An initial reading of John 6:22-71 leaves the impression that through the living bread discourse, Jesus taught his disciples to eat his flesh and drink his blood in the Lord’s Supper. This is not only the interpretation of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, but also that of orthodox theologians immediately following the time of the apostles and by some confessional Lutheran theologians today. (Except when explicitly indicating metaphorical, nonphysical eating and drinking, the words eat and drink will be used in the plain, oral sense, as Jesus meant them when he said, “Take, eat” and “Take, drink.”) This view will be vindicated by establishing these two teachings from the straightforward reading of the passage:
- John 6:51-58 speaks of the eating and drinking commanded in the words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper, as opposed to merely metaphorical, non-physical eating and drinking.
- In this passage, the objects of eating and drinking, referred to as “true food” and “true drink,” are the literal body and blood of Jesus, not merely the sacramental symbols or spiritual benefits of his flesh and blood.