Sermon by Rev. Christian C. Tiews – 07/18/2010
The date: October 1-4, 1529.
The place: Marburg, Germany.
It has now been twelve years since Luther’s posting of the Ninety-five Theses in Wittenberg.
At that time Martin Luther had publicly pointed out the many abuses and errors which the papacy had injected into the Christian faith in the preceding centuries.
Since then, two Protestant groups have emerged. Both are meeting here at Marburg.
Both are seeking to cleanse Western Christianity from Rome’s false teaching.
The first group would one day be known as Lutherans. They are headed up by none other than Luther himself.
The second group is what we today call the Reformed. They are led by a Swiss theologian named Huldrych Zwingli.
The purpose of this so-called Marburg Colloquy is to try and unite the two groups and present a solid front against Rome. The Lutherans and the Reformed convene for three days.
They agree on a vast majority of theological issues such as the three ecumenical creeds, man’s Original Sin, the grace bestowed on us by Christ, etc. But the two parties come to a screeching halt on the very last point.
In which form is the Lord’s Body and Blood present in the Lord’s Supper? The Lutherans, of course, maintain that Christ’s Body and Blood are truly present in the host and wine. They base their teaching on Christ’s own words, “This is my Body” in Mt 26, Mk 14, Lk 22, and 1 Cor 11. This so-called “real presence” of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Lord’s Supper had been the sole teaching of Christianity for one thousand five hundred years.
But, strangely enough, on this issue of Holy Communion Zwingli and his associates are not able to take the Lord by His own words. Because for the first time in the history of Christianity, a group is purporting that the Lord’s Body and Blood are only symbolic in the Lord’s Supper. This false teaching had never popped up before. In fact, in light of Zwingli’s claim, it now seems that the papacy no longer has a monopoly on false teaching.
Imagine if someone walked into this sanctuary and claimed that Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is not really physically present.
They would say that our sanctuary on the corner of 5th Place and Lewis is only symbolic and that the real Grace Lutheran Tulsa exists only in heaven.
Should that happen, brothers and sisters in the Lord, watch out because the pews on which you are now sitting would only symbolic too, and we might all find ourselves crashing down to a piece of bare real estate fifteen feet below us.
Well, Martin Luther is so exasperated by the outrageous claim of Huldrych Zwingli that Christ’s Body and Blood are only symbolic in the Lord’s Supper that Luther asks for a piece of chalk.
He then actually writes on the table at which he and Zwingli are sitting:
Hoc est Corpus Meum. That is Latin and it means “This Is My Body.”
Perhaps pointing forward in time to Lorrie Morgan’s 1993 hit “What Part of No Don’t You Understand?” Luther in essence is telling the Swiss theologian:
“When Christ talks about His Body, He says so clearly that it is His Body. Christ does not use the words “symbolize” or “represent.” What part of is don’t you understand, my dear Zwingli?”
Zwingli’s symbolic understanding of the Eucharist is not what Jesus had taught his disciples, nor is it what the Early Church had taught.
Yet strangely, Zwingli’s incorrect thinking on the Lord’s Supper would be picked up by other theologians.
It would later spread throughout most of Protestantism, even throughout the United States.
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