Sunday, April 29, 2012

Time in the Word - Easter 5

Time in the Word
30 April – 5 May, 2012
Preparation for next week, 5th Sunday of Easter

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

Prayer for the 4th 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 loves and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Friday, May 4th - is the day the church remembers one of our pastors. Friedrich Wyneken is one of the founding fathers of The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, along with C.F.W. Walther and Wilhelm Sihler. Born in 1810 in Germany, Wyneken came to Baltimore in 1838 and shortly thereafter accepted a call to be the pastor of congregations in Friedheim and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Supported by Wilhelm Loehe's mission society, Wyneken served as an itinerant missionary in Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan, particularly among Native Americans. Together with Loehe and Sihler, he founded Concordia Theological Seminary in 1846 in Fort Wayne, IN. He later served as the second president of the LCMS during a period of significant growth (1850-64). His leadership strongly influenced the confessional character of the LCMS and its commitment to an authentic Lutheran witness in the United States.

A Prayer for humility: O God, You resist the proud and give grace to the humble. Grant us true humility after the likeness of Your only Son that we may never be arrogant and prideful and thus provoke Your wrath but in all lowliness be made partakers of the gifts of Your grace; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

For blessing on the Word: Lord God, bless Your Word wherever it is proclaimed. Make it a word of power and peace to convert those not yet Your own and to confirm those who have come to saving faith. May You Word pass from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the lip, and from the lip to the life that, as You have promised, Your Word may achieve the purpose for which You send it; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Monday, 30 April 2012Psalm 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, 1 May 2012Psalm 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, 2 May 2012Acts 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, 3 May 20121 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, 4 May 2012John 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, 6 Ma 2012Psalm 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.

Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House.
Lectionary Preaching Workbook Series B John Brokhoff © 1981 CSS Publishing Lima, OH
Illustration from a woodcut by Baron Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld, © WELS

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Acts 2:42

Chartered February 25, 1838
Celebration of 174th Year
Easter 4

 29 April 2012
Psalm 23
“How good it is to know the Good Shepherd”

Lord Jesus Christ, shepherd of Your church, You give us new birth in the waters of baptism; You anoint us with oil, and call us to salvation at Your table. Dispel the terrors of death and the darkness of error. Lead Your people along safe paths that they may rest securely in You and dwell in the house of the Lord now and forever, for Your name’s sake.

Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. As a result, the Psalm, the Gospel lesson, and all four hymns selected for today deal with Jesus our Good Shepherd. Our text for today, Psalm 23 is fondly called the Shepherd’s Psalm.

Psalm 23 is by far the world’s most beloved psalm. Students are taught to memorize it at Wyneken. It is shared with the suffering and prayed over those who are dying. In almost every Christian funeral, it is included as one of the readings. It is one of the most requested and cherished passages of Scripture.

Why is it that Psalm 23 is so popular and loved?  I would suggest that this Psalm connects with people who are buffeted, battered, and broken by the hard knocks of life. This Psalm speaks of God’s love, care, mercy and comfort – just what we need in a tough heartless world. David reminds us how good it is to know Jesus as our Good Shepherd. David gives us three realities by which we can live in security no matter what may come our way.  We can say with David “Because Jesus is my Shepherd –
Ø      I shall not want
Ø      I will fear no evil
Ø      I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever

David speaks of the great care that God takes for believers. He is their shepherd; that we may call Him so.

I.        Because Jesus is your Good Shepherd, you shall not want!

A.     He gives you Rest - “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” He feeds and supplies you with rest. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." (NAS)

B.     He gives you Peace -“He leadeth me besides the still waters...” Jesus says in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (NASB)  Again, in John 16:33 the Good Shepherd reminds us: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (NASB)

C.     He gives you Forgiveness – “He restoreth my soul” In this Easter season, we rejoice as Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death and the power of the devil. Because of the cross and empty tomb there now remains for us forgiveness, life and salvation. Paul reminds us in 2Corinthians 5:19: “...that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (NIV)

D.     He gives you Guidance – “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” With the hymn writer we pray: “Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way; direct, protect and feed me From day to day. Without your grace and favor I go astray; so take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way.” [LSB 722 # stanza 1]

Transition: Soon you’ll be taking off for Washington DC.  You’ll tour the FDR memorial. As America braced itself for a grueling and difficult Second World War President Roosevelt reassured the public reminding them, “the only thing we need to fear is fear itself.” With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, we are never in want. With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, you will not fear!

