• Jake

The Eucharist: A Scriptural Tour

Updated: Apr 3

“Source and Summit of the Christian faith.”, “Center of Christian worship.”, “Jesus Christ, body, blood, soul, and divinity.” The Doctrine of the Eucharist is foreign to most Protestant ears and absolute madness to secular ones. However, it is insisted upon by Christ, taught by His apostles, baked into our salvation story throughout the Scriptures, and echoed by the Church Fathers with absolute unanimity. Salvation history, from the first few pages of Genesis, prefigures and foreshadows how our Eucharistic Lord will save His people. Don’t believe me? I encourage you to read on.

We begin with a tour of the Old Testament, followed by hitting a few core passages in the New. Next, I will list some arguments that even this long article didn’t have space to cover but may be valuable for your explanation. Lastly, everyone’s favorite: an objection and answer section. Prepare yourself. This is long article, but it is broken into smaller sections to make it more manageable as each successive argument and illustration builds on the next.

The Garden of Eden

Adam and Eve were created in union with God who, “walked with them in the cool of the evening.” This unity was not meant to be temporary, but everlasting. The proof was the Tree of Life, planted in the center of the Garden. If they ate of the fruit hanging from this tree, they would live forever and thereby extend their friendship with God and one another into eternity. This means that from the beginning, God’s plan was to offer to mankind a meal granting them eternal life with him.

Unfortunately, our first parents chose to eat of another tree, which is called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. After they did so, they were thrown out of the Garden. An angel with a flaming sword guards the way back to Eden, in order to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life and being trapped in this wretched state forever.

Let us now read Luke 23:44-46, in light of the brief summary above:

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.”

It is almost as if the darkness at the Crucifixion represents the sheathing of the angel’s fiery sword. Before Christ’s death, everything was seen in light of it. All of salvation history until this point was in the shadow of sin cast in the light of our exile from Eden.

Yet Luke tells us the veil was torn. That barrier between us and again walking in communion with our Creator as we did in Eden was removed through Christ’s sacrifice. The Tree, which was taken away as a result of our sin, was dragged up Mt. Calvary and planted by Christ for all to see. Hanging from that tree is Christ’s body, the same body that He tells us in John 6 is, “True food”.

In the Garden of Eden mankind walked with God. Today, through Christ’s sacrifice, that type of relationship is again possible. In the first Garden, mankind was given the fruit of the Tree of Life to eat. Where is that fruit today? If the Cross is the new Tree of Life, as even many Protestant scholars would affirm, how can we eat of the fruit? After all, what allows us to extend this relationship with God into eternity is the fruit of the Tree of Life.

The Eucharist makes senses of this. In the words Christ, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink (John 6:53-55).

The New Creation:

Christ’s resurrection marks the restarting of the creation story, which had ended on the seventh day of Genesis. Matthew 28:1-6 records:

After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”

The story of creation is brought back on track by Christ on the morning of the 8th day. The terrifying angel that guarded against mankind reentering the garden now beckons them into the place of the resurrection. Where is the place our new creation begins, which angels invite us to see? It’s a Garden. This is more explicit in John’s narrative:

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.” (John 20:14-16)

In a sense she was correct; the original vocation of man has been returned to us. Our first parents handed dominion over the earth to the serpent. Jesus took it back. The fruit of the Tree of Life is on the altar of churches around the globe. There is no place on earth we can’t walk with God. The whole earth is now Eden.

Why Protestants Lost the Eucharist:

Why do Catholic churches have the Eucharist and Protestant churches do not? This might be hard to hear, but we can only eat the fruit from one tree, and Protestants choose the wrong one. Adam and Eve said, “No”, to the authority of God, and instead imagined they were the ultimate judges of what is good and evil, truth and falsehood, right and wrong. Christ started a Church and gave it authority on earth. Paul refers to this Church as the pillar and foundation of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Protestants, as the name implies, protest against this Church. Catholics receive the fruit of the Tree of Life because we accept the authority of God on earth. Protestants make themselves the measure of truth...and are therefore denied it.

