Evidence Christ Offered the Last Supper as a Sacrifice

By November 3, 2016 Articles

It is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church that the Eucharist is a sacrifice—in particular, the onesacrifice of Christ. The Council of Trent declared:
If any one saith, that, by the sacrifice of the mass, a blasphemy is cast upon the most holy sacrifice of Christ consummated on the cross; or, that it is thereby derogated from; let him be anathema (The Canons on the Sacrifice of the Mass, canon 4).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reaffirms Trent’s teaching: “The Eucharist is . . . a sacrifice” (CCC 1365).
The Catholic understanding of the Eucharist rests on the belief that the Last Supper was a sacrifice. Blessed Pope Paul VI, in his 1965 encyclical Mysterium Fidei, called the Last Supper the “Eucharistic sacrifice” (MF 4).
But Protestants reject this. They don’t believe the Last Supper was a sacrifice, and consequently they don’t believe the Christian celebration of the Eucharist is a sacrifice—it’s merely a memorial, they say.
Was the Last Supper a sacrifice or not? I will give five clues that suggest Jesus intended the Last Supper to be a sacrifice—and in particular his sacrifice.
Clue #1: “Blood poured out”
The first clue that screams sacrifice is Jesus’ language of his blood being poured out. The pouring of blood is reminiscent of the Old Testament atoning sacrifices. For example, Leviticus 4:7 describes how the priest was to pour the blood of the victim at the base of the altar on which the victim was offered. When Jesus speaks of pouring out his blood, we can reasonably conclude he understood the Eucharist to be an atoning sacrifice—especially when we consider how Jesus speaks of his blood being poured out for the forgiveness of sins (see Matthew 26:28).
Clue #2: “Do this”
The sacrificial nature of the Last Supper is further revealed by Jesus’ command to “do this” (Luke 22:19). The Greek reads poieite touto. In the Greek version of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the word poieo, which is the root for poieite, is translated as “offer” with regard to offering sacrifices:

  • “Now this is what you shall offer [Greek, poieseis] upon the altar: two lambs a year old day by day continually” (Exod. 29:28).
  • “Draw near to the altar, and offer [Greek, poieson] your sin offering and your burnt offering, and make atonement for yourself and for the people” (Lev. 9:7).
  • “I will offer [Greek, poies?] to thee burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams” (Psalm 66:15).

If Jesus is commanding the apostles to poiete (offer) the Eucharist, then he intends for it to be a sacrifice.
Clue #3: “In remembrance of me”
Not only did Jesus tell the apostles to “do this,” he said, “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19; emphasis added). The Greek word for remembrance is anamnesis, which has sacrificial overtones in both the New and Old Testaments. For example, in the Septuagint, Moses tells the Israelites that their burnt offerings and peace offerings would serve as an anamn?sis (“remembrance”) before God (see Numbers 10:10). The author of Hebrews sees the Old Testament sacrifices in the same light:  “But in these sacrifices there is a reminder [Greek, anamn?sis] of sin year after year” (Heb. 10:3). When we consider these sacrificial overtones of anamnesis, combined with the sacrificial meaning of poiete, we have good reason to believe Luke’s use of anamn?sis suggests the Last Supper is a sacrifice.
Clue #4: “Given for you”
A fourth clue regarding the sacrificial nature of the Last Supper is Luke’s use of the Greek word didomi, which is used for “given” in Jesus’ statement “This is my body given for you” (Luke 22:19; emphasis added).
Elsewhere in the New Testament didomi is used with reference to sacrifices. For example, Luke writes, “[T]hey [Mary and Joseph] brought him [Jesus] up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord . . . and to offer [Greek, didomai] a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord” (Luke 2:24).
Mark uses didomi when he speaks of Jesus’ atoning death on the cross:“For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give [Greek, didomai]his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Knowing that didomi is a word used for sacrifice, we can add it to our evidence that suggests the sacrificial nature of the Last Supper.
Clue #5: “Blood of the covenant’”
The “blood of the covenant” found in Matthew’s Last Supper narrative is another sacrificial phrase. Moses used the same language with reference to the sacrificial victim during the ratification ceremony of the Sinaitic covenant: “Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Exod. 24:8).
By using the phrase “blood of the covenant,” Jesus is drawing a parallel between the Sinaitic covenant and the Last Supper. If the ratifying ceremony for the Sinaitic covenant was a sacrifice, then the Last Supper, which is the ratifying ceremony for the New Covenant, must also be a sacrifice.
Pray tell what sacrifice?
Although there are more clues that suggest the sacrificial nature of the Last Supper, I think these suffice. But now we must ask, “What sacrifice is the Last Supper?” The answer is, “It’s Christ’s sacrifice!”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:
In the Eucharist Christ gives us the very body which he gave up for us on the cross, the very blood which he “poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” The Eucharist is thus a sacrifice because it re-presents (makes present) the sacrifice of the cross (CCC, 1365-1366).
What’s the biblical support? Notice in the Last Supper narratives Jesus speaks of his own body being given up (see Luke 22:19) and his own blood being poured out (see Mark 14:24, Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20).What’s interesting is that he doesn’t speak of his body and blood as that which will be given up and poured out. In all of the institution narratives Jesus speaks of giving his body and blood in the presenttense—“this is my body which is given for you” (Luke 22:19); “the cup which is poured out for you” (Luke 22:20; Mark 14:24; Matt. 26:28). This suggests that the bloody sacrifice Jesus was to offer on the cross the next day was mysteriously made present in an unbloody manner.
Conclusion
It’s interesting that Protestants often tout themselves as being more biblically oriented than Catholics. Yet when it comes to the sacrificial nature of the Last Supper, I think it’s the Catholic who can say his belief is more biblical than the Protestant’s.
By Karlo Broussard

12 Comments

  • Tom Rafferty says:

    “Evidence Christ Offered the Last Supper as a Sacrifice” Really. EVIDENCE??? You ONLY quote your writings and make NO reference to secular historians, who have NEVER found sufficient evidence that there was an historical Jesus, much less that he did miracles, et al. I encourage anyone with an open mind to really evaluate the claims of your religion.