II.     Because Jesus is your Good Shepherd, you will fear no evil.

A.     With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, there is Companionship – “Thou art with me” The Savior walks with you. He accompanies us and attends to our every need. You are never alone. He remains with us to sustain and direct our every step along life’s road.

B.     With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, there is Comfort – “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” We live in the midst of many dangers in our road. Life can get downright frightening at times. When we need aid and comfort, the Good Shepherd supports us. “Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!" [LSB #878 “Abide with Me!” stanza 1]

C.     With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, there is Concern – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anoitest my head with oil my cup runneth over” Jesus has promised us He will provide us with all that we need to support this body and life. You know these words, “He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil.  He does this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him.”

Transition: This is most certainly true! He provides for you in this life. I shall not in want. There is nothing to fear. He will certainly sustain you until you reach your home in heaven.

III.   Because Jesus is your Good Shepherd, I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

A.     He is with you Now – “Goodness and mercy shall follow me...” Goodness is defined as His good pleasure, His desires for you. God's goodness consists of righteousness, holiness, justice, kindness, grace, and love. Mercy is that aspect of God's love that causes Him to help the miserable, just as grace is that aspect of His love that moves Him to forgive the guilty. David reminds us that the Shepherd’s goodness, mercy along with His grace will accompany us every day of our life.

B.     You will be with Him Forever–life eternal has been promised to you “...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” Our future is secure when we are safely in the hands of the Good Shepherd. We are secure in this life. We have a destiny to dwell with Him forever in glory.

Jesus is your Good Shepherd. Listen to His words in today’s Gospel lesson:  "I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep”. (John 10:14-15)

Remember the things that we taught you, cling to that which is good and remember that the Savior walks with you every day. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear – the Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?

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

Time in the Word - Easter 3

The Preaching of Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins Makes Us Pure

The risen Lord Jesus taught His disciples “that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead” and “that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:46–47). Therefore, St. Peter preaches repentance and forgiveness to the people of Jerusalem. As he proclaims that Jesus fulfilled all that “God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets” (Acts 3:18), he also convicts the people of their sin, because they “delivered over and denied” this Lord Jesus and “killed the Author of life.” Yet God “glorified His servant Jesus” and raised Him from the dead (Acts 3:13–15). St. Peter calls the people to repent, so that their “sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20). Through this forgiveness of sins, and by faith in this forgiveness, the Father shows His love for us, in order that “we should be called children of God, and so we are” (1 John 3:1). Thus we hope in Him and are made pure even “as He is pure,” because “He appeared to take away sins, and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5).

Monday, 16 April 2012Psalm 30:1-5; Antiphon, Psalm 16:11b— In Psalm 30, David exuberantly worships the Lord, who has drawn him up, healed him, and brought up his soul from Sheol (the grave.) He calls upon all saints—including us—to sing praises to the Lord and give thanks to His holy Name, for we, too have been delivered from sin death, and the power of the devil by the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012Psalm 4—This psalm of David is a cry for deliverance, with confidence that the Lord hears and answers prayer. Because Christ Jesus has delivered us from our mortal enemy—sin and its consequences—we can confidently say with David, In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012Acts 3:11–21—The people in the temple were astonished when Peter healed the crippled beggar (Acts 3:1–10). Peter told them that it was God, not he, who had healed the man. He then related the details of Jesus’ death and resurrection—We are witnesses—and proclaimed the Gospel to them, urging them to repent and trust in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins.

Thursday, 19 April 20121 John 3:1–7—St. John contrasts those in the world, who do not know the Father because they have rejected the Son, with believers, who put their trust in Christ, and, thus, have been made the children of God.

