Summary: Holy Communion: Contains MSG (Mighty Son of God; Much Saving Grace; More Strength for Good)
It’s not unusual to see signs like this at restaurants: No MSG Added. Sometimes it’s the most prominent sign you’ll see, even bigger than the sign with the name of the restaurant on it! What is this MSG and what’s so bad about it that certain restaurants want you to be certain that they’re not cooking with the stuff? MSG stands for “Monosodium Glutamate” and is made of water, sodium and glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid that naturally occurs in corn, peas, and tomatoes. But it can also be combined with water and sodium to make MSG, a salt-like substance which is used to enhance the natural flavor of certain foods. While Health Canada has deemed MSG safe, some people have a sensitivity to the additive and can develop blurred vision, chills, headaches, nausea, and several other symptoms. Therefore some restaurants hope to lure more customers by advertising that they don’t use added MSG.
It sounds like MSG is best avoided, so I need to be honest with you and let you know that Holy Communion contains MSG—not Monosodium Glutamate, but the Mighty Son of God (among other things). A couple of weeks ago we were reminded how Holy Communion is better than manna because it’s packed full of Vitamin F—forgiveness. But many have wondered how simple bread and wine can give us the forgiveness of sins? In answer to the question “How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?” Martin Luther wrote: “Certainly not just eating and drinking do these things, but 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.’” How do you know that you receive forgiveness through Holy Communion? Because it contains the Mighty Son of God who gave us his word concerning the sacrament.
OK, so we’re back to that argument. Is Jesus’ body and blood really present with the bread and wine of Holy Communion, or does the bread and wine just symbolize the body and blood? Doesn’t our text put to rest the controversy? Paul said: “Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)
Paul clearly says that the bread and wine of Holy Communion “participate” or have a “joint sharing” with the body and of blood of Jesus. Think of it like this. When you join a sports team you may get a jersey with your name on the back and the team’s name on the front. By joining that team you haven’t ceased to be yourself, but you have become part of something bigger than you. That’s kind of what happens in Holy Communion. The bread and wine don’t stop being bread and wine, but because of Jesus’ promise that bread is also now his body, and the wine is also his blood. Holy Communion really does contain MSG—the Mighty Son of God even if you can’t detect his presence with your senses.
So what’s the benefit of actually receiving Jesus’ body and blood? A few years ago a Canadian youth was arrested in Rome for trying to walk off with a piece of the ancient Roman coliseum. Why couldn’t he just stop at the gift shop like everyone else and buy a replica of some ancient artifact? Why did he risk jail and a fine to have the real thing? Because he wanted a piece of history. Think now of what Jesus gives you in Holy Communion—not a replica or a reminder of his body and blood; he gives you the real thing. When you walk back from Holy Communion, you’re carrying in your body a piece of history more precious than if you were to own the original cross on which Jesus was crucified. Not only that, you carry in your body a piece of His story—the absolutely true story of his love for you and his forgiveness!
It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul called the cup of Holy Communion “the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks” (1 Corinthians 10:16). But I wonder if we haven’t come to see the cup of Holy Communion more like a cup of obligation—something we have to spend an extra ten minutes at church to receive because this is what’s expected of communicants? But we won’t think that if we remember how Holy Communion contains MSG—the Mighty Son of God. Tell me, have you ever gone out of your way to get the autograph of someone famous? If so, shouldn’t we clamor to get what is offered here in Holy Communion—not a mere memento of our savior, but the Savior himself?