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For My Soul the Highest Good

Written by: Thomas Schuetze pastor of St. Paul Ev. Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’” (Matthew 26:26-28, NIV).

Something pleasant can become unpleasant if you have too much of it, it has been said. Homemade chocolate chip cookies are a treat. But a child who fills his stomach with a plateful will likely regret it. Vacation days away from the daily grind are something to look forward to. Yet even these can get to be too much. Some have been known to say, “I need a vacation from my vacation! I can’t wait to get back to ‘home,

sweet home.’”

How different it is with the blessings Jesus gives us in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. Here the saying applies, “You can’t get too much of a good thing!” What good thing does He offer us in the Sacrament? That is shown by the words He used when He gave us this Sacrament: “This is My body given for you. This is My blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” He assures us that along with the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, we receive also the very body He gave up on the cross for us and the blood He shed to win forgiveness for our sins. Truly, here’s a good thing we can never get too much of! How could we ever receive too much forgiveness from our Savior,  or too much assurance
that when our life on earth ends, an eternal mansion awaits us?

How can Jesus give such priceless blessings through a ceremony that looks so ordinary? Answer: With Him, nothing is impossible. Consider how many Bible teachings soar above our power as humans to comprehend. How could a universe be fashioned by a Supreme Being in six days from nothing? How could a few loaves and fish be used to satisfy a famished crowd numbering in the thousands? How could a man’s corpse, moldering in the grave for four days, be restored to life again? So also here; how can the body and blood of a Man killed on a cross two millennia ago be present with bread and wine and convey blessings of incalculable worth? Human logic would say that it can’t be. But the Holy Spirit blesses us with the ability to accept Jesus’ words with the faith of a child, to know beyond a doubt that Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said: “Along with the bread, I am giving you My body. Along with the wine, I am giving you My blood, shed for your forgiveness.”

But someone might ask: Doesn’t Jesus convey the blessing of forgiveness through the Word of the Gospel which people hear and read? Certainly! Every believer may draw comfort from the promise that God so loved the world that He gave us His Son so that whoever believes in Him won’t perish but have eternal life. But someone might still wonder, does the Lord mean ME? Are the blessings of His forgiving love for ME? Jesus knows how we crave tangible things that we can touch, see, and taste. So He chose to provide us with visible proof of His love. Not just a symbol of what He did for us on the cross, but the very body He gave up for us there, the very blood that flowed from His nail-pierced hands and feet. To each communicant He gives His personal pledge: I gave My life for YOU. I atoned for YOUR sins. There’s a place in heaven reserved specially for YOU.

Small wonder, then, that He invites us to be frequent guests at His holy Supper. When it comes to the good things for our soul’s eternal welfare which He offers us there, we can never get too much.

What higher gift can we inherit? 

It is faith’s bond and solid base;

It is the strength of heart and spirit, 

The covenant of hope and grace.

Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood 

  Be for my soul the highest good!   

(TLH 315:9)