Friday, 20 April 2012Luke 24:36–49—The early Church Fathers had to deal with heretics called Docetists who denied the physical resurrection of Jesus, saying it was only a spiritual resurrection, and that His appearances were that of a phantasm, or else hallucinations by His followers. This heresy persists to this day: the Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the bodily resurrection of Christ. But Jesus dispels any sort of nonsensical ideas in Sunday’s Gospel. He appears in the flesh—Why do doubts rise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Handle me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have—and eats food. This eyewitness account also gives us the assurance of the physical resurrection of Jesus, and of all believers, as we confess in the Creed.

Saturday, 21 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.

Collect for Easter 3O 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. Amen.

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

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Easter 2

Believing in Seeing

Enough! Thomas had had enough of this secrecy! James and John had met with Jesus - in secret - asking to be seated at His left and his right. Such arrogance! The Council had met - in secret - to obtain an arrest and a conviction. They had met - in secret - with Pilate to secure the tomb. And now, after all this, His so-called “friends” had come up with this fabricated story - of Jesus magically appearing before them. So, enough with this secrecy! “I don’t buy it!  Unless I see with my eyes the marks of His 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 the luxury an eyewitness experience of the risen Christ.
 A. Thomas was not present. Possibly, he was distracted involving his time in some other activity so he wouldn’t have to concentrate on the present reality – an empty tome and no physical body. Possibly, he had given up and checked out. Why remain with the other disciples? Jesus was dead. What more could be said? As far as Thomas was concerned, Jesus wasn’t coming back
B.  The disciples were in similar circumstances – they too had hesitated to believe the report of the women of Jesus’ resurrection. They had abandoned Jesus in the garden when He needed them the most. They had seen Him die. On that first Easter night, where do we find them? Hold up in a locked room in fear of the authorities!  Not a ringing endorsement for a confident faith. So why the change? And why now?

C. So where do you stand on this issue? The resurrection happened some 2,000 years ago. We do not have the experience of seeing Jesus with our own eyes. Can you have faith without witnessing Jesus Christ alive from the dead?

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.

A.  Dead men do NOT come back to life again. And while we at it - virgins don’t catch the “pregers” either! Thomas had been there. He personally witnessed the crown of thorns, the nails, the spear. He knew Jesus was dead.  He had witnessed Jesus’ burial. He knew of the safeguards the Elders had arranged with Pilate; a tomb sealed and the guard posted.

B.  If Jesus were alive, He would have to appear before him just as He had to the rest of the disciples. Thomas didn’t need a counterfeit Christ. 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. A counterfeit Jesus would not do. It wouldn’t work for Thomas and a counterfeit Christ will do you no good. For you are a sinner! And you need a real Savior to confront your sins and deal with them. A dead Christ cannot save you! If Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still imprisoned by your sins.[1]

C.  What convincing proof does this world need to believe in the resurrection. The claim is true today, 2,000 years later – dead men do not rise. And virgins don’t get pregnant. Americans by law recognize Christmas and Easter as a legal holiday. Yet many these days treat Christianity with mockery and disdain.   Many consider as only fable and myth the two chief Christian holidays - based on a virgin birth and a visible resurrection – no more real in the minds of modern man than a compassionate elf and a benevolent rabbit who lays eggs purporting himself as a chicken. We trust in the same 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.

A.  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 is now gone. Thomas too became an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection. He is now a true apostle. Thomas does us a favor. To believe in Christ simply means that the same Christ, which died must also be raised. Thomas cannot believe in a fantasy. He witnessed the nails and the spear. If Jesus is really raised, he must witness and behold the marks or he will not believe.

B. We have the testimony of these eyewitnesses.  The testimony of Scripture is undeniable. Jesus openly taught of His own resurrection. The prophecies of the Old Testament speak frequently of the Messiah being raise to life on the third day. The testimony of these eyewitnesses remained consistent. Starting in Jerusalem - the very city where Jesus was executed - spreading throughout the world the message would not change. The 1st Century believers had only one message - “we are witnesses of these events”.

For twenty-five years, I’ve had the privilege of serving you. We’ve grown, enjoyed each other’s company. You’ve given us the privilege of raising our children at one place. That’s rare, and a privilege. We’ve laughed and cried together. Moreover, you’ve always been kind to us. But it’s never been about me and it’s never been about you! It’s always about Christ, and Him crucified and raised from the tomb. These words of the Savior, His words to Thomas are meant for you this day. “Blessed are those who believe even though they have not seen! Lord, grant us such a faith as this!  

