Third Sunday of Easter

~ Misericordias Domini ~

Readings: Ezekiel 34:11-16 | 1 Peter 2:21-25 | John 10:11-16

Text: John 10:11-16

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

The Lost Sheep published 1864 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Presented by Gilbert Dalziel 1924

People sometimes say, “If you want it done right, you’ve gotta do it yourself.” Whether it’s cleaning the bathroom or fixing something that broke, sometimes this is true. Maybe that’s how the Lord felt when He was speaking through Ezekiel: “Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” After all, no one on earth seemed to get it right. Later in this part of chapter 34, He says, 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock.”

As Jesus is speaking to the crowds, it doesn’t seem like it’s gotten any better either: 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”

It’s not for lack of instruction. He had made it clear what He had done, and what He expected of His people. The Lord, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery [Ex. 20:1], never betrayed them. But it seemed like they just couldn’t live up to their end of the covenant! In fact, in sharp contrast to the people’s faithfulness, the Lord uses a marriage analogy in Jeremiah 31:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord.

And for us to understand this, remember these sacred vows which husbands and wives take in the presence of God:

P [To the bridegroom]: Will you have this woman to be your wedded wife, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it? Will you nourish and cherish her as Christ loved His body, the Church, giving Himself up for her? Will you love, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, remain united to her alone, so long as you both shall live? Then say: I will.

P [To the bride]: Will you have this man to be your wedded husband, to live together in the holy estate of matrimony as God ordained it? Will you submit to him as the Church submits to Christ? Will you love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health and, forsaking all others, remain united to him alone, so long as you both shall live? Then say: I will. (LSB p. 276)

When we hear the words of these solemn promise, it can bring tears to our eyes. Tears of joy in the promise of years to come, of gratitude that God would give us such a gift as this man or woman.

It also brings tears of regret for our failures and those promises made to us which were not kept—the times we have bristled at what it really means to be with them in all circumstances till death, for the husband to sacrificially (not selfishly) love his wife, and for the wife to submit to her husband and not dismiss him as an oaf.

These marriage vows are a humbling reminder to us that our promises—our most heart-felt and solemn oaths—are always subject to failure. But there is faithfulness in the world, upon which we can stake our very lives: the faithfulness of God.

11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

When we hear the story of God throughout Scripture, it resounds with His faithfulness. He is the faithful Bridegroom, the faithful God who never speaks an idle promise, or says what He is unable or unwilling to do. He is the Good Shepherd, who truly does the utmost for His flock. He never leaves, nor forsakes them. He leads them to streams of living water and restores our souls [Rev. 7:17, Psalm 23:3].

He is intimately acquainted with each piece of His world, and especially of man and woman in it. He redeemed even when our parents and us had turned to sin and rebellion. He rescued from slavery as He had promised, despite the power and stubborn refusal of a wicked ruler. [Exodus 12-14] Under a different tyrant, when the fires of hell threatened, He faithfully took the place of His people so that they would come out without even the smell of smoke. [Daniel 3]

This is the very faithfulness we need to be saved. All of us have turned aside. All of us have failed. But He has forever remained the faithful Bridegroom, the faithful Savior, the Good Shepherd:

33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This is God’s solemn promise to you. It was sealed, not with a ring, but with His own blood upon the cross. He gave you this pledge in the saving waters of Baptism. And because we fail each day, He gives the pledge of His faithfulness in the Lord’s Prayer and in the Absolution. He is so committed that He even gives us the sacrifice He made for us to eat and drink. This is a foretaste of what He is bringing His bride to, as He tells us in Revelation 19:

Yes, He wanted it done right, and He did it Himself. He laid down His life for His sheep, for His Bride, that we may live with Him eternally.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Third Sunday of Easter

Readings: Acts 3:11–21 | 1 John 3:1–7 | Luke 24:36–49

Text: Luke 24:36-49

How can we know if what we hear is true?  In an age of fake news, deep fakes, and just plain bald-faced lies, it’s really a problem.  Because of these things, people’s trust of institutions and media agencies has plummeted.  A Pew Research study found that “Just 20% of U.S. adults say they trust the government in Washington to ‘do the right thing’ just about always or most of the time.”[1]

So many people want to have it proven to them.  But nobody can actually live out the tagline from the X-Files TV show: “Trust No One.”  We will always trust someone or something.

What does it take to convince us?  Often it has to do with who it comes from—personal contacts have a lot of influence over who we’ll trust.  Scammers take advantage of this when Facebook or email accounts are compromised and they pose as a trusted friend, trying to convince others to click this link or share personal information.

