While the Reformers dismissed much of the Roman sacramental system as unbiblical, it was generally agreed that two sacraments remained essential for the Christian life: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. While baptism should only be undertaken once, most Reformers, such as Lutheran Tilemann Hesshus (1527-1588) argued that communion should be taken often and that the observance of this rite was a necessary discipline for believers as we seek to follow the example of the Lord.

For as Often as You Eat This Bread

Therefore, Christ not only celebrated [this Supper] with his apostles, but he also wants us to imitate [his example] as we eat his body under the consecrated bread and drink his blood under the consecrated wine. For Paul here addresses the Corinthians and the entire church.

The Lord’s Supper is not an indifferent thing for us to use or abstain from. Rather, God sternly commands us through the words of the apostle to make frequent use of this Supper. Therefore those people who rarely approach the table of the Lord sin grievously against God.God sternly commands us through the words of the apostle to make frequent use of this Supper. Let the reader take note here that, in the early church, the Lord’s Supper was administered without mutilating the elements, with the blood of Jesus Christ being distributed to laypeople as well as to priests. For Paul is writing to the entire Corinthian church, and he commands that every person should frequently eat the Lord’s body and drink from the Lord’s cup. Therefore those wicked Roman popes ought to be cursed for having snatched the blood of Christ away from the people. Moreover, the apostle Paul tells us that in celebrating this Supper, we proclaim the Lord’s death. He does not want the administration of the Supper to be a speechless spectacle that is conducted in profound silence. Rather, it ought to resound with a public confession concerning the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ, so that the church might be gathered together and our faith might be aroused and confirmed by this public affirmation.

Explication on 1 Corinthians 11:26.

1 Corinthians, ed. Scott M. Manetsch. Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT vol. IXa, p. 258.

RCS Series: Spiritual Disciplines

Leupold Scharnschlager | Christians Must Meet Regularly

Johann Spangenberg | Knock on God’s Door with the Hammer of Prayer

Phillip Melanchthon | Daniel and Confession

John Calvin | Fasting and Signs of Humility

Desiderius Erasmus | The Spirit Produced a Supernatural Unity

Johannes Brenz | Good Works Are Our Duty, Not Our Merit

Konrad Pellikan | The Blessing of Giving

John Donne | The Sweet Honey of the Word of God

Tilemann Hesshus | For As Often As You Eat This Bread

Juan de Valdés | Our Life Is a Prayer Before God