Monday, April 9, 2012

Time in the Word - Easter 2

The Risen Christ Breathes His Peace in the Holy Absolution

The crucified and risen Lord Jesus appeared to His Apostles on the first Easter Sunday. He “came and stood among them,” and with His Word and the wounds in “His hands and His side” He granted them His peace (John 20:19–20). He sent them as ministers of the Gospel in His name to bestow the life-giving Holy Spirit for us and for His whole Church through the forgiveness of sins (John 20:21–23). Through this apostolic ministry 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). The Apostles “have seen and heard” this divine life manifested in the flesh of Christ, and those who succeed them in this apostolic ministry now proclaim that same Absolution to us, so that we “too may have fellowship” with the risen Christ, with the Apostles, and “with one another” (1 John 1:1–7). The one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church lives by “their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,” and all who believe this Word are “of one heart and soul,” because in Him they truly have “everything in common” (Acts 4:32–33).

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.

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;  

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;

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,

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;  

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;

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,

Monday, 9 April 2012—Psalm 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, 10 April 2012—Psalm 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, 11 April 2012—Acts 4:32–35—St Luke gives us a snapshot of the early Church in Jerusalem. Reflecting the love that Christ has for us, they loved each other by taking care of one another. Two thousand years later, we can reflect that same love of Jesus for us by caring for one another.

Thursday, 12 April 2012—1 John 1:1—2:2—St. John, in his epistle, testifies to the fact of Christ’s resurrection by recounting how he has seen the resurrected Savior, how he has heard him, and how he has touched Him. We need have no doubt that Christ is risen from the dead, and therefore, has forgiven all our sins.

Friday, 13 April 2012—John 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 firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.’ (1 Cor 15:20)

Saturday, 14 April 2012—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
This week’s Time in the Word is written by The Revd Jeffrey M. Keuning, Pastor of St John's Evangelical Lutheran Church U.A.C. Casey IA and Zion Lutheran Church Dexter, IA

Easter 2

All the doors are shut, locked, and there are about a dozen or more men, in tight quarters, sweating, stinking of fear. They are not sure what has happened or what they should do. They feel the heat. Then Jesus came and stood among them, saying: Peace be with you.

Jesus Comes
He came and stood among them. He didn’t approach them from behind or appear in a corner and then clear his voice to get their attention. In that closed up space with barely enough room for another body—Jesus stood among them, there was really no place else he could be. He is in the center of the sweaty mass, everyone crowding in around him, jostling to see the holes in his hands, the gash in his side, that he is showing them. Peace be with you, he says again, as the Father sent me, so I send you.

Jesus Breathes
He pauses and everyone leans in, craning their necks so as not to miss a whisper — then he breaths on them.  They are close enough to feel the heat of his breath, to smell it. Receive the Holy Spirit.


Sunday, April 8, 2012


Bruce Bultemeier
Born into this World June 27 1958
Baptized into Christ: July 20, 1948
Confirmed in Christ: May 14, 1972
With Christ in Peace: April 5, 2012
Committal: April 9, 2012
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my  hand - John 10:27-29


“but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead?” Luke 24:5

 “Why look for the living among the dead?” The women were confronted with this statement on that first Easter. So are we today. Do not seek comfort or happiness in the broken patterns of this world. Trust not in princes they are but mortal. Do not seek after riches they cannot satisfy. Do not seek after fame or recognition from others, it’s a fleeting thing. Jesus came to give us life, abundant life. This life is found in His resurrection from the dead. Life has purpose and meaning because He alone is the author of life and our lives are realized in Him. In Christ is life and you will find your centered in Him who is the way the truth and the life.

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.

Collect for Easter Sunrise, Lutheran Service Book © 2008 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished’, and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” John 19:30

Salvation was completed at the cross. It was proclaimed made known in the resurrection. When we use the word “finished”, it tends to point to either a failure as in “I’m finished with you!” or a success, such as, It’s completed! What do these words of Jesus mean? What has been “finished”, and what does that mean?

One word is clear enough. “Is” is definite. When Jesus says something, He makes it so. He does it for even bigger things like forgiveness, commanding the weather, healing the sick. So, whatever is finished, really is done.

