19 we're told that Jesus seeing that all
was now finished, He said in order to fulfill the scripture, "I thirst."
Now He's racked with pain. It's an agonizing death but He still has
presence of mind. In order to fulfill the scripture, He says, "I thirst."
Now do you think that man was not thirsty before now? Seconds before His
death, is He just noticing, "Boy, I could use a drink?" No, I mean that
would be to trivialize the matter. Jesus says in order to fulfill the
scripture, "I thirst." John is depicting all this in very beautiful
John (the Baptist) is the one who introduced Jesus as the Lamb of
God in the first chapter, and now Jesus has become the High Priest, the
sacrifice as well as the victim-sacrifice. How do we know? Well, for one
thing, John records how Jesus had a linen garment that was without seam.
A seamless linen garment is exactly what the priest was supposed to wear
as he sacrificed the Passover lamb. And we also know that the hour of
sacrifice was the hour when the Passover lamb was slain. We also read on
in John 19 and we discover that the two thieves had their legs broken,
but Jesus didn't because he had already died, thus to fulfill the
scripture, "not a bone shall be broken." And if you trace it all the way
back to the Old Testament origin of this, "not a bone of his shall be
broken," you go through the Psalms back to Exodus and you discover that
the Passover lamb's bones were not allowed to be broken. If your lamb had
a broken bone, you had to chuck it and find another one.
Priest and victim and it's all according to a divine plan. And so
Jesus says in order to fulfill the scripture, "I thirst." And just by
coincidence, there's a little sour wine down there, a vinegar-like
substance and a man takes a hyssop branch, which incidentally and
coincidentally was what you use to sprinkle the lamb's blood over the
door post, he takes a hyssop branch with a sponge at the end with the
sour wine dipped in it and he lifts it up to Christ and Christ says, "No,
I'm not going to drink of the fruit of the vine?" No, he doesn't say
that. This time He receives it and He says, "It is finished."
What is it? The Passover begun in the Upper Room. It is now
consummated. The fourth cup, the cup of God's wrath, the cup of
consummation wasn't drunk in the Upper Room. The reason why Jesus does
this, I believe, is to show us that the Passover sacrifice of the Lamb of
God, the firstborn son and the priest begins not at the foot of Calvary
but in the Upper Room when the Old Testament Passover begins to be
transformed by our Lord into the New Covenant Eucharist.
You could also say it this way: that if the Passover isn't
finished until Calvary, I would suggest that Calvary is really begun in
the Upper Room with the Eucharist. When does Jesus' sacrifice really
begin? Well, He insists on the fact that His life is not being taken away
from Him. He is laying it down. Now in the trial, in the passion, it's
being taken away; but in the Upper Room, prior to all of that, Jesus lays
it down. He says, "This is my body. This cup is the blood of the New
What happens when you differentiate and separate body and blood?
You signify death. When your body and your blood are separated, death
begins. That's obvious, I think. So Jesus is symbolically and actually
beginning the sacrifice. St. Augustine has said that Our Lord held
himself in his own hands and commenced the sacrifice of the New Covenant
Passover as He was transforming the old. Calvary really began in the Old
Testament Passover being celebrated in the Upper Room, when the Eucharist
was instituted and the Passover Eucharist of the New Covenant really
isn't over until Calvary, when He says, "It is finished."
But wait a second. You've got to say one more thing because way
back in Egypt, fifteen hundred years before, if you had slain a lamb and
sprinkled the blood according to Moses' command and say to yourself,
"Well, thereby my firstborn son will be saved," and you went to bed,
you'd be wrong, dead wrong.
You'd wake up and he'd be dead. Why? Because one other thing had
to take place. You didn't just have to take a lamb without blemish
without broken bones, then sacrifice him and sprinkle his blood. You had
to eat the lamb. You HAD to eat the lamb. I mean, even if you hate
mutton, you had to eat the lamb.
So, in a sense, "It is finished," what is the "it?" The bloody
death sacrifice. But is that all sacrifice is? Sometimes non-Catholics
find it easy to think that way until they go back into the Old Testament,
and as I went back into the Old Testament, it dawned on me that that's
really only the first half of the sacrifice. And it really isn't even the
goal or the end of the sacrifice. The second half of the sacrifice is
really what it's all about. God doesn't just want dead bodies with
drained blood. He wants peace and He wants love. He wants to restore
How is that symbolically enacted in the Old Testament? By eating
the victim in a sacrificial meal, because that is what restores family
communion and that's what the covenant is all about. So Jesus says, "It
is finished." What is the "it?" The bloody death sacrifice of the
Passover victim and the priest of the New Covenant. And so, as Catholics
we have always said that He does not die again. He does not continue to
suffer. He does not continue to bleed. "It" is finished. That whole
dimension of sacrifice is finished. What began in the Upper Room is now
finished on the cross and so He gives up his breath and He dies. He gives
up his spirit and He dies. But the sacrifice of Passover is not complete
until you eat the lamb.
No wonder St. Paul says in 1st Corinthians 5, "Christ, our
Passover, has been sacrificed for us." Therefore, what? Therefore we
don't have any more sacrificial offerings or ceremonies or feasts and so
on to celebrate because all those ceremonies are outdated and done with?
