This Sunday completes the seven Sundays of Easter, but the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection never ends, each Sunday in worship is a celebration of His resurrection as we gather to worship God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as we hear His Word, and as we receive the Sacraments. Let us rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection and the life He gives, not just on Sundays, but each day. Jesus is risen! Alleluia!
Acts 1:12-26 is the first reading. The setting is right after the ascension of Jesus. The disciples gathered together in prayer and to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit. As we wait for the Lord, let us also gather together in prayer. Notice that the number of apostles is now 11 after the betrayal by Judas of Jesus; the number must be increased to 12, to symbolize the 12 tribes of Israel. Two are put forth to fill the empty spot – Joseph and Matthias. The 12th apostle is chosen by lot, again after prayer. Notice the importance of prayer in this passage. Let us also be in prayer. Notice also that they are to be witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Let us also be witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection by our words and actions.
Psalm 1 compares and contrasts those who follow the Lord and those who do not. The comparison is striking – those who follow the Lord are blessed, fresh, and strong; those who do not follow the Lord will be blown away like chaff when the wheat is separated from the chaff (the waste) at the harvest. This psalm points out the blessings of following the Lord, and a warning that those who do not follow the Lord will perish. How are you doing in your walk with the Lord? Are you fresh and alive, or dead and about to be blown away? Follow the Lord!
1 John 5:9-15 continues reading through most of 1 John. This passage also draws a sharp contrast between those who believe in Jesus and those who do not; those who believe in Jesus have the testimony of God and the life Jesus gives, those who do not believe in Jesus are calling God a liar. Unfortunately, there are a lot of liars in our world today because they do not believe what God has done in Christ. Let us always stand for the truth of God in Christ because only in Christ is there life and salvation. As the lesson is read, notice the emphasis on prayer and asking according to God’s will in prayer.
John 17:11-19 is the Gospel. This passage is part of what is called The High Priestly Prayer of Jesus, which He prayed just before He went to Gethsemane, and eventually the cross. Again, the readings for today take us back to prayer. Just before the violent events of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, condemnation, and crucifixion, Jesus prays. His prayer is for His disciples, and that the heavenly Father would keep them in His Name. Notice the emphasis on the unity of the followers of Jesus, united in His Name. Notice that in the prayer, Jesus acknowledges that the world has hated Him, and that we can expect the same hatred of the world; unfortunately, we see this hatred toward the Lord and His people growing in the world around us. Jesus prays that we would be kept safe from the evil one; and He does keep us safe. As we see the evil and hatred toward the Lord in the world around us, let us remember our brothers and sisters in the Lord who are being persecuted for the Name of Jesus; let us pray that the Lord would keep them in faith, that He would receive the martyrs, and that He would turn the persecutors away from persecution. Let us also keep an eye on ourselves, that we do not persecute others, but rather pray for repentance of all persecutors. Jesus sends us into this resistant, hostile world. Let us remain firm in the truth He reveals, the truth that all need to repent, turning from sin, that all need to be forgiven in Jesus, that all need to follow Him in faith. Let our lives model the life to which all people are called, let us follow Jesus in discipleship.