Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 29, 2022

John 17:20-26
“The glory that you [Father] have given me
I have given to them,
that they may be one even as we are one…”
(Jn. 17:22)
.

There is a sequence here, a sequence of glory, but it is not glory as the world gives (Jn. 14:27). Jesus passes on to his disciples the same glory that he received from the Father. It is a “self-emptying glory” rather than the world’s glory of “self-aggrandizement.” The Father has emptied himself of the self-aggrandizing glory of a godly condemnation of sinners (Jn. 3:17). Jesus has emptied himself of the self-aggrandizing glory of grasping after godhood (Ph. 2:6). And now Jesus passes on to his disciples the emptying themselves of the self-aggrandizing glory of possessing a righteousness of their own rather than the righteousness that Jesus gives them (Ro. 10:3-4). Through this sequence of self-emptying, the Trinitarian oneness grasps hold of Jesus’ disciples then, and his disciples now. The Father is in Jesus and Jesus is in the Father. Jesus is in the disciples and the disciples are in Jesus. The discourse proceeding from the Father and from the Son, that is the Holy Spirit, is now the discourse between Jesus and the disciples. This discourse, the Holy Spirit, calls them through the Gospel, enlightens them with his gifts, sanctifies and preserves them in true faith—which is nothing less than the confidence that the Father has loved them before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4) even as he has loved Jesus before the foundation of the world (Jn. 17:24).

Prayers from one so resistant to self-emptying that his “self” must be driven down to the emptiness of death before receiving the life of Jesus…

Holy Father, in your Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, you have provided for the oneness of the communion of saints, the very body of Christ in this old and broken creation. Grant that I receive this oneness through the gift of being emptied of self rather than my attempts at achieving oneness through self-aggrandizing righteousness. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Holy Father, as I enjoy your love received through self-emptying glory, grant that your love flow through me to my neighbors as I point to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Holy Father grant to me such ears that I hear the gospel calling me into your love that has been mine since before the foundation of the world. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Holy Father so make my sanctification complete that I go out in service to creation and community with no thought of being righteous. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Holy Father, my oneness in you means my oneness with my neighbors. Since we are part of the same body—that of Christ Jesus—let me not harm my own flesh by doing harm to them. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

Holy Father, hold the Institute of Lutheran Theology under your protection and grant that it preaches and teaches as Jesus has taught us. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Holy Father, grant me to hold this oneness in faith until that day when faith shall become sight. Lord in your mercy, hear my prayer.

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Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 29, 2022

In this, his high priestly prayer, Jesus conveys a sense of intimacy. There is a sense of oneness; Jesus has it with the Father; and now Jesus prays for that same sort of oneness to be extended to these who are his disciples now. This particular oneness possesses a purpose: “…that the world may believe that you have sent me” (vs. 21). 

Then Jesus goes on to speak of glory. There is oneness in this glory. The Father’s glory here is that he emptied himself of a godly condemnation of the world in the sending of Jesus (Jn. 3:17). Jesus’ glory here is that he emptied himself by not considering godhood a thing to be grasped (Ph. 2:6). This “self-emptying” glory is the glory given us during these the days of our baptism while we wait for this old and broken creation to pass away. This self-emptying glory also provides oneness. The glory signals the Father’s love of them even as he has already loved Jesus. This self-emptying glory is nothing other than the cross itself—total and complete humiliation (cf. Lk. 9:23).

Yet, another glory awaits—the glory of the new creation. Jesus pleads that these disciples of his may be with him where he is (vs. 24, see also Jn. 14:3). There, in the new creation, Jesus will enjoy the obvious sort of glory, revealed glory rather than the hidden glory of the cross. With Jesus, the glory of those whom he has brought with him will be revealed as well. Glory is sequential: first is the hidden glory of the cross and its humiliation; second is the revealed glory of the Lord of the new creation which is then the believers’ glory as well.

Finally, Jesus comes to the name… the name he has made known among his believers… that name is Father. In the eastern Mediterranean culture of the day, to know someone’s name meant having access to them and that access accorded the knower with certain privileges, especially the privilege of being heard. The New Testament uses mostly three names or designations for God. The first is, as you would expect, the Greek word “theos” or God. The second is “kyrios” or Lord. The third comes from Jesus’ lips, “Father.” This is the name of God Jesus died to give you. Using it recognizes your place and privilege in the divine family. 

