Chapter 29, “The Body of Christ”
When Bonhoeffer has a chapter entitled “The Body of Christ” right after a chapter about baptism our thoughts may go immediately to Luther’s catechism where we expect teaching about the Sacrament of the Altar. In fact, he does not go there. Instead, this chapter talks about the disciples being in the bodily presence of Jesus. After the resurrection, Bonhoeffer talks about the Church as Jesus’ body. This is where we receive our assurance. It is the context of our giving and receiving the message of salvation.
Considering Jesus in his body, Bonhoeffer draws a good distinction (Loc. 3205) when he says God took on the human nature. This is not to say that God took on the man Jesus. This is an entirely different idea. If God simply adopted Jesus, a human son, we believe to no effect. Jesus would be unable to bear our sin. Rather, God became the representative for sinful humanity.
Bonhoeffer’s view is that by faith in Jesus that function of dealing with sin and proclaiming salvation has passed to the Church. This is where we find our fellowship and identity. Jesus has made us the new man in him. Jesus is the head and we are the body. We continue to suffer as Jesus did. Through faithful suffering we become the temple of God, just as Jesus was the fulfillment of the temple.