Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Herod's Violence to the Church

Wednesday after the First Sunday after Trinity
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church (Acts 12:1-5).
There are many reports of increased violence against Christians all over the world. Persecution of Christians is not something limited to the pages of Holy Scripture, or the history books. So far in 2019, according to Open Doors USA, a non-profit group focused on serving persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries, 4,136 Christians were killed for their faith (an average of 11 per day); 2,625 Christians were detained without trial, arrested, sentenced, and imprisoned; 1,266 churches or other Christian buildings were attacked.[1] Open Doors USA says that persecution of Christians is intensifying in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Not surprisingly perhaps, it is Christian women who have the most difficult time, often facing persecution because of both their religion and their sex.
Security personnel inspect the interior of St Sebastian's Church in Negombo.
On Easter Sunday, as Christians in Sri Lanka gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Our Lord, Muslim terrorists blew up three churches, killing more than 200 Christians.[2] In March, 120 Christians were killed by Muslim militants in Nigeria.[3] In both of these cases, major news agencies, such as the BBC, and fact-checking websites like said that these incidents were not necessarily due to the religious persecution of Christians. Rather, the church bombings in Sri Lanka were more about terrorism to achieve political goals, and the deaths in Nigeria were because of ongoing regional conflicts. Nevertheless, the Christians in those places are dead at the hands of people who wanted them dead because of their faith in Christ. Moreover, Christians around the world are increasingly marginalized, prohibited by law in many Islamic countries from practicing their faith, and under the threat of imprisonment or death if they are discovered.[4] Hate speech laws in Great Britain and Canada threaten the free exercise of religion, jailing preachers who call homosexuality a sin.[5] Praise be to God that, for the time being, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, hurt feelings or offended sensibilities notwithstanding. But the United States is the exception, not the rule. Christians today are in the same situation as Christians during the 1st Century.
Persecution of Christians, and the rest of the world’s disinterest/participation in it, should not surprise us. Jesus said that these things would happen at the end of the age:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”[6]
But, even though the love of many grows cold in these last days, we Christians are called to love even more. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves; we are called to love one another; we are called to love God:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.[7]
Not only ought we to love one another, we want to; we now have the ability to do so. Because we have put on Christ in our baptism, we have died with Him, and will be raised with Him. We are a new creation, with the Holy Spirit living in us. Our New Man desires the things that God desires, including a desire to love our neighbor as ourself.
How do we do this? We care for our neighbor and help him meet his bodily needs; we bless those who curse us; we do good to those who hate us; we pray for those who spitefully use and persecute us.[8] We proclaim to our neighbor the Gospel, the good news of how, while we were still sinners and God’s enemies, Christ died for the ungodly:[9] That Christ was born, God in human flesh; that He died, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; and that He rose again from the dead for our justification. We call sinners to repentance. We boldly and lovingly proclaim this Gospel to those in whose midsts God has put us according to our vocations. When we fall short, we repent; we confess our sins and rejoice in God’s forgiveness in Christ, and continue to struggle to put to death our flesh and it’s sinful desires.
And, when persecution comes, we do not despair. We endure it with patience; we continue to confess our faith. We follow the example of Peter and John who, when commanded by the government not to proclaim the Gospel said,
“We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”[10]
And we do this joyfully, knowing that in the world we have trouble, but Christ has overcome the world.[11] No matter what things may look like to us now, we know that the Church, Christ’s Body, is under His protection and control.
And take they our life,
Goods, fame, child, and wife,
Though these all be gone,
Our victory has been won;
The Kingdom ours remaineth.[12]
Even if we lose everything we have on this earth, including our lives, the gates of Hell shall not prevail against Christ’s Church. On the Last Day Christ will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.


