These are the readings for the Third Sunday of Easter.
God’s Word for This Week
Hope restored. The certain hope of eternal life with God is founded on the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ. God had promised this ancient hope in the garden at the dawn of time. God had carried this ancient hope in his Word through the ages. How did the disciples fail to anticipate the resurrection? How did the teachers and people of Israel fail to see the Messiah God had promised and delivered? They let their wants and cultural expectations color their view of Scripture, and hope was lost. But God restored this ancient hope by raising Jesus from the dead and pointing his people back to his promises.
Traditional First Lesson – Acts 2:14a, 36-47
For whom is baptism intended?
Peter tells us that this means of grace is for all who hear his words. It is also for their children. It is also for those who were not there that day, including us. It is for all whom God has called or ever will call by the message which Peter proclaimed that day.
Why could and did the first congregation in Jerusalem continue to use the temple courts as a place to meet and worship?
They met at the temple because it was the house of the Lord and they were the Lord’s people. It was the Father’s house and they were his children. They gathered there daily.
Supplemental First Lesson – Acts 24:10-21
How was the resurrection of Christ central to the issue that faced Paul?
After his arrest at the temple, Paul stood before the Sanhedrin. The session erupted into a brawl when Paul asserted his belief in the resurrection, a divisive issue for Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Roman officer had to remit Paul to the regional governor. In this lesson, Paul is on trial in Caesarea before Governor Felix. The Sanhedrin had hired the lawyer Tertullus to accuse Paul of leading the Nazarene sect. In Paul’s reply to Tertullus he asserts that Christianity is no sect, but agrees with all that is written in the Law and the Prophets. It is the Pharisees and the Sadducees that abandoned Scripture and became a sect without hope. We hold to the ancient hope of Scripture: the resurrection of the dead.
Second Lesson – 1 Peter 1:17-21
Why does Peter encourage us to live as “strangers” while here on this earth?
It will always be a temptation for Christians to set their hearts on what they can see material things, institutions, approval from others, etc. It is a lifelong struggle to learn that everything visible is perishable while what is not seen has lasting value. As Christians, we need to remember that we live in tents, temporary settings, because we are not yet home.
Gospel – Luke 24:13-35
Why do you think Jesus didn’t reveal his identity to the Emmaus disciples?
It gave the disciples the chance to openly confess their unbelieving doubts. Jesus was providing them the opportunity to learn from him again as he reviewed what the Scriptures had to say about the Messiah.
They had just told Jesus not to go on because of the approaching night. But once Jesus revealed himself, why did they quickly go back to Jerusalem?
Their hearts were burning within them. They couldn’t keep the joy of this wonderful message to themselves, so they had to tell the others in Jerusalem.
What lessons can we learn from the account of the Emmaus disciples?
For these two disciples on the road, it was a day of great puzzlement, sadness, and disillusionment. They left the Holy City having heard the report of the women and Peter and John. But their understanding of God’s plan of salvation was deficient: they weren’t expecting a resurrection! John puts his finger on the disciples’ problem. “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9). Their sight, logic, emotions, and expectations had led them to abandon what Scripture said. But our gracious Lord comes and identifies the problem: they are not believing all that the prophets have spoken. They chose only to believe those parts of Scripture that met their preconceived notions of what the Messiah should be. Our Lord addresses the problem by explaining all the Scriptures that showed the Christ had to die and rise. How well did they learn the lesson? They marveled at how he opened the Scriptures to them and restored that ancient hope!