Question and Answer
Old Testament Sacrifices and Christ's "Real Presence"
Recently, I heard a Catholic priest discuss the fulfillment of the Levitical sacrifices in Christ's ultimate sacrifice. He was citing these Old Testament sacrifices as proofs of the "real presence" in the Eucharist. He said this sacrifice fulfilled, among other things, (1) the propitiatory sin offering and (2) the peace offering. He pointed out that the priest was instructed to eat of the flesh of the sin offering, and that the laity was instructed to share in a communal meal with the priest, of the flesh of the peace offering.
His point was that anything less than the true, physical presence of Christ's sacrificed body (the same one that hung on the cross) would diminish the sacrifice today, making the Eucharist ineffectual for those Christians partaking of it. This would also mean that Christ had not truly fulfilled the OT law. His conclusion, therefore, was that the "real presence" taught by the Catholic church must be true based on Scripture.
I had heard some of these comparisons made before, but never in this specific context. Something doesn't seem quite right about this. Can you please shed some light? Thank you!
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
You asked this question: Can the corporeal presence of Christ in the Lord's Supper be legitimately anchored in Old Testament sacrifices?
The answer: No!!
You asked for light on this attempted comparison. There is an illegitimate twist made in evaluating the fulfillment of the sin offering and the peace offering.
This "eating of a re-sacrificed Christ's body as the continuation of the Old Testament sacrifice and sacrificial meal" is based on a line of argument that has Christ being re-sacrificed repeatedly and eaten repeatedly, and denies the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifice in being a type, an ordinance of God in the OT "Covenant of Grace worship" to be done until the sacrifice that God would supply would be offered.
The repetition of a sacrifice means that it did not atone for sins according to the Book of Hebrews. See Hebrews 7:27 and chapters 8, 9, and 10, especially 10:1-4. Hebrews 10:18 specifically says the sacrifice of Christ is not to be repeated:
Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, "this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days," saith the Lord, "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more." Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. (Heb. 10: 15-18)
If the Roman Catholic persists in "re-sacrificing Christ", then he is proclaiming in public—according to the Book of Hebrews 10:2-3, 18—that Christ's sacrifice is ineffectual, that it leaves those for whom it was offered with consciousness of sin not yet propitiated, and God the Father has despised his Son's meritorious, sacrificial and propitiatory death.
All of this is a wrong argument. It is invalid. Having said that, let us also say that the Lord's Supper is more than a mere "memorial," as some Protestants would have it. There is a "real presence" in its proper celebration, but it is not a bodily presence: it is a real spiritual presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with his people. Praise Him!
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