Holy Communion is one of the two sacraments of the Lutheran church as well as many other Christian churches. It is seen almost universally as a sacrament because it is specifically mentioned by Jesus at the Last Supper.
The Real Blood and Body
Lutherans believe that the bread and wine are the true blood and body of Christ. Lutherans believe in a literal and ‘plain language’ interpretation or the Bible. Jesus said “Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me…”
The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod says in “Theology and Practice of the Lord’s Supper”:
“A Biblical view of the Real Presence rejects two aberrations. On the one hand, it is wrong to reject Christ’s clear words simply because our fallen human reason cannot fully understand how it comes to pass. Any effort to make the “This is” something less than a clear word, as Reformed theology does by denying the real presence of the body and blood of Christ on earth, is a departure from Christ’s words. On the other hand, it is also fruitless to engage in theories about how the body and blood are present in, with, and under the bread and wine. A dogma such as transubstantiation, as generally taught by Roman Catholicism, is not set forth by Scripture.” Note: There is a difference between Catholic Transubstantiation and Lutheran Consubstantiation.
Holy Communion: Symbolic Remembrance vs. Real Presence
This debate has raged for over 500 years. Many Protestant faiths believe when Jesus said “this is my body,” it was a symbolic statement.
Reformer Huldrych Zwingli, for example, used Jesus’ words to his disciples after the feeding of the 5000 to support this thought. “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63). This is a nice argument by Zwingli but just before that statement Jesus says,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink” (John 6:53).
Did Jesus use a Metaphor for His Blood and Body?
It is well known that Jesus often spoke in parables but in this case it seems his disciples took him quite literally.
Paul says, 1 Cor. 10:16, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The break that we break, is it not a participation of the body of Christ?”