Summary: Sermon of the blessings of the Sacrament of the Alter
2nd Sunday after the Epiphany January 19, 2003
What Precious Blessings Communion Gives
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27 Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ:
Wendi and I like to browse at wine shops. But there was one wine shop we were browsing in – not too long ago – where we marveled at their vast selection of wines. We also marveled at the prices. We would look at bottles of wine and say to each other, "Look at this. $100 a bottle for this wine." Then she’d find one and say, "$180 for a bottle of wine. I don’t think so." Then we found something totally amazing. We saw a bottle of wine that cost $1,250—that’s just for a regular sized bottle.
Now, I’ve done some figuring. That bottle of wine would fill about 100 of our individual communion cups. That meant that this much wine would be worth $12.50. That’s quite a lot of money for a little bit of wine.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how much the wine in our communion cups costs. It could cost $12, $100, $1,000 or even a million dollars per ounce. It still would not come close to the value Jesus gives it in the Lord’s Supper. That wine is the priceless blood of Jesus.
Likewise, the bread is the true body of Jesus. That’s what makes Holy Communion so precious. Through his true body and blood connected with the bread and the wine, Jesus gives us all his blessings of salvation and forgiveness. So, today we look at the benefit of receiving the Lord’s Supper and we marvel, WHAT PRECIOUS BLESSINGS COMMUNION GIVES! Yes, The Lord’s Supper gives forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.
Jesus says it plainly. When he gave his disciples Communion for the first time he told them the blessings he was giving them. Our text says, “Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins."
So, if anyone every asks you, "Why do you go to the Lord’s Supper?" you can easily respond, "For the forgiveness of my sins." That’s what it’s all about. In Communion Jesus gives us the priceless treasure of forgiveness.
In his small catechism Luther explains the blessing of Communion.
What blessing do we receive through this eating and drinking?
That is shown us by these words, "Given and poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins." Through these words we receive forgiveness of sins, life and salvation in this sacrament. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
Notice what we also receive along with forgiveness of sins. We also receive life and salvation. So when we receive the Lord’s Supper, we receive all the complete, full and total blessings of salvation that Jesus won for us by his life, death and resurrection. That’s precious. That’s something all the money in the world can’t buy. Those blessings become ours through the Lord’s Supper.
Now, someone might say, "Wait a minute. Jesus only said, ‘the forgiveness of sins.’ He never said anything about life and salvation." That is true. However, does God forgive sins and then not give you eternal life? Does God forgive sins and not rescue you from sin, death and Satan? Of course, not. God does not give partial forgiveness or half-salvation. If he gives you forgiveness, he gives you life and salvation, too. God’s blessings are a package deal.
It’s like when companies hold a contest and give away the grand prize of a trip to the Superbowl. That prize includes superbowl tickets but it almost always includes airfare, food and lodging and some spending money. They give away a package deal.
Likewise, God gives away a package deal in the Lord’s Supper. And it doesn’t go to only a lucky few. God gives it freely. God gives it frequently to troubled sinners who need his blessings. So when God gives you forgiveness in the Lord’s Supper he also gives you what goes along with forgiveness: spiritual life on earth, eternal life in heaven, and rescue from the devil, the world and our flesh.
So, do you see how precious Holy Communion really is? Do you see how much we need it? Who of us isn’t bothered by our sin? I know I am. Sometimes, I’m so ashamed of my sin, I can’t even look in the mirror. I can’t even stand to be in the same room with myself I’m so disgusted with myself. Have you ever felt that way? That’s the way St. Paul felt about himself. In Romans 7 he confesses, “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.. . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? “(Romans 7:18-19, 25).