    • You are stating this in the wrong website my friend. If you want a good response, you should troll the webiste catholic.com there you will get an answer for your questions. Or you should troll atheist websites instead and find common, like minded people. I pray that you come to an understanding of your doubts and change your seemingly logical conclusions.

  • Peter Aiello says:

    Hebrews 7:27 speaks of Christ “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself”. It is clear from Scripture that Christ was really sacrificed only once; so how do we reconcile this with the ongoing sacrifices of the mass. Don’t there also have to be ongoing resurrections of Christ, ongoing ascensions, and ongoing outpourings of the Holy Spirit? If not, then He and the Eucharist would be no different than the dead animals of the Old Testament, and the Jewish high priests who had to be replaced when they died, and who could not really remit sin as Christ did, only once, when He resurrected and became our heavenly High Priest (see Hebrews 7:22-27). “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1Corinthians 15:17).

  • Peter Spasic says:

    Hebrews 10:1, 10, 14
    Heb 10 teaches that there is no longer an ongoing yearly (weekly?daily?) sacrifice since Jesus’ sacrifice was a once-for-all offering

  • Stephen Denny says:

    #1. John narated that Jesus has preached to whole people following Him about “My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed”. John a nay voter? I don’t think so.
    They all copied Paul teaching? Again, I don’t buy that argument. Sorry.
    #2. This is about Catholic Church confession format throughout the world: http://www.aboutcatholics.com/beliefs/how-to-go-to-confession/
    #3. We cannot examine about Jesus divinity, I must admit. No arguments can prove anything about His Divinity. We only rely on the teaching of the apostles, and their successors. You are free to believe it or not to believe it. Simple as that.
    #4. Hebrews 7 and 10 teach about the imperfections of Old Testament sacrifical offering compared to Lord offering.
    Indeed, Lord had done it Only One and it is a perfect one. But our communion with Him is on and off. So, it is us who should partake His sacrificial offering day by day throughout our whole life, by joining in the non bloody sacrificial mass He has ordered in His Last Supper. The Holy Eucharist is the way Lord gave to us to partake in His One and Only sacrifice.
    I think the Catholic Church teaching is that clear for me to understand bible.
    Also, I follow the teaching that has fundamentals to people living around Him than some recent scientist speculating and claiming they know better.
    People can only prove “which is not” about Jesus.
    The bible is honest enough to describe that even His close disciples has trouble believing Him and understand Him.
    So honest that now people focus on that “hard to understand and hard to believe” teaching as foreground to cast more “hard to believe and hard to understand” speculations. Because it’s alot easier to not understand something. You just reject the explanations given to you and/or you just ask everybody else to give you more and more evidences that should suit your unsatisfying and inconsistence standard.

    • Peter Aiello says:

      Stephen Denny: In 1Corinthians 11:26, Saint Paul says that we proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes. He doesn’t say that we reenact it. If the Eucharist is a real reenactment of the death of Christ, then there would have to be a real reenactment of the resurrection; otherwise, it would not do us any good. It would be no different than the dead animals and dead high priests of the Old Testament. “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1Corinthians 15:17). Also, without a subsequent ascension, there is no subsequent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

  • Gail Ramplen says:

    None so blind as those who do not want to see.

  • JESUS CHRIST , SON OF GOD , OUR LORD , OUR SAVIOR, said in Last Supper , ” Do This In Memory of Me !

  • John Wesley was a Protestant who believed in the Eucharistic sacrifice and he used basically the same argument as was presented here. He also believed in the Real Presence, albeit using Orthodox terminology rather than Roman. So at least this Protestant (and his true spiritual children) are oriented the same way as Roman Catholics.

  • Peter Aiello says:

    The Eucharist, as a sacrifice, brings up some interesting points. A sacrifice involves a dead victim. What Catholics seem to believe is that the body and blood that are received as a result of transubstantiation are the lifeless body of Christ and His blood. There would be no spirit, soul, and Divinity in His body during the three days while He was in the tomb, before His resurrection. He had descended into Hades. If this is the case, Catholics are not receiving the entire Christ during the mass.
    Without the Spirit of Christ, there is no salvation; therefore, the Eucharist, by itself, is insufficient for salvation. It is only a part of our Christian experience. This is why we need to be in the state of grace prior to participation in the Eucharist, which means that we need to have the Spirit of Christ within us before we participate. The Eucharist itself does not put us in the state of grace. How can it?
    After Jesus spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, He said: “What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that makes alive; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:62-63). Saint Paul says: “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1Corinthians 15:17).
    The death of Christ was a prerequisite to Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out. The Holy Spirit actualized the results of the Redemption for us.

  • Julius Domingo says:

    Amen..
    I am a Catholic..
    I want to know that during the holy Eucharist why is that the holy body of Christ only is given to us not both body and blood? Your answer is highly appreciated.. Thank you.. To God be the glory..

  • Peter Aiello says:

    If the Last Supper was really a sacrifice in the true sense, it means that the sacrifice on the cross happened at the Last Supper before the actual event in the next day. Even in an unbloody manner, transubstantiation at the Last Supper would make present the actual sacrifice of Christ before it happened. The body of Christ is the sacrificed body, which means that it is dead. This means that Christ distributed His dead body and blood to His apostles at the Last Supper before He was actually crucified on the cross.

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