“God Said, ‘Take'”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me. After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Take, drink you all of it. This cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. This do you, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul’s Epistle).
Luther proclaims that, “This sacrament is the Gospel,” and “Where there is forgiveness of sin, there is eternal life and salvation.” Every word Christ spoke instituting His supper is aimed at battling the spiritual warfare the devil rages against us. Christ knows how mightily our flesh and the devil will seek to keep us away from the forgiveness of sin.
When I’ve a particularly sinful week—i.e. 52 weeks per year—the main volley the devil launches is “Do you think you are worthy? Why, just look at all you did this week and the same thing again! This week you even added to it as if that same sin a week ago wasn’t bad enough. How many times do you think you can just trot right up there and receive the forgiveness of those same old sins? At some point you are just a hypocrite or trying to get away with the same old crime over and over again, and you are trying God’s patience.”
The devil is effective with this attack because it calls out all the things a Christian sinner experiences as simultaneous sinner and saint—a damnable hypocrite, one palpably mired in the same old sin(s), a sinner who is worse now than before, a sinner more behind than when they first started, and a sinner who will not leave this earth “in the black” on their ledger. The more besieging and repetitive the sin, the worse sin becomes as it shows no so called Christian progress. According to reason, no one in their right mind would continue to forgive such an obviously hopeless case!
Left to myself I would never again have the strength to approach the Lord’s Table to receive His body and blood. This attack alone is strong enough to deter anyone from approaching the sacrament to receive forgiveness of sin—if it were not for one simple eternal Word Christ speaks—“take.” “Take eat, this is My body, take drink of it all of you, this is My blood.” When Christ speaks through the pastor’s mouth “take” it’s the same as Christ Himself calling the four day dead stinking corpse of Lazarus out of the grave, “Lazarus come forth” (John 11:38-44).
This one powerful word, “take”, literally raises one out of the grave of their past week’s sin, and draws him or her down the aisle to the altar—to “take eat and take drink“ the actual body and blood of God “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sin.” This word “take” is a divine creative declaration. It literally creates out of nothing. It creates and enlivens faith again. The utterance of this word is the same divine word God spoke into the void of nothingness before all creation existed, “Let there be light” and there was light—“take” is the divine calling of faith into existence.
I cannot fathom the Lord’s Supper without this precious and divine word, “take”. If we only said, “the body and blood of Christ”, who could dare come to it? What strength could a culpable sinner muster to approach the holy body and blood of the Son of God!? We would be like Luther before his Gospel breakthrough and quake at the mere thought of coming near to the body and blood of God. Who is without sin worthy of eternal damnation that can dare touch God! Let alone have the audacity to put the Son of God’s body and blood into the same unclean mouth that has spoke so much sin over the past 6 days!
The Nicene Creed confesses that the Holy Spirit is, “the Lord and Giver of life” (2 Cor 3:17, John 6:63, Rom 7:6, 8:2, & 2 Cor 3:6). The divine word “take” that proceeds out of the lungs of Christ are the breathed Lord and Giver of Life (i.e. the Holy Spirit). He is breathing life afresh into the ear holes of the sinner. In Ezekiel, the prophet is told to preach to a valley of desiccated bones, “Prophesy over these bones, and tell them: ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. This is what the sovereign Lord says to these bones: Look, I am about to infuse breath into you and you will live. I will put tendons on you and muscles over you and will cover you with skin; I will put breath in you and you will live. Then you will know that I am the Lord’” (Ezk 37:4-6). That sounds as absurd as forgiving once again a palpably incorrigible sinner who is back again for the same old sin(s), worse sin(s), getting more spiritually behind the more they try. Yet the Lord of the church commands it be done, “this do”, just as the prophet Ezekiel was commanded to preach to an audience of dust and bone fragments.
As one of our church’s elders—and wholly unworthy of the call—I have the privilege of being pastor’s little helper giving this Gospel to the congregation. It is of utmost importance to tell each one of the baptized, “take eat, take drink”, so he or she will know this is most certainly true and God is telling him or her to “take eat and take drink the body and blood of Christ given and shed for you for the forgiveness of every one of your sins.” Because they may wonder if their repetitive, new, worse than last time sin(s) this week or lack of spiritual progress was the final straw that breaks the divine back! They MUST hear “take eat” and “take drink” or they cannot come out of the graves that the fallen religions of the devil, the world and sinful nature are trying to drag them back into.
This divinely uttered word “take” is our personal “Lazarus come forth”. This divine declaration, “take”, is truly a call out of the grave, from death to life—as Luther said, “For where there is forgiveness of sin, there is life and salvation” and thus, “this sacrament IS (literally) the good news.”