Luther's Little Instruction Book
(The Small Catechism of Martin Luther)
Translated by Robert E. Smith
May 22, 1994
VI. THE SACRAMENT OF THE
The Sacrament of the Altar:
The Simple Way a Father Should Present it to His Household
Q. What is the
Sacrament of the Altar?
A. It is the true body
and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under bread and wine
for us Christians to eat and to drink, established by
Q. Where is that
A. The holy apostles
Matthew, Mark and Luke and St. Paul write this:
Our Lord Jesus
Christ, in the night on which He was betrayed, took
bread, gave thanks, broke it, gave it to His disciples
and said: "Take! Eat! This is My body, which is given
for you. Do this to remember Me!" In the same way He
also took the cup after supper, gave thanks, gave it to
them, and said: "Take and drink from it, all of you!
This cup is the New Testament in my blood, which is shed
for you to forgive sins. This do, as often as you drink
it, to remember Me!"
Q. What good does this
eating and drinking do?
A. These words tell
us: "Given for you" and "Shed for you to forgive sins."
Namely, that the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation
are given to us through these words in the sacrament.
Because, where sins are forgiven, there is life and
salvation as well.
Q. How can physical
eating and drinking do such great things?
A. Of course, eating
and drinking do not do these things. These words,
written here, do them: "given for you" and "shed for you
to forgive sins." These words, along with physical
eating and drinking are the important part of the
sacrament. Anyone who believes these words has what they
say and what they record, namely, the forgiveness of
Q. Who, then, receives
such a sacrament in a worthy way?
A. Of course, fasting
and other physical preparations are excellent
disciplines for the body. But anyone who believes these
words, "Given for you," and "Shed for you to forgive
sins," is really worthy and well prepared. But whoever
doubts or does not believe these words is not worthy and
is unprepared, because the words, "for you" demand a
heart that fully believes.
This text was translated in 1994
for Project Wittenberg by Robert E. Smith and is in the public
domain. You may freely distribute, copy or print this text. Please
direct any comments or suggestions to:
Rev. Robert E. Smith
Concordia Theological Seminary.
Surface Mail: 6600 N. Clinton St., Ft. Wayne, IN 46825 USA
Phone: (260) 452-3149 - Fax: (260) 452-2126