Christians of the Lutheran Confession understand it this way: It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, in and under the bread and the wine, which we Christians are commanded by Christ’s word to eat and drink.
For us, the bread and wine still remain bread and wine. However, as God’s Word attaches itself to these elements they mysteriously become Christ’s body and blood.
Just as bread and wine are food for the body so also God’s Word makes them food for our souls. In the Lord’s Supper Christ comes to us announcing forgiveness and new life so that we might live for God and his kingdom.
We need this meal. In fact, Luther encouraged his followers to have it every time they worshiped. He suggested that because even though we have been born again through the waters of baptism we still live in the old skin of our humanity. Every day we are attacked by the devil and face obstacles leading us away from God and his kingdom.
However, as we receive the Lord’s Supper our faith is refreshed and strengthened. In this meal we are again reminded of the One who gave his life for us that we might have life and not instead succumb to sin, death and the power of the devil.
Luther taught that this new life that God has invited us into is one that ought to grow and develop. This does not happen easily though. We face much opposition in our faith walk and the devil is persistent in trying to convince the believer to lose heart, become indifferent, impatient and ultimately, to renounce one’s faith.
The Lord’s Supper is for times like this. When we are down; when our faith seems weak, we come to the table to be blessed by Christ’s presence. In the bread and the wine we hear, This is my body given for you….This is my blood shed for you…and in these words faith clings to the promises that we are forgiven and that we are not alone. In Christ’s death we are part of the great covenant held together by God’s grace in Christ Jesus.
Some do not come because they believe they are not worthy. Others come thinking that they are all prepared and ready to receive it (worthy). However, this sacrament does not depend on our worthiness. We are not baptized because we are worthy. We do not confess our sins because we are pure and good. Likewise, we come to this meal because we are poor, miserable people, unworthy to receive such a gift.
The only one who is prevented from receiving the Lord’s Supper is the person who desires no grace and forgiveness, who believes that s/he is worthy and has no need or intention to grow and develop in the way of Christ.
– Adapted from Connections Magazine: The Lord’s Supper: Luther’s Commentary from the Large Catechism, p.7 (January-February 2012)