This is probably the most controversial discussion in the Christian Church. I will attempt to explain this controversial belief which has raged on for 600 years.
In the Old Testament, after the miracle of the Daily Manna on the desert floor, the Levite priesthood blessed bread twice daily, in memory of the Manna in the desert. This was a perpetual statute for the priesthood. [Leviticus 6:14-16 & 22]
This practice by the Levites was a foreshadowing of things to come and a commemoration of Moses’s prayer for daily bread during their 40 years of wanderings in the desert.
When Jesus came and performed the Miracle of Feeding the 5,000 with a few fish and a few loaves of bread, He said, “Do not work for the food that perishes but the food that endures for eternal life which the Son of Man will give you. For it is on Him that God the Father has set His seal.” [John 6:27]
To which the crowd asked, “What must we do to perform the works of God?” [John 6:28]
Jesus answered, “This is the work of God that you believe in Him who He has sent.” [John 6:29]
Their next questions were, “What sign and what work are You doing that we might believe.” [John 6:30 paraphrased]
Between work and signs, was the comment, “He [Moses] gave them bread from heaven to eat.” [John 6:31]
Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who 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.” [John 6:31-33]
Some people said, “Sir, give us this bread always.” [John 6:34]
Other people went away thinking Jesus was talking about cannibalism to which Jesus asked His disciples if they wished to leave Him also. [John 6:67]
Peter said, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.” [John 6:68]
Jesus had taught them to ask for this bread, knowing that the Word of God is powerful, living and active.
In the next 25 verses Jesus repeats this phrase three more times. Twice he says, “This is the bread that came down from heaven.”
When He said this twice He had to point toward His own person. [John 6:50 & John 6:58]
In those 25 verses Jesus also said, “My flesh is true food and my blood true drink.” [John 6:55]
“The one who eats this bread will live forever.” [John 6:58]
“Very truly, unless you eat the flesh and drink His blood you have no life in you.” [John 51, 53 & 58]
He affirmed, “Those who eat My flesh and drink My blood have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day.” [John 6:54]
For Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox churches during the Mass, when these words are spoken over bread and wine, “This is My body which is given for you, and this is My blood poured out for you in the new covenant, for the remission of sins, do this in remembrance of Me.” [Luke 22:19]
Since the Word of God is living and active, these spoken words make it a perpetual accomplished fact.
St. Paul’s instruction from Jesus, which he received, then passed on his teachings to the Corinthians, are similar.
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. [1 Corinthians 11:23-26]
Two words of caution here, those who do not believe these words, I quote this scripture from Deuteronomy, especially to those who believe Jesus was a prophet if not God. “Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in My name, I myself will hold accountable.” [Deuteronomy 18:19]
The other word of caution is this: whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be answerable for the body and blood of the Lord.
“Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread drink of the cup.” [1 Corinthians 11:28]
“For all who eat and drink without discerning the body, [their sins or conscience] eat and drink judgment against themselves.” [1 Corinthians 11:29]
“For this reason many of you are sick, weak and ill and some have died.” [1 Corinthians 11:30]
God Bless, may you live forever.