Perhaps the greatest blessing found in Holy
Communion is that, whenever we partake in this Sacrament, Jesus is
present. He's really there "in, with and under" the bread
and the wine.
What Jesus' Presence Means
we receive Holy Baptism, Luther taught that we receive three
1) Grant us forgiveness of sins;
2) Deliver us from death and the Devil; and
3) Give eternal salvation to all who believe this as the words and
promises of God
Because it is a sacrament, the Lord's Supper
also gives these same three blessings...plus an additional greater
blessing: Jesus' "Real Presence."
Real Presence doesn't mean that we actually see Jesus standing
before us as we might expect. He doesn't appear with hands, feet,
eyes and hair. But He is there "clothed" as it were in
simple bread and simple wine.
Real Presence, however, goes far beyond merely being
"clothed" with bread and wine. The bread and wine are His
very person. They are really Him. When the bread and wine are
consecrated at the altar Jesus' words, "This IS My body"
and "This IS My blood" come true right before our
Can we see Jesus at
communion? Yes! But the way we see Him is different from what we
might expect. But we really DO see Him! His body is in the bread and
His blood is in the wine. Simple human eyes can only see bread and
wine. The eyes of faith truly comprehend what is really there before
us. It's Jesus' true body and Jesus' true blood offered for me and
A Holy Comm-Union
Unlike the Roman Catholics who teach that the
bread and wine are actually transformed into Jesus' body and blood,
the Bible teaches that Jesus' body and blood are united with the
bread and the wine in a remarkable way. St. Paul wrote,
"Is not the cup of thanksgiving [that is,
the cup of wine] for which we give thanks a participation in the
blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation
in the body of Christ?"
I Corinthians 10:16 (NIV)
In such a simple way St. Paul simply teaches
that, at the Lord's Supper, the bread and wine are always present,
participating with Jesus' true body and blood. This participation is
the holy union of simple, earthly elements with Jesus' body and
blood in a supernatural, heavenly way.
Baptism, it's a miracle each time Jesus' body and blood communes
with bread and win. It's this miraculous working by which God chose
to give us His grace.
Unions In Holy Communion
union of Holy Communion between Jesus' body and blood and the
bread and wine is just one dimension of Holy Communion.
second union in this sacrament is that between God and man,
between Jesus and those who receive communion. In Holy Communion,
Jesus forgives our sins and comes directly into our lives
again--anew--to strengthen and renew our faith.
third union we celebrate in Holy Communion is the communion
shared with other like minded Christians. Whenever communicants
receive the Lord's Supper, they celebrate how we are all united at
the Table of the Lord. Though sharing in our sin and guilt, we also
share in Jesus' grace given for us. In this way the Lord's Supper
has a special way of uniting us into the one fellowship, the one
communion, the one Body of Christ.
"closeness" is something that the Scriptures do not take
lightly. St. Paul described the consequences for those who disregard
or disrespect this special union.
"Therefore, whoever eats the bread or
drinks the cup of the Lord in an
unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and
the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the
and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without
the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on
I Corinthians 11:27-29 (NIV)
Clearly Paul teaches that anyone who doesn't
recognize that Jesus is really present "in, with and
under" the bread and wine "drinks the cup of the Lord in
an unworthy manner." For this reason anyone--including
Christians of other faiths--who does not recognize the body of the
Lord should NOT attend communion.
should they be invited to attend. If anyone takes the Lord's
Supper without recognizing Jesus' real presence in the bread and
wine, they simply "eat and drink judgment" on themselves.
Christians invite others to "eat and drink judgment" on
themselves? No! That is why Lutherans practice "Close
Communion." The word "close" does not mean
"closed." Instead it refers to the Bible's mandate that
those who agree (are "close") in what is given in the
Lord's Supper ought to receive it. That is why Roman Catholics and
non-Lutherans are not invited to attend the Lord's Supper. Since
they do not believe Jesus is really present in the bread and wine,
they do not recognize the Body and Blood of the Lord. Since they are
not united with us in what Holy Communion is, we do not celebrate
this holy comm-union with them.
Should You Attend?
"Christian Questions And Their Answers" Martin Luther
presented a thorough listing of questions and answers to help
communicants prepare to the receive the Lord's Supper. Central to
this preparation are at least two things:
1) Recognizing Jesus' Real Presence
"in, with and under" the bread and wine; and
2) Confessing our sins.
Confessing our sins is an essential
preparation for this sacrament. Unless we recognize that we are
sinners, we will find no need for the sacrament. But, when we
confess our sins--publicly in church or privately in our own homes
or at the altar rail--we come before Christ as unworthy sinners to
receive Jesus' greatest gift...of Himself.
you attend? Yes! How often? As often as you need Jesus' forgiveness
and grace! Jesus' invitation is to "take and eat"...often.
Will you accept His gracious invitation?
and eat...and receive Jesus' gift of grace for you!