If you listen for it, you’ll hear it. You’ll hear it during pleasant conversations at dinner parties. You’ll hear it during low-key banter between cubicles at the office. You’ll hear it during the lunch break on the factory floor, during holidays with relatives, or during block parties with neighbors. What you’ll hear is the well-intentioned comment that Christianity is great for those who find it useful to get through life. “Hey, if it helps you get through the tough times, good for you,” someone will say with a smile.
God disagrees. In fact, the Bible goes so far as to say that if that’s what you’re getting out of Christianity, people should pity you more than they pity anyone else.
You see, if the story of Jesus in the Bible is in the same category as Aesop’s fables—if it turns out that Christianity is just good advice delivered through a made-up story, then Christians are living a pitiful lie.
That’s why the resurrection of Jesus Christ means everything.
On your behalf, Jesus lived a perfect life. On your behalf, Jesus died for your every sin. And his resurrection was real, too. The living Word of the living God has made it a matter of public record.
And so Christianity is not about advice. Christianity is about Jesus. Christianity is about the Savior who lives to keep his promises to you. Today. Tomorrow. Forever.
Dear Jesus, thank you for your death, your resurrection, and your living promises to me. Empower me by your gospel to remember that Christianity is not about following some advice; it’s about trusting you. Amen.
St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church 313 East Montello St. Montello, WI 53949 Office: 608-297-2866 Pastor Zietlow: 608-408-7830 Website: www.stjohnsmontello.org
Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church W1568 Evergreen Lane Montello, WI 53949
WELCOME TO OUR CHURCH HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA! We extend a warm welcome to everyone worshiping with us today! We ask God that he fill our hearts with peace, joy and understanding as we praise Him together during this Easter season.
WORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES † Sunday: 8:00a.m. at Emmanuel 10:00a.m. at St. John’s *Please note: congregation sings during worship.
† Saturday: 4:30p.m. at St. John’s *Please note: congregation does not sing during worship. Instead, a soloist sings.
Each worship service is posted to our website. If you don’t have internet access or are unable to attend today’s service, DVDs, sermons and the bulletin are available for your use at home. You may pick them up in the office or request them to be mailed. Please contact our secretary Ciara Neuhauser at the church office or Pastor Zietlow.
HOLY COMMUNION Communion is offered at both Emmanuel and St. John’s on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of the month and at St. John’s on the Saturdays before those Sundays. Private communion by request is also available from Pastor Zietlow or a church Elder at your home. Please call Pastor or the church office to schedule private communion.
GOD’S WORD FOR TODAYToday’s theme: The 2nd Sunday of Easter – We Are His Witnesses – Does witnessing to your faith intimidate you? Are you afraid of how people will react? Today we will see that Jesus’ death and resurrection give the believer confidence. Our sins have been washed clean in his blood. We have forgiveness for any and all sins. Such truths give us the courage to witness boldly to others of Christ’s love and of the salvation that we have in his name.
†P R E P A R A T I O N F O R W O R S H I P †
We prepare ourselves to worship the one Savior God by expressing our humble repentance, offering our fervent prayers and singing our thankful hymns of praise.
OPENING HYMN CW 225, “This Is the Day the Lord Has Made”
† S E R V I C E O F W O R D & S A C R A M E N T †
M: The grace of our Lord † Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.
C: And also with you.
CONFESSION OF SINS
We confess to God that we have failed to live up to the perfect standards in his
law, and we plead for his mercy.
M: God invites us to come into his presence and worship him with humble and penitent hearts. Therefore, let us acknowledge our sinfulness and ask him to forgive us.
C: Holy and merciful Father, I confess that I am by nature sinful, and that I have disobeyed you in my thoughts, words, and actions. I have done what is evil and failed to do what is good. For this I deserve your punishment both now and in eternity. But I am truly sorry for my sins, and trusting in my Savior Jesus Christ, I pray: Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
M: God, our heavenly Father, has been merciful to us and has given his only Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Therefore, as a called servant of Christ and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son (+) and of the Holy Spirit.
LORD, HAVE MERCY
M: For all that we need in life and for the wisdom to use all your gifts with gratitude and joy, hear our prayer, O Lord.
