Q. When Jesus said, “This is my body, eat it,” my friend says he was speaking symbolically.
A. No, that would be impossible. In the Aramaic language that Jesus spoke, to symbolically “eat the flesh” or drink the blood” of someone meant to persecute and assault him. Did you know that there are several places in the Bible where “eating flesh and drinking blood” is used in a symbolic or metaphorical way? Let’s take a look at what this phrase means when it is used symbolically/metaphorically.
Psalm 27:2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me…”
Micah 3:2-3 “…you who hate good and love evil;…who eat my people’s flesh…”
Rev 17: 6 “I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the saints, the blood of those who bore testimony to Jesus.”
Rev. 17:16 “The beast and the ten horns you saw will hate the prostitute. They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire.”
So, we see that when “eating flesh” and “drinking blood” is used metaphorically or symbolically in the Bible it means destruction and murder. And it is still true today. If you got a letter that said someone wanted “to eat your flesh and drink your blood” you would take it as an evil threat of some kind and not an invitation to loving communion. Jesus was speaking literally in John 6 but no one would know just what He had in mind until the Last Supper. So, communion in His body and blood is literal but not cannibalistic. Jesus feeds us spiritually with Bread from Heaven.