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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






08 August 2005

The Sacraments in the Fourth Gospel


Q: I have to write on an assigned theme. Please get me started: “To what extent would you agree with the view that John’s Gospel is anti-sacramental?”

A: I disagree — the fourth Gospel clearly displays Baptism, including that of Jesus, and strongly encourages it in Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus and the subsequent comments on Jesus and John the Baptizer (John 3). It also most clearly in shows Christ’s proclaiming to the first pastors and evangelists (His disciples) that Absolution is a central part of pastoral practice and the life of the Church (20:23). Granted, the Gospel doesn’t include the institution of Holy Communion on the eve of Christ’s crucifixion. However, John 6 points toward this with Jesus’ claim to be the Bread of Life and the mention in verse 56 of the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood.

If we accept authorship of Revelation by the same John, as many of us do, he may have seen the fulfillment of the Supper in the marriage feast of the Lamb and thus did not include it in the Gospel.

Since you must write the paper, I hope this is enough to get you started.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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