Magazin fuer ev. luth. Homiletik vol. 4, 1880, pg. 209
St. Luke 22.19-- 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."
Whoever believes that Jesus Christ is true God and man, our Savior, our Brother, our Bridegroom, and that His words, this is My body, this is My blood, are true, that is, that in the Holy Supper under the bread and wine Jesus’ true body and true blood are truly present and are orally eaten and drunk by the communicants: must also acknowledge that there must be a blessing, in fact a great blessing in the sacrament. Yes, but what is this blessing? The forgiveness of sins. But which words of the Words of Institution show this to us? Among others, these words: do this in remembrance of Me. These words are the text of our confessional address. In brief, we consider:
That the words: “do this in remembrance of Me” deal with the blessing of the Sacrament—the forgiveness of sins
And indeed they show us,
1. that this blessing is really in the Sacrament,
2. that we have great need of this blessing and
3. that all who come according to the Lord’s will unfailingly receive it
1. These words, do this in remembrance of Me, deal with the blessing of the Sacrament—the forgiveness of sins. That’s because they, first of all, show that this blessing is really in the Sacrament.
When the Savior says, do this in remembrance of Me, He tells us two things by it. First He tells us what we should do. And what is it, then, that we should do? Celebrate the Sacrament! That is, with our mouths eat and drink His true body and His true blood under the consecrated bread and wine. So what, then, is the holy Supper that we are to celebrate? It is the seal of the validity of Jesus’ sacrifice of grace that He offered on Golgotha for our sins. When He offers us His body for food and His blood for drink, He is loudly calling to us: This is My body that I sacrificed, which I gave into death for your sins; and this is My blood that I sacrificed, which I poured out for the forgiveness of your sins. Look, as a witness to this, I am giving you the same body to eat and the same blood to drink. This is what the Sacrament is: it is a seal of His word of grace, that is, a seal of the Gospel, of the holy Absolution: Your sins are forgiven. St. Paul [Rm. 4.11] testifies that the holy Sacrament is a seal of the word of grace when he says that the sacraments are seals of the promise of grace. Since the Lord’s Supper is a seal of His sacrifice of grace and a seal of His word of grace, that means that the Lord’s Supper is truly a sea of grace into which every fountain of grace flows into and meets.
With the words, do this in remembrance of Me, Jesus also says why the Holy Supper is to be celebrated: in His remembrance. But what does this mean? It means that we should rightly cling to the Savior and His whole work of salvation and truly recall it and truly become absorbed in it. That’s how we rightly participate in it.
That means, then, that with these words the Lord wants to say: go to the Sacrament and learn anew and believe anew why I came to earth, learn anew and believe anew My Incarnation, My deepest humiliation—that is, that according to My humanity I did not use My divine majesty, My lowly birth in the manger in Bethlehem, My circumcision on the 8th day and that it showed I subjected Myself to the law and its dreadful curse, My whole earthly life and work, My bitter suffering and death, My institution of the holy pastoral office and the Blessed Sacrament as its seal. The purpose of all of this is the forgiveness of sins. My beloved, that’s what, do this in remembrance of Me, means.
The Savior says, do this, that is, eat My body and drink My blood as a seal that My body and My blood are your atoning sacrifice; and, do this in remembrance of Me, that is, fervently cling anew to it and so share in the blessing of the forgiveness of sins. By this He shows that the blessing of the forgiveness of sins is truly in the Holy Supper.
2. When the Savior says, do this in remembrance of Me, He not only says that the blessing of the forgiveness of sins is in the Holy Supper, but He also says that this blessing is absolutely necessary for you. He gives us a command with these words; and He doesn’t command anything unnecessary.
With these words, do this in remembrance of Me, the Lord tells us: the forgiveness of sins is something truly necessary for you; and, in fact, it is absolutely necessary, so that without it you cannot even have Me, Your Savior.
And isn’t that true? I certainly do not want to cite our entire black register of sin, but I only want to remind us of a bit: We are teachers of the people in the place of Christ. Shouldn’t we go about our work with holy fear? We should fall on our knees and ask God for every sentence, in fact for every word that we want to say in His name; place every word on the scale to see if it passes the test of whether it is really God’s word.
We are watchmen. Do we watch over the flock? Do we recognize the dangers our congregations face? Do we have a sharp eye out for the wolf so that we quickly notice how and where he wants to break in? Do we fight, do we rebuke without any fear of man, without looking at the person?
We are shepherds of the sheep. Do we have the true shepherd’s heart, which is merciful, hoping, patiently enduring love? Following the example of our Savior do we seek out the lost and go into the desert and are immovable in the goal of rescuing the poor soul even though we feel our sinful flesh?
We should be examples to the flock in discipline, in chasteness, in meekness, in humility, in friendliness, in modesty, in generosity—always and everywhere. Is that what we are? O, my brothers, we must bow our faces in shame to the earth and confess how many sins we see here.
Beloved, we are to gladly hear and learn the word. Do you do this? Do you let the law be preached to you? When your sins are uncovered and punished, do you receive it without murmuring and submit to the word? When the Gospel is preached to you, do you receive it and let it awaken and strengthen the faith in your heart so that you become truly strong in it? And do you show this in your life so that with all earnestness you flee and avoid what is contrary to God’s word, and with all earnestness strive for what is in accord with it? If we examine ourselves, we will find many sins.
Let both shepherd and sheep recognize how absolutely necessary the forgiveness of sins is for us.
3. With these words, do this in remembrance of Me, the Lord also shows us that all who, according to His will, approach will without fail receive this blessing—the forgiveness of sins. In these words, do this in remembrance of Me, there is also a great promise. With it, the Lord says: Just come in remembrance of Me, that is, in recognition of your need of forgiveness. This happens precisely when you recognize your sins, when they bother your conscience, when they bring you down to the dust, when they fill you with pain and sorrow.
Jesus says: Just come in hearty longing and desire for this blessing. Just look upon Me as truly your Savior who has won for you the forgiveness of sins and gladly wants to give them to you. Behold, if you come in remembrance of Me you will then, without fail, also have this blessing, the forgiveness of sins. That’s why I tell you to do this in remembrance of Me, that is, come with such a heart that holds Me in remembrance, so that I can give you My remembrance, namely the forgiveness of sins.
Yes, my beloved, as impossible as it is that the one who does not come in remembrance of Jesus should have this blessing of the forgiveness of sins, so also is it impossible that the one who comes in remembrance of Him should not have it.
It may be that the person does not immediately richly feel this comfort; but this does not change the fact. As true as Christ’s word are, do this in remembrance of Me, it is also just as certain does the person who does do this in remembrance of Me has the blessing of the Lord’s Supper—the forgiveness of sins. May the Lord now bless with grace the word that has been spoken in weakness. Amen.