"This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."This is similar to other sectarian translations. One might wonder why the Greek word σῶμα (sōma) was translated in this case to "substance" rather than "body."
Here is the context of Jesus' statement - what was going on as he said this:
Then he took some bread and offered it to God. He broke it and gave it to them and said, “This is my substance - offered for you – do this in remembrance of me.” (Luke 22:19 DT)The Greek word σῶμα (sōma) can certainly mean “body,” but also, according to Thayer's lexicon, “is used of a (large or small) number of men closely united into one society, or family as it were; a social, ethical, mystical body” and “that which casts a shadow as distinguished from the shadow itself.”
The word can also refer to one's spiritual body - or spirit - according to the lexicon.
Obviously, Jesus is not saying that the bread is his physical body. Jesus is sitting in front of his disciples as he says this, and they can see his body. His body's hands are holding the bread. How can the bread be his body?
Oh, but could the bread represent his body? How is that? What sense would that make? That Jesus is having his disciples eat his physical body like a bunch of cannibals?
That makes absolutely no sense. In fact, this characterization of Jesus' statement is asserted by those who revel in Jesus' suffering. They like to make everything about Jesus' physical body dying on the cross. They think his suffering on the cross has removed the consequences of their sins - as if Jesus was some sort of sacrificial lamb that people eat after it is offered to God.
This notion is not only grotesque. It is also nonsensical. The same people that promote such a theory also say that Jesus' physical body rose up after it was murdered on the cross.
So which is it? Does Jesus' body become sacrificed and people eat it or does his physical body rise up after the crucifixion?
They can't have it both ways. In reality, both of these proposals are nonsensical. Let's look at each:
Jesus was not a sacrificial lamb that cleanses the sins of those who simply accept that Jesus died for their sins. How can we know this? We can know this because every day we see people having to suffer the consequences of their sinful activities, even though they have accepted that Jesus supposedly died for their sins.
For example, we find that people who are members of churches that teach this can be put in prison for a crime they commit. Many had been members of churches that taught this philosophy for many years before they committed their crime. And many continued to be members after committing their crime. This is evidenced by the many chapels and church ceremonies conducted in prisons.
Now, if Jesus' crucifixion paid for their sins, why are they continuing to pay for their own sins (crimes) with jail time? Why did they get arrested in the first place if Jesus already paid for their sins? If this philosophy is true, then policemen should just ask the criminal if they accepted Jesus as dying for their sins, and if they do, then they would release the criminal because Jesus already paid for their sins.
But police don't do this. They arrest the criminals. Because Jesus didn't die to pay for their sins.
This goes for any other consequences that we find in our society. If a person gets angry and punches someone, the other person will likely punch them back. This is the consequence of their being violent - violence returned is a typical consequence of violence extended. We also find that if we are kind to others, others are typically kind back. Again, we are always presented with the consequences of our actions - good or bad.
This is why it has been said, "as you sow, so shall you reap."
Jesus did not teach, "as you sow, so shall I reap."
This is also why Jesus told a man he had just healed:
“See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you.” (John 5:14)Thus we understand that Jesus taught the law of consequences. Now if Jesus was going to die for everyone's sins, then he would have told the guy that. He wouldn't have had to tell him to stop sinning or something worse would happen to him.
The bottom line is that Jesus is not the sacrificial lamb for anyone who wants to wipe their sins off on.
As to the second assertion, as we've discussed with the previous verse, Jesus' physical body did not rise. His spirit-person 'rose', leaving the physical body at the time of death. This is very clear from Biblical verses:
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. (Matt. 27:50)
With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)From these we can understand that Jesus' spirit-person left his physical body at the time of death. And it was this spirit-person - an angel-like form - that appeared to Jesus' disciples after the death of his physical body. Jesus indeed did rise: He rose out of that physical body at the time of death.
This is why Jesus was not immediately recognized when he appeared to them. Because he didn't appear to them in his physical body. He appeared to them in an angel-like form, that could appear through locked doors, and could suddenly appear walking at their side.
As to why Jesus' physical body was missing from the tomb - the four gospels don't describe this. But we can easily conclude that Jesus' body was moved. Yes, they posted guards, but the guards also slept, and when they awoke, Jesus' body was gone. In fact, the tomb was not Jesus' permanent tomb - it was lent to Jesus by Joseph until they could find a more suitable tomb for his body.
Each spirit-person rises out of the physical body at the time of death. Where the spirit-person goes from there depends on upon their consciousness and previous activities. The spirit-person who becomes devoted to God during their physical lifetime will return to the spiritual realm. Those who do not will take on another physical body and suffer the consequences of their previous lifetime.
So why does the Devotional Translation use the word "substance" instead of "body" in the above verse? Jesus is referring to his very substance – what he is made of – in a metaphorical sense. Jesus has just offered the bread to the Supreme Being. Now he is saying that this bread represents his very substance, because he is offering himself to the Supreme Being.
Most ecclesiastical sectarians miss the fact that Jesus offered the bread to the Supreme Being. They like to translate the Greek word εὐχαριστέω (eucharisteō) to "gave thanks" yet it also means "to consecrate a thing" according to Thayer's lexicon. How is something "consecrated? According to the Old Testament, this means to offer it to the Supreme Being.
We find throughout Jesus' teachings that he supported the teachings of the Prophets, such as Moses, Abraham, Samuel, David and others. Heck, his most important commandment to love God was a quote of Moses from Deuteronomy 6:5:
'You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)All of these Prophets made offerings to God. It is documented clearly in the Old Testament.
Jesus is explaining that he had offered the bread, just as he is offering himself to God. One who offers themselves to the Supreme Being is making the total commitment. They are voluntarily surrendering their life to the Supreme Being in love. This is what Jesus was doing.
And this is the meaning of Jesus' allowing the Jewish Chief Priest and his guards to arrest him and put him up on trial, and eventually be subjected to the brutal persecution by the Romans and the Jewish priests.
Jesus could have evaded the arrest. He could have slipped off in the woods that night and stopped preaching. But he didn't. He stood up for his teachings of love for God. He would not back down. He would not run away.
This is essentially an offering to God - but it is Jesus' offering. Jesus made this decision. It was not as though God forced him to be persecuted - as some others have asserted. Rather, out of devotion and love, Jesus suffered the ultimate sacrifice. This is because Jesus loves God and wanted to show everyone just how important his teachings of love for God are.
And yes, the understanding of this act of love and devotion by Jesus certainly has the ability to save each of us. By understanding the extent of Jesus' love and total commitment to the Supreme Being, our hearts become purified. And that purification has the ability to redirect our commitment towards our own loving relationship with the Supreme Being.
This is what can propel each of us to return home to the spiritual realm.
But this is an ongoing choice each of us can make. As we make such a commitment and taste the loving relationship between Jesus and the Supreme Being, we can be saved.