Our Lord Jesus Christ does nothing by accident. Everything He does, He does with a purpose. So when He takes bread into His hands and blesses it, and then does the same with the cup of wine, it’s not just because that’s what’s handy as they celebrate the Passover. Jesus has a purpose, and everything He says and does is for that purpose. Everything He says and does is for the salvation of His creation.
Since our Lord always acts with purpose, it is important that we examine what our Lord says and does. He began with the command: “Take and eat.” “Take and drink.” He does not call upon us to do something miraculous. We do not have that ability. He tells us to something natural—something, in fact, that we need to do to live. Eat. Drink. It’s no coincidence that He connects His gifts with eating and drinking. Our earthly lives are fed by what we take in with our mouths; the same is true for eternal life.
And that’s true because of the Word of Christ. Hear the Word of God, recorded by the prophet Isaiah: “As the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” So when Jesus says, “This is my body;” “This is my blood;” “given” and “shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;” His Word does exactly what He says it will do. The bread is His body; the wine is His blood; in taking and eating and drinking, we eat and drink His body and blood, and we receive the forgiveness of our sins. The hands of our Lord consecrate this holy Meal, setting apart the bread and wine for the purpose of our salvation.
This is a stumbling block for many, including many who call themselves Christians. They doubt the power of Christ’s Word to do what He says it will do. When Jesus says of the bread, “This is my body,” they can’t bring themselves to believe that Jesus means it’s actually His body. Bread is bread, they think, and it certainly cannot contain anything that isn’t bread. In their minds, when Jesus uses the word “is” when He says, “This is my body,” the bread can only represent His body; it’s only a symbol. But that raises the question: If Jesus cannot actually do what He says He will do, then how can we really trust that He has the power to take away our sins?
My brothers and sisters in Christ: Do you trust the power of the Word of God? Do you trust that, when your pastor poured water on you and said, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” you were made a child of God and given faith to cling to what our Lord says? Do you trust that, when your pastor makes the sign of the cross and says, “In the stead of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins,” Jesus is taking away your sins? It is not your pastor who is doing the work; he is only acting as our Lord’s hands and mouth. Your pastor’s hands and mouth have been set apart, consecrated to deliver the gifts which Christ has called him to deliver.
Here is the truth: Christ is truly present, body and blood, in the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, just as He says He is. Your faith doesn’t put Him there, but it recognizes Him in this holy gift. The ordinary bread and wine, combined with the Word of God, deliver the crucified and resurrected Christ to you. These ordinary, everyday things, combined with the Word of God, deliver the forgiveness, life, and salvation Jesus died and rose to give you. Receive it from His hand, the hand of Christ which set it apart for you, the hand that has set you apart as one whom He has redeemed. In the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus always. Amen.
Sermon Topics: Hands of Jesus Lent series