Feb 5, 2005

Sermon Title: This is My Body

Steven Broers
M.Div. Student, Luther Seminary
Second Place Feburary 2005 Round
You swallow the bread and the wine. I swallow you. This is my body, given for you. This is my blood, shed for you. Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
You feel quite insignificant now that you have the crucified and risen flesh and bone Jesus Christ riding down your esophagus. You cannot prepare for Jesus making a home in your digestive juices. You consume Jesus Christ, all of him, true God and true man. He consumes you. He is a consuming fire killing everything in you, all of you, and molding you in his own image-brand spanking new! Your new home is in the refuge and fortress of Jesus Christ himself.

You gulp down that hunk of bread and you are finished. Jesus Christ says, "This is my body, given for you." This is Christ's promise for you handed over in a hunk of bread. You have no part to play. You receive the living God. Your pious desires make no difference. Your theology makes no difference. Jesus is not looking for a few good men. Jesus dies only for the unworthy, the confused, the condemned, the distraught; Jesus hands himself over for you. He wants you and swallows you whole. You take Jesus in the way he chooses to give himself. In a crusty, dried up loaf of bread. In a pasty white wafer. Jesus reveals himself, "This is my body given for you."

You take Jesus in the way he chooses to give himself. He gives himself for creatures, for you, who do not know him. He gives himself for creatures, for you, who want to kill him on a cross. Jesus Christ gives himself for you, the creature, the one he made, and pronounces you dead in yourself and alive only in him. You are indeed only a dead creature but alive as Christ's chosen one, a Christian. Claimed with the name of Christ. He gives himself to make you free-not so that you might make better choices-but so that he can be all in all. By placing all your faith on Jesus Christ alone you will know the freedom of being bound to Christ. Your sins hang heavily around your waist, but Christ grabs hold of your belt and leads you where you do not want to go. He kills you with your sins in order to bring you to eternal life.

You are two people now and he has two words for you. The first word is that of the law, what Jesus expects from you as a creature. He has made you a creature in order to love and serve your neighbor. He provides you with daily bread and twelve extra baskets full. You hold the daily bread for those in need. But, you do not and will not heed his holy word, for you are bound to listen to your own voice-to your own judgment. You received the good things in life and now you are in agony. Everything in your life does not come from you but from God. God provides the necessities of life to all people, rich or poor, through the hands of others. You heard the laws of Moses and you did not follow the law. You heard the call to repentance and did not listen. You are not convinced to follow the law even by Jesus Christ himself being raised from the dead. You have no excuse.

You are two people now and he has two words for you. The second word is that of a promise given to those he claims by his name. "This is my body given for you." You are not convinced by God's laws. You are not convinced by God's Son. So God kills you and makes you alive by his word alone. God's word hammers you back into the dust you came from and opens the grave with his final word, his word of promise for you. Indeed, this is my body and it is given for you. You are dust and to dust you shall return, but, I am the Lord of the living and not of the dead. I will raise you up on eagle's wings, make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of my hand. You are mine forever. You will live forever because of me.

You swallow the bread and the wine. I swallow you. All of you. All of your most pious desires. The ones that make you feel so evolved and godly. Jesus Christ burns away all your good works until you have nothing to show for yourself before God and nothing to be proud of. Why? So that there is nothing to separate you from him. Nothing will separate you from Jesus and his love-he defeats you. He even defeats death itself. He's not doing it for your glory. He is doing it for his glory.

Waiting quietly in your pew for your upcoming death at the Lord's Supper may comfort you. Reflecting on God's promises may give you some peace. But when the words are pronounced, "The body of Christ given for you." "The blood of Christ shed for you". These words kill you and your preparations come to an end. You, the person you know and love above anything else, dies. This death is not some spiritual death done by some spiritual Savior. The crucified and risen Jesus Christ says, "This is my body" and you swallow him whole. You are dead. Jesus Christ lives in you and you in him.

Of course you don't agree. You don't want a crucified God. You don't want God in bread. Eating the flesh and blood of Jesus just seems so icky. Seems so illogical. Seems like you would've done it a different way. You don't want an icky God. You want to be made right with a purely spiritual God on your own terms. Jesus has this to say, "Truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood you have no life in you." This teaching is difficult. Thank God! For Jesus Christ is not risen to convince you but to kill you. You have faith in his words because you have nowhere else to go. Only Jesus has the words of eternal life. "This is my body. This is my blood."