No. He says, "Christ, our Passover, has been sacrificed; therefore, let
us keep the feast." And he goes on to talk about how we take out the
leaven of insincerity and we have this unleavened bread. What's he
talking about? Christ, our Passover has been sacrificed; therefore, we've
got to achieve the whole goal of that sacrifice, the second half is
communion where we eat the lamb.
Now you can't eat a lamb cookie in Egypt. If you didn't like
lamb, you couldn't have your wife make lamb bread, little biscuits in the
shape of a lamb and say, "God, you understand, we just can't stand the
stuff." No, you do that, your firstborn would die. You had to eat the
lamb. Jesus Christ has said to us, "My flesh is food indeed and my blood
is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting
Let's turn to John 6 and see the context in which he says that.
John 6, verse 4 tells us, "Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews was at
hand." So everything that transpires within John 6 is within the context
of the Passover. Jesus is talking to them now. At the time of the
Passover, after multiplying these loaves, ending up filling twelve
baskets with the fragments from the five barley loaves, He uses that as
his point of departure for one of the most important sermons that He ever
preaches and also one of the most disastrous from a human perspective.
He goes on talking about this bread and He goes on talking about
Moses in context with that bread. For instance, in verse 32, "Jesus then
said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you it was not Moses who gave you
the bread from heaven. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven,
for the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life
to the world.' They said to him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.'"
Welfare state! "Jesus said to them, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes
to me shall not hunger and he who believes in me shall not thirst.'" And
He goes on talking about this some more. The Jews would then murmur at
him in verse 41 because He said, "I am the bread which came down from
They're thinking, "What is He talking about? This guy is Joseph's
son. How does He say, 'I've come down from heaven?'" They only look at it
from a human perspective. They don't see that He's the divine Son of God.
Verse 47, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness and
they died. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may
eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from
How often did they eat the manna? Every day. How often do we
receive the Bread of Life? Every day. This is not a once for all
sacrifice, like many anti-Catholics allege in the sense that Christ is
sacrificed and now there's nothing more to be done. Jesus Christ is
sacrificed as priest and as victim, as lamb and as firstborn son and as
the Bread of Life, he gives himself to us as well as the unleavened bread
of the Passover meal, which commenced, of course, the whole feast of
unleavened bread the week after the Passover celebration. Jesus Christ is
the Bread of Life, the unleavened bread of God which came down from
heaven which the Israelites received every day, the manna of the New
Christ through the Holy Spirit makes himself available as the
Lamb of God to be consumed continuously. That's the whole point of the
Resurrection, incidentally. The Holy Spirit raises up that body and
glorifies it so supernaturally that body and blood which is glorified may
be internationally distributed through the elders and priests of the
Church so that all of God's children can be bound back to the Father in
the New Covenant sacrifice of Christ. He didn't die again. He's not
bleeding and he's not suffering. He's reigning in glory and giving us his
own flesh and blood.
Where do you get that? From the Old Testament -- the manna, the
Passover, the sacrifice as it's described on Calvary as it's initiated in
the Upper Room and as he states right here in verse 51. "If anyone eats
of this bread, he will live forever and the bread which I shall give for
the life of the world is my flesh." Jews stop, wait a second. Hold the
phone. "John, what do you mean 'my flesh?'" Verse 52, "The Jews then
disputed among themselves saying, 'How can this man give us his flesh to
eat?'" Cannibalism, paganism, barbarism, sin in the highest degree.
So Jesus said to them, "I didn't mean it, guys. I was just kind
of, you know, using hyperbole or metaphor." No. He actually intensifies
the scandal. He actually raises the obstacle even higher. "He said to
them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the son of
man and drink his blood,' which Leviticus condemns, the drinking of
blood, 'unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in
you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life and I will
raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is food indeed and my blood is
drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I
He said that four times in four different ways. How else can you
get a point across? As a non-Catholic preacher, I used to enjoy preaching
from John 3 where Jesus says, "You must be born again," or born anew,
born from above. But he only says that one time. And we've heard it a
million times in the last century. Because all the non- Catholic
evangelists stress that rightly. We need to be reborn from the Holy
Spirit, but Jesus said it once. Here he says four times, "You have to eat
my flesh and drink my blood. My flesh is food indeed. My blood is drink
Four times. It bothered me that I had never preached a sermon on
this before, nor heard one. After years and years and years of hearing
sermons from the New Testament, I began to figure out why. Because Jesus
made it so clear. He is the manna. He is the sacrifice. He is the priest.
