Concerning the Sacrament of Holy Communion, it can be a little daunting to approach the Lord’s Supper. After all, there is mention in 1 Corinthians 11 of partaking of the meal in an unworthy manner with the possible result of bringing judgment on yourself (vv. 27-30). That the Apostle Paul speaks in verse 27 of being guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord, is but another indicator from Scripture that Jesus’ body and blood are involved!
Lutherans teach that Holy Communion is the body and blood of our Lord. That is what is received by those who partake of the elements, whether or not they have faith! Christ’s promises do not depend on our faith, but upon his word. Where faith matters is in the effect Christ’s body and blood will have. If we receive the elements with faith in Christ’s words the reception of his body and blood will be beneficial. It will bring forgiveness.
If, on the other hand, there is no faith, we have been given a warning. Paul puts it this way, “Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.”
In the Small Catechism, Dr. Luther relates what it means to be prepared and to receive the sacrament worthily: “Fasting and other outward preparations serve a good purpose. However, that person is well prepared and worthy who believes these words, given and shed for you for the remission of sins. But anyone who does not believe these words, or doubts them, is neither prepared nor worthy, for the words for you require simply a believing heart.”
It is faith in God’s promises that make us worthy, for we receive Christ’s righteousness when as unworthy sinners we receive it as a gift, simply by taking him at his word!
Since You Asked…
What is the meaning of the Incarnation?
The word incarnation is taken from Latin term incarnatio. It literally means “taking flesh” and in the Christian Faith it refers to God becoming human. In John 1:14 we learn of God the Son becoming flesh with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. Indeed the child born to Mary was a man, but it is the insistence of the Christian Faith that Jesus was also fully God. He is sometimes called the God-Man. Without ceasing to be fully divine, inseparable and equal to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit; God the Son also fully assumed our humanity in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In this way Jesus mediates God to man and then also represents man to God. The mystery of the Incarnation becomes a necessary means by which Jesus’ death and resurrection accomplishes our salvation.