We Confess the Risen Christ
These are the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
God’s Word for This Week
Confession of Christ and our hope in him is the calling of all who have been baptized. Such confession includes not only our faithful testimony but also our loving obedience to Jesus’ commands. As we live out our confession of Christ, we are comforted by the presence of the Spirit whom the Son has sent while we await his return.
Traditional First Lesson – Acts 17:22-31
How did Paul make use of Greek “items” readily at his disposal in order to point to the true God?
Many of the philosophers of the day were pantheists. They believed God was in everything. But they confused the Creator with his creation. Paul, pointing to the altar inscribed “TO AN UNKNOWN GOD” and quoting two Greek poets, emphasized that the living Creator-God is unlike the false gods of the Greeks, which were crafted out of stone or metals into an image made by a man. This God, the Creator, is alive. Paul was urging them to repent and turn to the living God.
Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 4:1-16
What do we learn about the obedience God wants from the actions of Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel?
When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they opened a Pandora’s box on an unsuspecting world. Life, as God intended, had disappeared from this world. Expelled from the garden and guarded from the tree of life, man would know only inevitability of death. But to this dying world, God promised a Savior, born of woman, who would restore to man life as he had once lived. That promise had so quickened Adam’s heart that even when faced with the new reality of living death, he gave his wife the name Life (Eve) because through her womb the eternal gospel would be fulfilled, and this life of death deferred would become a life of death destroyed. When this womb produced its first fruit, Eve exclaimed: “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” (Luther offers a grammatically correct opinion that Eve thought she had given birth to the promised seed. How wrong that thought would have been!) She did not bear God’s Son, but Adam’s son—Cain—who showed that mere obedience does not please God, but only the obedience that flows from faith and love. Abel lived in the blessedness of forgiveness, and not even his brother’s murderous actions could take away that true life.
Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Peter 3:15-22
Who will ask us the questions that we should be prepared to answer?
The unbelieving world will see the way we live under the cross and ask us why we are so happy to live like that.
What makes me “prepared to give an answer”?
True knowledge of the Scriptures through prayerful study and meditation on how it applies to my life not only prepares me to give an answer but calms my fears.
What does Peter mean by “the hope that you have”?
The hope that we have is that this life of humble living and service will someday be followed with the glories of heaven. Jesus proclaimed that Good Friday had not been a defeat, but a glorious victory. It was a public humiliation that was inflicted upon the defeated forces of Satan.
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 John 3:11-18
What kind of love does God call on us to give to those around us?
Love means obedience to God. It was love that led Jesus to obey his Father, obedient to death, even death on a cross for us. Now that same love empowers us to love our brother. Hatred and vengeance have their home east of Eden. But here, among the people of God, there is no room for hatred—only love. Christians are to be the antithesis of Cain: we lay down our lives for our brothers, not just in word but in every daily deed. We do it because we now have that life once lost but now regained by our living Savior. We have passed from death to life.
Gospel – John 14:15-21
How can Jesus say that the Spirit “lives with you and will be in you”?
The Holy Spirit, together with the Father and the Son, was already at work in the hearts of the disciples bringing them to faith in Jesus. But there was also going to be a special outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples on Pentecost.
What comfort is ours when Jesus says, “Because I live, you also will live”?
Jesus’ living assures our living. In a short while, Jesus would go through crucifixion and death. He would suffer for the guilt of our sins. But then he would rise, and sin and death would no longer rule us. So his life now counts for our life, just as his death counted for our death. By Jesus’ Spirit, we believe and live that life now.