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

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.

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

You may well recall another instance where Peter had led his crew of fishermen out for a night’s netting. In that instance, too, they had caught nothing. Jesus was there, too, in that instance. At that time, he said for them to put out into the deep and let down their nets once again. And, wonder of wonders, at that time their nets were filled to overflowing (cf. Lk. 5:1-11). At this time, on the third occasion of Jesus revealing himself after his resurrection… at this time, Peter has led his crew of fishermen out for a night of throwing the nets, and they caught nothing. In this instance, Jesus tells them to cast the nets on the right side of boat. They do. The catch is immense.

These are two occasions given us in the Gospel of Luke where Peter’s skill as a fisherman is displayed. Given that on both occasions, Peter does not catch a single fish, you may well conclude that on his own Peter had little skill and ability to commend himself as a professional fisherman… But then there is Jesus… Jesus and his commands: “Put out to the deep and let down your nets” and “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” Peter, at the command of Jesus, hauls in the largest catch of fish he and his fellow fisher folk have ever seen.

These two instances of Peter’s failure at fishing bracket like bookends the story of Peter in the Gospel of Luke. Peter had reached the limit of his human ability. His mind could conceive of no way forward… no way to turn failure into success… no way to catch fish that had not already been tried. But then there is Jesus… there is Jesus and his command… Jesus, the Lord of Creation speaking into reality an event heretofore inconceivable… Jesus, The Lord of Creation but also The-Lord-of-Impossible-Catches-Of-Fish.

So, too, you… like Peter, both your beginning and your ending are with Jesus… your beginning… your ending… and all the times between are with Jesus. You begin with him in your baptism. You end with him by going down to a death like his, mortal and dusty. But… but all the days between are the days of your baptism, the days which Jesus speaks into existence, promising never to leave you or forsake you.

Table Talk: Discuss the implications of bracketing events in one’s life.
Pray: Heavenly Father, grant your commands to be true in my life. Amen

John 21:1-14 (15-19) English Standard Version

21 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He 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. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

(15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”)

Second Sunday After Easter – April 24, 2022

The identity of the crucified Jesus as the risen Christ must be asserted to contradict the errors of Docetism and Gnosticism.  Both these false beliefs, Docetism, and Gnosticism, hold that Jesus the Christ was entirely a divine spirit that merely inhabited the body of the man, Jesus of Nazareth.  This divine spirit escaped that dying flesh prior to its death and then appeared as an undying spirit-person in all its resurrection appearances.  That undying spirit-person, however, would not have borne the marks of Jesus’ passion… would not have been wounded as the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth’s had been.  The wounds of thorn, nail, and spear marked the resurrected body testifying to the reality of a bodily (not merely spiritual) resurrection… testifying to the singular person of Jesus Christ who was both true God, Son of the Father from eternity, and true man born of the virgin Mary… testifying that the resurrected Jesus is indeed the crucified Jesus.  And so it is that we confess to the “resurrection of the body.”

Once the Old Creation has passed away… once hunger, tears, and death have been vanquished… once the mortal, perishable body has been changed into that immortal, imperishable body of the resurrection… once the newness of the New Creation has been established, where will the memory of the Old Creation’s historical reality reside?  It will reside in the body of Christ.  That your God will bear the wounds of thorn, nail, and spear throughout eternity gives silent witness to the past reality of sin, death, and the power of the devil.  Those wounds testify to the suffering of God from the sin of his people.  Isaiah tells us truly, “Surely he has borne our griefs, carried our sorrows… was wounded for our transgressions… was crushed for our iniquities… yet… with his stripes, we are healed” (cf. Isa. 53:4).  And so it is that we confess with the Council of Chalcedon that insofar as the divine nature was joined to the human nature in the one person of Jesus Christ, we can say that God suffered and even died.

Jesus bears the open wounds of thorn, nail, and spear into eternity giving silent witness to the identity of the crucified Jesus with the resurrected Jesus… giving silent witness to the historical reality of the old, sin-broken creation… giving silent witness for those wounds bear no accusation and make no new promises.

Table Talk:  Discuss your understanding of the wounds identifying your God as the God who died for his people.
Pray: Jesus grant that I confess you wounds and all.  Amen

John 20:19-31 English Standard Version

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Holy Saturday – April 16, 2022

All earthly power structures fear the resurrection of the dead. Their final expression of power is the ability to cease and silence their opponents by putting them to death. The prospect of the dead rising terrifies them. In the case of the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate, they were doubly terrified, for not only Jesus’ death and silencing would be overturned by resurrection but also he would be proven a true prophet at his resurrection: “After three days I will rise” (vs. 63). Jesus’ vindication as a true prophet would transform him from a condemned criminal into a martyr for the cause of God’s kingdom.

So Pilate gives them a guard and orders the securing of the tomb. As the religious authorities implement Pilate’s orders and satisfy their desires, they achieve three levels of security on the tomb. First, the tomb is closed by the great stone rolled before its entrance (vs. 60). Second, the tomb is sealed with wet clay that will harden as it dries, forming a fragile seal that will crumble at the merest of the stone’s movements. The clay would have been marked by pressing the imperial seal of Rome upon it, indicating Roman authority had placed it and Rome would punish anyone who broke it. Third, guards were set, providing an initial intimidation and then actual physical force should intimidation fail.

