The Eucharist Is Not A Re-Sacrifice

“Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” – Matthew 26:26-28

For Orthodox Christians, the bread and wine aren’t merely symbolic but the actual body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, transfigured by the Holy Spirit. The real presence of God is in the Eucharist. Some protestant theologians assert this is a “re-sacrifice” citing Hebrews 10:10, “And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.” They use this verse to disregard the real presence and even the need to take communion itself (see CARM).

However, if we go to the previous verses of Hebrews chapter 10 it states, “Above when he said, sacrifice, offerings and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law. Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” Here the burnt offerings are being “taken away” in the Old Covenant/Testament and “offering for sin” is being established. And as scripture tells us, the Eucharist is for the remission of sins and life everlasting (Matthew 26:28, Romans 3:25, John 6:53-54). Christ in the Eucharist is the offering for sin that has been established in the new covenant.

The Holy Eucharist unites man with God. It deifies him. Since man unites with God, he also unites with other people. St. Paul says that “because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the One Bread” (1 Corinthians, 10:17). This unifying of the people among themselves into one body is like the unity of the three Persons of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Christ was indeed sacrificed once, for all time. The sacrifice at the Eucharist is not a re-sacrifice of Christ, it is the transformation of the bread and wine into the actual sacrificed Lamb of God. “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29. All the events of Christ’s sacrifice, the Incarnation, the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension are not repeated in the Eucharist, but they are made present in the Eucharist.

“Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” – 1 Corinthians 10:16

Paul emphasizes it is a real participation in the body and blood of Christ, and we know Christ was sacrificed once and for all. So we know Christ’s command to do this in remembrance of Him, means we are participating with Christ Himself in the Eucharist, not a re-sacrifice of Him. The Church does not repeat Christ’s sacrifice, She participates in Christ’s once and for all sacrifice. Jesus is the God-Man, as a human His sacrifice was within space and time, but as God it was also outside of time. Jesus being God brings in an aspect where He transcends time itself which our protestant brothers and sisters do not seem to want to address when understanding why the Eucharist is not a ‘re-sacrifice.’

Malachi 1:11 indicates the prophecy of the Eucharist being done in every place and incense being burned for God as well just like Israel had done. “My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to Me, because My name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.” Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 41, ca. 155 AD he states the same understanding, “Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: “I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, My name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure offering: for My name is great among the Gentiles, says the Lord: but you profane it.” He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane it.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s