Let us pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, we thank You, that of Your infinite mercy You have instituted this Your Sacrament, in which we eat Your body and drink Your blood: Grant us, we beseech You, by Your Holy Spirit, that we may not receive this gift unworthily, but that we may confess our sins, remember Your agony and death, believe the forgiveness of sin, and day by day grow in faith and love, until we obtain eternal salvation; through You, who live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
The New Passover Meal
Dear fellow redeemed,
Jesus had kept the Passover with His disciples, but now He establishes a meal that will take the place of the Passover meal.
This is new and better meal. The Passover meal revolved around the eating of a lamb, a lamb with wool and hooves. This is not to belittle the Passover meal. It is a significant meal, for God had established that through the sacrifice of these lambs death did not enter the houses of His people, and through them, God claimed His people and delivered them from the bondage of the Egyptians. It is significant, also because God commanded that this meal be celebrated as a memorial to the Lord’s redemption every year.
However, the Passover was a meal that was a shadow of a greater meal that was coming. And that night it was replaced by a meal that revolves around the eating of the Lamb of God, the Lamb of God with skin and feet; He shares our human flesh, yet is true God.
Jesus says of the bread, “This is My Body.” He says of the wine, “This is My blood.” Our reason cannot understand this how bread can be at the same time the Body of Christ, and the wine the blood of Christ. But we do not deny Scripture on account of our reason. Our reason must give way to the wisdom and power of God, and the authority of His Word.
But what a wonder we receive here, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The body that was beaten, nailed to the cross, and hung lifeless there is given you to eat. The blood that flowed from His wounds, His pierced brow and His hands and feet, are given you to drink. The body and blood of the Lamb were sacrificed for your redemption. The body and blood of Christ has won for you forgiveness of all your sins, and has redeemed you not from Egypt, but from bondage to sin and Satan. The catechism takes from the words of St. Peter, saying, “You have been purchased, not with gold or silver, but with the holy and precious blood of Christ, and His innocent suffering and death.”
And this very body and blood of Christ, our Passover Lamb, is given for you in this meal to eat and to drink for the remission of sins.
And so let us be partakers of this most blessed feast! Yet Paul warns us that we must examine ourselves before we partake. The body and blood is given to all who receive it, but it can be received to someone’s harm, not because the body and blood of Christ can be like a poison, but because a person can sin against the body and blood of Christ. When an unbeliever, or someone who is not repentant of his sin and has no intent to live a more godly life, or someone who does not recognize the body and blood of Christ, when such a person partakes of the Holy Meal, he sins against the body and blood of Christ, and make a mockery of His Passion. The chief of the Concordists, the theologian Martin Chemnitz says, “they become guilty of that body in which life itself dwells, like Judas, who betrayed that body—like the Jews, who tried to bury it with stones—like Pilate, who condemned it with a death sentence—like the soldiers who scourged and crucified the body of life.”
And so since the body and blood of Christ given you in this supper is given for the forgiveness of your sins, we know that it is a supper for sinners. So confess your sins. We gather here as idolaters, blasphemers, rebels, murderers, adulterers, thieves, slanderers, and an ungrateful people. We are deserving of condemnation, of God’s eternal wrath. We are guilty, and there is no escape from this guilt and our punishment unless God would forgive us. And so we need Christ’s forgiveness that He paid for on the cross. And He gives you this forgiveness through the Sacrament of the Altar.
This Supper is also a Supper for believers. The Holy Spirit has granted you faith through water and the Word so that you believe that Christ was crucified as the atoning sacrifice for your sins. And the body and blood offered upon the cross is offered you in the Sacrament of the Altar. It is the true body and blood of Christ. And through faith in the words “given and shed for you for the remission of sins,” you rightly receive that body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
Jesus instituted this most blessed and holy Meal for His Church on this night. He tells us, “Do this.” And with joy, we celebrate this Sacrament of the Altar. For as we receive Christ’s true body and blood with our mouths, we receive by faith, deliverance from sin and death, Satan and hell. As God joined Israel to Himself as His people through the Passover meal, so also we who have been made God’s people through baptism, enjoy through the Sacrament of the Altar Christ joining us to Himself in intimate communion, partaking of Him, His life, and eternal salvation. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.