Does Jesus mean His life on earth is finished? No, because we know that His death was not the end of everything.  He rose to new life. In the same way, we do not have to remain stuck in Good Friday, but can live in the resurrection life of Easter morning.

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 You 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.

Collect for Easter Eve LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS


O God, for our redemption You have given Your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by His glorious resurrection You have delivered us from the power of our enemy. Therefore, grant that all our sin may be drowned through daily repentance and that day by day a new person may arise to live before You in righteousness and purity forever.

Isaiah 25:6-9
Easter Joy

The one thing most people want is happiness. Our expressions at Easter indicate that Easter is supposed to a happy time, “Easter Joy” and “Happy Easter” are just a few expressions, which come to mind. It is a time of rejoicing not because of our happy circumstances but because, and only because of what God has done for us in the Resurrection. True Christians are happy regardless of the hardships they may face. If circumstances indicate that you may be experiencing hardships, handicaps and misfortunes God has a message for you this day – Easter joy is based not on outward circumstances rather on God’s victory, which He invites you to share this day.

Easter is a happy time because…

I. It is a feast
– Isaiah 25:6 On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines.

A. This passage from Isaiah looks forward to the day when God would destroy death forever. Isaiah looks to the day when God would offer a fest for all the nations. A banquet in the Old Testament stood as a symbol of the consummation of God’s saving purpose in history.

B. This feast is a celebration of God’s victory over death. God will swallow death up forever and thus death will no longer plague mankind. This is the work of God, and people have reason to celebrate His salvation with joy.

II. It is a victory – Isaiah 25:7-8 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.

A. A question could be asked, “How can we find an Easter message in an Old Testament passage? It is found in the form of a promise of the future. The future was fulfilled on Easter.

B. Today, we’ve been given a perspective of God’s plan of salvation, which was in His mind from the time of creation. When Isaiah wrote these words is was God Himself giving us His Word. On Easter God gave us His deed!

III. It is salvation – Isaiah 25:9 In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD; we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.

A. Your happiness does not depend on your well- being in this world. Christians to this hour are oppressed, persecuted, and defeated yet they still rejoice. How so?

B. The reason is the source of Christian’s joy – God. A person can rejoice because God Himself has defeated our worst enemy – death. God has provided a banquet feast for us.

On Easter, we celebrate the reality that life overcomes death by the power of the resurrection. This was the promise Isaiah hoped for – for us today we celebrate its reality. Now death is dead forever! This is what God has done for us! This is reason for rejoicing and celebration.

- Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS;

Easter Dawn

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 Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by Your life-giving Spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:19-28
Victory is Guaranteed

Days prior to Super Bowl III New York Jets quarterback “Broadway Joe” Namath guaranteed victory. The country was shocked and taken aback. How could he be so sure, so brazen, and so confident? People simply didn’t make such predictions.

In a more serious note, St. Paul guarantees our victory over death. From the perspective of what God intended for us – that we should not die but live – death is indeed a certain enemy. Yet here in our text Paul makes a bold statement – our victory over death is guaranteed! How is this so?

I. Our victory over death is guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection.

A. Christ is the first fruits.

1. Just as the first sheaf of grain offered as a sacrifice to God in the Old Testament represented the full harvest that was to follow, so Christ’s resurrection is the first of many resurrections that will surely follow. (v.20)

2. Because our resurrection from the dead is assured, our physical death can be regarded as sleep (“who have fallen asleep” v.20)

3. The hope we have based on Christ’s resurrection does not relate only to this life but also to life beyond physical death (v.19)

B. Christ is the source of life.

1. Death is an event brought on by the first man, Adam.

2. The second Adam, Jesus Christ, the God-man, by His death and resurrection abolished death (V.22; 2 Timothy 1:10)

Transition: But when will this banishment of death occur for us in view of the fact that we must all experience physical death? “Each in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, then at His coming those who belong to Christ” (V.23) Our victory over death is guaranteed!

