Summary: In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus offers us his body and blood with the bread and wine as a contract signed in blood, guaranteeing us the forgiveness of sins.
“Cannibals!” “Flesh-eaters!” You know, that’s what Christians of the first century were accused of when they took part in the Lord’s Supper. That great mysterious ceremony which Jesus instituted the night before he died has really caused a lot of confusion over the years. Everybody seems to have a different take on what Holy Communion is. Well, as you might have noticed we haven’t celebrated the Lord’s Supper yet here at Divine Savior. That’s not because we don’t think it’s important. To the contrary, because it is so important, we’ve decided to wait just a few weeks. Many of you are now going to begin studying in what we call our “Communion Course” to learn (or for some review) what we need to know to be able to go to the Lord’s Supper and to become members of Divine Savior. But in those studies and in our sermon for this morning we aren’t going to look at what I think about the Lord’s Supper. We aren’t going to look at what Pastor Leyrer thinks about the Lord’s Supper. We aren’t even going to look at what the Lutheran Church teaches about Lord’s Supper. No, we are going to look at what God says in his Word about the Lord’s Supper. So let’s look at the second lesson for this morning taken from 1 Corinthians chapter eleven...
You know one thing really stands out here in our text. When Jesus gave the bread and wine to his disciples telling them that it was his body and blood, he said, “Do this!” “Do this.” The Lord’s Supper is something that God wants us to continually do, make use of. God wants us to participate in the Lord’s Supper, but not in an unworthy way as we see here in verse 27. But in order to receive it correctly, we really need to understand what it is, right? So, that’s what we are going to see this morning. We are going to see that God wants us to receive the Lord’s Supper: 1) according to how Christ gave it and 2) trusting in his promises.
I. According to how Christ gave it
Paul here reminds the Corinthian congregation of the events which occurred the night before Jesus died. Jesus himself had revealed those events to Paul as we see here in verse 23. This was Jesus’ last will and testament. His last moments with his disciples before his death. In just a matter of hours, he would be hanging on a cross suffering the punishment for the sins of all people of all times.
So after eating the Passover meal, a special festival meal of the Jews, Jesus broke the
bread that was there and gave it to his disciples. We know that this was unleavened bread, in other words bread without yeast, because that’s the kind of bread that was eaten during the Passover. So, Jesus gave them this unleavened bread and said, “This is my body.” In the same way he gave them the wine and said “This is my blood.”
Then a miracle. The disciples at that moment were not only receiving bread and wine, but also in some miraculous way, Christ’s body and blood. We know that they received Christ’s body and blood, because Paul warns us here in our text that if we receive the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way, that we are guilty of sinning against that same body and blood of Jesus.
But you know, there’s been a lot of confusion over the years about this. How can Christ’s body and blood be there with the bread and wine? So people try to explain it according to their human reason. That “the bread and wine represent or symbolize Christ’s body and blood.” Or that “the bread and wine cease to exist and are transformed into Christ’s body and blood and that it just looks like bread and wine.” But Jesus doesn’t say that it symbolizes. He doesn’t say that the bread and wine cease to exist. He just gave the bread and wine and said, “This is!”
So let’s take Jesus at his word. In Holy Communion we receive the body and blood of Jesus in some miraculous way with the bread and wine. Can I explain how? No. But then again there are a lot of things about God that are beyond my human reason. So let’s just trust his words. Because really, that’s what faith is, isn’t it? Taking Jesus at his word.
In the not too distant future when you come forward to receive the Lord’s Supper, you will receive the body and blood of Jesus in, with and under... together with the bread and wine. Wow! That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. We are receiving the body and blood of God himself, the body and blood that was shed on the cross for our sins. That can be kind of intimidating, can’t it. Especially when Paul tells us here that “whoever receives the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”