Table Talk: Discuss both oneness and glory as they relate to the name Father. Pray: Heavenly Father, hold me tight in the oneness of your divine family. Amen

John 17:20-26 English Standard Version

20 I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

Ascension Day – May 26, 2022

Jesus ascends to the presence of God. He ascends but not before he’s performed a vital task. He rescinds his earlier command, “Follow me!” for they cannot follow him; he’s going to the presence of God in Heaven. Rather than them continuing in discipleship mode, Jesus shifts their activity from “following” to “going.” How far are they to go? Jesus sends them to “all nations” (vs. 47). What are they to do on their way to all the nations? They are to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins (vs. 47). Jesus transforms his disciples (the ones who follow) into his apostles (the ones sent out). This account in Luke is but one of the sending accounts provided: one in each of the gospels and one in the book of Acts (Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:14-18; Lk. 24:44-53; Jn. 20: 19-23; Acts 1:6-11). 

These sending stories have several features in common. First, they’re not very complimentary to the disciples. It’s very evident that they are far from perfect and quite flawed. Here in the Lucan account, they lack understanding and comprehension of the Scriptures. Only after Jesus opens their minds do they understand (vs. 45). They have a definite task: bear witness to Jesus through preaching, especially preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins (vs. 47). Note that none of the sending stories carry any command that tells the newly made apostles to build a church, worship in a particular way, or establish a certain kind of community. All the sending stories include some sort of reference to the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit promise and power: the promise of the Father and power from on high (vs. 49).

All the “following after Jesus” that discipleship calls us into is not an end in itself. The following after mainly serves as preparation for the “being sent out.” Discipleship first, apostleship second. They are the rhythm of the Christian: first called into discipleship, into worship, into receiving the gifts of Christ (the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation). Then sent out into the world bearing witness to Jesus Christ, preaching repentance, and the forgiveness of sins.

Table Talk: Discuss the change of designation: disciple to apostle.
Pray: Heavenly Father grant me to hear both your calling and your sending. Amen

Luke 24:44-53 English Standard Version

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

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Sixth Sunday After Easter – May 22, 2022

If there were words we would wish Jesus had never uttered, these might be those words, “In the world you will have tribulation” (vs. 33). Jesus is a true prophet. The prophecies Jesus issues are true, not false. Jesus is the Lord who spoke the entire creation into existence. Here, he speaks a future into existence, a future wherein the world brings us tribulations, troubles, and sufferings. Why? Why, Jesus? Why did you have to utter these words because in their being uttered by you, the tribulations become true, real, and experienced. There is no escape from them. Jesus has spoken tribulation upon those disciples of his then… and anyone who would be a disciple of his now.

However, there is another sentence. It has words that do not consign us to tribulation. Instead, it speaks of victory. “But take heart; I have overcome the world” (vs 30). Jesus has the victory. Jesus has beaten the world. Jesus is triumphant over the world. Did he overcome the world with a host of heavenly angels? Was his victory the result of a mighty smiting of his enemies? Did he triumph over all who accused him, tortured him, and finally crucified him by returning from the grave and wreaking vengeance on them? No, he did none of those things. Jesus overcomes the world with his Passion—that is, by God having his way with Jesus. God had his way by seeing to it that Jesus was handed over into the hands of sinful men who carried out horrendous torture and an obscenely painful execution upon him. Jesus simply suffered the will of God to be done to him in both his death and in his resurrection. He vanquished all his enemies by that simple suffering of the will of God to be done unto him.

And now, Jesus wants to hand his victory over to you. His victory is your peace, “I have said all these things to you, that in me you may have peace” (vs. 33). So that you can have peace, Jesus has vanquished all your enemies for they were his enemies as well. Sin, death, and the power of the devil have all been beaten. Jesus has had his victory over them. He hands that victory over to you out of the font, from the pulpit, at the altar, and in the confessional. Your enemies are defeated but they have not been ended. We look forward to and hope for that day when Jesus comes in his glory and all the enemies are brought to their end.

Table Talk: Discuss receiving and enjoying Jesus’ victory.
Pray: Jesus, give me your victory by Word, water, bread, and wine. Amen

John 16:23-33 (English Standard Bible)

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

25 I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

29 His disciples said, Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God. 31 Jesus answered them, Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have pe

Sixth Sunday After Easter – May 22, 2022

John 16:23-33 “In that day you will ask nothing of me” (Jn. 16:23). “That day” is the disciples’ day of rejoicing (see verse 22).

