Following Jesus ascension to heaven, Christians have been partaking of the Holy Communion, also referred to as the Lord's Supper, as instructed by the Lord Jesus. However, the act of sharing in the body and blood of Jesus as a group, or individually, via eating a piece of bread (or biscuit) and sipping wine (or juice) hasn't been taken in good faith by non-Christians who term Christians as cannibals.
Is their assertion Christians engage in cannibalism when partaking of the act, the Lord's Supper, factual? Or, do their claim stem from misinterpretation of what the activity entails?
The Basis of the Allegation
"And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:17-20)
Before his ascension to heaven, Jesus always designated a room wherein he would meet with his disciples to share a meal. This became known, several years later following the martyr and death of early apostles and Christians, as the Lord's Supper. The last supper Jesus had with his disciples, he encouraged them to be in the habit of meeting together so as to share in his 'body' and 'blood.'
The apostles hearkened the Lord's admonishment, and as recorded by Dr. Luke in the Book of Acts, the early Christians were "continually devoting themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." (Acts 2:42)
Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Church in Corinth, asked the Christians, "Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?" (1 Corinthians 10:16)
What was Apostle Paul trying to say when he likened the breaking (eating) of bread as sharing in the body of Christ? Was he making a comparison between breaking the bread and the body of Christ, or was he referring to something different which would constitute the act as cannibalism?
In order to understand what Jesus meant by 'eating his body' and 'drinking his blood,' it's important to know what cannibalism entails.
What is Cannibalism?
Cannibalism is the act of a human or animal eating the flesh and/or internal organs of a species of its own kind. Human cannibalism refers to humans eating the flesh of their fellow humans while animal cannibalism refers to an animal eating the meat of its own kind.
History is filled with records of individuals, communities, or tribes, that engaged in cannibalism for a number of reasons, chief among them, out of necessity (hunger/starvation), a constituent of a community's ritual, to elicit sexual pleasure etc.
In essence, Christians would be practising cannibalism if they were literally eating the body of Jesus and drinking his blood. However, this isn't the case. Jesus resurrected on the third day following his death, and ascended to heaven, signifying the apostles and early Christians weren't able to 'literally' eat the body of Jesus, and drink his blood.
Furthermore, Christians aren't eating small pieces of a human's flesh or meat nor drink a small amount of human's or animal's blood as a representation of Jesus' body. Far from it, Christians eat a piece of food made from wheat flour e.g. biscuit or bread, and drink juice (or wine) as a symbolic act - a means to remind them of the suffering Jesus had undergone to redeem humanity from the futile life brought about by entrance of sin.
Symbolism is one of figurative language used in the Bible. Figurative language such as symbolism and metaphor is employed by writers to explain an idea so that it can be understood with clarity by readers. Hearst Seattle Media states the use of figurative language "is an effective way of communicating an idea that is not easily understood because of its abstract nature of complexity. Although figurative language does not offer a literal explanation, it can be used to compare one idea to a second idea to make the first idea easier to visualize. Figurative language also is used to link two ideas with the goal of influencing an audience to see a connection even if one does not exist."
Thus, "Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities, by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense. Symbolism can take different forms. Generally, it is an object representing another, to give an entirely different meaning that is much deeper and more significant," states Literally Devices.
We are familiar with different symbols that are used in various parts of the world to represent something. Red color represents blood, black color represents evil, white color represents peace, a dove represents peace, and a chain symbolizes oppression, to name a few.
When Christians congregate and participate in the activity, it serves different purposes. It doesn't represent literally eating Jesus' body and drinking his blood as we've seen from the above definitions. The purpose of continually participating in this activity is to:
- Remind Christians not to take lightly the sacrifice Lord Jesus underwent so as to redeem humanity from eternal separation from God. Unlike in the Old Testament, Christians aren't required to seek a human priest since Jesus is our High Priest, and Advocate between God and the accuser, Satan. The Old Testament's remission of sin was temporaral as it required continuous sacrifice of spotless lambs. But, Jesus' sacrifice is permanent, that is, it doesn't require continual sacrifice for our sins to be erased, and thereby made righteous before the eyes of God.
- Remind Christians not despair or give up on their walk with God. Jesus acts as a perfect example what it means not to lose heart. He was arrested, tortured, and crucified. In all this, he never gave up. He knew his mission on earth, and he knew where his strength emanated from. Thus, Christians shouldn't abandon their faith in God when they undergo various degrees of suffering, and persecution.