He is the victim. He is the firstborn son. He is the lamb. He is all of
it wrapped up in one and then He says so scandalously, "Eat my flesh and
drink my blood," knowing what offense they would take. But He doesn't
back off. In verse 60, "Many of His disciples when they heard it said,
'This is a hard saying. Who can listen to it?'" That is an
understatement. "Jesus, however, knowing in Himself that His disciples
murmured at it," get it, the disciples, now, the followers, the spiritual
protégés, not just the crowd now, the disciples themselves are taking
offense at this and murmuring and grumbling! "And He said to them, 'Do
you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the son of man
ascending to where He was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the
flesh is of no avail. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and
Well, some people try to use that verse to nullify everything
which is so patently obvious in the preceding verses. I used to as well
until I tried to deal as honestly and prayerfully as possible with that
passage. I'm talking about verse 63. If the disciples had just proceeded
to take the flesh off the body of Christ right there and drink His blood,
they would have done nothing supernaturally beneficial. Jesus is saying,
"It's the Spirit that gives life," and so wait until the Spirit is given.
When I breath my spirit upon the Cross. When the Spirit comes down at
Pentecost, but especially when the spirit of Christ raises the body of
Christ from the dead, it will be the Holy Spirit that makes Christ's
flesh and blood holy, glorious and powerful as food for our souls and
bodies. Not just the flesh alone.
"And the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life."
What words? That you've got to eat my flesh and drink my blood, those
words. So we can't just say, "Well, the words themselves are all we
need;" because if the words alone are all we take, we're disobeying the
words themselves. Did you catch that? I used to always say to these
Catholics in Bible studies, "Look at verse 63. It's the words of Christ
that give life." The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
That's right, but what are those words? If you just simply take the words
without the Eucharist, you're disobeying the words because the words say,
"Eat my flesh and drink my blood." And it's because of the Holy Spirit
that we receive life in that flesh and now it all comes together. There's
no either/or; there's a both/and.
In 63 we discover why Christ's flesh and blood will be so
powerful and animating for supernatural life. Verse 66, "After this, many
of His disciples drew back...." We get the impression that the vast
majority of them said, "This is just too much." "...and no longer went
about with him. And Jesus turned to the twelve;" he didn't apologize. He
didn't say, "Now that we're down to twelve, I'll tell you what I really
meant." He didn't say that at all. In fact he is perfectly willing for
this obstacle to remain scandalous even to the twelve. "Do you also wish
to go away. Simon Peter answered him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go?'"
Almost implying we would leave if there was somebody else that we could
trust more than you because what you said is rather baffling. But he
says, "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. And we
have believed and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God."
Peter speaks of the truth for those true disciples because there
was one disciple who didn't have the integrity to leave. Next verse, the
devil came to Judas because Judas, unlike the honest disciples who left,
refused to leave although he disbelieved. This is where Judas really
becomes the son of perdition. In a sense you've got to give more credit
to the disciples who walked away.
So we have reason to believe that this sacrifice of the New
Covenant Passover begun in the Upper Room and consummated on Calvary and
ultimately as 1st Corinthians 5 suggests continued and celebrated as a
climactic communion on the altars of the Church around the world when we
receive the Eucharist in Communion, all of this is right from the Bible
but you've got to know your Bible. You've got to know John. You've got to
know Matthew, Mark and Luke. You've got to know Exodus. You've got to
know the Psalms. You've got to know Corinthians and you also have to know
Take a look at Revelation 5. In Revelation 5, there is a scroll
with seven seals that nobody can break open and everybody is really
upset. In fact John almost begins to cry. In 5, verse 2, "A strong angel
proclaimed with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and break
its seals?' And no one in heaven and on earth or under the earth was able
to open the scroll or to look into it." What is the scroll? The word is
biblion. Most likely it's a reference to a covenant document, the New
Covenant document that nobody is worthy to break open. "And I wept much,
but no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it,"
because this scroll would consummate and fulfill the promises of the Old
"Then one of the elders said to me, 'Weep not. Lo, the Lion of
the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, he has conquered so that he can
open the scroll and seven seals.'" You could almost feel the hallelujah
rising up from within your soul. The Lion of the tribe of Judah, growl
for me, King, you know. You turn. You look and John turns to look and
what does he see in verse 6, " And between the throne and the four living
creatures and among the elders I saw," what? Azlam, the lion? No. David
crowned with glory? No. You'd think so, a lion and a king are the words
used to describe it. "I turned and I saw a lamb standing, looking as
though it had been slain."
Jesus Christ is the son of David and the king of the new and
heavenly Jerusalem. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah and He is the
Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, as it said elsewhere
in Revelation. But here in heaven on the throne of glory, after His
crucifixion, Hs resurrection, His ascension, His enthronement, He still
looks like a lamb. He still looks as though He had been slain. Why not
clean up the body? Why not wipe away the wounds? Why continue resembling
a lamb? Because He's continuing the Passover offerings, the sacrifice.
Not by dying, not by bleeding and not by suffering but by continuing to
offer up Himself as the firstborn and as the unblemished lamb, as the
perpetual, timeless, everlasting sacrifice of praise to the Father.
And what do the people do? They rejoice and they break out into a
song. And what is the song, "Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to
open its seals for thou was slain." Past tense, "And by thy blood didst
ransom men for God from every tribe and tongue and people and nation."