We also defer to “the experts”  This past year, we’ve heard plenty from experts, and easily follow what we’ve been told.  So it’s clear that experts have the qualifications needed to be trustworthy and make decisions about our life.

Another source we trust is medical professionals.  The best of medical science is at their disposal, they’ve gone to school and studied hard, and there have been plenty of malpractice lawsuits to keep things honest.  So when we go to the doctor, we are in the habit of trusting what they say and paying them good money for their advice.

It’s not that we’re wrong to put our faith in friends, experts, and doctors.  As far as God’s work is concerned, He does good to us by these.  I mentioned the negatives because these are all fallible people.

Now I want you compare these areas of trust to something even more important than how we spend our money, lead our lives, or care for our health.  That is our faith.  How can we trust what we know about Jesus?  Did it come from someone we trust?  Did it come from qualified experts like a pastor?  Do we entrust ourselves to a faithful physician?

Actually, to all of these, we have something even better than the avenues we trust today.

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

On the evening of His resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples.  He went to extra pains to convince them of this, too.  It wasn’t a glorious appearance, like when Samson’s birth was announced (Judges 13), or a miraculous sign like Naaman’s cleansing (2 Kings 5).  Instead, it was a very ordinary proof: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see….He showed them His hands and His feet.”  And then He ate a piece of broiled fish before them.

At this, we might balk at what a boring detail this is.  Why would the evangelist Luke bother recording what kind of food Jesus ate?  Well, why not?!  The detail adds that specific truth to the testimony by the Apostles.  Luke says at the beginning of his Gospel, “it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.” (Luke 1:3-4 NASB)  Adding that detail about what Jesus ate in their presence also shows the truth of the Gospel account, not afraid to include even the mundane.  I mean, if Jesus suddenly visited your home, would you have some elaborate and significant meal, or just whatever you had for dinner?

This is an eyewitness testimony of the risen Jesus on the very Day of Resurrection!  Maybe we’ll appreciate this better if we compare it to what others—even those hailed as experts—say about Jesus many years later.

Other gospels were written about Jesus, and given the names of James, Mary, Judas, and Thomas.  These texts make the claim that they have secret insight into the teaching of Jesus which He supposedly revealed to His disciples.  The trouble with this is that they were all written well after the first century AD.  What proof does that give?  They were clearly not written by their namesakes.  Since it is impossible that they were written by their pseudonym authors, we should also suspect their teaching.  Especially when they include things like this “Simon Peter said to them, ‘Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.’ Jesus said, ‘Look, I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the kingdom of Heaven.’” (Gospel of Thomas, 114) 

Several years ago now, a fragment was discovered that said that Jesus had a wife.  It created quite a stir in some circles because it seemed to include information which was omitted from the Gospels which the Church has held for centuries.[2]  But what wasn’t highlighted is that that fragment dated no earlier than the fourth century AD, and was written in Coptic, the language of Egypt.  So, when it comes down to it, are you going to believe the eyewitness of the Twelve and their associates or something that comes from far away, 300 years later?

Finally, an effort was made in 1985 called the Jesus Seminar.  They sought to read the Gospels and determine what they believed were genuine words of Jesus and what had been interpolated and inserted by editors over the centuries.  Together, 50 scholars under Robert Funk, voted using colored beads to determine what were genuine sayings of Jesus.  They considered it inauthentic whenever Jesus made “I am” statements or if, in the scholars’ opinion, the teaching appeared to be serving an agenda of the early Christian community.  They concluded that of the Lord’s Prayer, you could only trust the words, “Our Father” to be from the lips of Jesus. As a Los Angeles Times article from 1988 reported, “Three said it came from Jesus, six said it probably came from him, 10 said it probably did not and five said it did not.”[3]

Yet, in the Gospels, what we have is the eyewitness testimony.  When we compare it to what people say about Jesus more than 100 years later, it’s remarkable.  During his ministry, Peter even appealed to this eye-witness testimony in today’s reading from Acts: He says to the Jewish audience: “But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.”  This is the witness which we have, which the Lord Himself commissioned when He said on the evening of the Resurrection, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.”

I know that we’re used to communicating with people who already conclude that the Bible is God’s true Word, but we should also consider the historical evidence.  The substitutes for the eyewitness testimony are appalling.  In addition to that, the reliability of genuine Scripture compared to other ancient texts can’t be ignored.   Other texts include Homer’s Iliad, the works of Sophocles, and Aristotle.  The New Testament has 5600 manuscripts with 99.5% consistency, while the nearest runner-up is the Iliad with 95% accuracy.  When you talk about dating, the New Testament’s earliest existing (extant) manuscripts date from AD 130, while the oldest Iliad date from 500 years after the original.  If there are errors to be found, they should be found, but in such a wealth of manuscripts, what scholars—even critical ones—have found, is that the New Testament is reliable and consistent.