II. At Christ’s 2nd Coming.

A. The triumphs of evil that we see around us, especially the devastation caused by death, will not continue forever.

1. Christ, even now is in control and will one day openly display His victory over all evil.

2. In the meantime, He will not permit any evil, including death, to destroy us. (Vv.25, 27)

B. The day is coming when all the forces opposing God will be destroyed. (V. 24)

1. The scheming of Satan, the plotting of evil people, the perversities of our sinful nature, and the grip of death will be conquered.

2. From that day on there will be no more death!

C. The second coming of Christ will mark the beginning of a new existence in which the Triune God will be everything to us in a kingdom of glory without end. (V.28)

Can we guarantee victory without any hesitation or doubt? The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees our victory over death, pointing us to that day when we shall rise to endless life, and death shall be no more!

Artwork by Ed Riojas, ©Higher Things; - Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS;
Artwork by Ed Rojas, © Higher Things

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ “- John 19:28

One can only imagine the personal sufferings of Jesus on the cross. There is trauma on a number of levels. Jesus suffered sleep deprivation, the trauma of four trials; three Jewish and one Roman.  For a period of roughly twenty-four hours, he was beaten flogged; spat upon, humiliated and mocked. Jesus shows us that there is human suffering on the cross as he cries His fifth word: "I thirst!"

In our day and time, we strive to alleviate pain. We can do this with continuous dosages of morphine. The Romans of Jesus' day the focus was on inflicting pain and making a science out of it. Once I remember a twenty-six year old medical school resident at the Indiana University medical center telling a parent not to trust any pain medication older than him.  Modern man is fixated on relieving pain. At the time of Christ, the Romans spent decades perfecting the craft of human torture through the art and craft of crucifixion. As Jesus cried from the cross "I thirst" He was ravaged by extreme physical pain.

Fulfilled prophecy authenticates Christ.  If Jesus were to fail in any of the clear Old Testament prophecies, which predict what the Son of God would do, Jesus would be considered a fake, a fraud, a false Christ. Yet because prophecy has been fulfilled, we can say with Thomas "Jesus you alone are my Lord and my God!"

These words spoken from the cross: "I thirst" shows the extent of Jesus' human suffering. It helps us endure our own hurts and pains and authenticates Christ as our one and only Messiah - the Savior of the world.

Almighty God, graciously behold this Your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, to be given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death on the cross; who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS
Collect for Good Friday, LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Good Friday

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Maundy Thursday

“but standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”  John 19:25-27

In the midst of His suffering Jesus reaches out to two of His closest associates a dear friend and His own mother.  Mary is suffering as she watches from a distance.  Simeon of old had predicted that a sword would pierce her own heart when Jesus was but eight-days-old. That prediction is now her reality.

In singling Mary out Jesus turns her over to John. John has received a stepmother. Mary a stepson. John will now have the responsibility to care form Mary as his own mother. This is the 4th commandment - the honor and care of parents.  Jesus would not be able to physically care for His mother so He chooses John.

By these words Jesus demonstrates proper families regard. Parents own children spiritual and physical care, love and support.  Children owe parents love, honor, service, obedience. When they are older physical care and support.  Jesus by these words demonstrated deep concern for others. Half of Jesus' last words on the cross are concerned with the needs of others.  We are connected to each other by blood and by faith. May we show proper human regard especially with those from our own family.

O Lord Jesus, since You have left us a memorial of Your Passion in a wonderful sacrament, grant, we pray, that we may so use this sacrament of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redeeming work may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy  Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS
Prayer for Maundy Thursday LUTHERAN WORSHIP © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

Jesus I will Ponder Now

Make me see Thy great distress,
Anguish and affliction,
Bonds and stripes and wretchedness
And Thy crucifixion;
Make me see how scourge and rod,
Spear and nails, did wound thee,
How for man Thou diedst, O God,
Who with thorns had crowned Thee.

Finally, Pilate handed Him over to them to be crucified – John 19:16

Introduction: Hanging on a cross - suspended between earth and heaven - the Son of man suffers – as no one has ever suffered – before or since. Stricken, smitten and afflicted see Him hanging on that tree – He hangs there - for you and for me.

