Friday, April 3, 2015

Maundy Thursday Sermon: "What is the Sacrament of the Altar?"

+ Maundy Thursday – April 2nd, 2015
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series B: Exodus 24:3-11; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17; Mark 14:12-26

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?

Answer: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

These words are no symbol. For whatever Christ’s lips speak, so it is. He cannot lie or deceive. What Christ declares and promises, he gives and feeds us.

“Take, eat; this is My body. “Take, drink; this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many.”

The bread Jesus gives us is his sacrificial body, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary, nailed to a cross, dead, buried, and raised from the tomb.

The cup Jesus gives us is his sacrificial blood, fruit of the true Vine that brings joy and gladness to men’s hearts, atones for your sins, and overflows with Jesus’ life-blood for you.

On this holy night, like Moses, Aaron, and Israel, we behold God, and eat and drink in the Sacrament of the Altar.

For the Lord’s Supper is not mere bread and wine, but bread and wine combined with God’s word and promise.

Where is this written?

Answer: The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write: Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night He was betrayed, took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to the disciples and said: “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.”

In the same way also, He took the cup after supper, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, saying: “Drink of it, all of you; this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”

The Sacrament is founded – not upon our words – but upon Christ’s holy Word.

Do we believe that this thin wafer of bread is Jesus’ body? Do we believe that this cup of wine is His blood? Do we hunger and thirst of this Supper as for Christ Himself? Not as we ought to. And if we think we have, we’ve deceived ourselves. Repent and believe in Christ’s Words. For his Words are greater than our doubt, pride, and sin.
this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
Christ is the Vine. You are his branches. Jesus is your living Vine and you abide in Him who feeds you with the fruit of his crucified and risen body. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?

Answer: That is shown us in these words, “Given for you” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” This means that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

Rejoice in the verbs of your salvation. Given. Shed. Jesus gives a new and fulfilled Passover; all of the old and more. On the night in which Jesus was betrayed he gives the same body and blood to us, that he would the very next day shed for us.
Just as God gives daily bread to provide energy and vitality to our bodies, so too, Jesus feeds us with his body and blood for our eternal life and salvation. All other bread we eat to our death. This bread of Jesus’ body we eat to our life. All other wine we drink for temporary gladness. This wine of Jesus’ blood gives us eternal joy.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?

Answer: It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words, which are given here, “Given … and shed for you, for the forgiveness of sins.” These words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, the chief thing in the Sacrament. The person who believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

On this holy night, the Word made flesh gives his holy flesh as bread to eat and his sacred blood as wine to drink, for you for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ Word accomplishes great things. By his Word, Jesus calmed the storm, healed the paralyzed man, and raised Lazarus from the dead. By his Word, Jesus promises…
In the New Covenant in Jesus’ blood, you are reconciled with God.
In the Eucharist we give thanks for receiving forgiveness of sins.
In the Lord’s Supper Jesus is our host, the waiter, and meal.
In Holy Communion Jesus gives us his body and blood uniting us in fellowship with God and one another.
In the Sacrament of the Altar our Great High Priest brings the sacrifice of his cross in this sacred meal.

Who, then, receives such Sacrament worthily?

Answer: Fasting and bodily preparation are, indeed, fine outward training. But a person is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words, “Given … and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” But anyone who does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit. For the words “for you” require hearts that truly believe.

The more we focus upon ourselves and our worthiness the more we see our unworthiness and the less we hear Christ’s Word. And so we go to the Lord’s Supper precisely because we are unworthy, poor, miserable sinners.
Our worthiness rests in Jesus Word and promise. And so tonight – and every time you hear Jesus’ words “For You,” - read your own name in that place.
Jesus crucified for you. Jesus risen for you. Jesus’ body for you. Jesus’ blood for you.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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