Proclaiming the Lordís Death
April 5, 2007
Jesus instituted only one
sacrament that he intended for us Christians to celebrate over and over
and over again. It is called the Lordís Supper because the Lord Jesus gave
it to us. It is called Holy
Communion because in this Sacrament we commune with Christís body and
blood. It is called the
Eucharist because it is received by us with thanksgiving.
The Catechism calls it the Sacrament of the Altar because in this
holy sacrament the Lord Jesus gives us to eat and to drink the very same
body and blood that He once and for all offered up to God on the altar
of the cross.
The Lordís Supper is the
sacrament of Christís body and blood.
The bread that God gives us to eat is the body of Jesus.
The wine that God gives us to drink is the blood of Jesus.
When Christ died for us he once and for all offered up the
sacrifice of his body and blood to God.
He sacrificed himself to take away our sins.
When Jesus gives us to eat and to drink of his body and blood
today, he gives us the same forgiveness of sins that he gained for us by
dying on the cross. On the
cross is where the sacrifice was offered to God.
At the Lordís Supper is where the sacrament is offered to us.
Jesus did not offer his life up to us on the cross.
He offered his holy body and precious blood to God, as the
redemption by which we would be set free from our sins.
Jesus does not offer up his body and blood to God in the Lordís
Supper. When Jesus rose
from the dead, God the Father accepted his death as payment in full for
all of the sins of the whole world.
There can never be another sacrifice to take away sin.
Christís one holy sacrifice was fully sufficient.
The Lordís Supper is not a sacrifice offered to God.
It is a sacrament of Godís grace given to us sinners in our
If Jesus had not instituted this
sacrament we might have thought that there was something more important
than the death of Jesus for the forgiveness of our sins.
Since Jesus did institute this sacrament we know that Christís
death for us to take away our sins is the most important topic of our
faith. This is why Jesus wants us to proclaim his death.
Every time we go to the Lordís Supper we preach a gospel sermon
by walking up, kneeling, and eating and drinking.
As often as we eat the bread and drink the wine of this Supper we
proclaim the Lordís death until he returns to judge the living and the
What does it mean to proclaim
the Lordís death? What
should a sermon about Christís death include?
First, we need to know why He died.
He died for our sins. He
died for liars, thieves, adulterers, and murderers.
He died for children who show disrespect to their parents and
despise the correction they receive.
He died for men who bully their wives.
He died for drunkards and drug addicts.
He died for those who mock Christianity and the Christ we
Christians confess. And he
died for us when we fall into the same old sins that captured our
affections last week, last, month, and last year.
All this mass of sin is really one and the same.
We may not claim we need forgiveness less than anyone else.
Sin is sin. It
pollutes the soul. It
angers the holy God. It
calls for punishment. We
need to know what sin is, what it does to us, and why we cannot have
fellowship with the holy God unless our sins are washed away.
We need to know why Jesus had to die for our sins.
We are sinners who deserve Godís punishment.
Second, we need to know who He
is who died. He is our God
and our brother. He is
begotten of the Father from eternity and born of the Virgin Mary in
time. The body and blood of
Jesus, given and shed for us on the cross, and given to us to eat and to
drink in the Lordís Supper are the body and blood of the God-man.
St. Paul encouraged the pastors in Ephesus ďto feed the church
of God, which he purchased with his own blood.Ē (Acts 20:28)
The death of a mere man could not take away our sins.
Jesus is true God and true man.
Third, a sermon about the
Lordís death also must teach us what that death has actually
accomplished for us. It really did take away our sins. The body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of sins
have brought about the forgiveness of sins.
Itís not as if Jesus offered up the sacrifice on the cross and
God the Father rejected it. No,
God raised his Son from the dead and thereby announced to the whole
world that his death was accepted as full payment for all sins of all
sinners. When we eat Christís body and drink his blood we are also
receiving the forgiveness of our sins.
We need to examine ourselves
before eating and drinking and we need to discern the body of Christ.
