Kruiz edited
Revolt Against the Body
Thursday in Lent 4
30 March 2017
In 1525 German peasants rose in revolt. This "Peasants' War" was partly ignited by a religious fanatic, Thomas Münzer. Münzer thought that all physical or fleshly things were unprofitable to Christians. For him everything was a hyper-spirituality that had no definitive substance. Unsurprisingly, Münzer advocated a "living word of God," that is, that God was even now giving divine revelation on a daily basis. Such fanaticism enabled Münzer to claim divine sanction for whatever he desired. He led 8,000 poorly armed peasants into battle in May 1525 to face professional troops bearing very real arms. The peasants were routed. Münzer's disregard of reality led to a very fleshly and disastrous outcome for his followers.
Martin Luther counted Münzer a type of theological fanatic who, by disregarding the reality of the flesh, disconnected God's Word from its physical means. He saw this fanaticism arising in a number of his opponents in the disputes about the nature of the Lord's Supper, including his erstwhile friend, Andrew Karlstadt. Luther had the insight that God uses physical means to convey his grace when the Word of God is added to the element. In the Lord's Supper the Christian receives with the mouth of His body the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. This can no more be ruled "impossible" or intellectually "out of bounds," than any other mystery of the Christian religion, such as the incarnation, or the death of God on the cross. God's Word testifies also to these mysteries.
Ultimately, we humans are and remain flesh and blood. Indeed, we will also bear our bodies in eternity (Mt 10:28), albeit adorned with the glorious characteristics of the resurrected Christ (Rm 8:11). God Himself has not ignored the fleshly character of earthly life. Indeed, he created the world this way. He is not unaware of our need for tangible support for our faith. He gives it in the precious body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under bread and wine. So the Sacrament is not just mere eating and drinking, but it is eating and drinking what God has named the body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of sins. Our rebellion against the physicality of the mercy of God in Christ is a peasants' war against the humility of God and runs up against the willingness of God to stoop to our desperate need using all the weapons at His disposal.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"The [fanatics] do not see the Word of God in the Supper, and simply gape and stare at the physical eating, thinking that the divine Word must set forth nothing but spiritual things and have nothing to do with outward, material things. But this is the seed of Münzer's and Karlstadt's spirit, who also wanted to tolerate nothing outward, until they were utterly drowned in flesh.
"God inverts this order, however, and sets before us no word or commandment without including with it something material and outward, and proffering it to us. To Abraham he gave the word including with it his son Isaac (Gn 15:4). To Saul he gave the word including with it the slaying of the Amalekites (1Sa 15:2). To Noah he gave the word including with it the rainbow (Gn 9:8). And so on. You find no word of God in the entire Scriptures in which something material and outward is not contained and presented. If we followed the fanatical spirits, we would have to say that all these material, outward things were of no avail and simply nothing. So too, here in the Supper, included with Christ's body crucified for us we have been given the word that it is present in order to be eaten physically. And this eating was to avail for the forgiveness of sins, as the words state, just as Isaac had to come forth bodily and become Abraham's son, as the words state, and as the rainbow had to appear materially, also as the words state.
"But these fanatics must concede that even in their spiritual eating something material is set forth. For Christ's body, even if it is at the right hand of God, is nevertheless a body and an outward, material thing having bone and flesh, which no spirit has-as he himself says in the last chapter of Luke, 'A spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have' (Lk 24:39). If they wish to be so much like Münzer, and not tolerate flesh and bone, then they must not eat Christ even spiritually, for they still are eating flesh and bone. What kind of distinction is that? Indeed, why is it any better for them to eat flesh and bone with their soul than to eat it with their mouth? If it is of no avail in the mouth, how can it be of any avail in the soul, since it is the same flesh and bone everywhere? But they want nothing but spirit; and indeed, this is what they do have: the devil, who has neither flesh nor bone." 

Martin Luther, That These Words of Christ, "This is my body," etc., Still Stand Firm Against the Fanatics
1 Corinthians

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, "This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new testament in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.
Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.
But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another- if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home- so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come. (ESV)
O Lord Christ, You have put down our rebellion against Your humility by commanding that the Church keep on doing what You did on the night of Your betrayal. Help us to receive in humble faith what you have set by Your almighty Word upon the altar of our tongues. Amen.
For the people of Houston, in thanksgiving to God that there was limited damage and no loss of life in Houston during yesterday's tornadic storm
For church musicians, that they would sing the life of Christ and find true joy in that life
For Pastor Ian S. Pacey, that he would be strengthened to speak of the life and death of Christ
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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