The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine
• Doctrinal Series •
THE HOLY SUPPER
Some particulars from the Arcana Coelestia (n. 9127):
He who knows nothing of the internal or spiritual sense of the Word, knows no other than that ‘flesh and blood,’ when they are mentioned in the Word, mean flesh and blood.
But in the internal or spiritual sense, it does not treat of the life of the body, but of the life of man’s soul, that is, of his spiritual life, which he is to live to eternity.
This life is described in the literal sense of the Word, by things which belong to the life of the body, that is, by ‘flesh and blood’; and as the spiritual life of man subsists by the good of love and the truth of faith, therefore in the internal sense of the Word the good of love is meant by ‘flesh,’ and the truth of faith by ‘blood.’ These are understood by ‘flesh and blood,’ and by ‘bread and wine,’ in heaven; for ‘bread’ means altogether the same there as ‘flesh,’ and ‘wine’ as ‘blood.’
They who are not spiritual men, do not apprehend this; let such abide therefore in their own faith, only believing that in the Holy Supper, and in the Word, there is holiness, because they are from the Lord, although they may not know where that holiness resides.
On the other hand, let those who are endowed with interior perception, consider whether ‘flesh’ means flesh, and ‘blood,’ blood, in the following passages.
In the Apocalypse:
I saw an angel standing in the sun, and he cried with a great voice, saying unto all the birds that fly in the midst of heaven, come and gather yourselves together to the supper of the great God; that ye may eat the flesh of Kings, and the flesh of commanders of thousands, and the flesh of the mighty, and the flesh of horses and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all, free and bond, small and great (19:17, 18).
Who can understand these words, unless he knows what ‘flesh,’ ‘kings,’ ‘commanders of thousands,’ ‘the mighty,’ ‘horses,’ ‘them that sit on them,’ and ‘freemen’ and ‘bondmen,’ signify in the internal sense?
And in Ezekiel:
Thus saith the Lord Jehovah, Say to every bird of heaven, and to every beast of the field, Gather yourselves together and come; gather yourselves together from every side to My sacrifice that I sacrifice for you, a great sacrifice upon the mountains of Israel, that ye may eat flesh and drink blood; ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes of the earth; and ye shall eat fat to satiety, and drink blood even to drunkenness, of My sacrifice which I have sacrificed for you: thus shall ye be satisfied at My table, with horse and chariot, with the mighty, and with every man of war; thus will I give My glory among the nations (39:17-21).
This passage treats of the calling together of all to the kingdom of the Lord, and in particular of the establishment of the church with the Gentiles; and ‘eating flesh and drinking blood,’ signify to appropriate to themselves Divine good and Divine truth, thus the holiness which proceeds from the Lord’s Divine Human. Who cannot see, that ‘flesh’ does not here mean flesh; nor ‘blood,’ blood; as when it said, that ‘they should eat the flesh of the mighty,’ and ‘drink the blood of the princes of the earth’; and that ‘they should drink blood even to drunkenness’; also that ‘they should be satisfied with horses, with chariots, with mighty men, and with all men of war’? What ‘the birds of heaven’ and ‘the beasts of the field’ signify in the spiritual sense, may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell (n. 110 and the notes).
Let us now consider what the Lord said concerning His flesh and His blood,
The bread which I will give, is My flesh. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day; for My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him. This is the bread which came down from heaven (John 6:50-58).
‘The flesh’ of the Lord is the Divine good, and His ‘blood,’ the Divine truth, each from Him, is evident, because these nourish the spiritual life of man; hence it is said, ‘My flesh is meat indeed, and My blood is drink indeed,’ and as man is conjoined to the Lord by the Divine good and truth, it is also said, ‘Whoso eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, hath eternal life‘; and, ‘He dwelleth in Me and I in him‘; and in the former part of the chapter: Labor not for the food which perisheth, but for that food which endureth to eternal life (John 6:27). ‘To abide in the Lord‘ is to be in love to Him, the Lord Himself teaches in John (15:2-12).
(The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine 222)