And what has he done? He's become a priest to be sure, but for what
purpose? "He has made them a kingdom and priest to our God." He has made
those whom he has saved priests. And what do priests do? They offer
Has Christ's sacrifice ended all sacrifices? No. Christ's
sacrifice has ended all ineffective, bloody animal sacrifices that never
did anything anyway. Now for the first time in history we can really
begin to offer sacrifice to God. Romans 12 says, "Offer your bodies as a
living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God." And it wouldn't be holy
and acceptable except that it's united to Christ's perpetual sacrifice.
He's not bleeding. He's not dying. He's not suffering, but he is offering
a sacrifice as a lamb does, as a priest king does continually, forever.
And that's what it's all about. John wouldn't see a lamb looking
as though it had been slain if the whole kit and caboodle was completed
and done. Past tense. Yeah, it's completed and done, past tense, and it's
still going on present tense, and it's going to go on forever in the
future. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and
forever, as Hebrews tells us.
Now, is this strange? Is this teaching novel? Well, let's take a
look at 1st Corinthians and see how natural it seems to the apostle Paul.
We have already looked at 1st Corinthians 5, "Christ, our Passover,"
that's in verse 7, "Christ, our Paschal Lamb has been sacrificed. Let us
therefore celebrate the festival not with the old leaven, the leaven of
malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth."
What's he talking about? Is he talking about leaven being like sin. No.
He's saying let us celebrate the feast with unleavened bread. What feast?
The Eucharist! The sacrifice continues because communion must be
celebrated. We've got to eat the lamb, the resurrected, glorified,
enthroned lamb that still looks as though he'd been slain because he's
still giving himself to us.
Turn over with me now to Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 13. He
says, "Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service
get their food from the temple and those who serve at the altar share in
the sacrificial offerings in the same way the Lord commanded. That those
who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel." Now we
might be tempted to read Corinthians 9, 13 and 14 and say, "Well, back in
the Old Testament they did temple service and altar service and
sacrifice, but now in the New Testament they only proclaim the word."
The problem with that is that Paul goes on to say, Corinthians
11, as we will see, how Christ's death is proclaimed. Take a look with me
at 1st Corinthians, 11:23-26. "For I received from the Lord what I shall
deliver to you." Interesting, he received it not from Peter and the
apostles. When Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus or perhaps
at some other time, what did Jesus deliver to Paul? Instructions for the
Eucharist. "I received from the Lord what I also deliver to you. That the
Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and
when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, 'This is my body, which
is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way also the cup
after supper saying, 'This cup is the New Covenant in my blood. Do this."
Commandment, imperative tense. "As often as you drink it in remembrance
of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim
the Lord's death until He comes."
You proclaim the gospel. Let's go back then to Corinthians 9,
verse 14, "In the same way the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the
gospel should get their living by the gospel." How does Paul proclaim the
gospel? Just by preaching? Or by celebrating the Eucharist? "As often as
you do this, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes." That's the
gospel. Paul is talking in verses 13 and 14 about how he should be
supported as an apostle and he does so in conjunction with temple service
at an altar where there is sacrificial offerings which he as an apostle
has the right to receive from. What's he talking about? A New Covenant
temple? A New Covenant altar? A New Covenant sacrifice where he proclaims
the gospel by celebrating the Eucharist.
Now let's go on to Corinthians 10 and get things straight really
quickly here because Corinthians 10, gives us a proper warning. In the
first ten verses of Corinthians 10, Paul says that back in the Old
Testament with Moses, verse 3, "They all ate the same supernatural food
and all drank the same supernatural drink." The water from the rock and
the manna in the wilderness and both, Paul says in a sense, were signs of
Christ's presence among them. Nevertheless, verse 5, "with most of them
God was not pleased for they were overthrown in the wilderness."
In the next three verses he describes the Golden Calf incident
where thousands of them died. In other words just because you receive
supernatural food and drink doesn't mean you've got it made in the shade.
You have to set things right with God and keep things right with the
Lord. Verse 11, "Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they
were written down for our instruction upon whom the end of the ages has
come." We now have a greater and much more supernatural food and drink.
So we can relax? No. We've got to be even more circumspect in searching
out our hearts and making sure we are right with God.
He goes on in verse 16, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is
it not a coenia, a communion, a participation in the blood of Christ?"
Not a symbol. But a share, a communion. The bread which we break , is it
not a coenia, a communion in the body of Christ. "Because there is one
bread, we who are many are one body for we all partake of the one bread."
He doesn't mean to say that there's one enormous loaf that we all take a
piece from. There are many loaves of bread. There are many breads in that
earthly sense, but there's only one bread in the heavenly sense, and
that's Christ. Because we receive from one bread Christ, the Bread of
Life, we who are many become one body, namely, the Body of Christ. He's
suggesting that we become what we eat.
He goes on to contrast our sacrifice with other sacrifices and he
says, verse 18, "Consider the people of Israel. Are not those who eat the
sacrifices partners in the altar?" What he is saying is back then when
you eat the sacrifice, you have a communion in the altar of those
animals. Now we have a communion on all of our altars in the New Covenant
with Christ, the Lamb of God. Verse 21, "You cannot drink the cup of the
Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord
and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord with jealousy? Are we
stronger than he?" For some reason God takes this with the utmost
Corinthians 11, he spells it out even clearer. We've already read
verses 23 through 26. Now we can conclude with verse 27 where he says,
"Whoever, therefore, eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an
unworthy manner will be guilty of the Body and the Blood of the Lord."
