Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter 2 outline and take home points



Easter 2
23 April 2017
John 20:19-31
I demand evidence!


Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God




Thomas had enough! Of this secrecy!   “I don’t buy it! I don’t believe it…Unless I see with my eyes the marks of How wounds and place my finger in his hands and my hands at His side I will not believe it!”





1. Like Thomas we do not have an eye-witness experience of the risen Christ.

Transition: Like Thomas we have not personally witnessed Jesus Christ alive from the dead. The Easter proclamation is powerful beyond comprehension.

2. The message of the Resurrection is incomprehensible.

Transition: Thomas’ life was literally changed once he became an eyewitness of Jesus bodily raised from the dead.

3. Seeing is believing.

The Savior’s words to Thomas are meant for your ears this day. “Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen!” Lord, grant us such a faith as this! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Points to ponder this week…

So, what about you? How do you make sense of all this?

What convincing proof does this world need to believe in the resurrection? The claim is still true. Today, 2,000 years later – dead men do not rise. Faith calls for us to trust in the testimony of those eyewitnesses.

Thomas changed from a skeptic to a believer. These visible scars now become the marks of faith.

Image of St. Thomas the Apostle found at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Caravaggio_incredulity.jpg


Easter 2 outline and notes

Easter 2
23 April 2017
John 20:19-31
“I demand evidence!”

Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God;

Thomas had enough! Of this secrecy!   “I don’t buy it! I don’t believe it…Unless I see with my eyes the marks of How wounds and place my finger in his hands and my hands at His side I will not believe it!”

1. Like Thomas we do not have an eye-witness experience of the risen Christ.

Transition: Like Thomas we have not personally witnessed Jesus Christ alive from the dead. The Easter proclamation is powerful beyond comprehension.

2. The message of the Resurrection is incomprehensible.

Transition: Thomas’ life was literally changed once he became an eyewitness of Jesus bodily raised from the dead.

3. Seeing is believing.

The Savior’s words to Thomas are meant for your ears this day. “Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen!” Lord, grant us such a faith as this! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

Points to ponder this week…

So, what about you? How do you make sense of all this?

What convincing proof does this world need to believe in the resurrection? The claim is still true. Today, 2,000 years later – dead men do not rise. Faith calls for us to trust in the testimony of those eyewitnesses.

Thomas changed from a skeptic to a believer. These visible scars now become the marks of faith.

Image of St. Thomas the Apostle found at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Caravaggio_incredulity.jpg

Time in the Word ~ Easter 3

Time in the Word
According to God’s Plan
Easter 3 24-29 April 2017



On the Third Sunday of Easter, we consider the response to the resurrection. In the Gospel, the two followers of Jesus did not recognize the risen Christ until the breaking of bread. Three thousand people responded to Peter’s sermon dealing with the cross and resurrection with repentance and baptism. In the Epistle, we are told that because of the resurrection, the living Word, we are born anew in love and faith. Psalm 116 harmonizes with the theme of response: “What shall I render...?” The prayer and hymn continue with the resurrection theme.

A Daytime Collect for Eastertide - Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.

Monday, 24 April 2017Psalm 133 – The Antiphon for next Sunday’s Introit is taken from Psalm 133:1, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”  After much conflict, the people of God came together. In the world today there appears to be much conflict. How do we achieve unity? Some claim that unity comes through diversity. We find unity when we are at one especially when there is agreement, especially when we consider the person of Christ.   

Tuesday, 25 April 2017Acts 2:14a, 26-41 – The apostolic church described in this lesson serves as a model of the true church. It is a community of faith in Christ. The church is characterized by the Word (teaching) and sacraments (breaking bread and “added to their number”). Worship was a regular activity — daily attendance at temple services and “prayers.” Fellowship was a part of their church — a fellowship in Christ, a fellowship of caring.

Wednesday, 26 April 20171 Peter 1:17-25 – God has a destiny for every person, even for Jesus. God had the cross in mind even before the creation of humanity. He knew of humanity’s upcoming fall. He knew of the disobedience and rebellion before humanity’s creation. God had a plan to restore us to fellowship before the sacrifice of Christ. It was the eternal destiny of Jesus to be the Messiah, to die, and rise again (verse 20). The question arises: If God knew in advance of humanity’s sin and the horrible death necessary on the cross, why did God bother to make us? Only God can answer that.

