What is your most precious possession?
It is not hard to imagine the range of answers one would get to such a question. Some might name a treasured family heirloom, others a precious object they searched for and saved for. Those who are more thoughtful might say their spouse or children. Those more materialistic might value most highly a car or boat.
But how would we answer? Our first thought might be one of the kinds of things mentioned above. But as children of God we could give finally only one answer: the forgiveness of sins that we have through faith in Jesus Christ. Forgiveness of our sins means that we have nothing to fear from God, not even on Judgment Day. It means that we have life, now and forever. It means that we have God’s favor and His help day by day. Every other possession we could lose and life would go on. But to lose the forgiveness that we have in Christ would be to lose all.
Our forgiveness is something we did not buy and could never earn. It is a gift from God. But it was a most expensive gift, bought at great cost: the sacrifice of His own Son.
The forgiveness that Christ won for us is complete; it includes every sin, past, present, and future. But the peace that we have in the knowledge of forgiveness is disturbed by our daily sins. We repeat the same sins, over and over. We may be ever so confident of God’s forgiveness in general, but we still feel guilty about yesterday’s sins, and today’s. We sometimes fear that we have offended God once too many times, and that this time He will not forgive us. We have an ongoing need for God’s forgiveness and for the assurance of His forgiveness.
It is exactly for this that Christ has given us the sacrament of Holy Communion. Here He gives us — in a way that is beyond our understanding — His own body and blood, the very body and blood that He gave and shed when He offered His life as a sacrifice for human sin. And as we eat and drink we hear the words — Jesus’ own words — ” . . . given for you . . . shed for you.” The sacrament gives us assurance that is individual and personal. It is the Lord Himself telling us one by one, “I died for you. Your sins are forgiven.”
Holy Communion then gives us the same kind of personal grace that we received in our Baptism. But, unlike Baptism, Holy Communion was given to be repeated. This life-long repetition of the sacrament assures us that the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for us, never runs out. It is available to us again and again, to the end of our life, giving us forgiveness.
Does Holy Communion actually give us forgiveness of sins? Yes, it is a means of grace. The sacrament is no human invention. Christ Himself instituted it and gave it to His Church. It is a means by which God gives us His grace, the forgiveness of sin. Whoever receives the body and blood of Christ, believing the words of Christ, has forgiveness.
As we take inventory of our possessions we should then have no trouble deciding which of them is the most valuable. It is the forgiveness of sins, which we have in abundance in the sacrament of Holy Communion.
–Pastor John Klatt