Now that language is actually like civil judicial language. Somebody
who's practically guilty of murder or capital offense is guilty of the
body and blood. Now if it's only a symbol, he might be guilty in some
lesser sense, but when you profane the Lord's Supper, you actually become
guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord. "Let a man examine
himself, therefore, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For
anyone who eats and drinks without discerning," -- the symbolism? No.
"...the body, eats and drinks judgment upon himself."
Now is he just speaking metaphorically? He couldn't be because in
the next verse he says, "That is why many of you are weak and ill and
some have died." To receive the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin is
playing with fire of the worst sort. He goes on in chapter 12, verse 12,
"For just as the body is one," the Church, that is, "...and has many
members and all the members of the body though many are one body, so it
is with Christ for by one Spirit we were all baptized in the one body."
When we received the water of Baptism, we received the Spirit of God.
"And all were made to drink of the one Spirit." When we receive
Eucharist, Communion, we receive the Spirit as well as the flesh and the
blood and the body, soul, humanity and divinity of Christ.
This is significant, very significant. This, in fact, gives us
the whole interpretive key to the Book of Revelation. We can't go into it
this morning. I go into it in the Lamb's Supper tape, but the fact is
many non-Catholic, as well as Catholic scholars have noticed that the
whole structure of Revelation is a big Passover liturgy where Christ, the
Priest King, the firstborn Son and the Lamb looking as though it's been
slain conducts and celebrates the heavenly liturgy. And the earthly
liturgy is meant to be a reflection in that, a participation in that, and
the early Church took it for granted. There is the Lamb looking as though
it's been slain and making all of the people in heaven priests so they
can assist in the offering of the firstborn son of God to the Father and
join themselves with it.
The Meal of Melchizedek
But now I'd like to call your attention to our final phase and
that is the Book of Hebrews. Turn with me now to the Book of Hebrews.
Hebrews, chapter 6 describes how God had made a promise to Abraham and
then he changed the promise to an oath. In this morning's Mass we had a
reading from Ezekial where we saw that oath and covenant are practically
interchangeable terms. When God swears an oath to Abraham, he makes a
covenant. In Genesis 22:18, right after Abraham went to Moriah to
sacrifice his firstborn through Sarah, God prevented it and then swore an
oath saying, "Surely all the nations of the earth will be blessed through
The New Testament begins, "This is Jesus Christ, the seed of the
son of Abraham, the Son of David." Jesus Christ is the one in and through
whom God fulfills that oath he swore to Abraham. Where did he swear it?
On Moriah, where the temple was later built and where Christ, the New
Temple was later destroyed and rebuilt three days afterwards. It talks
about this oath and then it goes on to talk about the priesthood of
Melchizedek. In chapter 7, the first ten verses, it describes how Abraham
met Melchizedek. It talks about the meaning of his name. He's the king of
righteousness, that's what Melchizedek means in Hebrew. He is the King of
Salem, which means peace, shalom. He is the priest of God Most High and
he blessed Abraham, so he was superior to Abraham. Everything is
mentioned about the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek except one
thing, the bread and the wine.
Now we are going to ask a question. Is that because the bread and
the wine was the only thing that was unimportant about Melchizedek and
Abraham meeting, or is it because the importance of the bread and the
wine is so great but so obvious that it goes without saying? Let's study
the next few chapters, just briefly look at those and see whether or not
you think that the writer understands Melchizedek's priesthood in
relationship to the bread and the wine that he gave Abraham. I think it
is. I think it's significant.
For one thing we already saw back in Hebrews 5, verses 5 and 6
where God has sworn an oath to Jesus Christ. He says, "Thou art my Son.
Today have I begotten thee." And he also says in another place, "Thou art
a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek." To be God's Son is like
the same thing as being a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Remember
way back in the Old Testament before the Golden Calf, fathers were high
priests and firstborn sons were priests under their authority. This
seemed to be the natural family pattern of Melchizedek. This is how the
ancient Jews as well as the ancient Church Fathers understood it.
Jesus Christ is not a Levite so Old Testament Jews might be
tempted to say, "Well, he can't be a priest, then." But Hebrews is
talking all about the wilderness generation under Moses and how they
committed idolatry and rebelled against God and how God sent all these
punishments. The first rebellion was the Golden Calf, and the first
punishment was to take the priesthood away from the firstborn, which had
been theirs for centuries, and to give it to the Levites temporarily.
What the writer of Hebrews is suggesting is that Jesus Christ, God's Son,
is righteous enough to restore the original pattern of the father-son
family priesthood, because this is a divine family that God, through
Christ, is adopting us into through the sacrifice of Christ.
He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. The word "order"
does not mean order like the Dominican Order. It means after the manner
of Melchizedek's priesthood. The writer goes on to make a big, sharp
contrast between the Levitical priests who continue to offer these
animals in sacrifice. They had to offer. They had to kill. They had to
sacrifice millions of sheep, millions of goats and millions of cattle
with millions of gallons of blood running down through the temple. Why?