Blake, Heidi. "Christian Preacher Arrested for Saying Homosexuality Is a Sin." The Telegraph, May 2, 2010. Accessed June 27, 2019. Dale McAlpine was charged with causing “harassment, alarm or distress” after a homosexual police community support officer (PCSO) overheard him reciting a number of “sins” referred to in the Bible, including blasphemy, drunkenness and same sex relationships...Police officers are alleging that he made the remark in a voice loud enough to be overheard by others and have charged him with using abusive or insulting language, contrary to the Public Order Act.
"Christian Persecution Today." Open Doors USA. Accessed June 27, 2019.
Durrani, Temur. "Pastor Charged with Causing a Disturbance in Toronto's Gay Village." The Star, June 5, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2019. A 39-year-old pastor was charged with causing a disturbance in the city’s Gay Village, Toronto police said Wednesday, after he took to the streets to preach pro-Christian messages to passersby a day before.
Luther, Martin. “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” stz. 4. Lutheran Worship. St. Louis: Concordia, 1986. Hymn #298.
Smith, Samuel. "120 People Killed, 140 Homes Destroyed by Nigeria Fulani since February." The Christian Post, March 15, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2019.
"Sri Lanka Attacks: More than 200 Killed as Churches and Hotels Targeted." BBC News. April 21, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2019.
Winsor, Morgan, and Dragana Jovanovic. "ISIS Claims Responsibility for Sri Lanka Easter Bombings That Killed over 350." ABC News. April 23, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2019.
Wintour, Patrick. "Persecution of Christians 'coming Close to Genocide' in Middle East - Report." The Guardian, May 2, 2019. Accessed June 27, 2019. 

[1] Open Doors USA, “Christian Persecution Today,” Open Doors USA, 2019,
[2] BBC, “Sri Lanka Attacks: More than 200 Killed as Churches and Hotels Targeted,” BBC News, April 21, 2019.
Morgan Winsor, and Dragana Jovanovic. "ISIS Claims Responsibility for Sri Lanka Easter Bombings That Killed over 350." ABC News. April 23, 2019.
[3] Samuel Smith. "120 People Killed, 140 Homes Destroyed by Nigeria Fulani since February." The Christian Post, March 15, 2019.
[4] Patrick Wintour, "Persecution of Christians 'coming Close to Genocide' in Middle East - Report," The Guardian, May 2, 2019.
[5] Heidi Blake, "Christian Preacher Arrested for Saying Homosexuality Is a Sin." The Telegraph, May 2, 2010.
Durrani, Temur Durrani, "Pastor Charged with Causing a Disturbance in Toronto's Gay Village." The Star, June 5, 2019.
[6] Matthew 24:9-13
[7] 1 John 4:7-11
[8] Matthew 5:43-48; 6:1-4
[9] Romans 5:6-11
[10] Acts 5:29-32
[11] John 16:33
[12] Martin Luther, “A Mighty Fortress,” stz. 4.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Peter Meets Cornelius