Until that day, they will have grief and sorrow but when “that day” arrives their heart will rejoice and the joy they have then will be invulnerable: no one will take it away. The text has some built-in confusion because the English word “ask” is used to translate the Greek word “erotesete” in verse 23 and also the Greek word “aitesete” in verse 24. While both Greek words hold a meaning that can encompass “prayer request,” the “ask” of verse 23 also holds the meaning of “request for clarification.” So, perhaps, a different translator’s choice for verse 23 would read “In that day, you will have no more questions for me.” This whole section of text from John 16:17 until John 16:33 has Jesus dealing with the disciples’ confusion. They are confused because Jesus moves freely between their current situation and what the eschaton will deliver unto them. Jesus eventually relieves their confusion in verse 16:33 by saying “In me you will have peace. In the world you will have trouble and suffering but take courage—I have conquered the world.” Life in this world entails suffering and trouble causing us to make many requests to God in the name of Jesus. Worldly suffering and trouble will not be resolved until that day when Jesus’ comes, our hearts rejoice, and our joy will be complete, as Jesus promised.

Prayers from one who would rather have the suffering end now and the joy come immediately…

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to ask of you in his name so that is how I will come to you. Father, grant me relief from my impatience, be my strength in the midst of my suffering, and so make the anticipation of joy all the sweeter. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to ask of you and I will receive. Father, enlighten me through your Word as your Holy Spirit uses it upon me so that I no longer see through a mirror quite so dimly. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to ask of you in His name and so I ask for a clean and strong heart to endure the tribulations of this world… make it be Jesus’ heart for my heart, no matter how strong, will never have victory over the world. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me to love my enemies without thought of recompense while I only want to love those enemies so that burning coals are heaped on their heads. Forgive me. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me that I should love my brother… love my sister… as he has loved me. Forgive me when I want to love those brothers and sisters of mine with the meagerness of my sacrificial love rather than Jesus’ sacrificial love. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son tells me that I should go and bear witness to him, the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology is a place to bear such witness. In the name of Jesus. Amen

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son has given me a prayer, “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Grant me the patience to suffer until I know joy in the day of that prayer’s fulfillment. In the name of Jesus. Amen

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Fifth Sunday After Easter – May 15, 2022

Jesus’ disciples, confused by his discourse, ask among themselves, “What is this…?” (vs. 17).  Jesus acknowledges their confusion and the questions, “Is this what you are asking yourselves?” (Vs 19).  He gives them a kindness, explaining what he had been saying by way of giving them an oath introduced by the words, “Truly, truly…” or “Verily, verily…” or by “Amen, amen….”  Jesus speaks in this confusing manner because in these words he addresses two different situations.  

First, he is addressing the situation between his death on the cross and his resurrection from the tomb.  The suffering and death Jesus underwent brought weeping and lament from the throats of his disciples and loved ones.  The world, however, rejoiced.  You could say that all three of the world’s estates (government, religion, and the family) conspired to put him to death for the benefit of the many (Jn. 11:50).  The government as Herod and Pilate… Religion as the Pharisees, scribes, and experts in the law… and the family as that gathered crowd whose throats erupted, “Crucify him, crucify him!” (Lk. 23:21), all these (the entire world) came together in Jesus’ death and rejoiced.  This is a brief time of sorrow for the disciples, but it ends with the resurrection.

Second, Jesus addresses the situation of the disciples following his Ascension (Acts 1:6-11) when he was lifted up out of their presence and hidden by a cloud, itself a metaphor for the presence of God (Dt. 31:15 & Mt. 17:5).  The disciples would see him no longer (vs. 16).  They will be sorrowful in his lack of visibility but then that sorrow will turn into joy when he comes again.  Jesus speaks to a situation of these disciples and of all disciples, you included.  You are baptized into Christ, becoming one with him in a death like his, and established in the hope of a resurrection like his.  You live the days of your baptism in a world that rejoiced at the death of Jesus.  It would like nothing more than to work again the death of Jesus who has come to be your life.  That is your sorrow… that is the trouble Jesus promised (Jn. 16:33).  But… but on the last day, when Jesus comes in his glory and your glory is revealed (Co. 3:3-4), on that day there will be much joy!