Surely no Protestant would actually say they make themselves the ultimate authority. No, they believe the greatest authority is God’s Word, found in the Scriptures. Listen again to the words recorded in our Scriptures:

“‘Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?’ 2 The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’’ 4 But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not die; 5 for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.” (Genesis 3:1-6)

He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I- commanded you not to eat?’ 12 The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’” (Genesis 3:11-13)

These last words were no mere excuse. Corinthians 11:3 affirms she was indeed tricked by the devil. How did he do it? By taking the words of God and offering a different interpretation of them. Eve didn’t fall because she didn’t know God’s words, nor because she didn’t believe them. In a sense, the first “bite” of fruit was when she decided in her heart that she was the one to determine what God’s words meant, on her own authority.

When comparing Protestant and Catholic churches, you, like Eve, might think you will be better spiritually fed by the better preaching or more engaging worship found at Protestant services. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food”. Let’s face it: Protestant churches are cooler, have better marketing, and less reputation for scandal. “and that it was a delight to the eyes”. Plus, most Catholic priests can’t preach their way out of a paper bag, and most Catholics don’t know a Bible from a ham sandwich. Furthermore, a Catholic has to believe whatever doctrines the Catholic Church tells them, but as a Protestant you can learn and study for yourself. “And that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.” The choice is the same today as it was in the Garden. Either accept God’s authority in faith, by obedience, and eat the fruit of eternal life, or make yourself the final interpreter of God’s words and be denied it.

Maybe you, like myself, were born into the Protestant faith. Does this give us an excuse? Let’s consult Scripture:

The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’”

Maybe you didn’t make the initial choice to leave Christ’s church, but if you received that fruit and ate it, you still bear a certain amount of guilt.

Don’t be Like Korah:

Some Protestants might say their ultimate authority is not their own personal interpretation of God’s Word, like Eve thought, but rather it is the Holy Spirit. Practically speaking, this clearly isn’t working, as can be seen by the multitude of ever fracturing denominations. How can so many opposing denominations, churches, and movements be lead by one Holy Spirit that only speaks truth? Salvation level issues have rampant disagreement, even among those Protestants who put every effort to be faithful to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

Nowhere in the history of God’s people was doctrinal authority vested in “the people”, writ large. Nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, the idea did come up:

And they confronted Moses. 3 They assembled against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, ‘You have gone too far! All the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. So why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” (Numbers 16:2-3)

This is how that whole situation ended:

The earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households—everyone who belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they with all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 All Israel around them fled at their outcry, for they said, ‘The earth will swallow us too!’ 35 And fire came out from the Lord and consumed the two hundred fifty men offering the incense.” (Numbers 16:32-35)

God was clearly not pleased with this idea. Three chapters later, Moses refers to the people as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Numbers 19:6). Korah wasn’t wrong in saying that, in a sense, all of God’s people are priests. He also wasn’t wrong that God was truly with that people.

Protestants aren’t wrong to say the Holy Spirit is with us and we’re all priests. Yes, that is all true. What is desperately, get-sucked-into-the-earth or consumed-with-fire levels of wrong, is concluding God did not establish an authority here on earth.

This isn’t an article on Church authority; that will be coming soon. Here, we are making the point that whether your ultimate authority is your private interpretation of God’s word spoken through Scripture, or if it is your private interpretation of God’s word spoken through the Holy Spirit, in either case, you have become the ultimate arbiter of truth and therefore have plucked from the wrong tree.

Undoing the Curse:

Plucking the fruit of the wrong tree had devastating consequences for our first parents, taking them from the Garden into a desert. After Adam’s sin, God gives him a penance, or a redemptive punishment. It’s a recipe for redemption.

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,

and have eaten of the tree

about which I commanded you,

You shall not eat of it,’

cursed is the ground because of you;

in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;

and you shall eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your face

you shall eat bread

until you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

you are dust,

and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

No man until Jesus could carry out this penance. It was His toil under the crown of thorns, humiliated and betrayed, that brought forth our food. It is by the sweat of His face, dripping blood at the garden of Gethsemane and pouring sweat under the weight of the cross, that “We shall eat bread”. The labor of Christ’s love undoes the curse of Man’s sin.

When I was a Protestant Christian, I, too, thought the Scriptures were all I needed. In fact, studying them lit my heart on fire with the love of God. How could I have been missing something so monumental as the Eucharist, if it were really true and littered throughout the Bible I studied? Luke 24 tells us how:

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burnin