Westminster Presbyterian Church
Most of us are probably familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism, especially Question 1.
What is your only comfort in life and death?
The answer to the question is one of the most beautiful and powerful expressions of our faith. But if you think about it, not everyone is able (or willing) to answer this question the same way, if they answer it at all.
We just heard a story about sickness and death of Lazarus and the sorrow of his sisters Mary and Martha (John 11). How would they have answered this question? How could they have answered it?
Whatever they might have answered, one thing is certain: They could not have answered it the way that you and I are able to answer it — with all the hope, faith, and love granted us in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the resurrected and ascended Christ, we have privileges and advantages that they could not have imagined. For one, Jesus has overcome death and now sits at the right hand of the Father praying for us, interceding for us, mediating for us.
He is praying for you, not against you.
So, when we are asked, What is your only comfort in life and death? we should answer, My only comfort in life and death is:
That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit He also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
Sadly, many of us still live and die far below our privileges and advantages in Christ. Many of us seek comfort in life and death in people and in things other than Christ. That’s why we need to be reminded of the gospel of grace in the ordinary means of grace, in the word, the water of baptism, and the bread and wine of the supper.
Today, I want us to think of the Lord’s Supper in a real down-to-earth way. Think of it as comfort food. Comfort food for your soul. For when we eat this bread and drink this cup we proclaim the death of Jesus Christ until he comes. This supper reminds us that our only comfort in life and death is the person and work of Jesus Christ, who lived and died and lived again, for us sinners.
Let us pray before we eat and drink:
We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen. (Cranmer, Prayer of Humble Access, 1548)