Sunday, April 3, 2011

Time in the Word - Lent 5

Jesus Christ Is the Resurrection & the Life

The illness and death of Lazarus happened “that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). Jesus’ miracle of raising Lazarus prompted His arrest and crucifixion, whereby He would die “for the nation” and gather “into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (John 11:51–52). As He called Lazarus from the tomb and commanded others to “unbind him, and let him go” (John 11:44), Jesus also calls us and releases us from the bondage of sin and death. We would not “submit to God’s law,” nor could we “please God” (Rom. 8:7–8), but “He condemned sin” in His own flesh, so “that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us” (Rom. 8:3–4). Now, through the Gospel, “the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells” in us (Rom. 8:11). His Word breathes His Spirit into our mortal flesh, animating us with His own life. As His ministers preach according to His divine command, the Lord Jesus calls us from the grave into the good land that He gives us (Ezek. 37:12, 14).

Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Lent: Almighty God, by Your great goodness mercifully look upon Your people that we may be governed and preserved evermore in body and soul; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Collect for Ash Wednesday (prayed after the Collect for the Day throughout Lent): Almighty and everlasting God, You despise nothing You have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent. Create in us new and contrite hearts that lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness we may receive from You full pardon and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord . . .

Prayer for forgiveness: Almighty God, merciful Father, in Holy Baptism You declared us to be Your children and gathered us into Your one, holy Church, in which You daily and richly forgive us our sins and grant us new life through Your Spirit. Be in our midst, enliven our faith, and graciously receive our prayer and praise; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for hope of eternal life in Christ: Almighty, everlasting God, Your Son has assured forgiveness of sins and deliverance from eternal death. Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit that our faith in Christ may increase daily and that we may hold fast to the hope that on the Last Day we shall be raised in glory to eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Prayer for joy in life and hope of the resurrection: O Lord, the refuge of every generation, we fade like withered grass as You sweep us away in the sleep of death. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, be gracious to us for Jesus' sake, and awaken us in the joy of the resurrection to eternal life with Him who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Monday, 4 April 2011Psalm 116:1–4; Antiphon, Psalm 116:5—The psalmist praises the LORD for having delivered him from death. Why? The antiphon has the answer: Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; our God is merciful. The Lord has snatched us also from the jaws of death, spiritual death, which leads to everlasting condemnation and torment in hell. Thus, our response is the same as the psalmist: I love the LORD . . . I will call on him as long as I live.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011Psalm 130—This psalm bears the title, A Psalm of Ascents. It was sung by pilgrims as they made their way up to Jerusalem on the occasions of the great festivals. Singing it, they reminded themselves and those with them that the LORD hears the when they cry to Him out of the depths. He hears their prayers for forgiveness. Therefore, hope in the LORD! For with the LORD there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011Ezekiel 37:1–14—On the sixth day of creation, God formed man from the dust of the ground. However, the man was not a living being until God breathed the spirit of life into him. Likewise, in our Old Testament reading, the LORD God assembles the bones of His people, but they are only living beings when He breathes His Spirit into them. The LORD God is the only One who can raise the dead from their graves, the only One who can overcome death, the One who forces death to surrender its victims, the One who gives His life-giving Spirit.

Thursday, 7 April 2011Romans 8:1–11—St Paul begins this section by stating, There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We are set free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. How is this? Because God has sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh for sin. Christ Jesus, our Savior, bore our sins in His body and put them to death on the cross. Having been redeemed from the curse of sin and death, God sends His Spirit to breathe life into our spiritually lifeless bodies. Like the dry bones in the desert, we become alive by the Holy Spirit working through Word and Sacrament to give us life. The Spirit of God now dwells in us. Therefore, we shall live forever in body and soul, eternally in the kingdom of heaven.

Friday, 8 April 2011John 11:1–45—Because of the entrance of sin into the world, death comes to all. After the Fall, God proclaimed the consequence of sin: You shall return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:19) Death, therefore, is a curse—the result of sin. But for the Christian, the one who is in Christ Jesus as the Epistle says, death is also a blessing. For death is the portal to eternal life. While our mortal remains die and are placed into the ground, our spirits have been made alive forever by the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, on the Last Day, when the Lord Jesus returns in judgement, He will raise up all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ (Small Catechism). Jesus begins that work of raising our physical bodies by here raising Lazarus. Because of Christ, the grave could not hold Lazarus. Neither can it hold us. Our bodies will be raised, glorious, and we shall dwell eternally in heaven, body and soul.

Saturday, 9 April 2011—Sunday’s hymn of the day, My Song Is Love Unknown (LSB #430) speaks of the unfathomable love that Christ has for us, that He would leave His throne in heaven, and come to earth to be crucified for our sins. He has exchanged His life for ours. He has exchanged heaven for the tomb, which rightfully ought to be our fate. Never was love . . . like Thine.

This week's Time in the Word is written by Pr. Jeffrey Keuning who serves St. John and Zion Lutheran Churches in Dexter and Casey, IA

Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship. Artwork by Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, © WELS. Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.

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