Table Talk:  Discuss Jesus’ language and the two situations addressed.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant me hope at the end of the world’s troubles.

Table Talk

John 16:12 22

12 I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

16 A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me. 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, What is this that he says to us, A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me; and, because I am going to the Father? 18 So they were saying, What does he mean by a little while? We do not know what he is talking about. 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Fifth Sunday After Easter – May 15, 2022

John 16:12-22 “What does he mean by a little while? We do not know what he is talking about” (Jn. 16:18). 

Confusion dominates among Jesus’ disciples.  His words confuse them.  We are likewise confused, even though we have the luxury of hindsight.  Jesus knows the disciples in front of him had confusion; he also knows that his disciples of the future would likewise be confused.  His solution?  He makes a promise.  He makes it in the form of an oath, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (Jn. 16:20).  Jesus gives those disciples then, and consequently us now, his word.  It doesn’t necessarily clear up our confusion… It doesn’t necessarily relieve us of our sorrow… but it does necessarily provide reassurance because Jesus does not lie.  The confusion… the sorrow… will not last forever.  We may well go to our graves not seeing the end of it. But it will end.  We will have joy.  We will have joy without sorrow… joy without confusion.  You have Jesus’ word on it.

Prayers from a confused and sorrowful sinner for all my eyes behold contradicts Jesus’ promise…

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, please grant to me such assurance that I hold to the truth of Jesus’ Word and not believe my lying eyes.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, grant that I am not discouraged as the world rejoices around me as it continues to celebrate the silencing of Jesus Christ.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I plead with you to forgive my failings… failings of despair… failings of faithlessness… failings of looking to my hands and their works… forgive them Father and hold me fast in your unfailing steadfastness.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, your Son has come to be my life… the life of my mortal flesh… grant that he so use my mortality that it would be of some use to my neighbors in providing them with their daily bread for their life in this world.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, as your Son is my life and using my mortality to provide those neighbors with daily bread for this life, grant as well that my lips would proclaim the sweetness of your Son so that my neighbors would receive the daily bread of Christ’s provision for the life to come.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, you have established the Institute of Lutheran Theology and brought it through various trials and temptations.  Grant that it, too, may know the joy your Son has promised.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, during these days, the days of my baptism, see to it that I am returned daily to the promises of my baptism through dying to sin, repentance, and being raised up to walk in newness life, Christ as my life.  For the sake of the truth itself, hear me.

Father of my Lord Jesus Christ, I commend all these things to you for you have promised to hear us when we pray to you, and you do not lie.  Amen

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Fourth Sunday After Easter – May 8, 2022

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (Jn. 10:27). Following after Jesus… often called “discipleship…” is here given three qualities: Be a sheep, in particular, be Jesus’ sheep.  Hear… Hear Jesus’ voice. Be known… Be known by Jesus. Jesus’ sheep hear his voice, and he knows them. Out of that hearing and being known, Jesus’ sheep follow him. Is it really that simple? Every generation, or perhaps it’s every decade, some new program arises to make disciples. Those programs teach us to follow the rules and, in following the rules, we’ll be following Jesus. But did Jesus really come to be a new rule-giver? Luther didn’t think so. Jesus is not a new Moses, he would say. Those sheep belonging to Jesus hear his voice and, in that hearing, are known by him. The result of that hearing and knowing is sheep who follow Jesus—that is, discipleship.

Prayers from one who desires to follow Jesus but finds so many rules in the way…

Father in heaven, grant that I have ears to hear my shepherd’s voice… ears to hear all the many ways he knows me… ears to hear that I may follow him. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, grant to me that clean heart which only comes as Jesus comes to be the life of this sinner dead in his sin. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, grant to me such confidence of faith that I can trust hearing the voice of my shepherd and being known by him results in my following him… my true discipleship. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, grant that I follow my shepherd out into the world, into this old, broken, and passing away creation where the dust of both my creation and of my passing works its way between my toes and into my nose. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, grant the dust of my mortality spurs me to beneficial interaction with my neighbors and that the both of us receive the interaction’s good. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, grant that the Institute of Lutheran Theology points its students to this hearing and being known that results in following Jesus–that is, true discipleship. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, grant me to endure the working upon me of this hearing and being known such that I follow Jesus all the days of my baptism and finally come to see him face-to-face. For the shepherd’s sake, have ears to hear my prayer.