It was all after and because of the Golden Calf, whereas before all of
that, you had a father and a son and a clean priesthood that Melchizedek
represents. "After the manner of Melchizedek" suggests that Melchizedek's
manner of priestly sacrifice was bread and wine. This is how all the
early Fathers understood this, as well.
Now, it says in Hebrews 7 in verse 18, "On the one hand a former
commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness, for the
law made nothing perfect. On the other hand, a better hope is introduced
through which we draw near to God." And it was not without an oath and it
talks about how God swore this oath, and the oath that has been talked
about is the oath that was sworn by God on Moriah where Christ was slain.
Verse 22: This makes Jesus the surety of a better covenant. The former
priests were many in number because they were prevented by death from
continuing in office; whereas Jesus is one. There's the single
priesthood, and he lives forever up in heaven. But he holds his
priesthood permanently because he continues a priest forever.
Consequently, he is able for all times to save those who draw near to God
through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
"For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy,
blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens.
He has no need like those high priests to offer sacrifices daily." In
other words to kill and to have blood shed continuously. "...first for
his own sins and then for those of the people. He did this once for all
when he offered up himself. Indeed, the law appoints men in their
weakness as high priests." That is the Levitical law that was given after
the Golden Calf, "...but the word of the oath which came later than the
law appoints a son who has been made perfect forever."
Now there's a lot here I realize we can't cover, and it's very
deep; but there's going to be enough here to really feed our souls if we
pay close attention. Now the point in what we are saying is this. We have
such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of
the Majesty in heaven. Notice that the Lamb is the one enthroned in
Revelation. The Lamb and the firstborn Son of the Passover is the priest
who ministers in a sanctuary, the heavenly sanctuary. He is a minister in
a sanctuary. It isn't complete. He is ministering in the heavenly
sanctuary and the true tabernacle which is set up not by man but by the
Lord. "For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices.
Hence it is necessary for this priest to have something to offer."
I read that a hundred times before the obvious meaning hit me
like a brick in the face. He is a priest in heaven ministering now in the
sanctuary and he's got something to offer and he's continually offering
it. He's just not bleeding and dying and suffering any more. He's not
killing any more animals, but he's continually offering the once and for
all sacrifice which is himself; but it's a continual sacrifice. It's a
perpetual offering. He's not dying, but he's still offering. That's
exactly what the Catholic Church teaches about the Mass.
I didn't understand that. Then I read some basic catechisms and I
understood it, but I still didn't believe it until I studied and
restudied and prayerfully re-restudied Hebrews until I saw that Jesus
Christ, the firstborn Son, which is the theme in the Book of Hebrews.
He's a much greater priest than the Levites. They replaced the sinful
firstborn sons until the true and righteous firstborn Son of God would
Before we had an Old Covenant family on earth. Now we've got a
New Covenant family in heaven, our divine family. The Trinity's life is
our family life and it comes to us through God's firstborn Son who was
like Melchizedek in being a son-priest. But the bread and the wine that
Christ offers is not earthly bread and wine but heavenly bread, heavenly
wine in the sense that it's the body and blood of Christ. He is still to
this day and forever a minister in the sanctuary and the true tabernacle
is now in heaven which the Lord has set up. And every high priest is
appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices and that is why God appointed his
own Son to be High Priest, to offer gifts and sacrifices. And what are
they? To offer himself and all of us in union with him.
The sacrifice isn't over. Oh, baby, it's just begun! And we're
going to be doing it forever in and through and with Christ. Not bloody
animal sacrifices but our hearts and our souls and our bodies in union
with the One whose body and blood, soul and divinity are perfect and pure
-- the only acceptable sacrifice which makes our otherwise unacceptable
sacrifices perfectly acceptable. "Holy and righteous," Paul says. He goes
on talking about the superiority of the New Covenant that Christ
established. Now that phrase, "New Covenant," is kind of an odd phrase.
And this really is unfortunate because we've heard the phrase New
Covenant hundreds and thousands of times. So we are insulated, almost
like filters have been planted in our ears so we don't hear the
significance, the spectacular meaning of the phrase New Covenant. Why?
Because it's only said once in the entire Old Testament, Jeremiah 31,
which is what the writer of Hebrews in the rest of chapter 8 quotes from,
a huge, extended quote from Jeremiah 31. "The days will come says the
Lord when I will establish a New Covenant with the House of Israel."
Verse 9, "Not like the covenant I made with your fathers on the day when
I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. That
covenant, they broke." When? At the Golden Calf. The covenant that he
made with them out of Egypt they broke at the Golden Calf.
This New Covenant will not be like the Golden Calf in the Mosaic
covenant which was broken because they were the firstborn sons who were
supposed to be serving as priests and were. See for instance in Exodus
24, but in Exodus 32 they all lost it and the Levites got it because the
Levites had swords by which they slew three thousand of the idolaters,
presumably many firstborn priests were among the victims.
