During the Sundays of Easter, the First Readings will deviate from the customary Old Testament readings to readings from the book of Acts. The First Reading for this Sunday is located in Acts 5:12-32. In our world today we are seeing an increase of persecution of Christians. Persecution of the followers of Jesus is nothing new, as the First Reading shows us; virtually from day one of the witness of the Church there has been resistance to the message of Jesus. Notice that the apostles of Jesus were arrested for proclaiming His death and resurrection. Then they were miraculously set free, and told to continue to proclaim Jesus. When they did, and were again detained, and were told to stop proclaiming Jesus, they responded: “we must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we, and the Holy Spirit, are witnesses.”
What a bold proclamation! And the apostles continued to proclaim Jesus, as have millions down through the generations, so that the message of Jesus has come to us. May we also obey God rather than people, and may we boldly proclaim Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Lord and Savior Jesus, we give You thanks for protecting and preserving Your apostles so that they could obey You and boldly proclaim Your death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins. May we also obey You and boldly proclaim You as Lord and Savior. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
The Psalm for today is Psalm 148. This is a glorious song of praise! Notice that the psalmist calls on all of creation to praise the Lord for what God does. May we also join this on-going song of praise to God!
Praise to You, O Lord, for all of Your blessings and benefits in and through creation. But we especially praise You for the life we have in and through Jesus, the One through Whom all of creation came to be! We praise You for Jesus’ resurrection and for the forgiveness and life we have in Him. To You be all praise, glory, and thanks. Through Jesus we pray. Amen.
The Second Reading is recorded in Revelation 1:4-18. What a glorious vision of the resurrected Jesus! He is risen! He is the glorious Lord of all!
As the reading unfolds, notice again the theme of persecution, the apostle John is imprisoned on the island of Patmos because of the word of the Lord. But notice the assurance John is given that Jesus is risen and is the Lord of all! John then gives the account of the vision given to him, the book of Revelation. May we, too, boldly proclaim Christ.
Lord Jesus, we are awed as we read the description of You in this vision. And we are moved by the apostle John’s boldness of faith, even in the face of imprisonment for the sake of the Gospel. May we always keep our eyes fixed on You, and may we proclaim You as Lord and Savior. In Your Name we pray. Amen.
The Gospel is recorded in John 20:19-31. On the first night of the resurrection most of the followers of Jesus were huddled together in fear. In the midst of their fear, the resurrected Jesus comes and stands among them, giving them His peace, and the authority to forgive sins in His Name. Let us rest in His peace, and call people to repentance and forgiveness in Him.
One of the apostles, Thomas, was not with them on that evening. He is a skeptic, and refused to believe unless he could see and touch the wounds of Jesus. A week later he is given the opportunity to see Jesus. Notice that Jesus is patient and kind toward Thomas, showing Thomas the marks of the crucifixion so that Thomas will believe. Listen to Jesus’ words: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus is speaking about us – we have not seen Him face-to-face as those first witnesses did, yet we have come to believe. We are blessed. May we always believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
Risen Jesus, to You we give thanks, honor, and praise! Thank You for revealing Yourself to Your disciples, including Thomas. Thank you that even though we don’t see You as they did, we have come to believe. Keep us firm in faith each day, and so be blessed. In Your Name we pray. Amen.