This Christmas, with Christmas Day falling on a Sunday, we’re celebrating God taking on a human body (John 1:14) by giving that same body and blood to those attending for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
A non-Lutheran friend recently asked me for clarification how we understand the Lord’s Supper relative to the Passover, so I wrote a short explanation, and after writing it, thought it might be helpful to others:
Jesus and His disciples were celebrating the Passover to the letter, but Jesus essentially replaced it with the new covenant, since the Passover was part of the old. This is why it’s called “Maundy Thursday,” from the Latin “Mandatum” (“command”). “A new command I give to you: Love one another as I have loved you….” (John 13:34)
By saying, “This is my Body…&…blood…,” He was actually saying a lot, but think of it like this:
//twinkly sound fade-out
“You know how Israel was saved from slavery to Egypt? The blood of the lamb was shed, and God passed over (covered) those who were marked by the blood of the lamb and protected them from death. When the angel of death came, God said, ‘You shall not pass!’
The next day, they awoke to find the firstborn sons of Egypt had died, but the death of the firstborn was what ultimately set Israel free.”
“I am the firstborn by whose death you are set free not from Egypt, but from sin, death, and hell. I willingly submit to death to conquer it once and for all, and just as Israel passed through the waters of the sea, so you will pass through the waters of Holy Baptism on your way to the promised land (heaven/the new creation).”
“I am the Lamb, and here is the blood by which God will again say to death, ‘You shall not pass!’. Whenever you eat and drink this, I will remember My promise to cover you, my sacrifice, and each time, I renew my vow to you to forgive your sin and give you eternal life with Me. And until the culmination on the last day, I am with you. You don’t need to go to Jerusalem to come into My special presence like the old covenant—I will come to you, and when you eat and drink My body & blood, I will literally be within you, coursing through your veins. When I say I’ll be with you, that’s how close I’m talking about.”
We often refer to the last day as, “The Second Coming of Christ,” but as Pastor Albrecht pointed out December 4, Jesus comes again and again—through the Word and Sacraments, and as I preached on December 11, Jesus comes through us until He comes for us.
With that in mind, take a fresh look at Jesus’s words from Matthew 18:20: “…surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”