Wolfhart Pannenberg sums up the signiﬁcance of what happened: ‘meal and sacriﬁce go together at the Lord’s Supper, just as the covenant sacriﬁce and covenant meal did in Israel.’21
21 W. Pannenberg, Systematic Theology, trans. G. W. Bromiley, iii (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1998), 319.
As we noted, Tom Torrance calls the Eucharist ‘the Eucharistic sacriﬁce’, and logically does so on the basis of what he says about the Last Supper: through his ‘self-consecration’ and ‘high priestly intercession’, Jesus intended that his disciples should be ‘presented to the Father through his own self-offering on their behalf ’.22
22 T. F. Torrance, Theology in Reconciliation: Essays Toward Evangelical and Cath olic Unity in East and West (Eugene, Oreg.: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 1996), 106.
Unlike Paul and the three Synoptic Gospels, John does not report the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Nevertheless, one ﬁnds clear Eucharistic references in Jesus’ discourse about ‘my ﬂesh for the life of the world’ and the invitation to ‘eat my ﬂesh and drink my blood’ (John 6: 51–8). By ‘becoming ﬂesh’ and assuming a complete human nature (John 1: 14), the incarnate Logos could offer himself in death and so surrender his own physical existence ‘for the life of the world’. The reality of Jesus’ sacriﬁcial death is expressed through the distinction between the ‘ﬂesh’ to be eaten and the ‘blood’ to be drunk: ‘eating the ﬂesh and drinking the blood entail that the ﬂesh has been broken and the blood shed.’23
23 A. T. Lincoln, The Gospel According to John (London: Continuum, 2005), 232.
In the discourse on the Bread of Life, John’s Gospel provides its own precious commentary on what Jesus’ institution of the Eucharist intended. We documented the strong resistance of the Reformers to a sacriﬁcial interpretation of the Last Supper. In the historical circumstances, this opposition of Luther and Calvin was understandable. The belief that priestly sacriﬁce had been made and mandated by Christ at the Last Supper had led not only to life-giving Eucharistic practice but also to the abuses of ‘multiple Masses’ and ‘private Masses’.