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The Meaning Of The Bread & The Wine
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Two Views Of The Meaning Of The Bread & The Wine
A. THE REFORMED VIEW
regards the bread and the wine as symbols of Christ's body and blood, which are received by faith by the believer as a token of receiving the LORD Jesus Christ. This is in keeping with Jesus' words in JOHN 6:51-58. According to this view the Lord's Supper is a REPRESENTATION of what happened - the bread and the wine represent Christ's body and blood.
B. THE ROMAN CATHOLIC VIEW
maintains that at the Mass, the bread and wine undergo a process whereby they actually become the real flesh and blood of Christ, in a process known as trans-substantiation (meaning that the actual substances of bread and wine are transformed into the actual body and blood of Christ). The Mass is a RE-PRESENTATION of the sacrifice for sins made by Christ on the cross, and the bread becomes Christ's body and the wine his blood as this sacrifice is re-presented by the priest before the congregation. [Interestingly, one of the slanders hurled at the early Christians was that they were cannibals. It was said they ate the flesh and drank the blood of a child at their meetings held in secret in private houses because of persecution!]
Divisions & Deaths Over The Centuries
Sadly, over the centuries the different views on the Lord's Supper led to martyrs' deaths for many who took opposing views.
Whatever one's particular beliefs, the Lord's Supper / Holy Communion / Eucharist /Mass remains the central celebration by the Church of Jesus Christ, celebrating as it does the inauguration of a New Covenant between God and man of forgiveness of sins, cleansing and deliverance from the bondage of sin, death and satan through the death and resurrection of the LORD Jesus Christ.