Peter meets Cornelius
Tuesday after the First Sunday after Trinity
And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” (Acts 10:24-33).
Peter preached to the masses at Pentecost and 5,000 Christians were made. These were foreigners from many different countries, but they were all there for the feast of Pentecost; they were all Jews. Gentiles were a different story. How should they be treated? Could they jump right into the the Way, without first becoming a Jew? It shouldn’t be surprising that this issue came up. The Israelites were instructed to separate themselves from the Gentiles, or the nations, and given special laws to govern them civilly, ceremonially, and morally, to mark them as different. Paul, at one point, calls out Peter for his hypocrisy regarding interacting with Gentiles,
For before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.[1]
God granted a vision to both the Apostle Peter, and to Cornelius the centurion. They were, however, different visions. Peter’s was a direct prophetic revelation from God. God showed Peter a bunch of unclean animals and told him, “Kill and eat.” Upon meeting Cornelius, Peter explains that, in this vision,
“…God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”[2]
Peter is shown by God in this vision that God is the God of the gentiles as well as the Jews; In Christ there is not Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female for in Christ Jesus we are all one.[3]
The vision God gave to Cornelius was different. He was basically told to talk to Peter, and Peter would tell him what he needed to know. God used supernatural means to direct Cornelius to the Apostle. Why? Why not just give Cornelius the Gospel through a direct revelation? The answer is simple, if not entirely obvious: God does not wish to deal with man except through His outward Word. Jesus promised to give special revelation, and special spiritual gifts like tongue-speaking and healing, to the Apostles. He said those signs would accompany them, and act as a confirmation that the Word they proclaimed was true. He did not make such a promise to everyone. The episode of Peter and Cornelius demonstrates to us that God’s preferred method of converting men is through the means of the Word, baptizing and teaching, in no particular order.
Our Lord could have easily done to Cornelius what He did to Paul. Jesus could have appeared to Him, converted Him in a glorious and terrible flash of light, and personally taught him all the things he needed to know. He didn’t do that. That kind of communication was reserved for the Apostles, like Peter and Paul. Our Lord pointed Cornelius to Peter, a preacher of the Gospel, one of the sent-ones whose job it was to proclaim God’s Word to all people throughout the whole world.
We are not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation for all who believe, for the Jew first, then for the Gentile.[4] And we know that faith comes from the preaching, and preaching through the Word of Christ.[5]
Cornelius, living among the Jews, had heard long before about the coming Messiah, through whom he was righteous before God. In such faith, his prayers and alms were acceptable to God (since Luke calls him God-fearing). Without the Word coming first and without hearing it, he could not have believed or been righteous.[6]
After Peter preaches the Word to Cornelius and his household, a miracle happens: another Pentecost. God the Holy Spirit manifests outwardly in the speaking of tongues by those on whom He fell. Then, baptism for the whole household: “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”[7] Baptism accompanies this preaching and teaching because, the baptizing and teaching must never be separated. They go together. They are both forms of the outward Word.
Whether it be through the proclamation of the Word in preaching, or the outward Word and promise of God of the forgiveness of sins and everlasting life in Christ’s death and resurrection joined to water, or bread and wine,
we must firmly hold that God grants His Spirit or grace to no one except through or with the preceding outward Word (Galatians 3:2, 5).[8]
The Word proclaimed by our faithful pastors from the pulpit is this same efficacious, outward Word that Peter proclaimed to Cornelius and his household. The baptism we have received, the promise that by the death and resurrection of Christ our sins have been washed away, and we have put on Christ, received the Holy Spirit, and eternal life, is the same as theirs also. Just as it did then, the outward Word creates faith in the hearts of men by the working of the Holy Spirit.
Do not despise preaching and God’s Word, but hold it sacred, and gladly hear and learn it. It is the means through which God works repentance and faith; it is the means through which He works to break our hearts and bring us to repentance for our sins, and draws us to Him through Christ, who died as the ransom for the sin of the world, and rose again. Hear the Word, repent, and believe the Gospel. Christ has redeemed you, a lost and condemned person, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood, and by His innocent suffering and death. He applies this redemption to us through the outward Word: His means of Word and Sacrament.


McCain, Paul T, Robert C Baker, Gene E Veith, and Edward A Engelbrecht. Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. 1st. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

[1] Galatians 2:11
[2] Acts 10:28
[3] Galatians 3:28
[4] Romans 1:16
[5] McCain, Paul T, Robert C Baker, Gene E Veith, and Edward A Engelbrecht, Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord. 1st. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005. Romans 10:17, quoted from FC SD II, 51
[6] McCain, et. al. Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions, SA III, VIII, 8
[7] Acts 10:47
[8] McCain, et. al., Concordia, The Lutheran Confessions, SA III VIII 3

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The Name of Jesus Forbidden

Icon of the Resurrection

June 18, 2019 - Tuesday after Trinity 

Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand... Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it... So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done (Acts 4:1-4, 13-14, 18-21).

The Sadducees were offended that the Apostles were teaching the resurrection of the dead. They were the ones whom Jesus silenced, along with the Pharisees and the Scribes, the account of which is recorded in Matthew 22. The Sadducees come up with this ridiculous illustration of a married man who dies, leaving his wife to be married to his succession of brothers. The brothers also die, each leaving the woman a widow. They ask the sarcastic question,

“Therefore, in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven will she be? For they all had her.”[1]
The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection, and may have even denied the immortality of the soul; unlike the Pharisees, the Sadducees only accepted the Torah (the first five books of the Bible, known as the Books of Moses) as authoritative scripture.[2] Matthew records Jesus silencing the Sadducees saying,

“You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like the angels of God in heaven. But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”[3]
In arguing with Jesus about the resurrection, the Sadducees treat it as an absurd idea. Jesus, using scripture only from the Torah, interestingly enough, asserts the resurrection as a fact: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. He quotes Moses, an authority the Sadducees recognize, to make the point that,

Though at Moses’ time the patriarchs were long dead, God identifies Himself as being their God. Only living people can have a God; therefore, if He is their God, they are alive, their souls are with Him, and their bodies will be raised.[4]
We live in the same world Peter and John lived in. We like to think ours is different and better than theirs, but it isn’t. In terms of hostility to the Gospel, things remain the same. We do not have the Sadducees to mock the resurrection, but there are plenty of others who are just as triggered by any such preaching, and forbid the name of Jesus. 

