Year B – Easter 5- Acts 8:26-40

Text – 26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27 So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28 and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30 So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31 He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32 Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. 33 In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” 34 The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35 Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36 As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 37 And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” 38 He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39 When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Summary – This Ethiopian eunuch was a gentile worshipper of God of Israel. He had gone to the Jewish temple to worship, perhaps as part of a biblical feast. While he was returning to his homeland, he was reading scripture. He was reading from Isaiah 53, which is a passage that predicts the suffering and death of Christ. The eunuch did not understand who this passage was referring to. He asks Philip if he could explain the passage to him. Philip explained to the eunuch, that Jesus Christ was the lamb who was slaughtered, it was by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5). The eunuch, having these scriptures explained to him, had his heart opened to realize that Christ is the Son of God. He desired to obey the command of Christ and be baptized. Philip took him down into a river, baptized him, and the eunuch went away rejoicing. There is nothing more we know about the eunuch from the Bible, but Christian history tells us the eunuch became a missionary among the Ethiopian people.

Insight – Although this man was worshiping in Jerusalem, his status as a eunuch prevented him from fully participating in Jewish worship (Deut 23:1), and he could only worship at a distance. With his question “What is to prevent me from being baptized?” he was asking if his status prevents him from fully entering the New Covenant as it did under the Old Covenant. Philip responded that if he had faith, he could be baptized. His status as a eunuch does not prevent him from comming to Christ. The eunuch was reading Isaiah 53, and just a few chapters later in Isaiah 56:4-5, there is a prophecy about a time when eunuchs would not be cursed any longer. As someone once said, at the foot of the cross the ground is level. There are no first, second or third class Christians. In Christ there are no Jews or Greeks, slave or free, eunuchs or non eunuchs. We are all saved by grace and grace alone. Everyone who is able by faith to say that “Christ is the son of God,” is accepted into the household of God.

Catechism – Q: What requirements did the eunuch have to fulfill to be baptized?
A: The only requirement is that he had to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Discussion – Do you believe that everyone comes to Christ solely by faith? If there are no first, second third class Christians, how should you treat other believers, including those you may not like?

Prayer – God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who for us was like a sheep led to slaughter. We praise you for His death and resurrection. We praise You for You are calling all nations to Yourself. It is a glorious thing that those who were formerly unclean, are now accepted in Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen.

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Year B – Easter – 5 – O Bread of Life From Heaven

The story of the Woman at the Well is a familiar story to us.  In it, Jesus tells the woman that He can give her living water and if she drinks it she will never thirst again.  Did that mean she never got thirsty for water again?  No, what Jesus was talking about was a thirst for truth, not actual water.  Jesus is the end of all looking for answers because He is the ultimate Truth.  In our hymn “O Bread of Life From Heaven,” we sing of a similar situation.  When we take part in the Eucharist, what do you think is happening?  Are you tasting bread and wine and remembering Jesus or is there something more?

Jesus is compared to “Bread from Heaven” and “Manna from Above.”  This reminds us that Jesus told His disciples that unless they ate His body they wouldn’t have a part in Him.  And we sing, “The souls that hunger feed thou,” asking Jesus to feed us.  But it is not just actual food, it is a nourishment that our souls need, it is faith, hope, and love–the life of the Spirit.

In the last verse we sing “We here proclaim thee hidden by forms of bread and wine.”  We go on to ask that one day we may actually see Jesus in person when we are with Him.  But for now we see Him in part through the bread and wine in Communion.  He is with us spiritually when we break bread together and drink wine, feeding and watering our souls.

So when we take Communion, we are tasting bread and wine; we are remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection.  But there is more.  We are being fed real food for our bodies, but we are also being fed spiritual food because of Christ’s presence with us while we eat.

Year B – Easter 5 – John 15:1-8

John 15:1–8 NRSV –    “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 15:2 He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 15:3 You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 15:4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 15:6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.

Summary – Jesus taught His disciples that He is the vine. He feeds us through our relationship with Him which is Life. We have no means of true life apart from Jesus. He is the true vine and we are the branches. Just like branches, we must be connected to the root to bear fruit. He promises those who live in Him will bear much fruit.  But those who do not abide or “live” in Him will be thrown into the fires of judgment. Bearing fruit is becoming a disciple or “learner” of  Jesus (v8).