Thursday, 27 April 2017 Luke 24:13-35 – Jesus was driven to the cross. He asked, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (verse 26).
If Jesus is the Messiah, a satisfaction of God’s wrath against sin, the sacrifice on the cross was necessary.

This indicates that the cross was a divine project; also, it means that only God could remove the offense of sin. God in Christ satisfies his own justice resulting in God’s acceptance of us as forgiven children.

Friday, 28 April 2017Psalm 116:1-14 – The Psalm portion for this coming week is centered on a question, “What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” (verse 12) How can we repay the Lord when we consider all of the goodness He has showered down upon us? By offering to the Lord those expressions of devotion, which He desires. The Hebrew word for “goodness” occurs only here in the Old Testament but represents the same basic root as “has been good” in verse 7.

Saturday, 29 April 2017Mark 16:15 – This verse is the inspiration for the hymn “With High Delight let us Unite“{LSB #483}.  Having experienced the Lord Jesus risen from the dead, we as the people of God reach out into the world proclaiming the good news. This is the response of Easter. The early Christians simply told others, “We are witnesses of these things.” Likewise, we share with others the good things the Savior has done for us.


Collect for Easter 3 - O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

O Almighty and eternal God, now that You have assured us of the completion of our redemption through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus, give us the will to show forth in our lives what we profess with our lips; through Jesus Christ Your Lord our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one god, now and forever. 

A Prayer for Newness of Life in ChristAlmighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon ourselves the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which Your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility, that in the last day, when He shall come again in glory to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. 

Collect for St. Mark (April 25): Almighty God, You have enriched Your Church with the proclamation of the Gospel through the evangelist Mark. Grant that we may firmly believe these glad tidings and daily walk according to Your Word;  

An Evening Collect for Eastertide Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us in the end of the day, in the end of our life, in the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your Holy Word and sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair when death shall come. Abide with us and with all the faithful through time and eternity.

Sources:
THE LUTHERAN HYMNAL © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1982 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SERVICE BOOK © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
LUTHERAN SEVICE BOOK LECTIONARY © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO
Schnorr von Carolsfeld, woodcuts © WELS Permission to use these copyrighted items is limited to personal and congregational use. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Easter 2


Easter 2
23 April 2017
John 20:19-31
“I demand evidence!”


Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever


Thomas had enough! Of this secrecy!  James and John. Had met with Jesus - in secret - Asking to be seated. One at His left and the other at his right. The Council. Had met - in secret - To obtain an arrest and a secure a conviction. They had met - in secret - With Pilate. To secure the tomb.  With a watch and a seal.



And now. After all this.  His so called “friends” had come up with this fabricated story - of Jesus suddenly appearing before them. “I don’t buy it! I don’t believe it…Unless I see with my eyes the marks of How wounds and place my finger in his hands and my hands at His side I will not believe it!

1. Like Thomas we do not have an eye-witness experience of the risen Christ.

Why wasn’t Thomas present with the rest on the night Jesus appeared? What are we to make concerning his absence?  The Scriptures are silent. We really don’t know. 

We could speculate, I suppose. Possibly he had simply given up. Checked out. And moved on. All Thomas knew was the mere fact that Jesus was dead. What more could be said? So why remain with the other disciples? Why continue on? He had invested three whole years of his life following Jesus. And his devotion was noteworthy.  When He learned that Lazarus was sick Jesus told His disciples they were going to Judea. It was Thomas who had said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." – John 11:16  


Possibly he was distracted. Investing and involving his time in some other activity so he wouldn’t have to concentrate on the present reality – an empty tomb. Maybe it was simply out of necessity that Thomas just needed some space. To process in his mind what had just taken place. Maybe he needed a time out. To figure out on his own what he would do next. Possibly he simply needed to be left alone and suffer in silence. 

Perhaps something deeper is going on here. After all, Thomas had been invited by Jesus to be an apostle.   John gives us eight references to Thomas as a disciple of Jesus.  He was chosen and appointed by the Lord Jesus to be one of His followers. Jesus had said, "No longer do I call you servants . . . but I have called you friends."  -John 15:15

So, if Thomas is to be numbered with the rest of the apostles. And if they had experienced firsthand the risen Christ. Why not Thomas also? He too wanted to have the same experience as the rest… to see with his own eyes the marks of His wounds… and to place his finger in His hands and put his hands at His side. Maybe he simply wanted to be treated as the rest. If they had been witnessed of the Lord’s resurrection. Why not Thomas?  

