Worthy Reception of the Lord's Supper
What Is Necessary for Proper Reception and Use of the Lord’s Supper?
"Fasting and bodily preparation are in fact a fine external discipline, but a person who has faith in these words, ‘given for you’ and ‘shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,’ is really worthy and well prepared. However, a person who does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, because the words, ‘for you,’ require truly believing hearts.”
a person who has faith in these words, ‘given for you’ and ‘shed for you for the forgiveness of sins,’ is really worthy and well prepared.
“Because this treasure is fully offered in the words, it can be grasped and appropriated only by the heart. Such a gift and eternal treasure cannot be seized with the hand. . . . This is done by the faith of the heart that discerns and desires such a treasure.”
The Formula of Concord reaffirmed Luther’s pastoral approach to use of the sacrament by accenting that trust in Christ’s words alone makes one worthy to receive the sacrament. Luther conceded that he himself sometimes did not feel worthy of the gifts God gives in the Lord’s Supper. He had to remind himself that God commands his people to come to find comfort in receiving Christ and his promise that he died “for you.” Even those who did not feel the need should come to the Supper, because the Word of God tells them of their need and because the evidence of Satan’s murderous deception lies on every side.
Luther conceded that he himself sometimes did not feel worthy of the gifts God gives in the Lord’s Supper. He had to remind himself that God commands his people to come to find comfort in receiving Christ and his promise that he died “for you.”
In 1524 Luther cast his trust in the sacramental promise of the Lord’s Supper into verse:
Jesus Christ, he is our Savior,
Who turned away from us God’s wrath
Through his bitterest agony;
He rescued us from pangs of hell.
So that we forget this never,
He gave his flesh for us to eat
Well hidden in this bit of bread
And gave to drink his blood in wine.
Give praise to God, the Father, then Who sought to feed you bountifully
And for your sins and misdeeds many
His Son surrendered into death.
Shy not away but trust completely
That this food is for the ailing
Whose sins weigh down their failing hearts
And quiver ever more from fear.
He himself says, “Come, poor people, Let me pour on you my mercy.
Physicians need not see the healthy,
But with them only wastes his skill.
If you trust this promise truly
And confess him with your mouth
You are well prepared to savor
This food that wakes your tired soul.”
Robert Kolb, Between Wittenberg and Geneva: Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation, 189-191.
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