You want to be justified in yourself and by yourself. You want to be loved by God because of who you are and what you do. Instead, God justifies you because of nothing you do but because everything you do in despicable to God. Inside your head all you hear is your unworthiness and your final judgment. God's word comes from outside of you and says, "You are mine. I love you." God makes you right in his eyes not because of anything in you but because of his Son, the flesh and bone, Jesus Christ alone. You swallow the bread and the wine. I swallow you.

Satan harasses you questions "Did God say, 'This is my body?'" And what shall you say? Yes, he did. These are the clear words of my savior Jesus Christ. "How can this be possible? Isn't that just kind of disgusting? Did Jesus really mean 'This is my body'?" And what shall you say? Yes, he did. These are the clear words of my savior Jesus Christ. For a God who does not share my flesh and bone is no God at all.

In the city of Marburg, in the year 1529, Martin Luther met with another reformer named Zwingli. They met to discuss the Lord's Supper. Sitting at a table together, Luther lifted the table cloth and scratched into the wood the words "This is my body" and the discussion began. Zwingli asked, "Don't the words 'this is my body' really mean 'This symbolizes my body'" Luther lifted up the table cloth and said, "But Christ said 'this is my body.'" But Zwingli argued, 'You don't really mean we eat Jesus' flesh like cannibals! In the Bible it is written the flesh profits nothing." Luther lifted up the tablecloth, "But Christ said 'This is my body.'" Zwingli said, "But it is written that Christ sits at the right hand of God. How can he be in a loaf of bread in every church partaking of the Lord's Supper?" Luther lifted up the cloth, "Christ said 'This is my body.'"

You put your faith not in arguments of logic, not in personal experience, not in your own understanding, but in Jesus Christ alone. "This is my body. This is my blood." Any other words stand apart from Christ and his promise for you. Is this fundamentalism? Biblicism? No. This is Jesus Christ. Jesus isn't preaching law at the last supper but pure unadulterated gospel to bound sinners. Luther preached Jesus Christ and his words alone. Jesus Christ, the author of life, does the work.

Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . is conceited, understands nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words.
Jesus Christ says, "This is my body." You are absolutely condemned. So, because God's name and God's words are blasphemed and despised he sends a preacher so that his people will know his name and hear his words. He sends a preacher for you. He announces his last judgment. You have absolutely no life in you. You are condemned. He announces your salvation. You are whiter than snow. You are mine and no one will snatch you out of my hand.

You want to save your life and you will lose it. For Jesus comes not to bring peace but comes with a sword. His words cut you down and they kill you. Like a tree that bears no fruit, you are toppled over. Jesus kills you and raises you up. He destroys you completely so that he can raise you to eternal life forever. Your only hope lies in Jesus Christ alone. Jesus is in the bread and wine not as a sign, but for you. Jesus is in the bread and wine, not for a celebration of church unity, but for you. Jesus is in the bread and the wine, not because of what you do, but for you.

You are given the freedom that comes from knowing that eternal life is wrapped up in Jesus Christ. You are given the freedom to live your life out of the shadow of punishment from doing things right or wrong. And still, you continue to carry around the burden of being a sinner, a creature. Not a spirit eating a spiritual God but a creature eating Jesus Christ, true God AND true man. You cannot and will not love God or others more than yourself. But because of Christ, you now are free and can live with others on Earth in the shadow of the Almighty God.

So, issues in the church today and in the news today are no longer about what should be right or should be wrong for you do not live according to the law but according to Jesus Christ and his words. His word of law telling you that you are only a creature who lives in a sinful society that needs protection and ordering from the law. You stay out of the clouds of spirituality and live on Earth as a creature. Your daily life is not about freedom to do whatever you choose but is a life filled with death and repentance. But God does not just have one word but two, the word of law and the word of promise. Though death and sin infect every part of this world, God's last word is his promise. Jesus Christ has come to give life and to give it abundantly for you. Jesus Christ will create a new heaven and a new earth. You do not preach compassion or your own standard of truth. You preach Jesus Christ himself and let him do the work. You put your trust in his word of truth.

Jesus pronounces your most pious desires for freedom, equality and godliness to be full of sin and utterly unable to meet the demands of the law. "There is no one who is right in God's eyes, no not even one." You find your hope in the freedom from that law that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. Your faith finds refuge under his wings and in his words. You hear the gospel in the words of the Lord's Supper. There are no conditions to this gift of salvation, just the words, "This is my body, given for you." You swallow the bread and the wine. I swallow you.