Welcome to another installment of "What Makes a Lutheran?" Last post we discussed how Lutherans get “all-wet.” Through the water that hits our head in Baptism, God brought salvation and a new life. This post we will continue with “What Makes a Lutheran So Hungry, hungry for life and salvation through a little bread and a little wine in the Lord’s Supper.
In discussions with people from other church bodies one of the first things that they desire to discuss (or better put, argue) centers around what we believe in the Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately the conversation turns from what one believes to an ex curses on what all different denominations believe. In the mean time, we forget the great things that God does through this sacrament for our daily walk in the Lord.
So what is it that we believe? Lutherans believe that Christ is present IN, WITH, and UNDER the bread and wine in the Lord's Supper. These three prepositions emphasize the fact that Christ is actually there in the bread and wine. The elements are at the same time bread and wine and body and blood. Jesus is actually in the meal!
Most will say, but that doesn’t make any sense? Which in all reality…it doesn’t! However, God’s Word, being our sole guide in our faith and practice, points us to that understanding. When Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper he said, "This IS my body given for you; do this (eat the bread) in remembrance of me...This cup IS the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you." (Luke 22:19-20) Jesus says, quite plainly, that the bread and the wine are his body and blood. Paul backs him up on this when he says, "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?" (I Corinthians 10:16). The assumed answer to these questions is "Yes!" Paul says we are participating in the very body and blood of Christ, in other words, we are eating and drinking his body and blood in the bread and wine!
So what? What does it matter if we are actually receiving the real body and blood of Christ anyway? The point is this, we are going to struggle with sin our whole lives, therefore we are in constant need of transformation through forgivenes. Each time you partake in this gift, the living Christ lives in you and grants that forgiveness. Every time the sacrament is offered we should be running to the altar, yearning for the great gift God has given, and pray that with the Holy Spirit’s help we shall be changed until He returns again! Lord have mercy.