Sunday, April 22, 2012

Time in the Word - Easter 4

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Lays Down His Life for the Sheep

The Lord Jesus is “the Good Shepherd” who “lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). His life is not taken from Him, but He lays it down willingly, of His own accord, because He knows and loves the sheep. As the One sent by the Father, He has the “authority to lay it down,” and the “authority to take it up again” (John 10:18). So has He done, and now He continues to love and serve as the Good Shepherd of the sheep by the voice of His Gospel. He thus calls all people into the fold of His Church, so that there may be “one flock, one Shepherd” (John 10:16). That is why the Apostles “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:2). Since “there is salvation in no one else,” His voice rings out to this day through the preaching of His name, “for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). His voice comforts our hearts against all condemnation and gives us courage to “love one another” and “to lay down our lives for the brothers,” as He laid down His life for us (1 John 3:16, 23).

Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Collect for unity of faith: O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Collect for the Holy Ministry: O almighty God, Your Son, Jesus Christ, gave to His holy apostles many excellent gifts and commanded them earnestly to feed His flock. Make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Work and the people obedient to follow it that together they may receive the crown of everlasting glory; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Collect for the increase of the Holy Ministry: O God, You led Your holy apostles to ordain pastors in every place. Grant that Your flock, under the guidance of Your Holy Spirit, may choose suitable men for the ministry of Word and Sacrament and may uphold them in their work for the extension of Your kingdom; through Him who is the chief Shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns….

Collect for comfort in hope of the resurrection: Lord God, our Shepherd, You gather the lambs of Your flock into the arms of Your mercy and bring them home. Comfort us with the certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life and a joyful reunion with those we love who have died in the faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns…

Collect for comfort to the dying: O Lord, our Shepherd, lead Your sheep in goodness and mercy as we pass with You through the valley of the shadow of death to Your eternal home, where You live and reigns...

Monday, 23 April 2012Psalm 23; Antiphon, John 14, 15b—The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as ‘Good Shepherd Sunday.’ The Introit combines the twenty-third psalm with a portion of Jesus’ words from John 10. One of the key verses of Psalm 23 is verse 3: He restoreth my soul; He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who restores our soul by laying down His life for His sheep. By this sacrificial act, He redeemed us, that we may be righteous in God’s eyes.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012Psalm 23—Sunday’s psalm of the day is the very familiar twenty-third psalm. Children of God have turned to this psalm for comfort for thousands of years, not just because it uses pretty words and phrases in depicting a tranquil scene, but also because it faces the grim realities of life (Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death; the presence of mine enemies) and gives sure, certain hope to all who are members of the Lord’s flock.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012Acts 4:1–12—Last week’s first reading told how, after he healed the crippled beggar, Peter proclaimed the death and resurrection of Jesus to the astonished people in the temple. This week’s reading has Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, proclaiming the very same message to the Jewish leaders: And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Thursday, 26 April 20121 John 3:16–24—Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Sunday’s epistle reading, St John tells us that if we belong to the Truth—the Truth that is Jesus—that the love of Jesus will control our actions and lives. When our consciences plague us, our hearts will be set at rest, because God has placed His love into our hearts.

Friday, 27 April 2012John 10:11–18—Sunday’s Gospel is the ‘Good Shepherd’ passage from St John’s Gospel. Jesus calls Himself the ‘good,’ or ‘noble,’ Shepherd. He has made us the sheep of His flock by giving His life for us, and He continues to protect us from all who would do us evil or harm. So long as we remain in His fold, nothing, not even the devil, can harm us. Recall the words of A Mighty Fortress: “And take they our life / Goods, fame, child, and wife / Let these all be gone / They yet have nothing won / The Kingdom ours remaineth.”

Saturday, 28 April 2012—The Hymn of the Day, With High Delight, Let Us Unite (LSB #483), is a song of jubilation and high praise to our risen Lord, who has vanquished death and the grave by His death: True God, He first From death has burst Forth into life, all subduing. His enemy Doth vanquished lie; His death has been death’s undoing. “And yours shall be Like victory O’er death and grave,” Saith He, who gave His life for us, life renewing.

This week’s Time in the Word was written by Pr. Jeffrey M. Keuning, who serves the Lutheran parishes of St. John Casey and Zion, Dexter IA

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