It won't be like that covenant because this firstborn Son won't
break it, and that's what makes it new. "This is the covenant that I will
make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord. I will put
my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts and I will be their
God and they shall be my people." Verse 13, and in speaking of the New
Covenant he treats the first as obsolete and what is becoming obsolete
and growing old is ready to vanish away. Old Testament only uses "New
Covenant one time. Jesus in the gospels only uses the phrase "New
Covenant" one time. When? At Passover time. Where? In the Upper Room.
Why? To institute the Eucharist.
Now, do you see a connection? In other words, the writer of
Hebrews has focused upon the key phrase, "New Covenant." He's made a
mountain out of a molehill, if you're judging by numerical usage: one
time in the Old Testament. Not how many, it's how significant it is.
Jesus only used the phrase, "New Covenant" one time, when he transformed
the Old Testament covenant of Moses, the Passover Covenant by offering
himself as the unblemished Lamb and the firstborn Son and the Priest and
the King and the Victim and all of it wrapped up in one. That is the New
And so he goes on in Hebrews 9 to talk about the superiority.
Back in the Old Testament, verse 9, we read, "According to this Old
Testament arrangement, gifts and sacrifices were offered which cannot
perfect the conscience of the worshipper. What is the contrast implied?
Back then sacrifices were offered which couldn't perfect the worshipper's
conscience, implying that in the New Covenant, what? Sacrifices are
offered which do perfect the conscience of the worshipper.
That's what the Eucharist does. It cleanses our soul. It wipes
away all venial sin. These Old Testament sacrifices, verse 10, deal only
with food and drink and various ablutions, baptismois, in the Greek,
regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. Do you
know when the real Reformation came? Not in 1517. The real reformation
came in the Upper Room when the Eucharist was instituted, when the
Catholic Church was formed. The time of reformation wiped away the weak
ineffective Old Testament sacrifices. To do away with all sacrifices
altogether? No. To initiate a new sacrifice which has intrinsic power to
cleanse our consciences.
Verse 11, now, "The one Christ appeared as a High Priest of the
good things that have come. Then through the greater and more perfect
tabernacle, not made with human hands, that is not of this creation, he
entered once and for all into the holy place, that is heaven, taking not
the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal
redemption." He took his own blood up there. He's not bleeding in the
sense that he's suffering and dying, but he's up there as a Lamb looking
as though he's been slain, offering his own blood. That's a Eucharistic
Passover sacrifice and that's why the entire structure of Revelation is a
And it goes on to talk about the Old Testament's weakness in
comparison with the New Testament's power. "For if the sprinkling of
defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls or with the ashes of a
heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, how much more shall
the blood of Christ who through the Eternal Spirit offered himself
without blemish to God purify your conscience?" The body was cleansed
externally in the Old Testament sacrifices, but with Christ's Passover
sacrifice which he continues to administer up in the heavenly sanctuary,
our consciences are cleansed as we offer and receive that down here below
"Therefore," verse 15 says, "he is the mediator of a New
Covenant." He only said that word covenant one time. "This cup is the
blood of the New Covenant," when he instituted the Eucharist. That
fulfilled Jeremiah 31. That's when he offered what appeared to be bread
and wine. That's when he became a new Melchizedek, feeding the new
children of Abraham so that through Abraham's seed, Jesus, all the
nations of the world, all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Something which God had sworn but had not performed until Christ, the son
of Abraham, was sacrificed on Moriah on the peak called Calvary.
And he began it in the Upper Room when he instituted the
Eucharist which goes on and on and on here on earth and in heaven above
forever and ever. He is the mediator of this new, everlasting covenant so
that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance
which goes back to the promise that God gave to Abraham. Verse 24, "For
Christ has entered not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the
true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on
our behalf to offer himself repeatedly as the High Priest enters the holy
place yielding with blood not his own. He offers Himself repeatedly not
like the Old Testament priest who took in blood that wasn't his own. He
offers Himself repeatedly with His own blood without any death and
suffering, an unbloody sacrifice, but one that belongs and pertains to
the Lamb of God. For then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since
the foundation of the world, but as it is, He appeared once for all at
the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
So what do we conclude from this? He's abolished the Old
Testament and he's established the New Testament. We have a sacrifice in
heaven that is perpetual and effectual. Turn with me now to Hebrews 10
and here is where we will draw our conclusions. Verse 19, "Therefore,
brethren, since we have confidence to enter into the sanctuary by the
blood of Jesus..." It's because of that Eucharist and because of Christ
the High Priest offering Himself that I've got confidence to draw near to
the presence of God. That's how John could do it. That's why the scroll's
seals could be broken open.
We have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
by the new and living language He opened for us through the curtain, that
is, through His flesh, His flesh and blood. When were they offered? His
body and blood were offered when He instituted the New Covenant in the
Upper Room. "And since we have a great High Priest over the family of
God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith with
our hearts sprinkled clean, a reference to Baptism, from an evil
conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the
confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful,
and let us consider how to stir up one another in love and good works."
Amen! Let's do it.
