What We Do When We Do Church – The Lord’s Supper

Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

– taken from Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25

For the next set of devotions, we’ll be exploring the Service of the Sacrament (as it is called in the Lutheran Service Book).

The “Sacrament” is the Lord’s Supper. In the Lord’s Supper Christ comes to us in His body and blood which is “hidden” under the bread and the wine.

The previous devotions in this series are:

Part 1 – Hymnody
Part 2 – Invocation
Part 3 – Baptism
Part 4 – Confession of Sins
Part 5 – Absolution
Part 6 – Introit / Psalmody
Part 7 – Kyrie
Part 8 – Hymn of Praise
Part 9 – Scripture Readings
Part 10 – Sermon
Part 11 – Confession of Faith
Part 12 – Offering
Part 13 – Offertory
Part 14 – Prayer
Part 15 – “Our Father”
Part 16 – “Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Part 17 – “Thy Kingdom Come”
Part 18 – “Daily Bread”
Part 19 – “Keep Us From Evil”
Part 20 – “Amen and Amen!”
Part 21 – Preface and Proper Preface
Part 22 – Sanctus

While many Christians view the words of Jesus that we often refer to as the Words of Institution as nothing more than an historical report: that this is what Jesus did and what he said, period, Lutherans have been blessed to believe, teach and confess that these words mean much more.

They actually do what they say.

According to the command of Christ, we celebrate the Lord’s Supper not as just a memorial meal but as a Sacrament by which Jesus himself comes to us.

While in Baptism we are spiritually transported back in time to Jesus’ death and resurrection, in the Lord’s Supper Jesus comes to us and brings heaven down to earth for our benefit.

The following is what Martin Luther – the 16th Century Reformer – said about the Lord’s Supper:

The Sacrament of the Altar is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.
This is this written in the Bible by the holy Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, who wrote: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Image result for lord's supperThe benefit of eating and drinking the Sacrament is seen in these words, “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,” which show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
Bodily eating and drinking can do such great things, but certainly not just eating and drinking do these things. Rather, the words written here: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” These words, along with the bodily eating and drinking, are the main thing in the Sacrament. Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: “forgiveness of sins.”
To receive the sacrament worthily, fasting and bodily preparation are certainly fine outward training. But that person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
But anyone who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words “for you” require all hearts to believe.

[From Luther’s Small Catechism © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, cph.org]

The Lord’s Supper is sometimes called “the foretaste of the Feast to come.” This doesn’t meant that we’ll receive the Lord’s Supper in heaven – there will be no need. Because in heaven we’ll have Jesus completely and fully.

But heaven is pictured as a “wedding banquet” of the Lamb in His Kingdom which has no end. The Lord’s Supper is a “taste” of that banquet!

But in this life, as we look forward to Jesus’ Second Coming, He has given us this Sacrament in order to give us the power of the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith.

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