“Pious Meditations” on the Presence of Christ
in His Holy Supper
(From The Lord’s Supper [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1979], pp. 187-89)
In the first place, our faith ought to lay hold on Christ as God and man in that nature by which He has been made our neighbor, kinsman, and brother. For the life which belongs to the deity resides in and has in a sense been placed in the assumed humanity. ...the proper, simple, and natural meaning of the words of institution teaches that Christ Himself is present with us in the celebration of the Supper with both His deity and His flesh, and that He comes to us in order to lay hold on us (Phil. 3:12) and join us to Himself as intimately as possible. This brings sweetest comfort. For Christ, both God and man, must lay hold on us in order that there may be a union between Him and us. But we, weighed down by the burden of sin and pressed under the weight of our infirmity, are not yet able to enter the secret places of heaven (Col. 2:18) and penetrate to Him in glory. He Himself therefore comes to us in order to lay hold upon us with that nature by which He is our Brother. And because our weakness in this life cannot bear the glory of His majesty (Matt. 17:2 ff.; Acts 9:3 ff.), therefore His body and blood are present, distributed, and received under the bread and wine. ...in the Supper He Himself is present in the external celebration and shows by visible signs where He wills to be present with His body and blood, and there we may safely seek Him and surely find Him, for there He Himself through the ministry distributes His body and blood to the communicants.
In the second place, ...because we have been so alienated through sin from the life of the Deity that our weakness cannot bear Him to be dealing with us except through a medium, therefore He assumed our nature in order that through that which is related to us and consubstantial with us the Deity might deal with us. And thus the humanity of Christ is the point of connection between us and God Himself, as Cyril says... Therefore, in order that we may be able to lay hold on Christ more intimately and retain Him more firmly, not only did He Himself assume our nature but He also restored it again for us by distributing His body and blood to us in the Supper, so that by this connection with His humanity, which has been assumed from us and is again communicated back to us, He might draw us into communion and union with the deity itself.
In the third place, there is a salutary change of which the fathers often remind us with a special joy of the Spirit. Our nature, at the beginning created in God’s image, had been adorned with all heavenly and divine gifts, blessings which had been bestowed upon Adam as the founder of our race. But through his fall not only were these blessings lost, but our nature became corrupted by sin and doomed to death. The Son of God, therefore, in order that He might become the second Adam, assumed our nature, but without sin, and in that nature condemned sin, destroyed death, and restored that nature to life. Thus first of all in His own person He sanctified, restored, and blessed human nature. And now, in order that we might be made certain that these blessings apply also to us and our wretched nature, and have truly been communicated to us, Christ in His Supper again offers us that very nature which He assumed from us and in Himself first restored, so that when we receive it with our poor flesh we are no longer in doubt concerning the salvation also of our nature through Christ. For in this way He, as it were, grafts our miserable and corrupt nature into the holy and life-giving mass of His human nature, as Cyril says, so that our depravity and misery are cured and renewed through the remedy of this most intimate union.
... I am calling attention just to the main points of these tremendously important matters, which can be understood better by pious meditation than explained by human language.
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