Insight – Have you ever seen a dead tree? To some it looks alive since there’s a trunk and branches. The wonderful truth of John 15 is that Jesus is our Source of Life and we are nourished by Him. This means that we are to be connected to Him and we are to live as a result. Observing grapes or any fruit, it is easy to see a physical connection between the root and the branches (or vine and branches), but the secret life of growth requires that we live through Jesus. All those who were gathered for the fire were externally connected at some point. Looking at it from the outside, one branch had just as much appearance of life as the other. But Jesus says only those really receiving His life internally will live. Are you on the inside of this Life or just part of the external appearance of life?

Child Catechism: Jesus is the vine, who are you? I am the branch.

Discussion: What are some ways we receive the life of Christ as branches in Him? How can we bear fruit as a result of living in and through Jesus?

Prayer: Our Father, You are the Owner of the Vineyard of all creation, You have made Jesus the vine of our lives. We thank you for your grace and goodness. Give us the faith to accept life in Jesus and walk in the faith that results in the fruit of faithfulness. In Jesus Name, Amen.

Year B – Easter 5 – Psalm 22:25-31

Psalm 22:25 From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him.  26 The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;  those who seek him shall praise the LORD!  May your hearts live forever! 27 All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. 28 For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. 29 All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. 30 Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; 31 they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.  (NRSV)

Summary:  We don’t always see the results of our prayers; but that does not make our unanswered requests worthless.  Our hearts and minds must always cry out to God, no matter how frustrated or confused our desires and needs.  David could not have possibly understood the full weight and outcome from these cries [in the first half of the Psalm] and subsequent rejoices [found in our verses today].  This Psalm clearly had and will have further fulfillment through Christ and in his people.

Insight:  The opening of this psalm was quoted by Christ upon the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  These once future events, the impending sufferings, and the hopeful promises which David sung a thousand years before, were cried out, and lived out, by the Son of God himself.  For they did indeed pierce his hands and feet (v16) and they even divided his garments (v18).  His death was the will of God and now through Him redemption has been accomplished.  The results that followed, were also foretold by the Psalm.  The Apostles were seeing and living out the future “shalls” promised by the verses we are looking at today.  Just as we are seeing and living that future.  The ends of the earth are turning to the Lord, and we are those families from the various nations which worship Him (v27).  And thanks be to God, it will be even our future generations, those not yet born, that will serve him forever.

Child Catechism:  The Lord is to receive worship from whom?  All the families of the nations are called to worship and serve our King, Jesus the Christ.

Discussion:  Can you think of places in the Gospel where Jesus declares the fact that the nations were to come and worship the Lord?  How might have David understood these events (for example, crucifixion was not yet “invented”)?

Gracious Father, you have rescued us from the old creation, build us up with your Spirit,  untangle the anxieties and confusions of our lives, that we may trust and serve you only, no matter how unclear the future may be, we look to you for guidance, And it is in the power of your Spirit we pray; and in the name of him whose hands and feet we have pierced, Jesus the Christ, Amen.

Contributed by M. West

Year B – Easter 4 – 1 John 3:16-24

16We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.17How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister* in need and yet refuses help?  18Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.19And by this we will know that we are from the truth and will reassure our hearts before him20whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.21Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have boldness before God;22and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we obey his commandments and do what pleases him.  23And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.24All who obey his commandments abide in him, and he abides in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit that he has given us.

Summary—Just prior to this text, and leading into it, John said that we must love each other (v.11), and that anyone who does not love remains in death (v.14).  But what does love look like?  It looks like Christ laying down His life for us (v.16a); so, if you’re loving the brethren, it looks like you laying down your life for them (v.16b).  But how will you know whether you love to that extent, if you’re never given that kind of opportunity?  Well, for starters, if you wouldn’t give life’s basic necessities (“the world’s goods”) to brothers or sisters in need, you certainly wouldn’t give life itself (v.17)!  John isn’t talking about anything less than loving in “truth” (sincerity) and “action” (v.18).  And, speaking of “truth,” this love we’re talking about is how you’ll know whether you’re really “from it” (v.19)—in other words, your love for the brethren is how you’ll be assured of salvation.  See, you’ll sometimes wonder whether you’re really “from the truth” because “our hearts condemn us” for various failings; well, during those times, be assured that “God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything,” which is to say, He knows about any real, spiritual, grace-fueled love in you, which evidences that you really are “from the truth” (v.20).  Such assurance is important, because it gives you boldness in prayer (v.21), leading to answered prayer, assuming that you’re obeying the commandments (v.22) which are summed up in the single commandment to believe in Jesus and love each other (v.23).  If you are obeying God’s commandments, it’s because you and Christ abide in each other: God has united you to Christ (v.24a).  And how do you know whether you’re united to Christ?  By the presence of the Spirit (v.24b), evidenced by your love for the brethren.

