THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD
The Ascended Lord Jesus Is with Us Always in His Church on Earth
After He rose from the dead, the Lord Jesus presented Himself alive to the apostles, “appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). When He ascended to the right hand of the Father, He did not orphan His Church, but He fills all things in heaven and on earth and gives gifts to His disciples. Even now, through His Church, He continues “to do and teach” (Acts 1:1), preaching “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47) even “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Though the cloud hid Jesus from the sight of His disciples then, and He remains hidden from sight even now, He remains with His people through His Gospel and Sacraments. He comes to us by the Word of His apostles, by the promise of His Father and by the power of the Holy Spirit, whom He pours out upon “the church, which is his body” (Eph. 1:22–23). In this holy Christian Church, we bless God and worship Christ with joy, for in His Church He blesses us with forgiveness, lifts us up in His hands and seats us with Himself “in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20).
Posted on May 15, 2023 8:00 AM
SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
1 Peter 3:13–22
The Lord Jesus Comforts Us with the Preaching of His Resurrection
“The God who … gives to all mankind life and breath and everything” (Acts 17:24–25) wants all people to seek Him that they might “feel their way toward him and find him” (Acts 17:27). But in our sinful ignorance, we humans turn instead to idols “formed by the art and imagination of man” (Acts 17:29). Therefore, God appointed the Man of Righteousness, Jesus Christ, and “has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). Because He lives, we also live (John 14:19) in His forgiveness, and thus we love Him and keep His commandments (John 14:15). While the risen Lord prepares us for His ascension, He will not leave us “as orphans” (John 14:18), but He gives “another Helper,” the Holy Spirit, to be with us forever (John 14:16) through the preaching of “Jesus and the resurrection” (Acts 17:18). Because He “suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous” (1 Peter 3:18), we “honor Christ the Lord as holy” and are always “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks” for the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15). Our Baptism “now saves” us “as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21).
Posted on May 08, 2023 8:00 AM
FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
Acts 6:1–9; 7:2a, 51–60
1 Peter 2:2–10
The Lord Jesus Christ Is the Way, the Truth and the Life
The risen Lord Jesus alone is “the way, and the truth, and the life,” and we come “to the Father” only through Him (John 14:6). God is thus “glorified in the Son,” and those who believe in Him will do the works of Christ because He goes to the Father for us (John 14:12–14). Stephen, “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5) and “doing great wonders and signs among the people” (Acts 6:8), did the works of Christ. When he was falsely accused and put to death, he “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55). Fixing his hope there, he commended his spirit to the Lord Jesus and prayed for his murderers. In the same way, all the baptized are called to follow the example of Christ Jesus by faith. Though He was “rejected by men” in the sight of God, He is “chosen and precious” (1 Peter 2:4). He is the chief cornerstone of the Father’s “spiritual house,” and we are built upon Him as “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5).
Posted on May 01, 2023 8:00 AM
FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
1 Peter 2:19–25
The Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus Christ Is Our Good Shepherd
Although we “were straying like sheep,” the Lord Jesus Christ has willingly suffered and died for us, bearing our sins “in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24–25). We are healed by His wounds (1 Peter 2:24), and in His resurrection He gathers us to Himself as our Good Shepherd, by whose righteousness we “have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Now through other shepherds whom He calls and sends in His name, He guards and keeps us in the green pastures of His Church, leading us beside the quiet waters of our Baptism and spreading the feast of His table before us. Since He has called us by the Gospel to be His own dear sheep, we also “hear his voice” and “know his voice” (John 10:3–4) in the faithful preaching of His Gospel, and we follow Him by faith. When we receive His Gospel, we have the abundant life and common unity of the entire flock under one Good Shepherd, in “the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship” and in “the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
Posted on April 24, 2023 8:00 AM
THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER
Acts 2:14a, 36–41
1 Peter 1:17–25
The Risen Lord Jesus Is with Us in Holy Baptism and in ‘the Breaking of the Bread’
From “before the foundation of the world” until heaven and earth pass away, “the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:20, 25). This “living and abiding word of God” is the preaching of Christ Jesus, namely that God “raised him from the dead and gave him glory” (1 Peter 1:21, 23). By this living word, we “have been born again” to eternal life (1 Peter 1:23) and ransomed from our sinful and mortal life “with the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:18–19). This living word also calls us to repentance, to dying and rising in Holy Baptism “in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). In this, we receive the Holy Spirit “for you and for your children and for all who are far off” (Acts 2:39). Through the preaching of His cross and resurrection, Jesus draws near to bring us “into his glory” (Luke 24:26). As He opens the Scriptures, He opens our minds to comprehend “the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27), and He brings us to know Him “in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:35).
Posted on April 17, 2023 8:00 AM
SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER
1 Peter 1:3–9
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 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 Peter 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 Peter 1:8).
Posted on April 10, 2023 8:00 AM
1 Corinthians 15:1–11
The Lord Jesus Brings Us Out of Death into Life with His God and Father in Heaven
In Adam, all people die because all people sin. The children of that first gardener have been driven out of Paradise and return to the dust whence they were taken. But now another Gardener has come, who has made His bed in the dust of the earth and who, by His rising, restores Paradise to all the children of men. With His voice of the Gospel, He calls us by name, and He opens our eyes to behold Him by faith. At His Word, we enter His tomb through Baptism into His death, so that, just as He is risen, we also “rise from the dead” (John 20:9). Come, then, “sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously” (Ex. 15:1). He has fought for us against our enemies, and in His resurrection not one enemy remains. “Fear not,” therefore, but “see the salvation of the Lord” (Ex. 14:13), which He delivers “as of first importance” by the preaching of His Gospel (1 Cor. 15:3). Thus, we are raised with Christ “in accordance with the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:4), and we stand firm because we “are being saved” (1 Cor. 15:1–2).
Acts 10:34–43 or Jeremiah 31:1–6
The Victory of Christ Crucified Is Given to You in the Preaching of His Resurrection
Every Sunday is the Lord’s day, the day of His resurrection, “after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week” (Matt. 28:1). In the Divine Service, the Church enters upon the eternal “eighth day.” The Lord Jesus, “who was crucified,” who “has risen, as he said” (Matt. 28:5–6), is the firstborn from the dead and the firstfruits of the new creation. Because “you have died” with Him in Holy Baptism, “you have been raised with Christ” and “your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1, 3). The Lord Jesus has become our God, as surely as He is “the God of all the clans of Israel,” and we now belong to His people (Jer. 31:1). In this, He “shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34), but “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43). As “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power” and “raised him on the third day,” He also raises us up and pours out His Spirit upon us through the Gospel (Acts 10:38, 40).
Posted on April 08, 2023 9:00 AM