This meal, understood rightly, proclaims the biblical doctrine of justification by faith. But, in the history of the church, this meal has often been wrongly understood. Some have thought that since Jesus meets us here, they had to be good enough to meet Him. So in some traditions people avoided taking communion, sometimes people give themselves holiness tests, and try to discern whether they really deserve to participate or not. Some weeks maybe they can gin up enough courage, maybe they haven’t been too bad, but other times they decide that they just haven’t really been feeling spiritual lately and they probably just aren’t ready for it. Maybe next time, they tell themselves. On the flip some people think that they have to take the Lord’s Supper in order to get forgiven. Five minutes before communion, they’re a big, stinking mess of sin, and the moment they taste the bread, and sip the wine, the forgiveness goes on like a new paint job. But meanwhile, sin just builds up throughout the week and nothing to be done.
But both of these views are problematic. On the one hand, this is the body of Christ broken for the broken. This is the blood of Christ shed for the remission of sins. This means that only sinners are welcome, only the broken belong here. You don’t get cleaned up in order to come to Jesus. You come to Jesus in order to be cleaned up. Have you lusted this week? Have you coveted someone else’s husband? Have you been bitter, critical? Have you ignored what God says and gone your own way? Well, in the name of Jesus, you are welcome here. But be assured we are not making your forgiveness happen when we eat together. Jesus certainly does meet us here. The Spirit certainly does apply the blood of Christ through this meal, but when He does, He assures you that you are already forgiven. Justification by faith means that when you first believed in Christ, all of your sins were already nailed to the cross. All of your sins were already taken by Jesus. This meal cleanses your guilty conscience by proclaiming that you are already clean because Jesus already died, and because you have already died and your life is hid with Christ in God.
If you have never trusted Christ, then you are certainly invited to do that now. If you’ve never been baptized please talk to me or one of the elders or deacons, be baptized and then come and eat and drink with us. But this meal proclaims that because of the righteous obedience of One Man, many have become righteous. And you, by the ridiculous grace of God, are the many. Some come, believe and rejoice.