Insight—We all love.  We all love ourselves; we all love others.  The real question is who we love more—ourselves or others.  And you’re probably prepared to admit that you struggle with loving others more than self—it’s a universal problem.  But what you might not be prepared to admit is what form your problem takes.  The run-of-the-mill form involves your love of your own convenience.  Almost as common is your love of your own agenda.  Another form—a particularly ugly one—might involve your love of your own reputation.  And those are all bad forms; but, they aren’t the only forms.  There’s another form which is especially insidious in the church: if you’ve been burned, or deserted, or let down, your form might involve your love of your own emotional stability.  In The Four Loves, C.S. Lewis said, “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket — safe, dark, motionless, airless — it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”  And if you think those last two sentences are hyperbolic, John would beg to differ: “Whoever does not love remains in death” (1 Jn. 3:14).

Child Catechism—How do you know that you abide in Christ?  By my love for other Christians.

Discussion—What forms of self-love sometimes lie behind our failure to love others sufficiently?  Should we cultivate the habit of analyzing what we’re loving most, each time we catch ourselves loving others insufficiently?

Prayer—Everlasting Father, we know love by this—that your Son laid down His life for us.  We must likewise be willing to lay down our lives for one another.  But, O God, how can we hope to make so great a sacrifice, if we are unwilling to make the lesser sacrifices which you call us to each day?  Grant, we beseech You, that we would not love in word or speech alone, but in truth and action.  Grant accordingly that we might be assured of Your electing love for us by its fruit in our lives, namely, our love for those others purchased by He through whom we pray, Jesus Christ, who always lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever.  Amen.

Contributed by Scott Cline

Year B – Easter – 4 – O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing

This past Sunday we heard in the sermon about how God gives us faith through the Holy Spirit working in us.  This coming Sunday, we are singing a classic hymn of praise by Charles Wesley.  That name should sound familiar, because we sing others of his songs–he wrote many many hymns that are still used today!  This hymn is an example of the wonderful words he wrote which are used by many different kinds of churches:  in fact, I once saw a Charles Wesley hymn in a Catholic hymnal!

The main line of this hymn, “O, for a Thousand Tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,” reminds us that God is so praiseworthy, that we could each be using a thousand tongues at once to praise Him.  Have you ever been so excited about something that you couldn’t stop talking about it?  We want to turn our praise for God into spreading the “honors of His Name” through all the Earth, so that the whole world is praising Him.

But towards the end of the song, we get to something really beautiful:  “He speaks, and, listening to His voice, new life the dead receive.”  People all around the world can read the Bible or hear about God, but unless God opens their hearts to understand the Scriptures and about Him, they will not believe.  And God does this all the time!  There are people all around the world who God has given grace to believe in Him, and this should strengthen our faith.

Why not sing the last short verse with your family and talk about what it reminds you of:

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb, your loosened tongues employ; Ye blind behold your Savior come, and leap, ye lame, for joy.

 

-JHerr

Year B – Easter 4 – Psalm 23

Psalm 23:  The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; 3he restores my soul.  He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.  (NRSV)

Summary:  Despite its lack of cultural relevance, our thoughts of a what a shepherd is, remains a powerful and moving metaphor; Especially when we consider how such imagery informs the Lord’s devoted interaction and guidance within our individual lives.  Throughout history, readers have found this psalm particularly comforting and deeply personal.  God’s care and leading are intimately felt by David’s firsthand experience and poetic imagery.  Thankfully we have a share in David’s voice:  even in the darkest valley, our Divine Shepherd is leading you and me.

