Thomas Cranmer wanted the Lord’s Supper service to give comfort and assurance to the Christian. It was not about us offering a sacrifice to God, but thanking him for his mercy to us in Jesus Christ. He reformed the Roman Catholic Mass so that it was inconceivable that the Lord’s Supper was repeating the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and that we were remembering his sacrifice – as Jesus himself commanded us to do.
Everything we do must be shaped by the gospel of grace in Jesus. We must keep on reforming!
And so the first gospel truth Cranmer guarded in his Lord’s Service was the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. In the words of consecration, he wrote:
‘ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who of thy tender mercy didst give thine only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death upon the Cross for our redemption; who made there (by his one oblation of himself once offered) a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice, oblation, and satisfaction, for the sins of the whole world; and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death, until his coming again;’
Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient. Once for all. We’re not repeating the sacrifice of Jesus in any way, we are remembering.
The second gospel truth was the incarnation. Jesus Christ had a real physical body and had to in order to truly represent us and die in our place. If he wasn’t he couldn’t save us. Yet, the Roman Catholic Church taught (and still does) that the substance of the bread and wine changes (transubstantiates) into the body and blood of Christ when the priest says the words of consecration.
Cranmer wanted it to be clear that Christ is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father. He can’t be in two places at once, otherwise, he doesn’t have a body like ours. Christ is only present in the Lord’s Supper in a spiritual sense.
As we ‘take and eat’ the bread we participate in a spiritual sense as Christ dwells in us and we in him. We feed on him in our hearts by faith.
It was Cranmer’s rejection of the Roman false teaching of transubstantiation (the real presence of Jesus in the bread and wine) that he was burnt at the stake by Queen Mary.
Let’s pray that God would raise up men and women who hold to the perfect and sufficient sacrifice of Christ for us, men and women ready to go to the stake for the one true gospel of grace.