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’.