Insight:  Biblically, shepherding is a leadership trait that describes even ungodly leaders.  Naturally, such bad leaders were called ‘bad’ shepherds, and they were one of the most damaging and reoccurring threats to the flock of Israel (Jeremiah 23).  However, God was never unsympathetic to such leadership problems; he promised one day to shepherd his people himself (Ezekiel 34).  So when Jesus came onto the scene proclaiming he was the ‘good’ shepherd (Jn 10:14), he was more than just speak of his tender care and pastoral heart,[1] he was claiming to be David’s divine shepherd of Psalm 23.  In fact, “no human king of Israel was ever given the title [of shepherd].”[2]  But now, we have the privilege and responsibility to serve the Shepherd King of Israel.

Likewise, the image of Christ as a shepherd should instill in us a picture of great dignity as well as unsurpassable tenderness.  In Psalm 23, David expresses them both.  He was a man striving to live in that appropriate fear and adoration of Lord.  As we serve the risen and reigning Christ, we must impress upon ourselves the same:  we too have nothing to fear, with no wants, and only the shepherd’s leading:  Surely, goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our lives!

Child Catechism:  How is God a shepherd?  God rules the universe with a shepherd’s caring and tender guidance, deserving for his name’s sake, all creation’s love and respect.

Discussion:  In the Near East, shepherding was a regal image as well as a commonplace profession; what modern everyday occupations might you use to describe God’s guidance?  How does C.S. Lewis’ Aslan help depict the appropriate fear and adoration of who God is?

Prayer – Father, we thank for your shepherd-like leading and provision in our lives, Grant us the grace to follow the one and only Shepherd King:  Christ Jesus;  And it is in his Name and the blessed unity of his Spirit that we pray.  Amen.

Contributed by:  M. West


[1] Peter C. Craigie.  Ezekiel.  (Philadelphia:  Westminster, 1983):  243.

[2] Timothy S. Laniak.  Shepherds After My Own Heart:  Pastoral Traditions and Leadership in the Bible.  (Downers Grove:  InterVarsity, 2006):  249.

Year B – Easter 4 – Acts 4:5-12

Text – 5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7 When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11 This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

Summary – The day before our passage begins, Peter and John were going to the temple to worship, they came upon a lame beggar. When the man asked for money, Peter healed him in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This lead to a gathering of a large crowd, and Peter preached to them about how Jesus Christ, who they killed only 2 months earlier, has been raised from the dead. He also showed how their Scriptures, the Old Testament, points to this death and resurrection of Jesus. This preaching made the Jewish leaders angry and they arrested Peter and John. Our text today is about the trial of Peter and John before the Jewish leaders. These leaders cannot deny that a miracle has happened, and they ask by what power the miracle was done. Peter tells them it was in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He reminds them that they had killed Jesus, but that he has been raised from the dead. In fact it was Jesus who gave Peter the power to heal the beggar. It is in His name and His name only that men can be saved.

Insight – The elders and scribes that put Peter and John on trial were the top religious rulers of the day. They were supposed to study Scripture, and teach the people the word of God, but they neglected to do so. As a result they failed to see the Messiah, the Son of God, promised throughout the Old Testament when He was standing in front of them and talking with them. They rejected Jesus and His teaching, and put Him to death. In verse 11 Peter tells them that “Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.” Peter here is quoting from Psalm 118. He is telling the Jewish leaders that their rejection of Christ is prophesied in the Psalm. But since Jesus is raised from the dead He is the cornerstone. The cornerstone of an ancient building is the key foundational stone, the stone which other stones are built on top of. Jesus Christ is now the cornerstone, He is the foundation by which Peter healed the beggar, and the foundation by which we are saved. We must not try to base our salvation or our lives on any other foundation, except the foundation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Catechism – Question: Why is Jesus called the cornerstone?
Answer : Because he is the foundation of my salvation, and there is no other way to be saved.

Discussion – Is Jesus Christ the cornerstone of your life? In what ways can we as a family make Jesus more foundational for our lives?

Prayer – God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was the stone rejected by the builders, but is now the cornerstone of all of history. This is marvelous in our eyes. We ask that you would remove idolatry from our hearts, and we would clearly understand that there is salvation in no other way, in no other name than Jesus Christ, Your only Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. AMEN.

