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Second: What blessing do we receive through this eating and drinking?
That is shown to us by these words: “Given” and “poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
Through these words we receive forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation in this sacrament.
For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.
Third: How can eating and drinking do such great things?
It is certainly not the eating and the drinking that does such things, but the words “Given” and “poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
These words are the main thing in this sacrament, along with the eating and the drinking. And whoever believes these words has what they plainly say, the forgiveness of sins.
Previously, we were reminded of what we receive in the Lord’s Supper: “in, with, and under the bread and the wine, we receive the true body and the blood of the Lord.” It is by faith in the clear Word of God that we accept and understand Jesus’ clear words--“This is my body” and “This is my blood”--to mean exactly what they plainly say. What comfort these words give us! The very body and blood that Jesus gave and shed on the cross for our forgiveness, He gives to us.
For whom did Jesus give up His Body and shed His blood? For you. That is the blessing of Holy Communion--the personal assurance of our holy Savior’s love and mercy. Holy Communion is a personal application of the gospel of forgiveness of sins through Jesus. Oh, I know people say, “I know about God’s love and Jesus and all that, so I don’t need Holy Communion.” True, we do know about God’s love for us through the words of the gospel. And that Word does sustain us as well. But it is untrue that one doesn't need Holy Communion.
Although the words of the gospel are sufficient to convey God’s saving grace (see Romans 1:16,17, for example), the Lord in His all surpassing love, mercy, and grace knows our weakness and knows our doubts and knows our needs, so He gives us the same assurance personally by giving us His holy and sinless body and blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins. We need what the Lord gives us in His Supper. We need that personal assurance of God’s love in Christ. And we need the strength that forgiveness gives us to battle sin and temptation. Christians are to have this assurance as often as possible.
Holy Communion is not an act of our obedience. It is a holy act of God. It is not our pious eating and drinking that merits our forgiveness (that is, going through the motions of attending a communion service and taking communion). It is the gracious act of God that He gives to us in the Holy Supper a personal assurance of His forgiveness. We receive it-not take it-by faith and faith alone in the powerful words “poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins.”
Next, we will consider preparation for Holy Communion and who is to be admitted to the Lord’s Table.