By John Larkins
The Bible is divided into two parts, the Old Testament Covenant and the New Testament Covenant (please note that both parts are covenants).
The Old Testament writings look forward to the Messiah. Notice, however, that the objective/purpose/benefit of said Messiah is not discussed, especially in how the Messiah will perform His mission.
The New Testament, after being written by the 12 Apostles and other disciples (who, incidentally, followed a faith later known as Catholic), looks back at Jesus Christ when he came as a child. When Jesus matured, He started a new and everlasting covenant, that He introduced as The Kingdom of God. It was his blood that Jesus sealed the new covenant.
We follow Jesus to the Jordan River where his cousin John the Baptist is baptizing Jews for the forgiveness of sins, which we view as a profound undertaking. In the Biblical “election theme,” God chose the Jews as his favorite people. After all, He had been cultivating them for several hundred years in Egypt as the product of Abraham’s promise from God to produce a multitude. God ordered the Jews to offer sacrifices. The Book of Numbers and Book of Leviticus are filled with statements from the Almighty about what kind of sacrifices, how man, where and when they are to be offered and for what purposes.
God did not simply want to be worshipped by the offering of sacrifices; however, they were used by the Israelites to show how sorry they were for past sins. God often noted that the Jews were sinful and rebellious and directed them to sacrifice a lamb in atonement for said sins. Even though these offerings were specified by God through Moses, they could never be enough for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus Christ not only provided the singular and immense sacrifice to open the Gates of Heaven to collective human souls by giving up his life through torture; He established an eternal process within his Kingdom of God, also known as His Church. This sacrifice of the new and eternal covenant was announced at the Last Supper when Christ’s Church was first given the Sacrifice of the Holy Eucharist, otherwise known as His body and blood. No other Church has the authority to offer this sacrifice, which forgive sins.
The prime reason for the sacrifice of Calvary is the forgiveness of sins. The gift of the Eucharist is available to baptized Catholics who have prepared themselves for the presence of their Re-deemer. Is this Eucharist the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ? John’s Gospel, 6:51-63, answers thusly: “Jesus said, ‘I am the bread of life. I am the living bread that has come down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever, and the bread is my flesh for the life of the world.’ The Jews murmured amongst themselves and said, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’ Then Jesus said, ‘Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink.’ Upon hearing this, the Jews in the synagogue listening to Jesus said, ‘This is a hard saying.”
Then they walked away, and Jesus let them go. He then asked his Apostles if they were leaving. Peter said, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? We have begun to believe that you have the words of everlasting life.’
Where indeed shall we go? The most stupendous barrier to Protestant correlation with Catholic dogma is the vast time and conversion differences. Martin Luther obviously had no direct contact with Jesus Christ, and being a Catholic, he was well-schooled in Christ’s Church teachings, even if he may not have agreed with them. During that time span, dogmatic adaptations were inevitable, and the founding principles from Jesus were in place to include cultural differences. The geography and cultural impacts of enlarging Catholicism to include Ireland, France, England and all of Scandinavia, when filtered through the robust Church teaching process, brought many nuances that impacted the Apostolic faith. Each new country brought expressions and practices that were the result of their culture, while being consistent with Church precepts and teaching.
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