The REAL Apostasy
("This Saying is Hard")

In John Chapter 6 we can read about a well-documented apostasy that actually took place in the presence of Our Lord. Understanding the reason for this apostasy is extremely important. The true meaning of this particular chapter is one of the key differences between the Catholic Church and most other Christian churches. After hearing what Jesus said, many of His disciples refused to believe His discourses at Capernaum and no longer went with him. Martin Luther also rejected this doctrine which had been believed by all Christians for fifteen hundred years prior to the Protestant revolt against the Catholic Church. It is still taught and believed by the Catholic Church today.

The miracle of the loaves and fish. (John 6:1-15)

Jesus asks His disciples how they will buy bread so that the people can eat. The only thing available was five barley loaves and two fish from a young lad. Jesus took their simple offering. Using almost the exact same words ("gave thanks" or "eucharistia" in Greek) as are used in Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-29, to describe the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, He performed a miracle and provided enough for five thousand to eat. He then instructed them to pickup the leftovers to show them (and us) that material resources are gifts of God and should not be wasted. Through this miracle, Jesus teaches His disciples to trust in Him whenever they meet up with difficulties in their apostolic endeavours in the future. He is also preparing them for what He is going to reveal to them in the discourses at Capernaum in which Jesus presents Himself as "the Bread of Life".

The discourse on the bread of life. (John 6:25-58)

Jesus starts out by telling the people that their attitudes are wrong. He indicates that if they have the right attitude they will be able to understand His teachings yet to come. He tells them that He is the Bread of Life, come down from heaven to give Himself sacramentally as genuine food. Through this discourse, Christ promised that He would give Himself, His own flesh and blood, in a real sense, as food and drink. Jesus is telling them many months prior to the Last Supper, that it will be His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity truly present in the Holy Eucharist. He made it abundantly clear that His flesh was true food and His blood was true drink. He told them over and over again that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have life within them. This terminology was not being used simply as a figure of speech. To the Jews, the phrase "to eat someone's flesh" meant to hate and vengefully persecute, and "to drink someone's blood" meant to visit severe punishments on them. 11 Neither of these meanings would make any sense in the context of what Jesus was saying to them. Please read John 6:25-58 very carefully again and ponder in your heart what Jesus meant by speaking these words. Was He speaking about a symbolic action to be done in remembrance of Him or did He actually mean what He was saying?

"This Saying is Hard" (John 6:60-70)

Here's where the apostasy took place even as Jesus was speaking to the people. The disciples' reaction was one of disgust. How can He give us His flesh to eat and His blood to drink? "This saying is hard; who can listen to it?" Many of His disciples simply could not accept what He was saying to them and they walked away, never to follow Him again. Rather than calling them back or trying to explain that He didn't really mean it the way they interpreted His words, He turned to the Twelve and asked them, "Will you also go away?" That same piercing question from Jesus applies to us as much today as it did back then. Do we also find this saying hard to accept? Will we also turn and walk away from Our Lord? Do we not have the faith necessary to believe these words?

The Catholic Church has always taught that Jesus Christ is truly present, Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Holy Eucharist through the mystery of Transubstantiation. Compare this with the Mormon teaching that the bread and wine (water) are merely emblems or symbols (Moroni 4 and 5). However, to complicate things, (3 Nephi 18:28-29) warns us not to partake of the flesh and blood of Christ unworthily. So which is it in the LDS church, a symbolic action to be done in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, or is the bread and wine (water) His true flesh and blood?

Death came into the world through the sin of Adam. Bread is first mentioned in the Old Testament when God gives punishment to Adam. "In the sweat of your brow, you shall eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). Scripture again uses the word bread in conjunction with the word wine, "Then Melchizedek, the king of Salem (Jerusalem), brought out bread and wine; for he was a priest of the Most High God" (Genesis 14:18). It is significant that God mentions bread in his punishment of Adam, because the new Adam, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22), identifies Himself as "The Bread of Life". In the Book of Hebrews we read that, "Jesus has - become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20) Like Melchizedek, Jesus is the King of Jerusalem, and a High Priest of God who offers bread and wine. Christ continues through His Catholic priests to offer the sacrifice of His body and blood, under the appearance of bread and wine, according to the order of Melchizedek. It is at the Last Supper (Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20, and 1 Corinthians 11:23-29) that Jesus clarifies what He spoke of earlier during His ministry. He is the true "bread of angels" (Psalms 78:23-25). Christ gives us His body, blood, soul and divinity under the taste and appearance of a meal of bread and wine. Through faith we recognize that the Holy Eucharist only appears to be bread, "they recognized Him in the breaking of the bread." (Luke 24:35)



References and Footnotes

All Bible references are taken from the
Revised Standard Version (RSV) - Catholic Edition
(unless otherwise indicated)