We have come to the end of our series – Jesus I will ponder Now. Today we witness Jesus as He offers Himself as a sacrifice for the life of the world. The old song sings:

1. Make me see thy great distress,
Anguish and affliction,

A. The distress of Jesus is one no one has ever experienced. The physical torture was tremendous. But even greater was the spiritual torments He received. On that bloody and cruel cross, Jesus was abandoned by God and by men.

B. Thus, the Savior’s affliction and anguish was the highest cruelty. The wrath of an angry and offended God was poured out on the Son of man on a hill called Calvary. Heaped upon Him was a double load.

1. He suffered, as no man should.

2. He suffered innocently the righteous for the

Transition: Jesus suffered great distress, anguish, and affliction. He suffered in time so we could be in bliss with God eternally.

2. Bonds and stripes and wretchedness
And Thy crucifixion;

A. Mel Gibson’s movie the “Passion of the Christ” is a vivid portrayal of the Roman style of execution called crucifixion. It is a rendering of what took place in Jerusalem during those short three hours on Good Friday. This movie is an apt depiction of what crucifixion was really like. No wonder the world feared the Romans! No wonder some still today cannot bear to see it. No wonder the Romans had a law that read: Roman citizens may not be crucified. The scourging, whippings and beatings Christ endured was pure violence.

B. And yet, Gibson’s film is not “gratuitous violence.” To the contrary - there is a higher good, which comes from the sufferings and the passion of the Christ.

1. Your sins, oh man, are gone. Your sins are buried in the tomb of Christ never to be seen again.

2. He separates them as far as the east is from the west and He remembers your sin no more.

3. There is now no more condemnation for those who are in Christ who was crucified. This is why we call this day Good Friday, for on a Friday - in time - the Son of God suffered to set you free.

Transition: Why mark these sacred hours when Jesus the Christ suffered? Why does every faithful Christian church station a cross prominently? What it the significance of the cross?

3. Make me see how scourge and rod,
Spear and nails did wound Thee,

A. It was a human who transgressed God’s law. When the Father said, “Of all the trees you may eat. But of the tree in the midst of the garden you will not eat, lest you die.”

B. It was a human who believed the lie when the tempter said, “you will not die, for the Lord knows in the day that you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing the difference between good and evil.”

C. It was a human who disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit.

D. Therefore it had to be a human who would suffer in your stead. Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a human mother became the Father’s only attempt and the only hope for the human race to be free from sin. There is no other plan. There is no other way. There is no other hope except through Christ. This is what prompted St. Paul to write, “I determine to know nothing among you save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Transition: What is the significance of the cross? The hymn writer sums it up in thirteen powerful words.

4. How for man Thou diedst O God,
Who with thorns had crowned Thee.

A. Sacred Scripture is quite clear. “There is salvation in no
one else save Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

B. Here we see that great exchange God’s mercy and forgiveness purchased at the cross of His own Son! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

C. “No other child, no other Savior, Can ever help this sinful earth. Then take the Gift the Father sent us And spread the Story of His Birth.” That’s what our children said to us this past Christmas Eve. Good Friday assures us of a Merry Christmas! The birth of a baby means the death of a man – and that miserable death has saved us!

Conclusion: Come now, come weary sinner, come to the foot of the cross for all things are now ready!

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.

Maundy Thursday

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wednesday of Holy Week

“And He said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Luke 23:43

Each of us is terminal - all of us share two common realities - We're all sinners. Not a single person can claim to be perfect. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl - we're all sinners.

The second reality common to us all is that death is a reality for each must die. "The wages of sin is death" the Bible tells us. Each of us will face our end. When we close our eyes to death then we will meet our maker. Then what?  This thief in calling out to Jesus reveals the recognition of his own guilt. He comes to the realization that he is a sinner. He comes to his senses and realizes his own mortality. In calling out to Jesus, he realizes that his sins have condemned him! All he can request is that Jesus remember him. "Lord, remember me when you enter into Your kingdom!"

Jesus' reaction reveals the nature of His work. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He went to the bloody cross to offer us Himself as a sacrifice for sin. In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven - period!  In speaking to this thief he shows him the reward of all who call upon the name of the Lord - they shall be saved!  Christ's reaction shows us the place of the dead believer. We shall be with Christ eternally!  Mark the Savior's words. Today you will be with Me in paradise. Death defined by the Christian is the separation of the soul from the body. Death to the Christian is our entrance into glory. Every day is a gift. Every day is an opportunity to do good, to make a difference, to dream big and to act.  In Jesus Christ our destiny is secure - make good use of the present as you anticipate eternity.