Nonetheless, the resurrection could not be denied. In the span of mere hours, from the hour of Jesus’ death until the hour of his resurrection, two earthquakes took place. The Temple curtain, torn. Rocks, split. Tombs opened, and their sleeping saints raised (Mt. 27:51-53). At the moment of Jesus’ resurrection, the earthquake came again. The angel of the Lord descended, rolled back the stone, struck the guards unconscious with fear, and spoke to the women, “Do not be afraid” (Mt. 28:5). The resurrection could not be denied; yet, when those fearful religious authorities heard the tale from the guards, they paid a bribe to them to spread a lie: “His disciples came while you were asleep, and they stole his body” (Mt. 28:13). Lies… Lies are all the Father of Lies (Jn. 8:44) has to deny the authority God has over his creation… the authority to say who lives and who dies…

Table Talk: Discuss the resurrection of Jesus as a threat to the world’s power structures.
Pray: Heavenly Father, grant me the truth in the face of Satan’s lies. Amen

Matthew 27:57-66

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, After three days I will rise. 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, He has risen from the dead, and the last fraud will be worse than the first. 65 Pilate said to them, You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can. 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Good Friday – April 15, 2022

Immense reverberations sound within this verse. It draws upon Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane. It exemplifies God’s way of dealing with evil. It anticipates God’s answer to Paul’s prayer. It fleshes out the conformity to Christ of those who would be his brothers and sisters in the family to which he is the firstborn (Ro. 8:28).

Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane has him asking his Father to let this cup pass from him (Mt. 26:39). He referred to his passion—that of being delivered into the hands of evil men. But, nonetheless, the Father’s will reign supreme. This cup… the cup of suffering and death… was the cup the Father had given him. 

God deals with sin not by might… not by a conquering heavenly host that puts the devil to the sword as Peter took up the sword against the band of soldiers and officers of the chief priests… not by using force or coercion… no, God deals with sin and the devil through his Son, Jesus Christ. He bears the sin of the world to the cross and carries it into his tomb. In the resurrection, he leaves the entire world’s sin in the tomb, swallows up death forever, and emerges as the firstborn of the New Creation.

In drinking of the cup the Father has given him, Jesus anticipates God’s answer to Paul’s prayer for relief from the thorn in his side that beset him. God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…” (2 Cor. 12:9). 

The Apostle Paul assures us in his letter to the Romans that God, our heavenly Father, has predestined us “to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Ro. 8:29). In drinking of the cup the Father has given him, Jesus mirrors an image of how God is conforming us. He is conforming us to the image of his Son who drinks of the cup the Father gives to us. Like Christ, our only glory in this passing-away world is to be lifted up on our own particular crosses. We bear our cross and follow after Jesus to our own peculiar Golgotha. That is our cup… that is our passion… that is the death of Jesus into which we are baptized… And it is also the hope of the resurrection to glory there in your baptism.

Table Talk: Discuss the various “cups” you have had to drink.
Pray: Heavenly Father, do not take the cup from my lips but let me drink ever more deeply that I may hope even more deeply. Amen

John 18:1-19:42
(15printed here)

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, Whom do you seek? 5 They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus said to them, I am he. Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, I am he, they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, Whom do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. 8 Jesus answered, I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go. 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.

 10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) 11 So Jesus said to Peter, Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?

Maundy Thursday – April 14, 2022

The kingdom of God has come and already comes in the person of Jesus Christ. It comes through the gift of faith now and will come in visible glory on the last day. As Jesus partakes of this Passover, he marks the fulfillment of the exodus past (the one from Egypt) and anticipates the fulfillment of the exodus present (the one he is currently making).  Jesus’ current exodus was the subject of conversation between Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Lk. 9:31). This is the exodus for which Jesus set his face in determination (Lk. 9:51). This is the exodus that distresses Jesus in its urgency (Lk. 12:50). The completion of this exodus begins with Jesus’ arrest—his being handed over to the hands of men (Lk. 9:44)—and ends with his final exhalation of breath (Lk. 23:46).

Jesus began his ministry, and continued his ministry, preaching, “The kingdom of God has come near” (Mt. 3:2; Lk. 10:9; Mk. 1:15; Mt. 4:17 among others). The “kingdom of God” (or its synonyms) appears over three hundred times in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus’ words here can be construed as an oath: “For I tell you, I will not drink…” (vs. 18). Jesus swears on this reality: the banquet feast of the Lamb to occur at the glorious manifestation of the kingdom of God when the eschaton arrives, and all things are revealed.

Until then, the kingdom of God is hidden. It is hidden in the person of Jesus Christ. He comes to you… he comes to me… he comes to all, through his Word and through this sacrament of his body and blood… he comes, however, to faith not sight. The visible glory possessed by the kingdom of God is not manifest until the last day.  Until then, all its glory hides beneath the man handed over to sinners… all its glory hides in his nail-pierced hands and feet… all its glory hides within his thorn-bloodied brow… all its glory hides in his last exhalation. This image, the crucified Son, is the image to which we are to be conformed while we live this side of the last day (Ro. 8:28). Yet, even as we are conformed to this suffering Son, we live in the hope of his being “the firstborn among many.”

Table Talk: Discuss your various understandings of the kingdom of God.
Pray: Heavenly Father, I know your kingdom comes without my prayer, but grant that it come also to me and among us. Amen

LUKE 22:7-20

7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it. 9 They said to him, Where will you have us prepare it? 10 He said to them, Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters 11 and tell the master of the house, The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? 12 And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there. 13 And they went and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes. 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.