What does that mean for us?  It’s an incredible comfort in an age of changing truth and the flimsy truth of man.  God has given us in His Son an incredible gift, and we are wise, even from a reasonable standpoint, to commit our lives to the Word of God, which has been well-preserved and well-tested in the Bible we still have today.

With as trustworthy as this Word of Jesus resurrection is, we should be appalled at how little we listen to it.  Our days instead are filled with what we hear on the news, the drivel we read on social media, or to fill our days with complaining about life and people.  In His Holy Word, God has given us a satisfying, delicious feast…but we have asked for peanut butter and jelly.  People of God, He’s given you a tremendous treasure in His Word, which has endured over 3500 years, and will endure into eternity.

The friends and family, the experts, and the doctors all have their place, but they are all passing away.  Remember this, and put your faith in what your God says, read it for yourself, test and see because God will prove His truth to you that you might have faith in Him.  Know your God and His Word better than you know anything else.

In knowing Him, you will have life, and have it eternally.  Amen.

[1] (accessed 15 Apr 2021)

[2] (accessed 15 Apr 2021)

[3] (accessed 15 Apr 2021)

Third Sunday of Easter (Luke 24:13-35)

At the outset of the day, Jesus’ disciples were in sorrow and grief.  Their present circumstances were weighing them down, because in their estimation, “the chief priests and rulers delivered him up to death and crucified him.”  End of story.  The world had won, in spite of all that Jesus had said.  Their hopes were shattered, and they were burdened with uncertainty.

This stranger they had met was odd, because he had somehow missed all the goings on of the past four days.  But what of it?  It was just another moment to rehash the painful details.  Where were you when the Redeemer of Israel came to nothing?

To their uncertainty and affliction, this stranger brought clarity.  “‘Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Somehow, out of the terrible events, He brought direction and brought to light God’s sovereign plan.

That’s what worship and daily devotions are like for Christians right now.  Who can see through all the fear, the uncertainty about the future, what will see us through the months to come?  Definitely not the politicians, the news outlets, or even the CDC.  Like all of us, they’re human and they are grasping for answers and trying to judge what’s best to do.  But when we hear the Lord’s Word, then our heart burn within us.  Here, Lord, you enlighten us to know that this is not some strange thing, an out-of-control circumstance, a global disaster beyond Your mighty hand.

Here in the Scriptures we are reminded of all of God’s mighty deeds, from the moment He created heaven and earth, how all of it was once destroyed on account of wickedness, and how God was still able to safeguard His faithful in the ark.  In the Scriptures, we hear how the world’s Savior from sin and death was foretold, how through centuries of twists and turns even the cut-off stump of Jesse sprung forth in the womb of Mary and God’s saving work was carried out.  Still, even in these days that are darker and more grotesque than any period of history prior, it our Lord’s Word which gives us an unmovable truth upon which to stand: “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28)

After this traveler had opened the Scriptures to them, it seemed that they were about to lose him, they impressed upon Him to stay longer: “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.”  Then at the proper time, it was revealed to them that this was no stranger, but the Lord Jesus Himself who abided with them.  “He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”

Especially at a time like this, we want the Lord to abide with us, to give us something sure which cannot be taken away by the changes of this world.  Yet right now it seems that even the sanctuary of public worship has been trampled upon.  “I was glad when they said to me let us go to the house of the Lord!” (Ps. 122:1) but the governor told me not to, and the real threat of illness deters me.  If even corporate worship can be taken from us (for a short time, God willing), then what cannot?  These Scriptures are opened to us when Christ is preached, Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, Christ who destroyed the power of death and left an empty shadow, Christ who did overcome the world.

One thing many of us are longing for is the Lord’s Supper.  When everything has been forced into the virtual realm, we long for the Lord’s presence which we can see and touch, taste and smell.  And as your pastor, there’s nothing I’d rather do than be able to minister to you in the proper way, face to face.  What this longing for the Lord’s Supper has led to in some places is the practice of Communion in a person’s home via a live broadcast.  This has caused no small debate in the Missouri Synod over what constitutes the Sacrament of the Altar.  What are the requirements, the essential elements (bread, wine, word of Jesus, pastor) in order to know that a practice of the Lord’s Supper is efficacious or valid. 