Lord, accept our prayers and worship and have mercy on us.  For us sinners, now and at all times, and at the hour of our death, for by Your death, death was abolished; have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.

Julius Schnoor von Carolsfeld ©WELS

Jesus I will Ponder Now

Christ through whom we now are blessed
knew no evil doing.
Him at night they did arrest
like a thief pursuing.
Led before the godless throng
falsely was convicted.
Laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon,
As the Word predicted.

As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. –John 13:30

Introduction: In his St. John Passion J. S. Bach paints for us a picture of the arrest of Jesus which will trigger a series of events. These events will bring about the greatest travesty of justice – yet, at the same time will usher in the greatest demonstration of the Father’s love and faithfulness; faithfulness to His promise, faithfulness to His fallen children. For us; to receive the Father’s pardon, the Son of Man would have to be arrested, tried, crucified and killed.

Following the Passover celebration Jesus’ disciples sang a hymn. As they departed from the upper room - it was night. Christ the sinless Son of God is about to suffer for the crimes and sins of men.

I. “Christ through whom we now are blessed - knew no evil doing.”

A. In Christ we truly are blessed.
1. Blessed to know Him, blessed to be known by Him.
2. Blessed to have a relationship with Him.
3. Blessed to be brought into His family – the Church.

B. We are blessed because of Christ the sinless Son of God.
1. He knew no sin. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
2. Yet He became sin for us. “At the right time Christ died for the ungodly.”
3. He became a curse for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us-- for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE "--
4. That we might become the righteousness of God through Him. “He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord’.”

Transition: Christ the perfect holy Son of God blesses us. Our blessing came at the time of Jesus’ arrest when it was night.

II. “Him at night they did arrest - like a thief pursuing.”

A. His arrest happened at night. “As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.”
1. His arrest happened at night when the crowds who had come for the Passover festival would not so easily witness His arrest.
2. They arrested Jesus at night so they could hold a quick and speedy trial.

B. Like a thief they pursued Him.
1. How ironic – He who had committed no treachery becomes a wanted man; a thief, a criminal, a villain, a man they must pursue.
2. The enemies of the Christ will stop at nothing at having Him eliminated. It was necessary for this to happen they would argue. It was necessary for one man to die for the nation. “Now Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it was expedient for one man to die on behalf of the people. The leadership had had their fill – He must be eliminated.

Transition: Having made His arrest His trial is set.

III. “Led before the godless throng - falsely was convicted.”

A. Christ was convicted falsely.
1. Two witnesses came forward. “Many false witnesses came forward. Finally two came forward and declared, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.”
2. Finally, the High Priest came forward and charged Him. “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.”

B. These leaders stirred up the crowd for a conviction of convenience. It served their end.
1. “Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king.”
2. “So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” Pilate said “I find no fault in this man.”
3. But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

Transition: Having achieved their goal of a conviction the council will send Jesus to His death – But first He must be handed to the guard.

IV. “Laughed at, scoffed at, spat upon, - as the Word predicted.”

A. The guard will make sport of Him.
1. They want to publicly humiliate Him. “Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him in the face.”
2. They want so show their utter contempt for Him. “Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”

B. This was all predicted for us in Sacred Scripture.
1. “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
2. “Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth…”
3. “He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”.

Conclusion: After the Last Supper, events in our Lord’s life moved rapidly-- His prayer in Gethsemane, betrayal by Judas, arrest, mock trial, painful beating, the trudge to Golgotha and execution. Jesus said, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows Me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.” The events of Golgotha snuffed out the human life of Jesus, the Light of the World, as even creation was dark when He suffered.

Jesus, the innocent victim is sentenced to death – a death He did not deserve – yet a death He will bear for your salvation. In this most blessed Sacrament which He instituted before His arrest you receive the tokens of His sacrifice – His body, broken - His blood, shed - that you might receive absolution and clemency for your offenses. O Christ, Thou Lamb of God, You take away the sin of the world, have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for personal and congregational use.