- Remind them of God's love for the world. John 3:16 states, "For God so loved the world that He gave (sacrificed) His only Son that whatsoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The theme of Christianity is the cross. If Jesus never sacrificed himself, we world would still be enslaved in sin - a human race devoid of any hope in the world, and afterlife. Moreover, the world would be eternally separated from God because as a Holy Being, God can't live in the midst of sin.
Real Meaning of Last Supper
The Real Meaning of Lord's Supper
Therefore, when Christians drink wine or juice to represent Jesus' blood, and eat bread or biscuit to represent his body, it acts as a reminder of the central theme of Christianity, and everything it carries with it - the symbolic meaning of the CROSS.
"... Jesus Christ did not have to die for us. He did, however, because He values every life on earth and wants to see each of us sitting at His dining table someday in heaven. The Last Supper reminds us of Christ's sacrifice, and that by faith in Him, we can dine with Christ for all eternity," states All About GOD Ministries, Inc.
© 2014 Alianess Benny Njuguna
Jay C OBrien from Houston, TX USA on May 09, 2015:
You wrote, "Animal sacrifice was temporal because it was limited. On the other hand, Jesus sacrifice on the cross by shedding blood was a permanent cover for sins. There would be no need of continuously offering animal sacrifice for remission of sins."
The Rabbis wrote the Sacrifice Theory. Originally there was animal sacrifice to remove sin. Now, the Judeo-Christians teach a blood sacrifice of Jesus to remove sin. The problem is, sacrifice does not and has never removed sin. Therefore the death of Jesus did not directly remove sin.
The death of Jesus (or near death experience) did not directly remove sin; however it was needed for the resurrection. It is the resurrection from the dead (or NDE) which proves an afterlife actually exists. He could not come back from nothing. A place or condition must first exist before there can be a return. If one accepts the resurrection of Jesus, the afterlife or spirit is proved. Once the spirit is proved we should act according to the teachings of Jesus. Until the resurrection there was no objective reason to believe in a spirit at all.
Lastly, Christians are NOT teaching cannibalism.
Kiss andTales on January 09, 2015:
Certainly you have said what is good in behalf of Jesus and pertaining to the Heavenly Father in speaking truth and bringing attention to the truth. That is more valuable then we can ever know especially when you find the odds are greater to believe different.
I appreciate you and your kind words of encouraging may we continue in the Journey of truth , and pray that many will see the spiritual light that will shine forever ! , because it is the only true key to open the door to the future of everlasting life with Jesus our King!
Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on January 09, 2015:
Thank you Kiss and Tale. I have noted the verse you have provided.It's good to have Christians who care for others to help them in the journey of faith and in the Word Of God. I do not know what to say.
Kiss andTales on January 08, 2015:
Ben716 thank you for your feed back and encouraging reply!
Most of the time when I share scriptures it is to get people to learn the mind of Jesus, in turn that is to learn the mind of the Heavenly Father
Because so many people have driven off the road into their own understanding and interpretations , which can not lead to the same destination in being with Jesus, he said to follow his steps closely, that way we will be with him ,rather that be earthly or rather that is a heavenly position contracted by the evening meal. We who love and respect what he has done for us will see the future in a clean New order!
So we who follow find this to be true!Reference Bible 1Ch 28:9 “And you, Solʹo·mon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a complete heart and with a delightful soul; for all hearts Jehovah is searching, and every inclination of the thoughts he is discerning. If you search for him, he will let himself be found by you; but if you leave him, he will cast you off forever.
I am happy that you are the first.
Alianess Benny Njuguna (author) from Nairobi, Kenya on January 08, 2015:
@ Kiss and Tales, there is a lot I learnt from your comments and I agree with you. First, how people turn the truth of God the other way, twisting the meaning to fit their own agenda, which is mostly the case with pastors.
Also, it is true that we have to act on what we believe and not just believe and that is it. We have to act on the Word of God, because people are known by their actions, not words.
Latly, it is true taking the Lord's Supper is a contract. Here we are claiming no matter what, we will stand by his side and follow him and do as he tells us.
Looking closely, the above two fit to the Lord's Supper.
A appreciate so much for the insight. God Bless You.
@Shameka Sutton, I agree with you. It is a symbol to remind us and to reaffirm our faith. Otherwise, if they say we practice cannibalism we would be eating and drinking literary. Thank you for reaffirming this truth.
Kiss andTales on December 04, 2014:
How serious is it to drink the wine and bread as symbols of this contract or agreement Jesus.
