By Rev. Brent Kuhlman
The Lord’s Supper IS the gospel. After all, the Lord’s Supper is all about how, Lamb of God Jesus, who takes away the sin of the world, gives away the forgiveness and salvation that He won and achieved on the cross to His sinners.
How in the world does He do that? Through His words! He preaches. He speaks. What He says He does. What He promises He gives. Check it out in Matthew 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24, Luke 22:19-20 and 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.
On the night when He was betrayed Lamb of God Jesus preaches a Passover sermon that had never been preached before. He does what He does. He gives what He gives, because He is the God-man. There is no other God than this man, Jesus! His mouth is God’s mouth. His words are God’s words. His sermon is a divine promise by which He gives His last will and testament. Yes, that’s right, I said it! Lamb of God Jesus, who takes away the sin of the world, draws up His last will and testament.
He would do that? Absolutely! And He does it FOR YOU!
Lamb of God Jesus is the Maundy Thursday testator who anticipates His Good Friday death. He identifies the estate that He leaves behind and He names the heirs. Incredibly you, His sinners, are the beneficiaries! You, His sinners, are given the inheritance—the very salvation achieved for you on the cross! The Lord’s Supper IS the gospel!
Many would object! Seriously? He’s got to be out of His mind. Nuts! Wacko! Cuckoo! A few cards short of a full deck! Doesn’t He see what’s happening and who these men are? Good grief! Look around the Passover table.
James and John always want to be the big shot bosses. All the rest of the Twelve resent them. They constantly bicker and fight amongst themselves. Iscariot is an embezzling, good-for-nothing thief. In addition, he is going to commit one of the most outrageous and notorious betrayals in the history of the world—with a kiss, no less! For a little bit of cash! Peter, James and John won’t keep watch but will snooze soundly in Gethsemane. Peter’s, “even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you,” bravado quickly turns into a profanity-laced, liar, liar pants on fire, renunciation: “I’ve never ever seen this Jesus! I don’t know him at all!” Total denial! Not once, but three times! Three strikes and you’re…
Well, at least you’d think so. But not with Jesus! Even though He is surrounded by hard-core sinners, He is of sound mind. He knows exactly what He’s doing. He’s in charge. He determines the place to celebrate the Passover meal. He’s taken care of every detail. In fact, He unmasks his betrayer and pronounces divine judgment on him ahead of time.
Lamb of God testator Jesus speaks or bequeaths His will in that upper room. “Eat this bread. It is my body. I give it for you. Drink this wine. This cup is the new testament in my blood which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” The estate that He leaves is: “the forgiveness of sins.” For His sinners! I’ll say it again: the Lord’s Supper IS the gospel!
His Good Friday Body and Blood are given with the bread and wine. He says so. And you, like those notorious sinners around the table, are named as heirs—given to receive the eternal inheritance. Testator Jesus promises that His body and blood are given and shed FOR YOU. He promises that all your sin is forgiven. Name the sin. He guarantees it’s forgiven. What about the ones you can’t remember or didn’t know you did? Forgiven! What about the sin that you don’t want to do but ended up doing? Or how about the sin that deserves God’s temporal and eternal punishment? All forgiven! Totally absolved!
Like all wills, this one on the night Jesus was betrayed, when it is read out loud every Sunday, is contested as well. Bitterly. Some flat out reject it. “Body? Blood? How primitive! Is this some sort of religious cult like cannibalism? And forgiveness? Who needs it? I sure don’t! I’m not even a sinner!”
Others, like Satan, death and the world will be indignant. Horrified. They will get in your grill and they will accuse, bind, and condemn you for your sin. “Look at you!” they scream. “You call yourself a Christian! Really? You’re no better than Iscariot. You’re just like Peter. In fact, you’re worse. You’ve got betraying and denying Jesus down pat. According to all decency as well as all law and order, you’ve excluded yourself from Jesus’ last will and testament. You are a betrayer! A denier! Sinful! Unclean! Unworthy!”
What will you do in light of these accusations against you? What can you say?
Step up to the plate and tell the truth! Produce the evidence. Give them the goods. They’ve caught you red-handed. Confess: “Yes, that’s exactly right. Truly I am Christ’s betrayer, denier and sinner. I even colluded in his death! I gave Him up. I ran from Him. I helped spit in his face. I pounded the spikes into His hands and feet! Not denying it! Not one bit! But He died for me AND He names me—the sinner—in His last will and testament. He promises that His estate belongs to me. I will do as He commands. I will eat and drink. I believe His promise. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world—my sin!”
Yes, Lamb of God Jesus gives his estate, the forgiveness of sins in the sacrament, to those who needed it. Only the sick need a physician.
So the next day, Good Friday, He goes to his death. Crucified. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. That’s when his last will and testament goes into effect. Probated. He says so every time you hear the Words of Institution in the divine service. It is the public proclamation and reading of His will, just as He intended in that upper room.
And with the promise of forgiveness of sin, Lamb of God Jesus bestows the whole enchilada of His kingdom on you: SALVATION! The salvation won for you in his dying on the cross. Indeed! The Lord’s Supper IS the gospel!