Contributed by Jared McNabb

Year B – Easter 4 – John 10:11-18

John 10:11–18 NRSV –    “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 10:12 The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 10:13 The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 10:14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 10:15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. 10:16 I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 10:17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 10:18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

Summary – In the previous chapter Jesus healed the man born blind and chapter 10 is His continued explanation of His care for people vs the Pharisees’ lack of care. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not the hired hand. He will defend the sheep against wolves even if it costs His life. The true sheep in God’s pasture hear the voice of Jesus, even those not in the Jewish fold. There are sheep from every nation for which Jesus will lay down His life. Even more, as we celebrate  the season of Easter, He will lay down His life “in order to take it up again.” No one takes the life of Jesus, but rather He yields it up, Himself, and has the power to “take it up again.” This foreshadows His death and resurrection.

Insight – The beautiful words of this chapter remind us that Jesus cares for His people. He stood against the hire hands who were fleecing the sheep, namely the Pharisees and Sadducees. Finally He engaged the ultimate enemy of the sheep, the wolves of sin and death. In laying down His life on the cross He conquered sin and death. Just because of this victory through death, He had the power to “take it up again” – He was raised over death. Jesus is both the Shepherd and the Lamb, both the sacrifice and the priest. Since Jesus provided salvation from sin and death, so we must follow His example and give of ourselves for others, whether this means simple acts of service like setting the table, washing the dishes or sharing with others; or whether we risk our jobs, our reputations or even our lives to help others. Just as Jesus had the power to rise again (through the Father and the Spirit),, so too all who give of themselves in Christ, find that they are renewed and have life in Him.

Child Catechism – Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

Discussion – How does Jesus death and resurrection give us the basis for serving others? In what ways are we called to follow Jesus’s example of “laying down our lives”?

Prayer – Good Shepherd of the Sheep, our Savior Jesus Christ, we thank you for your acts of courage and care in giving your life for the life of the world. We rejoice that you were raised victorious over death. Grant to us the grace to follow your example, being made right through your atonement and empowered by your Spirit. Help us see the ways that we may please you in serving, loving and sacrificing for others. In Christ’s Name. Amen.

Year B – Easter 3 – Acts 3:12-19

Text – 12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you. 17 “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out

Summary – This story took place in some of the earliest time of the New Testament church. Peter and John, were going up to the temple for their time of prayer (vrs 3:1). There was a man who was not able to walk and could only get money by begging to those who went up into the temple. Peter healed the man, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and the man started jumping around and singing praises to God. Of course this called attention to Peter, who used this attention to preach, and this sermon is the text that was read today. Peter began by asking them why they were amazed at this small miracle, and why they thought that Peter had his own special powers. Peter then told them how God had glorified his Son, Jesus. He told those listening that they delivered him over to be killed, but that God had raised him from the dead. It was only in the name of the resurrected Jesus that the lame man was healed, not by Peter’s own power. Peter calls them to repent of their sins, believe in this Christ, and your sins will be blotted out.

Insight – Imagine that every time you went to church, there was a man in a wheelchair asking everyone for money. This happened every week for years, and maybe you even looked forward to giving him a quarter each week. Then one day you go to give him your quarter, and he is jumping around the church parking lot. What would you think happened? Would you assume the person that healed him had special powers? Peter preached this sermon to show that the power to heal the lame man came not from himself, but rather from Jesus, who he said is the Author of Life. Jesus is the one that gives life and life abundantly. And it was this same Jesus that a short while earlier, these people had put to death. But Jesus did not stay in the grave, and is now glorified and sitting at the right hand of the Father. It is faith in his name that healed the lame man. If we think about it we are all crippled. Without Christ we are dead in our sin. But if we repent of our sins, and believe on the name of Christ, then Christ will give us new life, and like this lame man, we will be filled with joy and praises to God.

Catechism – Did Peter heal by his own Power? – No but only by faith in Jesus Christ, the Author of Life.

Discussion – How does the fact that it was Jesus who ultimately healed the lame man give you comfort today? After Jesus ascended, did he leave us by ourselves? Does your joy of salvation ever make other people curious, and give you an opportunity to talk about Jesus?

Prayer – God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thanks that you provided a way to blot out our sins through the death of your Son, the Author of Life. Help us to turn from our sins, believe in the name of Jesus. Let our lives be filled with joy and praise, so that others will take notice, and join us in your kingdom. We ask this in the name of your Son, Amen.

contributed by Jared McNabb