Truly Present

Daily Reform, Mark 11:24-26

About the Reformer

[Debating the physical presence of Christ in the Eucharist,] the contest grew hotter, without advancing, and was broken up by a call to the repast. The next day, Sunday, Oct. 3, it was renewed. Zwingli maintained that a body could not be in different places at once. Luther quoted the Sophists (the Schoolmen) to the effect that there are different kinds of presence. The universe is a body, and yet not in a particular place.

Zwingli: Ah, you speak of the Sophists, doctor! Are you really obliged to return to the onions and fleshpots of Egypt? He then cited from Augustin, who says, “Christ is everywhere present as God; but as to his body, he is in heaven.”

Luther: You have Augustin and Fulgentius on your side, but we have all the other fathers. Augustin was young when he wrote the passage you quote, and he is obscure. We must believe the old teachers only so far as they agree with the Word of God.

Oecolampadius: We, too, build on the Word of God, not on the fathers; but we appeal to them to show that we teach no novelties.

Luther, pointing again his finger to the words on the table: This is our text: you have not yet driven us from it. We care for no other proof.

Oecolampadius: If this is the case, we had better close the discussion. The chancellor exhorted them to come to an understanding.

Luther: There is only one way to that. Let our adversaries believe as we do.

The Swiss: We cannot.

Luther: Well, then, I abandon you to God’s judgment, and pray that he will enlighten you.

Oecolampadius: We will do the same. You need it as much as we.

At this point both parties mellowed down. Luther begged pardon for his harsh words, as he was a man of flesh and blood. Zwingli begged Luther, with tearful eyes, to forgive him his harsh words, and assured him that there were no men in the world whose friendship he more desired than that of the Wittenbergers.

—Philip Schaff, A History of the Christian Church

Pulling It Together

The church gathered for the Lord’s Supper. The pastor had announced it like it was a special meal of some uncommon importance, for so it is. But the church members had no idea just how important this particular meal was to be. The entire church was there to remember what their Lord had done for them and why. However, before they ate and drank, the pastor wanted to make certain they understand how precious forgiveness was. He said that he would not be serving them, that they would serve each other. First, however, in their meditation upon the Lord, they should ask God if there was anyone present whom they needed to forgive or whom they needed to ask for forgiveness. They should then immediately go to that person and seek forgiveness, then come to the table and know Christ’s forgiveness. As the pastor presided, they served each other the Supper and found that the Lord truly was with them in this meal.

Yet this Supper we eat is far more than receiving forgiveness from one another. It is believing that you receive whatever you ask of the Lord. When you come to his Table, you receive forgiveness of your sins against him. You receive his mercy in abundance. And you need this grace for you have sinned against him in thought, word, and deed by what you have  done, and by what we have left undone. You have not loved him with your whole heart; you have not loved your neighbors as yourself. You need his mercy and grace in forgiveness.

And you do indeed receive what you ask when you come to his Table.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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