In each of the 4 Gospels, there is a statement that Yeshua makes where he tells his Talmudim (Disciples) that they are to drink the wine of the Kiddush, which is now his blood, the blood of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31), and they should eat the bread (actually, it was matzo) which is his flesh and his body.
Sounds really pagan and disgusting, doesn’t it? Nothing at all that any self-respecting, God-fearing Jew would ever do.
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Of course, we all know he was speaking metaphorically. Or do we?
The Roman Catholic Church believes in Transubstantiation, which is the transformation of the bread and wine into the actual flesh and blood of Yeshua. Yuck!! They explain this in the same way they explain most of the doctrine they have created: it is what it is and we can’t understand how it is that way. In other words, I ain’t got no idea where this came from but I was taught this is how it is, so don’t ask questions and just believe what you are told to believe. Typical RCC stuff.
(Sorry, Pope your Grace, but Yeshua would never tell anyone to actually eat flesh or drink blood, which is a sin.)
Let’s get back on topic…Yeshua says this in Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20, Mark 14:24, and John 6:55. It is also repeated by Shaul (Paul) in 1 Corinthians and elsewhere in other Epistles of the New Covenant.
To understand why Yeshua said this, which was meant to be metaphorical, we need to go back to the Tanakh, then to John’s Gospel.
Let’s start at Leviticus 17:11, which says this:
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.
Next, let’s go to Deuteronomy 8:3 (Moses is talking to the Israelites just before they enter the land of Canaan):
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
And the last thing we need to read is John 1:14:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
When we take these three verses and put them in their proper perspective, Yeshua’s blood is the life we gain by reason of the atonement he performed for us on the execution stake, and his body is the word of God which we must take “inside” ourselves, meaning to have it be a part of us, indwelling and written on our hearts.
Yeshua was talking about the new covenant as God promised it should be, from way back when Jeremiah first told us about it. Yeshua was speaking to Jewish men using terms that they could understand because they knew what the blood and the body represented. The ones we read about in John 6:53-59 who thought he was speaking literally did not have the spiritual sekhel to know what Yeshua meant.
Many acceptance ceremonies within societies include toasting and sharing food; maybe they are based on the Kiddush? We can cite anything from a wedding to a Bar Mitzvah, to a military Hail and Farewell at the Officer’s Club (this is when new officers coming into the company and officers being transferred out get together for drinks and dinner.) The ceremony where Yeshua shared drink and food was the Passover Seder, so it was very appropriate at that time for him to make this “toast”, which would be the way for all people to enter into communion with him and the Lord throughout all eternity.
Whenever we, those who have accepted Yeshua as the Messiah, perform the Kiddush prayer, we do it in memory of him. Whereas we are literally eating bread and drinking wine, we are metaphorically taking into ourselves the word of God and the life that it gives us.
To answer the question posed in today’s message title, what Yeshua meant when he said to drink his blood and eat his flesh is that when we accept him as the Messiah we will have eternal life (yeah, there is a little more to it than just that, but that is for a different message.)
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Until next time, L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!