Skip to comments."Christian Questions with Their Answers: 'This Do'" (Sermon for Holy Thursday)
Posted on 04/06/2023 8:53:51 AM PDT by Charles Henrickson
“Christian Questions with Their Answers: ‘This Do’”
This is the night our Lord Jesus Christ gave his disciples to eat and to drink of his body and blood. And he didn’t mean just for that night. No, Christ was instituting a sacrament to be used often. Already in the pages of the New Testament, we see that the church partook of this sacrament whenever they met on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day. And that practice continued through the history of the church. Now tonight, on this night when our Lord instituted the Sacrament, we here intend to go to it. And to prepare our hearts to receive the Sacrament rightly, in repentance and faith, we’ve just read the section in the catechism designed to help us do that. And so our theme for tonight: “Christian Questions with Their Answers: ‘This Do.’”
Christian questions with their answers, for those who intend to go to the Sacrament: Twenty questions, the first half of which are basic Law and Gospel. They go something like this: “I am a sinner. I have not kept the Ten Commandments. I am sorry that I have sinned against God. I have deserved God’s wrath and displeasure. The Law condemns me. Yet, I hope to be saved. For I trust in my dear Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died for me and shed his blood for me on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins. This is the Gospel by which I am saved.”
Notice how personal Law and Gospel becomes as it is applied. The word of God is not some detached, “out there,” abstract theory. No, the word of God applies to me directly. I am the sinner who has earned the wages of sin, which is death. At the same time, I am the one for whom Christ died, so that now I trust in him for my salvation. Friends, God’s word applies to us very directly. This is no arm’s-length, theoretical Law and Gospel. No, this is Law and Gospel up close and personal.
The Sacrament is a very concrete, practical application of the gospel of Christ. Christ intends for each of us to desire it and receive it often. And this is where the Christian Questions with Their Answers takes us. The Sacrament is the pledge that Christ gives me, in his body and blood, that my sins are forgiven and that I am saved. The Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, now gives me a tangible, “taste-able” testament of his love. The Sacrament IS the gospel, as Luther loved to say! A very specific, visible, physical form of the gospel, the good news of God’s love in Christ--a love that brings us back to God and binds us to one another, a love that forgives our sins and redeems us in both body and soul for everlasting life.
Notice how these questions and answers are leading us up to the altar. For example, question 18: “Finally, why do you wish to go to the Sacrament?” Answer: “That I may learn to believe that Christ, out of great love, died for my sin, and also learn from him to love God and my neighbor.” Question 19: “What should admonish and encourage a Christian to receive the Sacrament frequently?” Answer: “First, both the command and the promise of Christ the Lord. Second, his own pressing need, because of which the command, encouragement, and promise are given.”
Command, promise, need--all leading us to partake frequently. Christ’s command is found in his words instituting the Sacrament: “Take, eat; This do; Drink of it, all of you; This do, as often as you drink it.” Yes, Christ our Lord says, “This do.” It is a command. It is not possible for a Christian to be doing the will of his Master and not be going to the Sacrament. It is flat-out disobedience for someone claiming to be a Christian to not be in church regularly to receive Christ’s body and blood. I’m not talking about those who are truly “shut in”; to them, I bring Communion in home visits. But for those who are physically able and yet choose to skip out on church--who do not put top priority on being in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day to receive the Lord’s Supper--they are disobeying Christ, and they need to repent.
But we have more than a command to lead us to the Sacrament. We also have a promise. The reason Christ directs us to do this is so that we can receive this--namely, his body and blood, for the forgiveness of our sins! It is Christ’s promise that draws us to the Sacrament! What a gift is given to us here! You don’t need a whip to drive you when someone is offering you the greatest treasure you can have! You come running up to receive it! That’s the way it is with the Sacrament of the Altar. When you truly understand all that Christ is freely giving you here, you will desire it most deeply. For here, the weight of your sin is removed from you. New life--fellowship with God and with one another--is given you here. Eternal salvation and the sure hope of heaven are freely given in this sacrament. Yes, the promise of Christ draws you. “This is my body, this is my blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” There it is! What a promise, what a hope!
But if all that is not enough--Christ’s command and his promise--there is also your own pressing need. And the need that presses hard upon you is threefold: your own sinful flesh; the hostile world around you; and your unrelenting enemy, the devil. Do you feel your need for the Sacrament? No? Well, in that case, reach inside your shirt and pinch. If you can feel human flesh, you have not yet graduated from your weakness. You still have the pull that we all experience from the inside. Our sinful flesh would pull us away from God and turn us in on ourselves. That old selfishness and self-centeredness is what we call the old Adam. You and I need God’s help to overcome it. And God gives us that help in the Sacrament.
Then there’s the world around us, which has no use for God and hates Christ and his church. Look at how our society tries to suck us in, to conform us to its misplaced values and moral vices. The siren song of our pop culture would lead us astray from what is true and right in God’s sight. And if you don’t go along, you will be canceled or worse. The pressure is there, alright. But the strengthening of the Sacrament will help us to withstand that pressure and stand our ground.
Then to top it all off, we have the old evil foe, the devil, working against us. The tempter is constantly whispering in our ear, trying to seduce us and entice us to be our own god. What a load of lies! Satan tells us we don’t need Christ or his cross or his church. What a bunch of . . . baloney!
Brothers and sisters, we need fortifying, in order to stay strong and stand firm amid the assaults of the devil, the world, and the flesh. We need the resources Christ gives us in Word and Sacrament. Don’t fool yourself. You will not make it on your own. Take heed, lest ye fall. Here in the Sacrament of the Altar, here in this salutary gift, God will strengthen us in faith toward him and in fervent love toward one another. This is what we need in order to live as Christ’s disciples. And so Christ’s command, his promise, and our own pressing need all combine to compel us and positively draw us to receive the Sacrament often.
These twenty Christian questions lead us to one Christian answer: “This do.” Go to the Sacrament frequently and in faith. And looking forward, too. For this meal is the first course, a foretaste of the feast to come. When we partake, we’re looking forward to the marriage feast of the Lamb in his kingdom, which will have no end. Christ’s body and blood--“given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins”--this is our Lord’s sure and certain pledge of the life to come. Come, then, dear Christian, come as often as you can, and receive the gift Christ has for you here at this altar!
Thank You and Amen
Most churches on TV don’t have an alter.
If they don't have an altar, then they altered the historic layout.
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