Well many will agree it tajes two or more to agree on a contract.
So that means this contract is like no other. It has binding on the bases of a value paid. Jesus paid with his life . To give us a future.
But notice what is written how serious it would be if people treated that contract as nothing. Or they just did not appreciate the sacredness of the meaning.
Therefore, whoever eats the loaf or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty respecting the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 First let a man approve himself after scrutiny, and only then let him eat of the loaf and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment against himself. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and quite a few are sleeping in death.
People are not to eat and drink these symbols as little meaning or value .
Because these symbols are a contract between Jesus and those picked for the New Government.
Kiss andTales on December 04, 2014:
To make this more clear what the Blood of Jesus meant in that meal was a contract. These symbols were a binding contract ,like people do in a wedding. The ring can mean a symbolic bound of marriage
Reference Bible Lu 22:29 and I make a covenant with YOU, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom,
Covenant Define Covenant at Dictionary.com
noun 1. an agreement, usually formal, between two or more persons to do or not do something specified. 2. Law. an incidental clause in such an agreement.
This Covenant was only between his faithful followers , Notice how many were in the room at the time 12 but one as Judas left.
This kingdom is a real Government.
Reference Bible Re 20:6 Happy and holy is anyone having part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no authority, but they will be priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.
Jesus was making a contract between him and them as his chosen staff or cabinet members As seats of Government in the heavenly realm. The wine and bread was a symbol as that contract like pen and paper.
That is why not all people he had preached to and healed was present . Because in actuality only those who have been picked will be of that calling to work beside Jesus in the New Government.
That is why in Rev. It clearly says
Reference Bible Re 14:3 And they are singing as if a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders; and no one was able to master that song but the hundred and forty-four thousand, who have been bought from the earth.
That is the only number of humans taken from the earth to take positions or Jobs
beside Jesus in Government.
What does that mean for the rest .we the survivors will be the citizens ,we will be the benefactors.
As the scriptures has it written.
Reference Bible Mt 6:10 Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.
This prayer has been answered.
Citizenship of this New Government requires accurate knowledge . Not based on the laws of Men .for they have had their day.
Kiss andTales on December 04, 2014:
Mathew 24:9 “Then people will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name. 10 Then, too, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; 12 and because of the increasing of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will grow cold. 13 But the one who has endured to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Who is saved ? Those that endure these things listed will.
Just because you believe is not enough you will have to act with it.
Example Judas was in the beginning a faithful choice that walk with the Jesus.
But what happened when the persecutors came ?
That was the real test of faith.
However, you are the ones who have stuck with me in my trials; Mathew 26:29 and I make a covenant with you, just as my Father has made a covenant with me, for a kingdom, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom, and sit on thrones to judge the 12 tribes of Israel.
Reference Bible Joh 13:2 So, while the evening meal was going on, the Devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Is·carʹi·ot, the son of Simon, to betray him,
Reference Bible Mt 26:24 True, the Son of man is going away, just as it is written concerning him, but woe to that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been finer for him if that man had not been born.”
So this is a great example ,Judas believed and walked with Jesus yet in the end he did not stand faithful in it by his actions. He tried to kill hisself.
Also the cross is pagan not true of what Jesus died on he died on a stake or one piece of wood.
King James Version Ga 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
Notice tree as one piece.
Shameka Sutton on December 04, 2014:
Since Christ came to die for the sins of the world, the bread and wine is nothing more than a symbol for the blood he shed on calvary and his body that he laid down for us so that we may not have to be put to death for our sins anymore....We are now saved by God' s grace and mercy. If christians practiced cannibalism that means during the holy communion, they would be eating flesh and drinking blood... So no that would not be a practice of cannibalism.....
Kiss andTales on December 04, 2014:
Yes and No . First their has been a violation of what this really means. Second it is a symbol of unity of those that will rule with Christ in his Government.
Since the death of the last disciples ,untruths were slowly leaked in like a poison that has done a lot of damage.
But the bible of truth always stood with truth .
People in general have established their own interpretations of God's thoughts.
When really they are rejecting his opinion and judgments.
So what do they do they say things are ok when the bible says its not. Yet when they read it they ignore what it is saying by replacing their meaning of convenience.
Sorry but this is truth.
If I was to say to a person that is sick I do not have the cure. And it is the truth
Would it be proper to say I have a cure and change the words to untruth ,will that change the outcome.
So many people are saying things are ok to do when it is not in the end
According to the future.