The Cross of Christ Is the Tree of Life, Which Bears Abundant Fruit after Its Own Kind
The Parables of our Lord convey the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to those who are “able to hear it,” that is, “to His own disciples,” who are catechized to fear, love and trust in Him by faith (Mark 4:33–34). He “scatters seed on the ground,” which “sprouts and grows” unto life, even as “He sleeps and rises” (Mark 4:26–27). “On the mountain heights of Israel,” He plants a young and tender twig, and it becomes “a noble cedar.” Indeed, His own Cross becomes the Tree of Life, under which “every kind of bird” will dwell, and in which “birds of every sort will nest” (Ezek 17:22–25). His Cross is our resting place, even while now in mortal bodies, we “groan, being burdened” (2 Cor 5:1–4). Yet faith we live for God in Christ, who for our sake “died and was raised” (2 Cor 5:15). We know that, in His resurrected body, “we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor 5:1).
Collect for Pentecost 3: Blessed Lord, since You have caused all Holy Scriptures to be written for our learning, grant that we may so hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for the Church: Almighty God, grant to Your Church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end;
Prayer for the mission of the Church and her missionaries: Almighty and gracious God, You want all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. Magnify the power of the Gospel in the hearts of Your faithful people that Your Church may spread the good news of salvation. Protect, encourage, and bless all missionaries who proclaim the saving cross that Christ, being lifted up, may draw all people to Himself,
Prayer for those outside the Church: Almighty and everlasting God, You desire not the death of a sinner but that all would repent and live. Hear our prayers for those outside the Church. Take away their iniquity, and turn them from their false gods to You, the living and true God. Gather them into Your holy Church to the glory of Your name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord,
Prayer for persecuted Christians: Lord Jesus Christ, before whom all in heaven and earth shall bow, grant courage that Your children may confess Your saving name in the face of any opposition from a world hostile to the Gospel. Help them to remember Your faithful people who sacrificed much and even faced death rather than dishonor You when called upon to deny the faith. By Your Spirit, strengthen them to be faithful and to confess You boldly, knowing that You will confess Your own before the Father in heaven, with whom You and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, now and forever.
Monday, 11 June 2012—Psalm 92:12–15; Antiphon, Psalm 92:1—This ‘Psalm for the Sabbath’ is a hymn of praise, in which the psalmist gives thanks to the LORD for His steadfast love and faithfulness. He declares us righteous and makes us flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. From ancient times, even until to-day, Lebanon has been known for its tall strong cedars: Cedars from Lebanon were used in constructing the temple, and the cedar appears on Lebanon’s national flag. We who are planted in the house of the LORD are strong in the LORD like these trees of renown.
Tuesday, 12 June 2012—Psalm 1—Luther wrote that the psalter is the Bible in miniature. If so, then the opening six verses are the portal leading into a treasure-house of communion with God. Who is the one who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners . . . but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on His Law he meditates day in night? First, it is Christ. Secondly, it is all of us who have been incorporated into Christ—the holy Christian Church. The new man, created by Baptism, that comes forth daily and arises to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.
Wednesday, 13 June 2012—Ezekiel 17:22–24—Things looked bleak when Jerusalem fell and King Zedekiah died in exile (Ezekiel 17:11-21). Through the prophet Ezekiel, the LORD proclaims that He will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and…I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. This tender sprig will never be uprooted, for it is the promised Messiah, Jesus, who will be given the throne of His father David, and whose Messianic kingdom will be established forever.
Thursday, 14 June 2012—2 Corinthians 5:1–10—In Sunday’s epistle reading, St Paul looks forward to eternal life in heaven, when we shall live forever in our glorified bodies, no longer made frail by the ravages of sin. Paul has supreme confidence in what is to come, for his confidence rests, not in the whims of man, but in the surety of God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee. The Christian, who lives by faith in the promises of the Lord, rejoices at the thought of being at home with the Lord.
Friday, 15 June 2012—Mark 4:26–34—These parables serve as both warning and encouragement to us. We have a rôle to play in the furtherance of God’s kingdom on earth by sharing the Good News of the Gospel with those around us, but we must never think that the triumph of the Kingdom is our triumph, for it is the Lord and His Word alone which are effective. But neither should we despair if the growth of the Lord’s Kingdom seems somehow unspectacular in our eyes. He alone is the Lord of the harvest (Mark 9:38); thus, we never cease praying “Thy Kingdom come” with patience and confidence.
Saturday, 16 June 2012—Sunday’s hymn of the day, Creator Spirit, By Whose Aid (LSB 500), is an eighth-century hymn written in praise of the Holy Spirit and the gifts He bestows on the Church. It first proclaims the Spirit as participating in the creation of all things, then testifies that He creates Christians by His gifts to us. The final stanza is a doxology: a hymn of praise to our Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Artwork by Ed Riojas © Higher Things
Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship
The Revd Jeffrey M. Keuning has written this week’s Time in the Word