Christ's Faithful People
At the beginning of this paper I set out to discuss the Sacrament of Eucharist in Jn 6. I began by looking at the words John used in Jn 6:53-56 focusing on the words "flesh" and "blood". Since these are semitic terms, I went back to the Old Testament to better understand the implications John had in mind. I looked at the Hebrew meanings of both words in the context of the Law, Covenant and Passover. Flesh is used to describe the body of an animal or person. Blood on the other hand had a deeper meaning. Life is in the blood and it belonged to God. According to the Law, a pious Jew could not eat blood because all life belongs to God. If he did eat blood, then he would be cut off from his people. Blood was also used to ratify the Sinai covenant and atone for sins. In the Passover, the blood of the Lamb had to be sprinkled on the door posts and the Lamb had to be roasted and then eaten. Otherwise, the first born sons would have been found dead in the morning.
After the discussion about Blood and the Passover, I proceeded to show that John uses quite a bit of Passover imagery in his gospel. John begins his Gospel stating that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. He then quotes John the Baptist who calls Jesus "The Lamb of God." This declaration would foreshadow the Passover events to follow in Johns Gospel. The next event that took place in Johns Gospel is the Wedding at Cana. I believe that the response Jesus makes "My hour has not yet come" to Marys statement "They have no wine" is very important to Johns theology. Jesus response would also be a key to understanding Johns Passover theology. John shows that Jesus celebrated three Passovers during his public ministry. I proceeded to discuss the Passover images found in John 19 where John makes explicit observations in relation to the Passover: The day of Preparation, Jesus bones not broken, vinegar on the hyssop branch and the seamless garment of the High Priest(chiton). In the following paragraphs, I showed that Jesus sacrifice is made in the course of the Passover meal. He began the seder(Passover) in the upper room and did not finish it until he was crucified. The connection between the Passover and sacrifice on Calvary and the Eucharist can be found in Jn 6.
John makes a note at the beginning of Chapter 6 that it was the day of the Passover. Jesus then takes some barley bread, gives thanks and distributes the bread to the multitudes. There is no Eucharistic institution in Johns Gospel, but Jesus prepares his followers for the sacrament of the Eucharist. I believe that Jesus did not break the bread, because it was not his hour. He would be the true bread that would be broken, the true Lamb that would be sacrificed. The next day the multitude looks for Jesus, but they were looking for bread to fill their stomachs. Jesus then proceeds to tell them that He is the bread of life. The Jews murmured among themselves, but Jesus continued and said that He would give them his flesh to eat as true food. As if this was not enough, then Jesus added that they must eat his flesh and drink his blood, otherwise they would have no life within them. John uses the strongest possible language here to convey the idea of the reality of the Eucharist because he was dealing with the heresy of Docetism within his community. He even changes the word to eat fromejsqivw to trwvgwn which means to chew, tear, crunch. He wanted to show the reality of the Eucharist. John does not use any metaphorical language in this part of his discourse. John also wanted to emphasize the aspect of nourishment. Jesus himself said that my flesh is real food and my blood real drink. Jesus became food for us so that he may abide in us and we in him. We now receive Him and therefore have communion with God. His sacrifice on Calvary would reconcile us to God, because he would shed His own blood, as the Pascal Lamb, for the forgiveness of sins. He transforms the Old Testament Passover into the New Covenant Passover, thus showing continuity between the Old and New Testaments. Gods promises from the Old Testament are fulfilled in Christ. He truly is a Father who keeps His promises!