We tend to think that the ancients were less intelligent than we modern folk; if we are being charitable, we might say they were limited in their understanding of the natural world. The word primitive comes to mind. Our modern life certainly looks different from the life of the 1st Century Roman Empire; I like my air conditioning and my internet, and don’t want to trade them for life in that society. But modern technology, while it makes life more comfortable and convenient, does not change the nature of man. The Sadducees rejected the resurrection because they didn’t believe the scriptures; they rejected Christ, just like people who are faithless and resist the Holy Spirit today. Peter and John weren’t preaching the resurrection because they had a primitive understanding of science, or were superstitious, or were uneducated. They proclaimed Christ crucified and risen from the dead because they saw Him alive after He died on the cross. They knew it to be true. They knew it was true for them, and for the whole world, that Jesus paid the ransom for sin, and in Christ they would have forgiveness and eternal life. No amount of ridicule, persecution, no threat of beatings, imprisonment, or death by the most horrific means, could dissuade them from making disciples of all nations, baptizing and teaching all that Jesus commanded.

That is precisely what happened. The Apostles were all murdered for their faith, with the exception of John, who suffered imprisonment and exile. This is a profound piece of information that strengthens the credibility of Christianity. The fact that a person who believes a religion may be willing to die for that religion doesn’t prove that that religion is true. There are plenty of Muslims who are willing to seek out death for Islam. The Apostles, however, were either first-hand witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, or perpetrators of the biggest hoax in history. I have not met the man who was willing to die for something he knew to be a lie. If the Apostles had stolen Jesus’ body and made up the resurrection, that would be them. Men have been willing to die for causes and ideas in which they believed that were later discredited, like National Socialism, or which way the toilet paper should be put on the roll (the proper way is over the front, as this link will decisively prove once and for all). I have never heard of a man who was willing to submit to a gruesome death by torture for a claim they knew to be false, rather than to renounce it and live.

The Apostles went joyfully to their beheadings, crucifixions, stoning, and burnings. They were tortured and fed to wild animals for the entertainment of the pagan masses. To avoid it, all they had to do was say they were lying, that they made it all up. Sure, they would be ridiculed and ostracized, but if this life is all that there is, wouldn’t that be preferable to a painful death? But they couldn’t deny Jesus. They saw Him, the one who lives, and was dead, and is alive forevermore, the one who has the keys of death and the grave, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.[5] Jesus had conquered sin and death, and promised them eternal life. In the grand scheme of things, for the sake of eternity in a new and perfect creation without sin or death, with a new and perfect body, living in relation to God as man was intended, what is a little bodily suffering here in this veil of tears?

This is the faith created in the Apostles through the Word, by the working of the Holy Spirit. It is the same faith that lives in us by the same means. We look forward to the same things they looked forward to. They saw and believed. We have heard their account, attested to by their signs and wonders, and believed: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”[6]

The world is sorely grieved
Whenever it is slighted
Or when its hollow fame
And honor have been blighted.
Christ, Thy reproach I bear
Long as it pleaseth Thee;
I’m honored by my Lord - What is the world to me![7]

The world with wanton pride
Exalts its sinful pleasures
And for them foolishly
Gives up the heavenly treasures.
Let others love the world
With all its vanity;
I love the Lord, my God - What is the world to me![8]

[1] Matthew 22:28
[2] Harrison, Everett F, Geoffrey W Bromiley, and Carl F Henry,. Wycliffe Dictionary of Theology. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1990.
[3] Matthew 22:29-32
[4] Engelbrecht, Rev. Edward A., ed. The Lutheran Study Bible. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009.
[5] Revelation 1:18, 8
[6] John 20:29
[7] Ev. Luth. Synodical Conference of North America. The Lutheran Hymnal. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Hymn #430, stz. 5
[8] Ev. Luth. Synodical Conference of North America. The Lutheran Hymnal. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1941. Hymn #430, stz. 6

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Way, the Truth, and the Life