So, what about you? How do you make sense of all this? The resurrection happened some 2,000 years ago. We do not have the experience of seeing Jesus with our own eyes. The resurrection happened in time and space. But not in our time. Can you have faith without witnessing Jesus Christ alive from the dead? And if so…how? 

Transition: Like Thomas we have not personally witnessed Jesus Christ alive from the dead. The Easter proclamation is powerful beyond comprehension.

2. The message of the Resurrection is incomprehensible.

Dead men do NOT come back to life again. Thomas had been there. He personally witnessed the crown of thorns. The nails. The spear. He knew Jesus had died. He had witnessed Jesus’ burial. He knew of the safeguards the Elders had arranged with Pilate. A tomb sealed. And the guard which was posted.

If Jesus were alive He would have to appear before Thomas just as He had to the rest of the disciples. That is, if he were to be considered a legitimate apostle.  He would have to witness the marks of Jesus’ Passion. These scars and visible marks on Jesus’ body would let him know that the same Jesus who had died by crucifixion was in fact alive. Those true tokens of Christ’s passion. Thomas would have to be witness. A counterfeit Christ would not do.

What convincing proof does this world need to believe in the resurrection? The claim is still true. Today, 2,000 years later – dead men do not rise. Faith calls for us to trust in the testimony of those eyewitnesses. John, in his first epistle, would later write, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life.” 1 John 1:1

Transition: Thomas’ life was literally changed once he became an eyewitness of Jesus bodily raised from the dead.

3. Seeing is believing.

Upon witnessing Jesus’ appearance. Thomas changed from a skeptic to a believer. These visible scars now become the marks of faith. All speculation of what might have happened were now gone. Thomas too became an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection.

We have today the testimony of these early eyewitnesses. The testimony of Scripture is undeniable. The testimony of these eyewitnesses remained consistent. Starting in Jerusalem, spreading throughout the world, the testimony of those first eyewitnesses remains constant. “We are witnesses of these events.”

The Savior’s words to Thomas are meant for your ears this day. “Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen!” Lord, grant us such a faith as this! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
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Words-1,018
Passive Sentences –10%
Readability –76.4%
Reading Level – 4.9

Image of St. Thomas the Apostle found at: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cc/Caravaggio_incredulity.jpg

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Tuesday



Easter Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Psalm 2:7


Psalm 2:7 English Standard Version (ESV)

7 I will tell of the decree:
The LORD said to me, “You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.

This psalm is ascribed to David in Acts 4:25. The context may be David’s coronation. God’s announcement of a king (e.g. the prophet Nathan announced David’s appointment as Saul’s successor in 2 Samuel 7:5-17 is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. “You are my Son today I have begotten you.” See 2 Samuel 7:14.  1

The psalmist points to the glorious and visible vindication of Jesus as Son of God. Thus the “day” of this “begetting” was the day of Jesus’ resurrection and exaltation. Jesus will reign forever. Of His kingdom, there shall be no end. He is the eternal king, the Lord and giver of life.   The truth of Jesus' divinity is confirmed by His Resurrection. The Resurrection of the crucified One shows that He was truly, "I Am," the Son of God and God Himself. As is written in the second Psalm, 'You are my Son, today I have begotten You.'" Christ's Resurrection is closely linked to the Incarnation of God's Son and is its fulfillment in accordance with God's eternal plan. Thus, you and I will always remain as Easter people.  Happy and Blessed Easter-and remember-It's a Season and a Way of Life!

Yea, Amen, let all adore Thee. High on Thine eternal throne; Savior, take the pow’r and glory; Claim the kingdom as Thine own. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! Thou shalt reign, and Thou alone! 2
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[1] Concordia Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Lo! He Comes with Clouds Descending Stanza 4, Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Monday, April 17, 2017

Easter Monday



Easter Monday, April 17, 2017 Psalm 100:5
                   

Psalm 100:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

5 For the LORD is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalms 93; 95-99 proclaim, “the Lord reigns.”  Psalm 100 is the thankful doxology named Jubilate, which is Latin for “O be joyful.” The phrase “his steadfast love endures forever” epitomizes the Lord’s cared for His people.  1

Praise God. His mercy endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations. “The Lord is God” and “The Lord is Good.” Let the whole earth sing and be glad.