Father in heaven, I entrust all these things to you for you have indeed promised to have ears to hear my prayer. Amen

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Fourth Sunday After Easter – May 8, 2022

Jesus reveals himself as the Son of Man, connecting to the Old Testament prophecy of Ezekiel (Ez. 33:2 and others) and Daniel (Da. 7:13) as well as lamenting that there is no place for him in this world (Mt.  8:20). He comes as the New Adam (Ro. 6:12-13) who did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (Phil. 2:6). He comes announcing the forgiveness of sins and the imminent presence of the kingdom of God (Mt. 4:17). Those to whom he came rejected him (Jn. 1:11), but he proved God’s love for the ungodly in that he died pleading for his tormenter’s forgiveness not their condemnation (Lk. 23:34). From the depths of that humiliation God raised him from the dead so that he would be the first fruits of the new creation (Ro. 8:29). The new creation is hidden for now in humility and known only by faith but awaiting its glory when Jesus the Christ shall be revealed in his glory. (Col. 3:3-4)

Jesus Christ reveals the Father. In such dramatic declarations as “The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30) and “No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son decides to reveal him.” (Matthew 11:27b) and “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9), Jesus identifies the Father with himself. This revelation of God—as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ—is how God “chooses” to be known. It is the name by which he desires to be called: “Father.” (Luke 11:2) The revealed Father compares to the Son in the same manner as the Son’s self-emptying of Philippians 2 compares to John 3:16-17: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” Jesus “emptied” himself of equality with God, so too God “emptied” himself of a “godly” condemnation of the world through the sending of the Son. God, the Father, emptied himself so he could come “for you” in the love of Jesus Christ.

Table Talk: Discuss ways in which Jesus has revealed the Father to you.
Pray: Heavenly Father, grant that I should call upon you by the name Jesus died to give me, Father… my Father in heaven. Amen

John 10:22-30 English Standard Version

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Third Sunday After Easter – May 1, 2022

“He [Jesus] said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish” (Jn. 6). Some years ago, Tullian Tchividjian authored a book entitled, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.” Since then, his clay feet have been revealed and he is numbered among the ranks of sinners just like the rest of us. That fishing crew headed up by Peter certainly had experienced a night of frustrating fishing. Giving up, they headed toward shore only to be engaged in conversation by Jesus who was standing on the shore. Again, at his command (cf Lk. 5:1-11), they put down their net one more time. It filled with fish beyond their capacity to haul it in. Jesus plus nothing yielded an impossibly huge catch. Some will want to insist that this is not a “Jesus plus nothing” scenario because the disciples had to add their obedience, their letting down the net, and the hauling it up again. They would be mistaken. The disciples had already been obedient to their profession… they had already let down their net many times during the night… they had hauled it in many times. All fruitless. No fish. Add Jesus, many fish. Much of the reform that has gone on in the church through history has resulted from those who would insist that, for the sake of our salvation, something must be added to Jesus and his work on the cross… something like our decision to believe… something like our work at an ever-increasing sanctification… something like properly ordained priests or pastors… These are the sorts of accretions brought into the church over time to make the message more palatable to human tastes. The reformation of the church… the stripping it of those things added merely for the sake of taste… the return to “Jesus + Nothing = Everything” is ever and continually the hardest reformation for the church to undergo.

Prayers from one who himself needs reformation into the reality of “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.”

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that I, as I am seized and possessed by faith in Jesus Christ, would then know Jesus Christ in his complete sufficiency. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that I am not driven to that place where I must add some work of my own to complete a supposed insufficiency in your grace. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that the desire to see… to see my faith in action… my desire to walk by sight and not by faith would not drive me from the sufficiency of your grace. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that, in the sufficiency of your grace, I would withhold nothing from my neighbors should they evidence a need for it. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that the fullness of my life as you have provided it would overflow to fill the insufficiency of those very neighbors of mine. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that my sufficiency be useful to the Institute of Lutheran Theology as it raises up pastors and preachers for yet another generation. Amen

Heavenly Father, you have promised that your grace is sufficient for me. Grant that I live out the days of my baptism in weakness so that your power would be made complete in me. Amen

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