Without Him We Would Starve
The celebration of the Lord’s Table has so many blessings in it, for it is there that we not only acknowledge our vileness, but we also receive medicine for our diseases, cleansing for our pollutions, comfort for our anguish, and beauty for our ashes. As the living Bread from heaven, Jesus feeds us with the best of foods that will sustain us – Himself, for without Him we would starve. Here is John Calvin on the Lord’s Supper:
In order, therefore, not to rush headlong to such ruin, let us remember that this sacred feast is medicine for the sick, solace for sinners, alms to the poor; but would bring no benefit to the healthy, righteous, and rich–if such could be found. For since in it Christ is given to us as food, we understand that without him we would pine away, starve, and faint–as famine destroys the vigor of the body. Then, since he is given us unto life, we understand that without him in us we would plainly be dead. Therefore, this is the worthiness–the best and only kind we can bring to God–to offer our vileness and (so to speak) our unworthiness to him so that his mercy may make us worthy of him; to despair in ourselves to that we may be comforted in him; to abase ourselves so that we may be lifted up by him; to accuse ourselves so that we may be justified by him; moreover, to aspire to that unity which he commends to us in his Supper; and, as he makes all of us one in himself, to desire one soul, one heart, one tongue for us all. If we have weighed and considered these things well, these thoughts, though they may stagger us, will never lay us low. How could we, needy and bare of all good, befouled with sins, half-dead, eat the Lord’s body worthily? Rather, we shall think that we, as being poor, come to a kindly giver; as sick, to a physician; as sinners, to the Author of righteousness; finally, as dead, to him who gives us life. We shall think that the worthiness, which is commanded by God, consists chiefly in faith, which reposes all things in Christ, but nothing in ourselves; secondly, in love–and that very love which, though imperfect, is enough to offer to God, that he may increase it to something better, inasmuch as it cannot be offered in completeness.– John Calvin, “The External Means or Aims by Which God Invites Us Into the Society of Christ and Holds Us Therein,” Ed. John T. McNeill, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Trans. Ford Lewis Battles, Vol. 2, (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006), 1419-420.