O God, in the paschal feat You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen 2
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[1] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] Collect for Easter Monday, Lutheran Service Book © Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter


Easter Sunday



Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017   Psalm118:1     
       

Psalm 118:1 English Standard Version (ESV)

His Steadfast Love Endures For Ever

118 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures for ever!

Luther once wrote, “This is my own beloved psalm. Although the entire Psalter and all of Holy Scripture are dear to me as my only comfort and source of life. I fell in love with this psalm especially. Therefore I call it my own.” (AE 14:45) 1

What does God require of us in the Second Commandment? We should call upon His name in every trouble, pray, praise, and give thanks. 2

Who is God? He is good, kind, desiring our welfare. 3 

What do we owe our heavenly Father for all His goodness? It is our duty to “thank and praise, serve and obey Him.  4

There is now new life in Christ. Today we celebrate life. Today we celebrate victory. Today we celebrate forgiveness and freedom. Today is the day we remember all of God’s promises. They are yes and amen in Jesus. Because He lives we shall live also! 


Almighty God the Father, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You have overcome death and opened the gate of everlasting life to us. Grant that we, who celebrated with joy the day of our Lord’s resurrection may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen  5
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[1] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[2] What does God require of us in the Second Commandment? Luther’s Small Catechism, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[3] Who is God? Luther’s Small Catechism, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[4] What do we owe our heavenly Father for all His goodness? Luther’s Small Catechism, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[5] Collect for Easter, Lutheran Service Book, © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Time in the Word ~ Easter 2

Time in the Word:
the Second Sunday of Easter

Christ Jesus Breathes His Spirit and His Life into Us by the
Ministry of the Gospel
The crucified and risen Lord Jesus establishes the Ministry of the Gospel, in order to bestow His life-giving Holy Spirit and His peace upon the Church. To those who are called and ordained to this Office, and to those whom they serve in His name, He grants the Holy Absolution of all sins. By the fruits of His Cross He replaces fear and doubt with peace and joy, and thus gives “repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). Through the preaching of His sent ones He calls us to believe that He “is the Christ, the Son of God,” so that by such faith we “may have life in His name” (John 20:31). In His resurrection we have the “living hope” to which we have been “born again” and by which we are guarded “for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3, 5). Until then, “though you have not seen Him, you love Him,” and by the mercies of God “you believe in Him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” (1 Pet. 1:8).

Collects for the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord: Almighty God, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life. We humbly pray that we may live before You in righteousness and purity forever; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

O God, for our redemption You gave Your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross and by His glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of the enemy. Grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day we may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives an reigns . . .

O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Almighty God, through the resurrection of Your Son You have secured peace for our troubled consciences. Grant us this peace evermore that trusting in the merit of Your Son we may come at last to the perfect peace of heaven; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Almighty God, by the glorious resurrection of Your Son, Jesus Christ, You destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light. Grant that we who have been raised with Him may abide in His presence and rejoice in the hope of eternal glory; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns . . .

Collect for Easter 2Almighty God, grant that we who have celebrated the Lord’s resurrection may by Your grace confess in our life and conversation that Jesus is Lord and God; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns . . . 


Monday, 17 April 2017Psalm 105:1–5, 8; Antiphon, 1 Peter 2:2–3—The second Sunday of Easter is sometimes called Quasimodogeniti, Latin for the first words of the Introit, ‘Like newborn infants.’ Just as a baby eagerly suckles at its mother’s breast, so we, who have been given new life in Christ by His death and resurrection, also do eagerly desire the pure spiritual milk provided by our Lord for our nourishment and good growth. This He gives us through the preaching of His Word and the most blessed Sacrament of the Altar.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017Psalm 148—In Sunday’s psalm, the psalmist calls upon all of creation—those on the earth, those under the sea, and those in the heavens—to join in a chorus of praise to the Lord. Animate and inanimate, all of creation proclaims the glory of the Lord!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017Acts 5:29–42—The first readings for the Sundays after Easter are all taken from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles. Written by St Luke as a continuation of his Gospel, it is an account of the early Church, a snapshot. Like the Book of Acts itself, the readings will show how the Gospel was first preached in Jerusalem, and then, in ever-widening circles, throughout the world and down through history unto our day. The reading for next week has Peter and the other apostles being brought before the Jewish high council and questioned by the high priest for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Though they were beaten and charged not to speak in the name of Jesus, they rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for His name, and did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

Thursday, 20 April 20171 Peter 1:3–9—St Peter’s first epistle is a note of encouragement to Christians being persecuted for the faith. He reminds them of the inheritance they have in Christ Jesus due to His resurrection from the dead.
We who are in Christ will share in His resurrection and the blessings of everlasting life with God in heaven. Having our eyes fixed on this eternal reward gives us strength to bear with the burdens of this life, even persecution.


Friday, 21 April 2017John 20:19–31—There are two appearances by the risen Christ in Sunday’s Gospel, each bringing us a great deal of comfort. In the first, Jesus establishes the Office of the Holy Ministry, and assures us that, in the words of the catechism, ‘when the called ministers of Christ deal with us by His divine command, in particular when they . . . absolve those who repent of their sins and want to do better, this is just as valid and certain, even in heaven, as if Christ, our dear Lord, dealt with us Himself.’ In the second appearance, our Lord appears to Thomas. Thomas wanted the certainty of seeing his risen Lord in the flesh, as the others had. When he beholds the wounds in the One who was crucified on our behalf, his faith is sure, and he confesses, ‘My Lord and My God!’ Thomas’s assurance is ours also. We need never doubt that our Lord is truly risen from the dead, ‘the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ (1 Corinthians 15:20)

Saturday, 22 April 2017—Sunday’s hymn of the day, O Sons and Daughters of the King (LSB #470), recounts the story of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances and particularly His encounter with St Thomas. His words to Thomas are meant for us, also: ‘How blest are they who have not seen / And yet whose faith has constant been, / For they eternal life shall win. / Alleluia!’ Alleluia!’ Alleluia!’


Lectionary summary on front page from the LCMS Commission on Worship

Woodcut by Baron Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld, ©WELS
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas Higher Things
Thomas © Google Images

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Easter Festival



Easter Festival
April 17 2017
Jesus said, “I am the Resurrection
John 11:1-44

The background from which our text is taken is the occasion of the death of Lazarus, the friend of Jesus. The Savior was quite close to this family. In Bethany where this family lived we remember that Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Savior’s feet and wiped them with her hair. (v.2) Sister Martha is remembered as the one who was troubled with serving, and it was her brother Lazarus who had taken ill. Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (V.5)

When Jesus received the news that Lazarus was sick He stayed where He was for two more days. (v.6) By the time Jesus arrived at the house in Bethany Lazarus had been buried four days before although the city was less then two miles from Jerusalem. (Vv. 17-18) No wonder Martha said to Jesus as she met Him, “If you had been here Lord, my brother would not had died!” (v.21) What an incredible week it had been! Yet, in the events which unfold we see quite clearly that Jesus alone has the power over life and death. Jesus alone is the resurrection and the life.

I. Whoever believes in Him will live even though he dies.

A. It is appointed for man once to die and after that comes judgment.” Hebrews 9:27 ESV

B. As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.”  (Psalm 90:10 NASB 

C. While we cannot avoid death there is the promise of life beyond the grave. “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved.” Romans 10:9

D. Jesus words are quite simple so that all can know and understand. “I am the resurrection and the life whoever believes in Me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” (Vv. 25-26)

II. Here we have an eternal truth. Whoever lives and believes in Him will never die.

A. Jesus’ promise is not for the future – when we die. It is for now. “I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

B. Jesus has given us this life now so we can be witnesses of His mercy and grace. That we might be salt and light in this world.

C. How do we know of this truth and message? In the Scriptures alone. “Many other miraculous signs Jesus performed in the presence of His disciples but these have been written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ and believing you might have life in His name.” (John 20)

Jesus’ statement to Martha is quite a famous passage of Scripture. At the end of the verse Jesus asks her one simple question. “Do you believe this?” That question is asked of you this day. How you answer it determines where you will spend eternity. 

Words- 555
Passive Sentences – 9%
Readability – 80%
Reading Level – 5.5






Easter Dawn



Easter Dawn
 April 17, 2017
“Tell them, I am has sent you.”
Matthew 22:23-33 Exodus 3:14

The Sadducees gather. Posing a question. Designed to ridicule a belief. That on the last day. God will raise the righteous dead to life. That they will share in the renewal of God’s creation. In the kingdom of God. 

The same day some Sadducees (who say there is no resurrection) came to Him.” 

The Sadducees. Were the party in power in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. The family of Caiaphas. The High Priest. And Annas. His father-in-law. Were Sadducees. This family had largely made their peace with the Roman occupation. And they had been rewarded with positions of power and influence as a result. 

The Sadducees were religious conservatives. They did not acknowledge the authority of the prophets or the “writings” (e.g. Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, etc.), To the Sadducees, “the Scriptures” meant simply the five books of Moses, what we call today the Torah or simply, the Law.

The majority of ordinary Jewish people, however, took a different path. They believed in the resurrection of the body. The basic idea is very simple. God is the Creator of matter. Which, is therefore good and not evil. And God does not intend to abandon matter as a failed experiment when the Day of the Lord comes. 

Rather, on that day. The world will be set free from injustice and oppression. Evil and suffering.  And the righteous dead will be raised to life again. – A full bodily life – In which they will then enjoy this physical world in its renewed form. As God intended. 

In the time of Jesus. Only the Sadducees denied the resurrection. Their belief was that when you were dead. You were dead. And that was that.

 The same day some Sadducees came to him, saying there is no resurrection; and they asked him a question, saying,  ‘Teacher, Moses said, “If a man dies childless, his brother shall marry the widow, and raise up children for his brother”. Now there were seven brothers among us; the first married, and died childless, leaving the widow for his brother. The second did the same, so also the third, down to the seventh.  Last of all, the woman herself died.  In the resurrection, then, whose wife of the seven will she be? For all of them had married her.

Now originally this law was all about property. And the continuation of land in the family. A widow who inherited her late husband’s property. And then remarried outside his family would take the family property with her to her new husband, and therefore it would be lost to the family. 

Levirite marriage was intended to address this issue. It was a well-known law and everyone in the crowd would recognize the suggestion that the Sadducees were making. (Quoting, of course, from the only books they considered to be authoritative. The five books of Moses).

The Sadducees then construct a bizarre story. In which seven brothers in succession married a woman. And all died childless. The point of the story, of course, is to embarrass Jesus. ‘How ridiculous your beliefs are, Jesus! Will they all have to share her in the resurrection? Since each of them is her husband?’ 

This challenge is, of course, based on certain assumptions. About what the resurrection life will be like. Jesus will address those assumptions in His response.

Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.

This is an interesting verse.  It’s easy to see what Jesus means about them being wrong. Because they don’t know the scriptures. He is about to point them to a text in the Law which, in His view, proves that their beliefs about life after death are wrong. 

But what does he mean when he says that they are wrong because they do not know “the power of God?”  Are they limiting God? Are they assuming that God does not have the power to raise the dead? Or, that God is restricted to the customs and possibilities that exist in life, as we know it today? We need to know both the Scriptures and the power of God. Not one. Or the other.

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.
This sentence needs to be read carefully. Because it has been largely misunderstood in popular culture today. Jesus does not say that in the resurrection, “they are angels in heaven.”  What Jesus says is that they “are like angels in heaven.” 

There is an almost universal view today that when someone dies, ‘there’s another angel in heaven’. But this is very unbiblical. This is not found in the Scriptures. Human beings who die do not become angels. Angels, in the Bible, are seen as a completely different order of creation from humans. 

Existing before us.  They are God’s messengers. And occasionally even God’s warriors.  But they are not and have never been human.

And one difference between us. Jesus says. Is that in this life we humans marry and are given in marriage. But angels do not. This may be because we are physical beings and they are not, or it might be because they are immortal beings and we, at least in our present physical existence, are not. It is necessary for new human beings to be born and raised, and so marriage and sexuality are necessary. But after the resurrection, we will no longer be mortal. So there will be no more need to renew the human race with new human beings. Therefore “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage.” (v.30).

The resurrection life will not be just a continuation of this one. Rather, God is going to “make all things new.” And what is going to come into existence is something we have not yet seen or even imagined.  Do not become shocked because we are only told what will not happen: marriage. 

And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God,  “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob”? He is God not of the dead, but of the living.  And when the crowd heard it, they were astounded at his teaching.

This passage is from the story of the burning bush. Moses is on the mountain. He notices a bush that is burning but doesn’t burn up. When he gets closer. God speaks to him from the bush. He tells him to remove his sandals. Because he is standing on holy ground. And then continues, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:6).

Jesus’ points to the tense of the verb. If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were no longer in existence. God would have said, “I was the God of Abraham…” etc. The fact that he uses the present tense proves that to God, the patriarchs are still alive. 

For God to say, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” actually proves there is life beyond the grave.  In which the patriarchs are still alive. And the crowds were under no illusion as to who had won the debate. “And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at His teaching.”

To apply what Jesus says to our lives. Jesus affirms two things today. 

First, He is affirms that there is life after death. This is not your best life now. There is life yet to come. In the resurrection. 

Secondly, Jesus is also taking His stand. Life after death is not a shadowy existence. In which we float around. As disembodied spirits. In some unearthly paradise. With fluffy clouds. And harps. No, life after death is physical. On the last day. The day in which He renews His whole creation. And removes from it all causes of evil. God will raise the righteous dead to life. And they will enjoy the sort of life He had in mind when He first created them.

The main point is the resurrection. It is this, which leads to the real “life everlasting.” As we say in the Creed. (And yes. The order is important!) “I believe in…the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.” Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Words – 1,400
Passive Sentences – 8%
Readability – 76.6%
Reading Level – 4.9


Holy Saturday



Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017 Psalm 16:10
   

Psalm 16:10 English Standard Version (ESV)

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.[a]

Because of his enduring relationship- with the given and sustainer of life, David is confident that the righteous will endure despite physical death. This psalm prophesies Jesus’ resurrection. (See Acts 2:25-26)

David takes delight in an unwavering commitment to the Lord in both life and death. This ought also to be our attitude and joy, for He has made known to us the path of life. We have a beautiful inheritance: life with God forever in the kingdom of heaven.

O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on this holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen 1
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[1] Collect for Holy Saturday, http://www.liturgies.net/Lent/LentenCollects.htm
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday



Good Friday



Good Friday 
April 14, 2017
“Are you the Christ…I am”

So the high priest stood up before them and questioned Jesus, “Have You no answer? What is it these men are testifying against You?”  But Jesus remained silent and made no reply.  Again the high priest questioned Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”  “I am,,” said Jesus “and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven” Mark 14:60-62

The trial was dragging on. The case against Jesus was unraveling.  It became clear. That no two witnesses could agree. Caiaphas grew even more agitated. He needed a conviction. Fast! Finally, Caiaphas speaks. “Have you no answer? To what these men are testifying against You?”

Silence… Jesus remained silent. He makes no reply.  “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth.”  (Isaiah 53:7) Caiaphas redirects.  Rephrasing and reshaping his question. “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”

Now Jesus answers. “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 

By these words the die is cast. Caiaphas will get the verdict he sought. Jesus will get the death penalty. He will be convicted of blasphemy.  

For Jesus not only proclaims to be the Christ, the Son of the Blessed. He adds that He will be seated with the Father judging humanity.

When Jesus said, “I AM” Caiaphas was not surprised.  Jesus had said this before. He remembered a time in the temple when Jesus had said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” 

When Jesus first spoke, the authorities attempted to stone Him.  He had spoken major blasphemy in their eyes. They knew Jesus was making reference to the ancient prophecy. - “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13-14).

Caiaphas tears his garments in indignation. In their so-called righteous anger the council renders their verdict, “Blasphemy! Condemn Him! Crucify! Put Him to death!” Some spit on Jesus. He’s blindfolded. Others strike and taunt Him. Taking their cue, the guards close in. They begin to beat Him.

Yet, “Caiaphas did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” (John 11:51-52)

Here we see that blessed irony. That great exchange. His innocence replaces your shame and guilt. The Lord of life will trade His life for yours. He took on flesh to live your life. As your substitute. He takes to Himself your death. The death which is yours. As a wage for the sin you have committed. And the good you have not done. 

The Holy One is accused of curses and blasphemy! Just as the Psalmist predicted, “I will declare this decree: the LORD has said to me, You are my Son.” (Psalm 2:7)
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Words – 507
Passive Sentences – 8%
Readability – 80.5
Reading Level – 4.2
Image:  Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use.

Good Friday



Good Friday, April 14, 2017     Psalm 22:1
       

Psalm 22:1 English Standard Version (ESV)
Why Have You Forsaken Me?
To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David.