You could derive a proof that the Christian Church is always scattered throughout the world—why not in individual homes, and why not even if the service is watched later.  You could argue that the Word of God is what makes this bread and this cup the Body and Blood of Christ for us to eat and drink (cf. 1 Cor. 10:16).  You could argue that the pastor is only a mouthpiece but the so-called real power is in the believer holding to the Words of Christ.

This could go on and on, and the most unsettling thing is the uncertainty.  You have to go through so many mental hoops that this verges on no longer being faith like a child.  The Emmaus disciples were not “with Jesus” virtually, or on the other side of a curtain (as in the temple).  In the simplest, most obvious sense of the word, they were together and He was revealed to them in the breaking of the bread—the Eucharist.

What this whole question recalls is something that sets Christians of the Lutheran Reformation apart from others.  How do you explain the presence of Christ in His Supper?  Using philosophy, the Roman church had developed the theory of transubstantiation, that upon the Words of Institution being spoken, the substance of the bread and wine ceased to be, and they became the Body and Blood of Christ, and happened to still look and taste like the bread and wine (accidens).  Those of the Reformed movement were convinced that the finite could not contain the infinite (a philosophical tenant), therefore the bread and wine only symbolized an absent Christ, or transported the true believer by the Holy Spirit to feast on Christ in heaven.

Out of the Reformation, only the Lutherans clung to the simple Word of Christ without any philosophical gymnastics: “Take; eat. This is My Body, given for you…Take; drink. This is my Blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”  “Whoever believes these words has exactly what they say: ‘forgiveness of sins.’  But whoever does not believe these words or doubts them is unworthy and unprepared, for the words ‘for you’ require all hearts to believe.” (Small Catechism, VI, questions 4 & 5)

Of course, these are unusual times, and very few Lutherans can remember a time in their lives when the practice of the Lord’s Supper was affected by events in the world (even during Prohibition, Lutheran churches were granted exceptions to use sacramental wine).  But it is not safe for the present circumstance in the world to make us modify our theology.

It’s good for Christians to highly prize the comfort of forgiveness and strength in the Lord’s Supper.  In many sister congregations, they have continued to gather in the simplest explanation of the word using workarounds (small, spaced groups; through the car window), respectful of the health directives.  We do this because we honor the commands of our Lord—to do this in remembrance of Him as often as we can, and also to honor and obey our rulers, and not hurt our neighbor by spreading disease.  I’m not opposed to gathering in small groups, but I would also like as much of the Body of Christ—young and old, healthy and infirm—here at Bethlehem to be able to be present together, which is why we elected for the parking lot method.

The Sacraments are something that require certainty.  In Baptism, we return daily to the promise that we and all our sins have been crucified with Christ and He raises us to newness of life (Gal. 2:20, Rom. 6:4).  In Absolution, we need to know when our sins trouble us that the forgiveness Christ’s servant speaks is not just a man talking, but the voice of the Lord Himself.  So also, in His Supper, the Lord earnestly desires to eat this Passover of the New Testament, this meal in which He is made known to us in the “breaking of the bread.” Because of this, we can have confidence that we receive His blessings of forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Continue to cling to God’s Word.  It is the lamp He gives to our feet to lead us through every perplexing time.  When this season ends, we earnestly look forward to gathering again.  May the Lord cause your heart to burn with a confidence and comfort that He will care for and support you as His child through this present, passing distress.  Amen.

Third Sunday of Easter (Luke 24:13-35)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Third Sunday of Easter + April 30, 2017
Text: Luke 24:13-35

