Our Ascended Lord Watches Over Us
These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.
God’s Word for This Week
Our ascended Lord watches over his Church. He intercedes for us with the Father. He protects us with his power. He guides us with his Holy Word of Truth.
TRADITIONAL FIRST LESSON – Acts 1:15-26
This takes place soon after Jesus’ ascension and before Pentecost. What did Peter propose to the early believers?
That they choose a replacement for Judas the Betrayer. He suggested that they choose a man who had been with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry.
The disciples let God choose who would take Judas’ place. Explain.
Even though the disciples “chose” the final two candidates, they did it prayerfully according to the criteria mentioned above. Then they prayed and cast lots. The lot fell to Matthias. This was not luck, but rather God’s decision.
SUPPLEMENTAL FIRST LESSON – Acts 7:54-60
Where/how did Stephen see Jesus? (See Acts 7:55.)
Stephen saw heaven open and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
Luke does not say that Stephen “died.” What does Luke say?
Luke says that Stephen fell asleep. What comfort for us! In Christ, we have nothing to fear from death. We will rise again with Christ on the Last Day.
TRADITIONAL SECOND LESSON – 1 John 4:13-21
According to verse 15, how can we know that God lives in us?
Only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we know and trust that Jesus is the Son of God and our Savior. Therefore, our trust in Jesus is proof that God dwells within us.
What does our love for God lead us to do?
Out of thanks for God’s love, we seek to show love to others.
Verse 18 says that there is no fear in love. So if I am afraid at some point, have I lost my faith?
Our faith, which trusts solely in God’s love, does not fear anything. Faith says boldly with the apostle Paul, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Our trust in God’s love shows no fear. Yet, we are at the same time saints and sinners. Our sinful nature does doubt. Our sinful nature does fear. The life of a Christian is a struggle against that sinful nature. Moments of fear and doubt should not drive us to despair of our salvation but rather to the loving promises of our Savior God, who strengthens our faith and takes away our fears.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECOND LESSON – Hebrews 7:11-27
Jesus did not ascend into heaven to retire and rest. What is one vital thing Jesus is doing for us right now?
One vital thing Jesus does for us is to act as our high priest before the Father. He intercedes for us. (See Hebrews 7:25.)
Since Jesus rose from the dead, he lives forever. Since Jesus lives forever, what kind of priesthood does he have? (See Hebrews 7:24.)
Since Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.
Old Testament priests also interceded for God’s people. Why is Jesus’ priesthood better? (And why, therefore, should we never leave Jesus?)
Jesus’ priesthood is better than any Jewish priest of old (and therefore we should never leave Jesus) because he was sacrificed for our sins once for all. He is holy and blameless, exalted above the heavens.
GOSPEL – John 17:11b-19
Jesus prayed these words on the night before he died. It is commonly known as his High Priestly Prayer. For what things did Jesus pray?
Since he was leaving his disciples visibly, Jesus asked the Father to watch over his disciples, unite them, and protect them. He also prayed that the Father would sanctify them.
What did Jesus mean when he said, “Sanctify them by the truth, your word is truth”?
When Jesus asked the Father to sanctify his first disciples, he meant to “set them apart” for God and for holiness. God, through his Word and the trust worked by that Word, sets apart believers for himself. In other words, we are in the world, but we are not of it. We are heaven-bound. Jesus prayed that God would continue to keep them from sin, the devil, and the evil of this world through his Holy Word. God continues to set us apart through that same Word of Truth.