Reading from 1 Corinthians 10:
14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel: are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?
Catechism, p. 326
What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.
The whole mess began with eating. Eating what God had not given and what He had expressly forbad. And so are we surprised to find at the very heart of the Christian faith, at the center of our gathering to the Crucified and Risen Lord, the gift of food? And such food!
“The true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We often hide from our eyes the fact that we can only sustain our natural life by the death of other living things, but it is absolutely true. For you to live, other beings have to die. And you have to take into your body their life (usually rather quickly, before it rots and flies away). Your fridge, after all, is really a morgue, a place where the dead are stored and kept cool to hold off the inevitable rot which is the sign that all the life has fled from the food and so you dare not eat it anymore.
Our Lord looked this reality in the face when He warned us: Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life which the Son of God will give you. (John 6).
So He sacrifices Himself upon Calvary’s tree to supply you with food, the food that is His flesh and blood. And unlike the other food that you take into yourself. This is spiritual food. This food doesn’t rot. Doesn’t decay. And even more, it imparts to you an eternal life when received in faith. Luther once said: Other food that we eat, we change into ourselves, but this food changes us into itself. We become one body because we all eat of the one body! It imparts to us a life that death simply cannot take from us. And because it is the body and blood of Jesus, it gives us forgiveness. For that is why He went to the cross, offering up His body and pouring out His blood, “for the forgiveness of sins.”
So as often as you present yourself at the Table as a Christian (our Catechism is blessed ignorant of the phenomenon of Lutherans!), He gives to you the gift that He died to win for you and lives to impart to you: His very body and blood as FOOD so that you may eat it and not die, but live in Him forevermore.
St. Paul warns that there’s no room then for feasting at the demon’s table, when our true life is given at the Lord’s table. Flee them! You belong to another. He made you His in Baptism. He keeps you His in the Supper. In Baptism you go into Christ. In to the Eucharist, Christ goes into you. All so that Christ may be all in all, and so that you might have a share in Him, in His life, in His blessedness and glory.
Indeed, the cup of blessing (the blessing promised to Abraham) which we bless (with the words of Jesus) is koinonia – common participation – in His blood. The bread which we bread is koinonia—common participation—in His body. And thus you share His life: “As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me will also live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven…whoever feeds on this bread will live…FOREVER.”
Unlike the rest of your food, THIS food isn’t rotting and decaying; it gives you a life in Christ forever. Amen.
Hymn: "What Is This Bread?" LSB 629