Thursday after Pentecost
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him” (John 14:1-7).
Earlier, Thomas declared that he would die with Jesus.[1] Now, even after all the time Jesus and the disciples have spent together, he cannot see who Jesus is, and what His work on earth was. His problem seemed to be the same as the rest of the disciples; they could not rationally understand how Jesus could be the savior they thought He was, and also die a humiliating death: How could Jesus be the Messiah if He was murdered before He could set up His kingdom?
The dark spot in the mind of Thomas was his inability to follow the mission and work of Jesus beyond the boundary of death. For him the mission of Jesus was an earthly kingdom (Acts 1:6) – how, then, could Jesus retire to heaven; and how could there be a way to this kingdom that would lead via heaven? So Thomas grows downhearted like one who is lost in the dark.[2]
The disciples, like the rest of the Jews of Jesus’ day, were expecting a political Messiah.[3],[4] They expected the Messiah instantly to sweep away the old order of things; He would remove the boot of Roman rule from the neck of the Israelites; He would restore the house of David to a physical throne, and the kingdom of Israel would be a mighty nation once more. The disciples did not yet realize that Jesus’ kingdom was not of this world.[5]
Phillip asks Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus must have been quite frustrated by His disciples’ lack of understanding. He spent all this time with them, showing them works from the Father.[6] He explained to them that He was the incarnate Word,[7] the exact representation of the Father,[8] and they still didn’t get it. They still didn’t know Jesus. It wouldn’t be until after His resurrection that they would see Jesus through the eyes of faith.
We have the same problem. Jesus said to Thomas, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” How can we know Jesus? How could His words here apply to us today? The disciples could meet, see, touch, and talk to Jesus. They heard His teaching and saw His mighty works. How is this possible, though, for us living today? Are we not merely relegated to knowing only about Jesus? If Jesus of Nazareth was merely a man, His death on the cross would be the end of the story. Not only would it be pointless to try to “know” Jesus, it would be impossible. To us He would be nothing more than an historical figure, about which we could only memorize factual information. While Jesus did die on the cross on Good Friday, He did not stay in the grave; Jesus, God in human flesh, rose from the dead on the third day and, because He lives, we who believe in Him will also live.
Because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden, sin entered God’s perfect creation; creation was cursed and our human nature was changed. Jesus voluntarily humbled Himself by becoming a man, to save mankind. He was born of the Virgin Mary and was without the stain of sin. He identified Himself with sinful man as He was baptized by John in the Jordan River; He assumed responsibility for our sin; He endured temptation, just as all men must, but He lived a perfect life; He kept all of God’s law, and died as the ransom for our sin.[9] God made Jesus, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.[10] The author of Hebrews writes this:
Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might destroy him who holds the power of death – that is the devil – and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death…For this reason He had to be made like His brothers in every way, in order that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that He might make atonement for the sins of the people.[11]
Christ, our living Savior restored the relationship between God and man. Jesus gives His gifts of life and salvation to us today through His Word proclaimed, read, and coupled with water, bread and wine, all by the working of the Holy Spirit. He calls out to us through the Holy Scriptures that we might know Him, and have eternal life: Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.[12] He gives us His Spirit,[13] connects us to Himself, His death, and resurrection,[14] and washes away our sins through Baptism,[15] by washing us with water through His Word.[16] He comes to us, to strengthen and preserve us in this faith, through the Lord’s Supper. In this sacrament, He gives us His very body and blood to eat and drink for the forgiveness of our sins, and as a sign of unity as members of His Body, the Church. We can know Jesus because He is alive, and through Jesus, we know God the Father.


Englebrecht, Edward A, ed. The Lutheran Study Bible - English Standard Version. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.

Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1959.

[1] John 11:16
[2] Lenski, R. C. H. The Interpretation of St. John's Gospel. Columbus: The Wartburg Press, 1959.
[3] Mark 10: 35-45; Acts 1:6
[4] Engelbrecht, Edward A, ed. The Lutheran Study Bible. Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2005.
[5] John 18:33-38
[6] John 14:10-11
[7] John 8:48-59; 10: 22-39
[8] Hebrews 1:3
[9] Mark 10:45
[10] 2 Corinthians 5:21
[11] Hebrews 2:14-15; 17
[12] Matthew 11:28
[13] John 3:5; Titus 3:5;
[14] Romans 6:3-5; Galatians 3:27
[15] Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:18-22
[16] Ephesians 5:25-27