Monday, May 27, 2019

Luther's Notes on the Gospel: Maundy Thursday – The Lord's Supper

Luke 22:14-20
14 When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. 15 Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”
17 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

Luther's Notes

The Passover feast. Nothing is treated of in this passage about the body and blood of Christ in the sacrament, but only of the eating and drinking of the Passover, which Moses commanded. Exodus 12.

In this verse he will say, With this Passover the Mosaic and Jewish pascal lamb, the priesthood, kingdom and service shall cease, and a new Passover shall begin in my kingdom of the New Testament. Therefore, I will also eat the Passover for the last time with you, in order that I may give it the last honor and make an end of it. Just as the Jews, Christ doubtless had shoes on his feet and a staff in his hand, as though he was ready to depart.

 I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes This also has no reference to the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, but it was a parting drink [Letzetrunk] in the Passover. As if the Lord would say, This shall be the St. John's drink, [Johannestrunk]. Now I drink it yet with you as it was ordained by Moses; but after this I will drink it no more. Upon this he established a new Passover.

19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

And he took the bread and gave thanks. This text we can easily keep in mind, for it is not long, and besides is fine, plain and clear. Here let us open our eyes and sharpen our ears, and hold these words, certain and firm.

This is my body, this is my blood. He does not appoint a heavy work, for eating and drinking is the very easiest, yea, the most pleasant work in the whole world, and there is nothing which men would rather do.

When one preaches of the sacrament, it is a burden to them (i.e., the unregenerate, Tr.); when one exhorts them, they regard it as a still greater burden. For they fear they must become pious and forsake their sins. It is true, we shall be pious and for sake our sins; yet we must not frighten people away from the sacrament; for it is a lovely, consolable meal.

Just as he baptizes you, and puts you into the water, not that you should be drowned and perish in the water, but that through this bath thou should be redeemed from sin and born again; thus also he gives you in this sacrament his body and blood to eat and to drink; not to strangle and kill you, but to refresh and quicken you.

Two reasons for taking the sacrament. Two reasons should urge us to partake of the sacrament. The first is our own benefit and need; I shall partake of the sacrament, that I may be relieved of my sins and quickened in my spiritual life.

In the second place, we should be induced to receive the sacrament by the honor and service of God, who has instituted it, and commanded us to celebrate it. Many of the old church fathers have called it the Eucharist, which means thanksgiving.

The pope has made a sacrifice out of the sacrament (or an office, that is, a divine service,) and such a sacrifice whereby the whole world should be reconciled to God, though neither the sacrament nor the use of the sacrament is a sacrifice of works, whereby the grace and help of God can be merited or acquired; but the use of the sacrament, or the remembrance of Christ (as the Lord himself calls it,) is a thank offering, whereby we confess and thank God that we are justified and saved out of pure grace and the sufferings, death and shedding of the blood of Christ. This is the meaning of what Christ says, Do this in remembrance of me. With the words, remembrance of me, he sets aside the remembrance of the old Passover lamb.

What shall we preach? Some might ask, Shall we preach nothing, but that Christ died for us? Is it not enough to preach this once? I have heard it often and understand it very well now. Answer: The Jews were required to think of their redemption out of Egypt, not only once, but repeatedly and continually. Why then should we Christians take offense at continually repeating the remembrance of our redemption, wherein Christ has redeemed us from sin, death, hell and the devil? I will say of myself : I am a doctor of the Holy Scriptures, yet the more I consider the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, the more I delight in them.

When you forsake God's word and prayer, you lose a power and fervor of your soul. Therefore we must daily run back to the word. If you do this not, then see to it, that you do not become too cold and too indolent, until at last you yourself have no more feeling, and in a few years remain away from the sacrament.


Luther's Explanatory Notes on the Gospels, pp. 260-262

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