ON THE LORD’S SUPPER
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
7. Here now the Lord institutes the Sacrament of his Body, and Blood. And this text ought to be committed to memory, for it is not long, and at the same time it is very plain and clear. Our Lord Jesus Christ did not wish to burden us with a lot of ordinances, as the Jews were in the Old Testament. he does nothing more than take bread and wine and say, “Take, eat, this is my body; drink, this is my blood”; or, “This is the cup, the New Testament, in my blood”; also, “This do in remembrance of me.” Let us then open our eyes and prick up our ears and firmly apprehend these words.
8. Above, when the Lord gives his disciples the cup, stating, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves,” he does not say, “This is my blood,” but, “This is the fruit of the vine whereof I shall not henceforth drink.” But here, when he takes the bread, he says, “This is my body”; and when he takes the cup, “This is my blood,” or, “The New Testament in my blood.” So, we do not here have mere bread and wine, but the bread is his Body, which he gives to eat, and the wine is his Blood or the New Testament in His Blood, which he gives to drink. For this is what the words state, “He took bread,” “he took the cup,” and he adds the words, “This is my blood.” These words cause the bread to be his Body and the wine his Blood. Whosoever then eats this bread eats Christ’s true Body; and whosoever drinks this cup drinks Christ’s true Blood, be he worthy or unworthy.
9. This we are steadfastly to believe. For Christians are to give glory to God and to confess that what God says, he is also able to do. St. Paul writes (Rom. 4:21) that this was true of Abraham. Whoever wishes to be a Christian should not be like the fanatical spirits who question how it is possible for bread to be Christ’s Body and wine to be Christ’s Blood. They have their own ideas of God and want to comprehend him with their reason, God also is unable to do it. But just why is it that man has puzzled about this for so long? The more man struggles over it, the less he is able to comprehend our Lord God with human reason. For our Lord God is not a God who allows himself to be measured and comprehended by human reason, nor are his works and words to be subject to the canons of human reason. St. Paul says (Eph. 3:20): “[God] is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Why is it then that we torment ourselves by presuming to resolve and establish that God’s Word and work must conform to our reason? If God says it must be so, then because it is God’s Word and he is all-powerful and truthful, he is able, also, to effect what he says.
10. Therefore, we should hold steadfastly to these clear words or our Lord. The bread he proffers is his Body, and the cup or wine is his Blood, or the New Testament in his Blood. In childlike faith we should partake, without doubting, and believe it to be so. We should give thanks to Christ for such grace, rejoice over it, and strengthen our hearts by it, considering why Christ has done what he did, not disputing whether he is able to do it. Impertinent are the hearts which question why Christ did it this way and doubt that he is able to do it.
11. None of us is able to comprehend what our eyes behold here. Nor are we really able with our reason to explain how it comes about that we fall asleep and then awaken. When I open my eyes, my view extends for several miles. Also, the voice of one preacher reaches many hearts and ears. Such are the things I see and hear, and yet I cannot comprehend how they happen, even though I should break my neck over it. Now, since we do not understand things with which we are in daily contact and experience, why do we want to master and judge of God’s great works which are hidden from us? Our tongues make rattling noises in our mouths, rouses itself to action, and emits understandable words. No one is able to understand how this comes about. Nor is anyone able to tell us how hair grows on our heads. Now since you cannot comprehend how things you daily experience come about, dear friends, give glory to Christ for the truth he speaks when he says, “This is my body,” “This is my blood,” even though you do not understand how it is possible.
Luther’s House Postils
Preached at the parish church on Maundy Thursday, April 2, 1534