Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29)
Additional Daily Bible Readings: Genesis 43; Psalm 57; Matthew 26:17–35
Weekly Reading: http://bit.ly/2BPwFmP
What a blessing it is that we have this Sacrament of the Altar—the Lord’s Supper, instituted by Christ himself! The majority of the world’s Christians (Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, Lutheran) all hold to the words of Christ. When Jesus says, “This is my body; this is my blood…” we take him at his word; we trust, believe and have faith that Jesus is present in the Sacrament. In the Sacrament, God is incarnate in Jesus, who is truly present in, with and under the earthly elements of bread and wine.
Sadly, during the Protestant Reformation, many reformed groups rejected this belief and adopted a “spiritualized” understanding of the Lord’s Supper. They claimed, if Jesus is at the Father’s right hand in glory, how could he be present on the altar in this church and every church around the world? How tragic that Christians would so limit the power and presence of God! Jesus promises to be where two or three are gathered in his name when he says, “Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Martin Luther affirms that Jesus is present in many times and places, but ties himself to Word and Sacrament so that we may know where he may be found! When people say, “I don’t ‘feel’ Jesus with me,” we can respond, “Here, here is Jesus in the Word and in the Lord’s Supper—truly present, in a way that you can hear and touch and taste.”
When troubled and experiencing trials in life, we receive great comfort that Christ gives himself to us; we need only eat and drink. Sometimes, we are so distracted by life that the preacher’s words float over our heads and we comprehend nothing from the sermon. In those times, however, Jesus comes to us in his Holy Supper, grace, forgiveness, mercy and love “embodied,” incarnate. As we eat and drink, he comes to us, to become bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh—truly one with us—to be our nourishment and strength!
It is unfortunate that in some places the Lord’s Supper is observed in such a way that there is little acknowledgment of Christ’s presence. The singing of the Agnus Dei (Lamb of God) after the Lord’s Prayer has historically been a hymn of praise that Christ is now present! It is not just the first communion hymn, but may be set apart as we welcome the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
Prayer: Lord Jesus, create in me a hunger for your presence in the Lord’s Supper. Amen.
Lenten Response: As you sing, “Lamb of God,” consider that you are welcoming Christ!
Video Devotional: From Ashes to Easter
Today’s devotion was written by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism.