Monday, May 4, 2009

Time in the Word - Easter 5

The theme for the Fifth Sunday of Easter is Life in Christ. In the Gospel, Jesus described Himself as the Vine and the believers as the branches which bring forth fruit. How one becomes a person in Christ is demonstrated by the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in the first lesson. To be in Christ means to obey the commandments of God, to love not only in word but in deed.

Collect for the Fifth Sunday in Easter O God, You make the minds of Your faithful to be of one will. Grant that we may love what You have commanded and desire what You promise, that among the many changes of this world our hearts may be fixed what true joys are found through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen

Monday, 04 May 2009—Psalm 145:1-2, 8, 10, 21; antiphon, John 16:16— The antiphon is taken from the Lord’s promise to His followers, “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” Few doubt that the first phrase refers to the interval before the crucifixion. But interpretations differ as to whether the second refers to the interval preceding the resurrection or the coming of the Spirit, or the return of Christ on the Last Great Day. It seems that the language here best fits the resurrection.

Tuesday, 05 May 2009—Psalm 150 key verse v.6 —Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Who should praise the Lord? All who come to Him in faith. We celebrate the Savior’s great and mighty acts.

Wednesday, 06 May 2009—Acts 8:26-40— Philip is sent to bring an Ethiopian eunuch to faith in Christ. The treasures of an Ethiopian queen was on his way home after worshiping in Jerusalem. His chariot was on a main road from Jerusalem to Egypt. The Spirit directed Philip, one of the seven deacons (See Acts 6:1-5), to meet the chariot at Gaza. The eunuch was probably a proselyte or God-fearer of Judaism. Philip found him reading Isaiah 53 but not understanding it. After Philip’s explanation the Ethiopian asked to be baptized. He accepted Christ and according to tradition he introduced Christianity into Ethiopia. It should be noted that verse 37 (“If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”) is omitted in the older manuscripts and some modern versions will place the verse only in the margin.

Thursday, 07 May 2009—1 John 4:1-11— The word “Love” in its various forms is used 43 times in John’s letter. The word is used 32 times from 4:7-5:3 In His essential nature and in all His actions God is loving. John similarly affirms that God is spirit (John 4:24) and light (John 1:5), as well as holy, powerful, faithful, true and just. If we love in deed, we know we have the truth.

Friday, 08 May 2009—John 15:1-8— Jesus is the vine and we are the branches who are expected to bear fruit. Sunday’s Gospel lesson is a part of Jesus’ final discourse (chapters 13-17) with His disciples in the Upper Room on Maundy Thursday. Jesus uses allegory: He is the vine, God is the vinedresser, the branches are the believers, and the fruit constitutes good works. The vine is the source of life. To be connected with the Source is to have life and produce fruit. To be separated from the Vine is to die and be destroyed. People in the Vine have their prayers answered. Bearing fruit glorifies God and proves discipleship.

John referred to adult Christians as “little children.” Is this talking down to adults? Is it an insult to even add “little” to children? Jesus referred to His disciples as “these little ones.” It is no insult because if God is our Father, we are His true children. Since when? We were adopted as His children at Baptism, and we live in Christ as branches in the vine. And we are “little” too. We are often little in faith, in love and in our words. How little we are when compared with the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.

In these lessons we hear repeatedly the word “abide”. A fruitful Christian is one who produces good works because that person abides in Christ. How do we know we abide in Christ? One answer may be that our fruits prove it. This verse gives another answer. We are in Christ when we have the Spirit. It we have the Holy Spirit, it is the same as being in Christ. The Holy Spirit is at the same time the spirit of Christ.

Saturday, 09 Ma 2009— Psalm 98:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Romans 3:28 - The hymn of the Day, Dear Christians One and All, Rejoice – {LSB 556} When Luther translated the phrase “by faith” in Romans 3:28 he added the word “alone” which though not in the Greek, accurately reflect the meaning of the passage. The Hymn is one of Luther’s classic hymns which explain to us the heart of the gospel found in Jesus Christ.

Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, © WELS

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