Christ is not Present in the Sacrament to be Worshiped

Lent 3 Friday

John 4:20-24

[The woman said:] “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you say the place where one should worship is in Jerusalem. Jesus said to her: “Woman, believe me, the time will come where you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor at Jerusalem. You do not know what you worship; but we know what we worship; for salvation is from the Jews. But there will be a time, and it is already now, that the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. For the Father wants to have those who worship him in this way. God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in Spirit and in truth.”


When it comes to worshiping Christ in the Lord’s Supper, those who do not believe that Christ’s body and blood are present there, do right when they do not worship him spiritually or bodily there. But those who do believe that he is present – since sufficient proof of this presence has been provided – certainly cannot fail to honor the body and blood of Christ without sin; for I must confess that Christ is present when his body and blood are present. His words do not lie to me, and he is not separated from his body and blood. And when he was buried in the tomb, he was nonetheless worthy of his honor although no blood was left in him. Likewise, as Paul teaches in Romans 12:10, we must honor each other for the sake of Christ who dwells in us by faith, Ephesians 3:17. It is certainly true that there is a difference between Christ seated in heaven and his presence in the sacrament and in the hearts of the believers. For he certainly ascended to heaven to be worshiped and confessed there as the Lord who rules over all things, Philippians 2:9-11. But in the sacrament and in the hearts of the believers he is not present primarily because he wants to be worshiped there, but because he wants to deal with us and help us in these places, just as he did not become incarnate on earth to be worshiped but in order to serve us, as he says: “I have not come to be served but to serve and give my life for many,” Matthew 20:28. But it does not follow that he should not be worshiped. For many worshiped him on earth, and he also accepted it, e.g., from the three kings in the manger, the blind, and many others. Rather, on earth his state was such that it was not yet a state of his honor and glory to whom nothing but worshiping and honoring was due. Instead, it had to be left free whether he should be worshiped because no commandment in this matter had been given to worship him before he arrive at his state of glory. In this way, it should also be left free whether to worship Christ as he is present in the sacrament and in all believing hearts; we are certain that he did not give a commandment to worship him as he is present in the sacrament and in believing hearts. He is not present there to be worshiped. But such worship and honoring should not be withheld from him, but we should use it freely, as time and opportunity provide, or not use it. This is now why we say that those should not be condemned or called heretics who do not worship the sacrament; for it is not commanded, and Christ is not present there to be worshiped. In this way, we read that the apostles did not worship him when they sat at the table and ate. Likewise, one should also not condemn and call heretics those who worship the sacrament. For although Christ did not command it, he also did not prohibit it, but often accepted it. It should be free, free, dictated by your devotion and opportunity.


St. Louis ed., 19:1326-1328.

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