Why is it so important that we confess that the true body and
blood of Jesus are really present, distributed, and received in this
holy sacrament? Because we
need what this meal provides. We
need Christís body and blood given and shed for the forgiveness of all
Sincere Christian people who
trust in the forgiveness of sins that Jesus gives us are often taught
falsely concerning the Lordís Supper.
They are led to believe that the bread is merely bread and that
the wine is merely wine. They
donít discern the Lordís body in this sacrament.
They think that Christís body is absent and that the
sacramental elements only symbolize the absent body and blood.
According to St. Paul, not discerning the Lordís body involves
the communicant in eating and drinking judgment to himself.
He is dealing with sacred things but he is not prepared for it.
The Lordís Supper is what the Lordís Supper is regardless of
what the communicant believes. If
a communicant thinks he is eating and drinking only bread and wine this
wonít change the fact that he is eating and drinking Christís holy
body and blood. To do so
without discerning the Lordís body is to eat to oneís own judgment.
This is one reason why the
church should practice closed Communion.
The church acts irresponsibly when those who cannot examine
themselves and those who cannot discern the Lordís body are invited to
the Lordís Supper. We
donít commune infants and little children who cannot examine
themselves and confess their faith.
We donít commune those who belong to congregations that teach
false doctrine. True
teaching cannot be joined to false teaching.
If a Christian thinks he can commune at a church of one
confession one week and then commune at another church of another
confession the next week he doesnít know what he believes.
He has no serious confession of his own.
When you commune at an altar you are confessing that the teaching
of that church is what you personally believe and confess.
You are preaching with the preacher what he is preaching.
So if you donít know that a church teaches only the pure word
of God then donít commune at that church.
If you commune with false teaching you become guilty of it.
Our text warns us about eating
and drinking unworthily. What
does it mean to be unworthy? Does
it mean that you have committed very many and serious sins?
No, it does not. Does
it mean that you have failed to keep yourself spiritually pure?
No, it does not. Does
it mean that you have neglected Godís word?
No, it does not. The
worthy communicant is not the one who has succeeded in avoiding sin.
This is what we confess about
worthiness to receive the Lordís Supper in the words of Lutherís
then receives this Sacrament worthily?
and bodily preparation are indeed a fine outward training; but he is
truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, ďGiven
and shed for you for the remission of sins.Ē But he who does not
believe these words, or doubts them, is unworthy and unprepared; for the
words ďfor youĒ require all hearts to believe.
It is a matter of faith.
We are to believe in the words.
The words of Jesus say that the body and blood that we eat and
drink are the body and blood that were given and shed for us for the
forgiveness of sins. Sinners
who believe what these words say are worthy.
They believe that they are sinners and that God would be just in
condemning them to hell for their sins against him.
But they trust in the mercy God gives in this sacrament.
They trust that the body given and the blood shed was given and
shed for them. It is not
sin that makes someone unworthy. It
The Lordís Supper is
Christís gift to his church. It
is not from the church to herself.
It is from Christ to his church.
It is a gift that belongs to all of the baptized.
This means all. It
is our custom not to give the Lordís Supper to those who are not yet
need to examine themselves and discern the Lordís body.
However, there is nothing in the Bible about confirmation.
Confirmation doesnít entitle you to the Lordís Supper.
Baptism does. It is
not that a little child has no right to receive the Lordís Supper.
It is rather a matter of responsible pastoral care not to give
the body and blood of the Lord Jesus to those who are not prepared to
Godís love transcends our
understanding. How God
could love so deeply that he would bear our own sin against him is
beyond our ken. The mystery
of the Lordís Supper is not nearly so difficult to understand as is
the mystery of Godís love. Godís
love is stronger than our sin. It
draws all of our misery away from us and places it on Jesus who takes it
away. So that we may know
without any doubt at all that God forgives us and accepts us and
guarantees eternal life to us God actually feeds our bodies with the
body and the blood by which we are forgiven.
The Lordís Supper is a precious treasure.
It is for sinners who repent of their sins and believe the words,
ďgiven and shed for you for the remission of sins.Ē
Rev. Rolf D. Preus