At the mention of Christ, Jacob moves his body with a gesture of adoration. Thus when David sees that his son Solomon will succeed him in the kingdom, he bends forward with his head and breast, calls upon God, and gives thanks. In this way Jacob honors the promise here and bends his head forward, not backward. By this very gesture he testifies that he believes in and has regard for Christ, who is to come, to be crucified, and to be raised in order that He may give life to all the dead. In this hope and faith he folds his hands and bends his head, not toward the middle or the end but toward the head of the bed, in order that this may be nothing else than a gesture of honor and adoration in such an important matter, namely, in the recollection of the divine promise, which he then had in the Word, but which was actually to be fulfilled later in the deed.
We, too, should do this. When we hear the Word of God, we should receive it with special reverence and piety, if not with bended knees, at least with humble hearts. Thus it is good that the Sacrament of the Altar is honored with bended knees; for the true body and blood of the Lord are there, likewise the presence of the Holy Spirit and the promise or the Word of God, which should be heard reverently. For God works there, and the Lord shows Himself. In Moses this is sometimes called the face of God. He means that God is present and appears to me. Here it is certainly fitting for me to rise or to fall on my knees. And the appearances and faces of God we experience are equal to, yes, superior to, all the appearances in the Law of Moses. When I approach Baptism, I must certainly conclude that nothing human is being done there. But the water is a veil or a means. So is the Word with which God is veiled. Behind these stands our Lord God, and they are the faces of God through which He speaks with us and works in every person individually. He baptizes me; He absolves me and gives me His body and blood through the tongue and the hand of the minister. For God works salvation in Baptism. And this is the presence or form and epiphany of God in these means. Therefore we do the right thing when we bow and revere God when He speaks with us. If we do not do so with our bodies, we should at least do so with all our hearts.
And in Baptism, of course, our eyes and hearts should always be directed to the manifest appearance in the Jordan, where the voice of the Father is heard from heaven, the flesh of the Son is seen, and the Holy Spirit appears in the form of a dove. Thus also in our Baptism. And what is primary in the Lords Supper is the means by which Christ gives me His body. Thus it is actually God, not the minister, who nourishes and feeds us. In Baptism the voice of the Trinity is heard, and the words of Baptism must not be understood or received in any other way. Therefore this adoration is necessary, if not with a bending of the body, at least with spiritual reverence.
Luther’s works, vol. 8: Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 45-50