Christians should be grateful for the way Mel Gibson's 2004 movie, "The Passion of the Christ" opened discussion of the meaning of the crucifixion of Christ. Christ undertook to carry our sins and suffer a criminal's shameful death to expiate them. God applies the benefits of this passion through preaching and sacraments. There is an important distinction between the benefits and merits of the death of Christ and the application of those benefits through the means of transmission.
Luther points out this difference in his "Confession Concerning Christ's Supper." It is one thing to know about Christ's passion it is another to know how to receive the benefits of that passion. Here Luther chides those who could not see that the Lord's Supper is the application of Christ's passion to Christians. Knowing the fact is one thing. Having the benefit is another.
Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church
"I carefully wrote...that the fact of Christ's suffering and the use of it are not the same thing: factum et applicatio facti, seu factum et usus facti (doing and application of the doing or the doing and the use of the doing). The passion of Christ occurred but once on the cross. But whom would it benefit if it were not distributed, applied, and put to use? And how could it be put to use and distributed except through Word and sacrament? But why should such great saints read my treatise? They know far better. Well, they have their reward, that they consider the fact and the application to be one and the same, and thereby reduce themselves to folly and shame. They fail to see that in the Supper the application of the passion, and not the fact of it, is concerned."
Martin Luther, Confession Concerning Christ's Supper
Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.(ESV)
O Christ, You suffered for our sins on the cross. Permit us to see you in Your means of grace that we may apply to ourselves what you have done for us. Amen.
For all catechumens that they might not weary of the Lenten discipline of preparation for sharing in the mysteries of Christ
For all those who are suffering from cancer, that they might cast their cares upon Christ
For Kirstyn Harvey, that the Lord Jesus would grant her the gift of strength and healing
For those struggling with addiction to alcohol or drugs