22 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

The psalm expressed profound loneliness. God seems completely absent. Jesus quotes from this verse on the cross (See Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) as He paid the penalty of human sin. It has been said this psalm is the whole passion of Christ. 1

These words are words that capture what is perhaps the greatest fear of people who love God – the thought that the God they love and in whom they trust would one day forget them, abandon them, turn his back to them in their time of greatest need. And that is precisely the experience of Jesus on the cross. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The cup which the night before Jesus had asked to be taken from him – Jesus was on the cross drinking fully. God withdrew from Jesus so that he wouldn’t have to withdraw from us. It is God’s separation from Jesus that draws us near to him. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The Father made him who had no sin to be sin for us…

Almighty God, Graciously behold this Your family for whom our Lord Jesus was willing to be betrayed and delivered into the hands of sinful men to suffer death upon the cross; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 2
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[1] Lutheran Study Bible, © 2009 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
[1] Collect for Good Friday Lutheran Service Book © 20016 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis
Luther’s Seal © Ed Riojas, Higher Things

Thursday, April 13, 2017

M Thursday



M Thursday
13 April 2017
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” – John 6:35


Jesus speaks. Jesus the bread of life speaks to us this night. What would He say? Let’s listen to His voice.

I.        I am from heaven - John 6:41 “At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, "I am the bread that came down from heaven." (NIV)

A.     Jesus makes a bold claim – “I am the bread that came down from heaven” Jesus makes Himself equal to the Father…He does not merely claim to know God. Or to represent God. His claim is unique. He is God. It is God alone who would rain down bread from heaven in the form of manna. It is only God Himself. Who can feed a starving prophet. By sending ravens. Holed up in a cave. In fear of his life.

B.   Jesus makes Himself equal with God. He caused many to grumble at Jesus. Many eventually grew dishearten. They walked away. Are you to grumble too? We claim that God will guide and lead us. Do we have the right to grumble and complain when His blessings are present in our midst? It takes faith to submit to His will. It takes a daring faith to trust in Him. Come what may.

Transition: Jesus claims to have come from heaven. He also claims to have direct access to God.

II.     I alone see God - John 6:46 “No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father.” (NIV)

A.     No one has seen the Father. Except the one who is from God.  Jesus will not lay claim to anything else. He is the only begotten Son of the Father. Not one, who knows God. Not one who understands God. He is the only one who has seen the Father.

B.     Only He has seen the Father - To have seen God. Meant sure death. Moses had to shield his face. Jesus makes the claim as to have seen the Father.

Transition: Jesus claims to come from heaven. He claims to have seen the Father. His claim is simple. He alone is the bread of life.

III.   I am the bread of life - John 6:48 (NIV)

A.     He creates life. In ten simple phrases. The entire created order was made. There is nothing that exists. Either on earth. Or in heaven. Which did not come by the created mouth of Jesus.

B.     He sustains life. As He brought this world into existence. By His mighty Word. He will continue to sustain and keep it. “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, will never cease” (Genesis 8:22) Times and seasons. Created by  the Word of the Lord. Will never cease. Until the end of human history. This is His promise to you.

Transition: Jesus comes from heaven. He alone sees God. He creates and sustains the earth. He alone gives eternal life.

IV. I give eternal life - John 6:50 “But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die.” (NIV)

A.     Here is the bread that comes down from heaven. Jesus is looking intently into the face of the crowd. How would He fare today? Do we believe that He is God in the flesh? Do we believe that He gives His life for this world? Do we believe that His death. Upon that bloody cross. And the eyewitness testimony of the open tomb can give and sustain life? These are the claims of Jesus. He asks you this night. To believe and trust in Him.

B.     Which a man may eat and not die.  The Scriptures remind. In the midst of life. We are in death. Death seems to surround us. Will we have the prospect of life eternal? Jesus Christ guarantees that we will have life in His name. By faith, we believe and live. Every time you feast. On Christ. The bread from heaven. Eternity is granted. This is His guarantee to you this night.

Jesus says – “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever.” By faith. We trust Him. By faith. We receive Him. He gives us His life. In exchange for the life of this world. Remember His words this night. “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread. He will live forever. This bread is My flesh. Which I will give. For the life of this world.”

Words - 780
Passive Sentences  5%
Readability – 95.2
Reading Level -2.1
Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use.