M: For the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from your love and for the courage to stand firm against the assaults of Satan and every evil, hear our prayer, O Christ.
M: For the well-being of your holy Church in all the world and for those who offer here their worship and praise, hear our prayer, O Lord.
M: Merciful God, maker and preserver of life, uphold us by your power and keep us in your tender care:
M: The works of the Lord are great and glorious; his name is worthy of praise.
O LORD, OUR LORD
PRAYER OF THE DAY
M: Let us pray.
O God, by the humiliation of your Son you lifted up this fallen world from the depair of death. By his resurrection to life, grant your faithful people gladness of heart and the hope of eternal joys; through your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Please be seated for the day’s Scripture readings
†T H E W O R D †
The Lord Jesus speaks to us in Scripture reading, preaching and song.
FIRST LESSON Acts 4:8-12 (today’s sermon text)
Summary:The message we proclaim: Salvation is found only in Jesus
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
* Sing refrain, read verses in unison.
The LORD is my strength and my song;*
he has become my salvation.
The LORD’S right hand is lifted high;*
the LORD’S right hand has done mighty things!
I will not die but live,*
and will proclaim what the LORD has done.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;*
you have become my salvation.
The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;*
the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;*
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son*
and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning,*
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
EPISTLE LESSON 1 John 1:1-2:2
Summary:We proclaim the Word of Life
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make ourjoy complete.
This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
VERSE OF THE DAY Luke 24:32
M: Alleluia. Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Our hearts were burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us. Alleluia.
GOSPEL LESSON Luke 24:36-49
Summary:The risen Lord commissions his followers to proclaim repentance and forgiveness
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
Please be seated.
HYMN OF THE DAY CWS 719, “Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia”
SERMON Acts 4:8-12
“There’s No Other Way”
Jesus rose again
All: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became fully human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who in unity with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Please be seated.
†O F F E R I N G S O F G I F T S & P R A Y E R S †
Members of this congregation show their thanks to God for all he has done for them by returning a portion of their income to the Lord. Through these free will offerings, this congregation and its ministries are maintained. Guests need not feel obligated to contribute. The plate is located in the church entryway.
The Offering Prayer, Easter Season Prayer and Intercessory Prayers are spoken by pastor. Please see announcement details of today’s Intercessory Prayers.
All: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
†T H E S A C R A M E N T †
Our Lord Jesus has given us a holy supper in which we receive his true body and blood for the forgiveness of sins and the strengthening of our faith. In this supper we celebrate the gift of his redemption, we bear witness to the fellowship we share as confessors of the truth, and we proclaim his death until he returns.
M:The Lord be with you.
M:Lift up your hearts.
M:Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
M:Praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In love he has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.
He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms and placed all things under his feet for the benefit of the Church.
Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ. To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and thanks and honor and glory for ever and ever.
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
M:Our Lord Jesus Christ, on the night he was betrayed, took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
M:The peace of the Lord be with you always.
O CHRIST, LAMB OF GOD
Please be seated for the distribution.
At St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church & Emmanuel Ev. Lutheran Church we practice close Communion. If you are a guest at worship today and interested in receiving the Lord’s Supper, please speak with the pastor prior to the service.
THANK THE LORD
M:Hear the prayer of your people, O Lord, that the lips which have praised you here may glorify you in the world, that the eyes which have seen the coming of your Son may long for his coming again, and that all who have received in his true body and blood the pledge of your forgiveness may be restored to live a new and holy life, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
M:Brothers and sisters, go in peace. Live in harmony with one another.
Serve the Lord with gladness.
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and (+) give you peace.
Please be seated.