If Jesus Christ who is our master creator gave Himself up for us,
we have got to learn how to treat other people as though they are more
important than we are. Let's figure out new ways to stir each other up to
love and good works. The Bible study that starts this fall -- get
involved in it and encourage others to feed upon the Bread of Life, the
holy Word of God. Think of other ways, too, that you can serve and love
in this community to show people we really are the Body of Christ. Let's
stir each other up, but not provoking anger, but provoking love and good
works. Not neglecting to meet together as has become the habit of some,
but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day draw near.
Verse 26 is often misunderstood, "For if we sin deliberately
after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a
sacrifice for sins but only a fearful prospect of judgment and a fury of
fire which will consume the adversaries." What's he mean? Does he mean in
some generic sense that if you guys deliberately sin, there's no longer a
sacrifice for you? You're dead. You're going to be burned alive. If we
interpret it in the general sense, I'm afraid that's what it means. But
let's not interpret it out of context. What is the sin he's deliberately
referring to? Well, what's the preceding verse? "Don't neglect to meet
together as has become the habit of some."
The Lord's day, from the earliest times, was the regular meeting
for the people of God. Even the Romans tell us that early on Sunday
morning they would get together. They would sing hymns worshipping Christ
as God. And then we are told that they would take an oath. The Latin word
is sacramentum. They would take an oath sacrament and swear not to sin.
All right. What does it mean? It means if we sin deliberately after
receiving the knowledge of the truth -- what truth? -- the truth of
Christ's sacrifice which is represented in the Eucharist on Sunday.
People who don't meet together on the Lord's day are repudiating
the only sacrifice that will work for their sins. The sinning
deliberately refers to deliberately sinning by not going to Mass. We
don't know anybody who has committed that sin, do we? All American
Catholics go to Mass every week. It hasn't become the habit of some
Catholics not to go to the Eucharist, has it? God help us if we don't
attend weekly liturgy as has become the habit of some. We're sinning
against the most beautiful laws that God has delivered to humanity, that
there is a once and for all powerful sacrifice, God be praised! And we
renew that sacrifice every time we draw near to the Eucharistic banquet.
It goes on, verse 29, "How much worse punishment do you think
will be deserved by the men who spurn the Son of God?" Notice, "They
profane the blood of the covenant." Now that phrase is only used by Jesus
once when he instituted the Eucharist of the New Covenant. "This cup is
the blood of the New Covenant." And you profane the blood of the covenant
when you neglect the Eucharist, when you miss Mass, when you say, "It's
not that important. I've got better things to do."
We've got to go there. We've got to be there, but we've got to
prepare to be there and we've got to be there with hearts and minds, with
soul and body. We've got to be there with the help of the Holy Spirit.
We've got to offer up ourselves in union with Christ because we are
members of his mystical body and that body is what's being sacrificed
continually. If we don't, we profane the blood of the covenant by which
we've been sanctified and outrage the Spirit of grace, but if we do, what
Turn with me to Hebrews 13, verse 9, "Don't be led away by
diverse and strange teachings for it is well that the heart be
strengthened by grace, not merely by foods, like the Old Testament elders
which have not benefited their adherence." Verse 10, "We have an altar."
If there's no sacrifice, there's no need for an altar. We have an altar;
therefore, we have a sacrifice, Christ Himself. "We have an altar from
which those who serve the sanctuary," the tent, the Old Testament priests
-- " have no right to eat for the bodies of those animals, those whose
blood is brought in the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for
sin are burned outside the camp." It goes on to talk about how Jesus left
the camp and suffered.
So we should, too. Verse 14, "For here we have no lasting city."
The earthly Jerusalem is not our city, the heavenly Jerusalem is. And it
goes on. "Through Him, then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of
praise to God." We still sacrifice; "that is the fruit of lips that
acknowledge His name." "Now may the God of peace," verse 20, "who brought
again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by
the blood of the eternal covenant equip you with everything good that you
may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight." It
is the blood of the covenant that we receive in the Eucharist with souls
made right with God by which we are enabled to do His will, by which God
works in us that which is pleasing in His sight.
The meal of Melchizedek is the bread and the wine, but it's so
much more. We go beyond the appearances of bread and wine to the reality
of the Son of God and His body and His blood and the soul and divinity.
By that one sacrifice we've got confidence. By that one sacrifice we've
got forgiveness and by that one sacrifice we've got power to do the will
Let's ask the Lord to renew for us our devotion to the Blessed
Sacrament, the Holy Eucharist. In the name of the Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit we pray. Father in heaven, we ask that you would renew that
devotion, increase our understanding, magnify our zeal and give to us, O
Lord, a spirit of constancy so that we will not neglect the Mass, the
sacrifice of the New Covenant. We will not outrage the spirit of grace
nor profane the blood of the covenant. We will appreciate and correspond
to and cooperate with all that you have done and given to us to grow up
as your sons and daughters. Your New Covenant family, O Lord, is the most
treasured possession in the cosmos and we cling fast to it now and ask
that you would hold fast to us and never let us go and hear us as we
pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom
come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our
daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who
trespass against us and lead us not into temptation but deliver us from
evil. In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen. Thank
you very much.
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