 

(John 6:1-15)

After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiber'i-as.
And a multitude followed him, because they saw the signs which he did on those who were diseased.
Jesus went up on the mountain, and there sat down with his disciples.
Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand.
Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a multitude was coming to him, Jesus said to Philip, "How are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?"
This he said to test him, for he himself knew what he would do.
Philip answered him, "Two hundred denarii would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little."
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to him,
"There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are they among so many?"
Jesus said, "Make the people sit down." Now there was much grass in the place; so the men sat down, in number about five thousand.
Jesus then took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, "Gather up the fragments left over, that nothing may be lost."
So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten.
When the people saw the sign which he had done, they said, "This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!"
Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.


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(Matthew 26:26-28)

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and 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.


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(Mark 14:22-24)

And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body."

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.

And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.


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(Luke 22:19-20)

And he took bread, and when he had 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 likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.


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(1 Corinthians 11:23-29)

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,

and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.

Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.


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(John 6:25-58)

When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, "Rabbi, when did you come here?"
Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give to you; for on him has God the Father set his seal."
Then they said to him, "What must we do, to be doing the works of God?"
Jesus answered them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent."
So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see, and believe you? What work do you perform?
Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"
Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven; my Father 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."
They said to him, "Lord, give us this bread always."
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to me shall not hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.
But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
All that the Father gives me will come to me; and him who comes to me I will not cast out.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me;
and this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up at the last day.
For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, "I am the bread which came down from heaven."
They said, "Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, 'I have come down from heaven'?"
Jesus answered them, "Do not murmur among yourselves.
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
It is written in the prophets, 'And they shall all be taught by God.' Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.
Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father.
Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.
I am the bread of life.
Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.
This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that a man may eat of it and not die.
I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh."
The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;
he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.
This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."


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(John 6:60-70)

Many of his disciples, when they heard it, said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?"

But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples murmured at it, said to them, "Do you take offense at this?

Then what if you were to see the Son of man ascending where he was before?

It is the spirit that gives life, the flesh is of no avail; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

But there are some of you that do not believe." For Jesus knew from the first who those were that did not believe, and who it was that would betray him.

And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father."

After this many of his disciples drew back and no longer went about with him.

Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also wish to go away?"

Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life;

and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"


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(Transubstantiation)

The "change of substance" of bread into the Body of Christ and wine into the Blood of Christ at the Consecration of the Mass. Although this fundamental doctrine of the Catholic Church was held by the faithful since apostolic days, the term "transubstantiation" was adopted by the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215, to describe the Eucharistic mystery. This was reinforced by the Council of Trent (1545-63), which spoke of "a wonderful and singular conversion" of the Eucharistic elements.

Only a validly ordained priest can confect the Eucharist. Because of the reality of transubstantiation, reference to the Eucharistic Species as "bread and wine" is wrong. They are properly called the Body and Blood of Christ.

Reverend Peter M.J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.L. Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic Encyclopedia. Copyright © 1994, Our Sunday Visitor.


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(Book of Mormon, Moroni Chapters 4 and 5)

Chapter 4

1 The manner of their elders and priests administering the flesh and blood of Christ unto the church; and they administered it according to the commandments of Christ; wherefore we know the manner to be true; and the elder or priest did minister it --

2 And they did kneel down with the church, and pray to the Father in the name of Christ, saying:

3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

Chapter 5

1 The manner of administering the wine -- Behold, they took the cup, and said:

2 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this wine to the souls of all those who drink of it, that they may do it in remembrance of the blood of thy Son, which was shed for them; that they may witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they do always remember him, that they may have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.


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(Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 18:28-29)

28 And now behold, this is the commandment which I give unto you, that ye shall not suffer any one knowingly to partake of my flesh and blood unworthily, when ye shall minister it;

29 For whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily eateth and drinketh damnation to his soul; therefore if ye know that a man is unworthy to eat and drink of my flesh and blood ye shall forbid him.


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(Genesis 3:19)

In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.


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(Genesis 14:18)

And Mel-chiz'edek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was priest of God Most High.


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(1 Corinthians 15:22)

For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.


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(Hebrews 6:20) where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz'edek.


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(Matthew 26:26-28)

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and 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.


Back to the Text



(Mark 14:22-24)

And as they were eating, he took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body."

And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it.

And he said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.


Back to the Text



(Luke 22:19-20)

And he took bread, and when he had 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 likewise the cup after supper, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.


Back to the Text



(1 Corinthians 11:23-29)

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,

and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me."

In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.

Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.

For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.


Back to the Text



(Psalms 78:23-25)

Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven;

and he rained down upon them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.

Man ate of the bread of the angels; he sent them food in abundance.


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(Luke 24:35)

Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.


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