On the road to Emmaus is another scene after the Resurrection.  It’s another way that Jesus reveals Himself to His disciples that their hope is not in vain and that all He said during His previous ministry is true.  His aim in this appearance is to speak to their hearts rather than their eyes, and fill them with a confident faith that He is risen indeed.
Easter afternoon, two disciples of Jesus are on their way to Emmaus.  Yet as they walk, they were discussing, debating, mulling over—maybe even arguing about[1]—all that had happened to their Master.  Here are some of the things they’re wrestling with and trying to fit together:
Jesus of Nazareth was a mighty prophet before God and all the people,
But the chief priests and rulers delivered Him up to be condemned.
We had hoped he was the one to redeem Israel.
Besides all this, it’s now the third day since this took place.
But some of the women….and an angel said: He lives
And they found it just as the women had said, but Him they did not see.
This is the information they have, and they’re trying to make it all fit.
Then a stranger walks up (they are prevented from recognizing Him) and in seeming ignorance asks them about the topic of their impassioned conversation.  This prompts one of them Cleopas, to sum it all up.
Then this stranger brings clarity to their dashed hopes and scattered experiences.  He brings a clarity that comes from the Word of God, beginning with Moses and the Prophets.  You believe this Jesus was to redeem Israel, but don’t you remember what God did to redeem Israel at the Red Sea, by putting to death the firstborn sons of Egypt?[2]  Do you suppose that freedom comes without a death?  And the prophets knew this well because they lived it.  Every true prophet preached the Word but at one time or another was rejected by the people and persecuted.  In fact, they were sharing in the sufferings of the Christ they proclaimed.  But as for the Christ Himself, “Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied,” for God’s Holy One did not see corruption, but destroyed the covering of death which is over all people.[3]
By then, they had arrived at Emmaus and the stranger said He had to be going on.  But they prevailed upon him: “Abide with us for it is toward evening and the day is far spent.”  In other words, don’t go, we want to hear more.  Your words lift us up out of hopelessness and make Moses and the Prophets clear to us.
So, the stranger stays with them for the evening meal.  Yet at the meal, He does something out of the ordinary, even for a pious Israelite two days after the Passover.  “He took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them.”  He acted as host, head of the household in the liturgy of the Passover now fulfilled.  This was not any common meal—it was the Lord’s Supper.  At this point, God opened their eyes and they recognized who this stranger was: it was Jesus, risen from the dead, the true Christ, and their Savior.
But at this point, He disappeared from their sight.  Why?  They no longer needed it to be with Jesus.  They were held back from recognizing Him while He spoke and up until the breaking of the bread.  But when God opened the way for faith to recognize Him, He took away the vision.
Their reaction to this is also one of faith.  They reflect on their experience on the road: Our hearts burned as He spoke to us and opened the Scriptures.  As He opened the Scriptures, we saw Him in a way that eyes could not.  When He took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to us, this was Him as well.  Then, they go and tell this to their brothers, so that they would also have reason to rejoice.
This is comforting news for us, His brothers today.
Last week we heard Jesus say to Thomas blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.  It would be troubling if that’s all Jesus said to future generations of Christians.  We believe in a God we haven’t seen.  Where is he?  I don’t know.  Can you hear his voice?  I’m not sure.  We would be left to search for where Jesus was and wonder if our “burning in the heart” was really Jesus or some bad pizza we had the night before.
This visit from Jesus to Cleopas and the other disciple is good for us to hear, because it shows us with certainty where Jesus is found.  Jesus comes to you in the Word of God, where God opens your heart to understand the Scriptures and all things concerning Christ.  This is different from having a just a head knowledge of the Bible.  You can know the Bible in this way and still go to hell.  Jesus said to the Jews, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”[4]  God gives His Holy Spirit so that you would know Christ through the Scriptures.  Even this is knowing more than the facts that He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, etc.  It’s more than knowing that this was done for an abstract group of people—for us men and for our salvation.  The Holy Spirit brings you to know that all of this was for you, so that you can say “I believe.”  This is the Good News that causes our hearts to burn within us, that even when I was lost in blindness, perplexed about what God was doing, uncertain whether He cares, that He sent His Gospel to me that I might be His own and have something to cling to in this world of change and chance!
It’s doubly comforting for us disciples today that Jesus not only comes to us in the Word, but also with accompanying signs of His Good News (what we call the Sacraments).  In these, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, He takes the benefits of His birth, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension, and delivers it in physical means.  Baptism is a washing of rebirth because it is the water by which you are crucified with Christ and raised with Him, adopted as God’s child, and given the gift of His Holy Spirit.[5]  The Lord’s Supper is more than a ceremonial meal of remembrance because Jesus Himself says, “This is My Body given for you; this is My Blood shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”[6]  The Words of Institution make this Food one that brings forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.
You are blessed this day, because Jesus is among us to bless us.  Though our eyes are kept from seeing Him resurrected and glorified, God has opened our hearts and revealed Him to us in the Scriptures and the breaking of the bread this day.  Therefore, let us pray:
Abide with us, Lord, for it is toward evening and the day is far spent. Abide with us and with Your whole Church. Abide with us at the end of the day, at the end of our life, at the end of the world. Abide with us with Your grace and goodness, with Your holy Word and Sacrament, with Your strength and blessing. Abide with us when the night of affliction and temptation comes upon us, the night of fear and despair, the night when death draws near. Abide with us and with all the faithful, now and forever. (LSB 257)  Amen.
[1] The verbs used for their discussion denote debate or passionate discussion.  Jesus perceives this too in verse 17 with a word that literally means “throwing back and forth” to describe their conversation.
[2] Exodus 11:4-7, Exodus 13:14-16
[3] Isaiah 25:6-9
[4] John 5:39
[5] Titus 3:5, Romans 6:3-5
[6] Matthew 26:26-28, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26