The text for this lesson is Luke 24:13–35.
- Jesus reveals Himself to us through bread and wine, giving us the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life that He won for us on the cross.
- Law: I sin when I deny the real presence of Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar.
- Gospel: Christ is truly present in the Sacrament through His body and blood in, with, and under the bread and wine.
It was the talk of the town. Jesus of Nazareth, the obscure carpenter’s son, had been arrested, condemned, and put to death on a Roman cross. Many people loved Jesus and looked to Him to usher in a new era for the Jews—freedom from the oppression and tyranny of Rome and then strength and prosperity for Israel. This Jewish leadership had other plans. In order to maintain their authority and position in society, the Pharisees, elders, and teachers of the law, among others, arranged to have Jesus arrested. Then they orchestrated His demise. In the midst of such exciting times, what else would two men on the road to Emmaus discuss?
Jesus cleverly brought together a number of events from the past to dramatically present Himself to Cleopas and his companion. Before His arrest and crucifixion, Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper. This involved the breaking of the bread. On the road to Emmaus, our Lord taught them all things concerning Himself as had been presented in Moses and the prophets of the Old Testament. Then, sitting at table, Jesus broke bread, tying it all together.
All that was explained and predicted in the Old Testament was brought to fruition in Jesus on the cross. We truly receive Christ and the benefits of what He has done for us in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
How can the unaided soul recognize the real presence in Holy Communion? Only by faith, created by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following the Words of Institution, the bread and wine appear unchanged. They taste and smell exactly as they did just moments before.
We doubt the real presence because we are sinners. Even if we read a hundred books and attend as many lectures on the real presence, we would still remain skeptical. Even as Christians, forgiven and made righteous through faith, we seek to poke holes in what God has made quite clear in His Word, the Bible. We doubt Jesus’ word regarding Holy Communion because we doubt God’s Word regarding everything. God says we are sinners; we chafe against such troubling news. God says we are forgiven in Christ; we wonder if that is sufficient to pay for our sins.
What the Bible says regarding the real presence and Holy Communion is trustworthy and true for the same reason everything in the Bible is such—it’s God’s Word. God does not lie. He is perfect, and we struggle with sin. In humility, we recognize that the doubt is to be found in us.
Jesus says that it is bread, and so it is. He says it’s His body, and so it is. He says that this cup remains wine, and it does. He says that this cup is the New Testament in His blood, and so it is. This wonderful Sacrament gives what Jesus earned on the cross. He lived without sin and died innocently, rising from the dead in victory. In the Lord’s Supper, we receive His crucified and risen body and blood, which brings forgiveness and everlasting life. It provides what the Old Testament explained and the disciples on the road came to understand—God has redeemed us in Christ, and through this Sacrament, shares that forgiveness and life.