Every Sunday, we will be going through one of the fifty-two Lord’s Days of the Heidelberg Catechism. Written in the year 1563, the Heidelberg still remains a popular confession of faith in many churches to this day. You can find the full text here.
Lord’s Day 28
Question 75: How does the holy supper
remind and assure you
that you share in
Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross
and in all his benefits?
Answer: In this way:
Christ has commanded me and all believers
to eat this broken bread and to drink this cup
in remembrance of him.
With this command come these promises:1
First, as surely as I see with my eyes
the bread of the Lord broken for me
and the cup shared with me, so surely
his body was offered and broken for me
and his blood poured out for me
on the cross.
Second, as surely as I receive
from the hand of the one who serves,
and taste with my mouth
the bread and cup of the Lord,
given me as sure signs of Christ’s body and blood,
so surely he nourishes
and refreshes my soul for eternal life
with his crucified body and poured-out blood.
1. Matt. 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:19-20; 1 Cor. 11:23-25
Question 76: What does it mean
to eat the crucified body of Christ
and to drink his poured-out blood?
Answer: It means
to accept with a believing heart
the entire suffering and death of Christ
to receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life.1
But it means more.
Through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in Christ and in us,
we are united more and more to Christ’s blessed body.2
And so, although he is in heaven3 and we are on earth,
we are flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone.4
And we forever live on and are governed by one Spirit,
as the members of our body are by one soul.5
1. John 6:35, 40, 50-54
2. John 6:55-56; 1 Cor. 12:13
3. Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 11:26; Col. 3:1
4. 1 Cor. 6:15-17; Eph. 5:29-30; 1 John 4:13
5. John 6:56-58; 15:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16; 1 John 3:24
Question 77: Where does Christ promise
to nourish and refresh believers
with his body and blood
as surely as
they eat this broken bread
and drink this cup?
Answer: In the institution of the Lord’s Supper:
“The Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
‘This is my body that is [broken]* for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.’
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death
until he comes.”1
This promise is repeated by Paul in these words:
“The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread.”2
1. 1 Cor. 11:23-26
2. 1 Cor. 10:16-17
*The word “broken” does not appear in the NRSV text, but it was present in the original German of the Heidelberg Catechism.
The theme for both baptism and communion has been remembrance and assurance. We remember Christ at the Lord’s table because he told us “Do this in remembrance of me”. The more I focus on Christ, the more I am assured that his body was offered and broken for me and his blood was poured out for me on the cross. He nourishes and refreshes my soul for eternal life with his crucified body and poured-out blood. As members of the body of Christ, we accept with a believing heart the entire suffering and death of Christ and thereby receive forgiveness of sins and eternal life. So, come brothers and sisters, eat and drink! Remember and be assured that Christ gave himself up for you!
“The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is to receive from Christ the nourishment and strength and hope and joy that come from feasting our souls on all that He purchased for us on the cross, especially His own fellowship.” John Piper