CLOSING HYMN CW 351, “Hail, O Once-Despised Jesus”
Next week’s theme: April 18, 2021 The 3rd Sunday of Easter: Believe in the Risen Lord
St. John’s Worship
INTERCESSORY PRAYERS (read by pastor) – For those hospitalized, ill, shut-in and facing trials: Jim & Caryl Bassett, Pat Bornick, Cheri Borzick, Glenn Buchholz, Bob Buehrens, Darlene Burrough (Judy Fandrey’s niece), Gene & Sharon Crook, Liola Crown, Roberta Davison (Beth John’s daughter), Reinold Eckelberg, Ken Elmer, Mike Farrell, Kelleen Grucza (Judy Fandrey’s daughter), Lisa Haag, Louise Hillmer, Jerry & Darlene Hunter (Bonnie Chapman’s parents), Xzander Jahr, Eleanor Kendall, Julie Klawitter, Betty Kozlowski, Robert Lederer (Jackie & Jeanne Buchholz’ father), Jenell Mann, Lilly Mann, Phil Nelson (Melanie Zuehls’ step-father), Kathy Ninneman, Kathy North, Barbara Petrick, Al Pompa (Pete & Lucy Laun’s brother-in-law), Karen Radke, LuAnn Reber, Jeff Reimer, David Scharf, Roxanne Schmanke, Don & Doris Smith, Mary Smith, Carol Stempniak, Jennifer Strauss, Dennis & Ramona Wacholtz, Dixie Wagner, John Wildt, Harold & brother Paul Wuerch – (added this week: Lisa Haag ) – For the family of Arlene Boetcher, Chuck’s sister, called home on Thursday (4/8) – For our communicants
EASTER FLOWERS if you purchased Easter flowers you are welcome to take them home after the church service or pick them up after another church service. The altar ladies will keep them watered. If they do not want them at all that is ok too.
CROSSES Located in the link way of St. John’s and parish hall of Emmanuel are interactive wooden Easter crosses made by our Emmanuel member Gene Crook. Thank you, Gene! If you would like one to take home, please help yourself. A variety of church year season “scarves” and descriptive cards will be available for pickup soon. We would also like to thank LuAnn Zieman, our St. John’s member, and a few other ladies who took the time to put these crosses together.Easter blessings!
JOINT EMMANUEL/ST. JOHN’S CHOIR All Emmanuel and St. John’s members are invited to join on Mondays at St. John’s at 6:30pm. We will wear masks and socially distance for the time being. All members high school and older are invited to join as they feel comfortable. Please contact Lynn Sellnow @ firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 616-826-0816 if you have questions. It is good to praise the Lord!
SEMINARY FOOD PANTRY – TODAY IS THE LAST DAY! At St. John’s, monetary gifts are being collected for the Seminary Food Pantry. Our seminarians and their families appreciate this help! You are invited to participate in this collection, sponsored by the Lutheran Women’s Missionary Society (LWMS) Thank you for supporting our future pastors!!
LITTLE LAMBS REGISTRATION OPEN We are currently accepting registrations for St. John’s Little Lambs 2021-2022. Forms are available from the school office or from Lynn Sellnow.
OPEN HOUSE FOR LITTLE LAMBS There will be an open house on Saturday, April 24, from 8:00 – noon by appointment only. Please contact Lynn at email@example.com or by phone at 616-826-0816. Please share this info with anyone who might be interested in a Christian preschool. Thank you!
ORDER YOUR ART FOR DINNER COOKBOOK NOW! If you would like to order a cookbook, please call Ciara at the office 608-297-2866. The deadline to order is April 23. The price per book is $20. Books are made by order so Megan or Ciara will contact you when they are ready for pickup (you may submit your payment then). Checks may be made out to St. John’s. Thank you for your support!
FREE MEAL SIGNUP FOR SCHOOL FAMILIES ONLY Hello School Families! Please find the link on our school Facebook page to sign up for free meals. Breakfast and lunch included! The offer is good until May. Meals will be dropped off on Wednesdays at St. John’s.
LITTLE LAMBS HOUSE CLEAN UP PROJECT The former “Little Lambs House” will soon be demolished. As good stewards, we would like to salvage and resell the usable items in the house. On Saturday, May 1, there is a work day scheduled to clean out the house. Many volunteers are needed. We will sort and store some items, do some deconstructing of usable items in the home , and prepare items for resale or donation. Lunch and drinks will be provided, as will cleaning supplies and health and safety supplies. We will begin our work at 9:00. Please contact Lynn Sellnow if you can help. firstname.lastname@example.org 616-826-0816. “May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us, establish the work of our hands for us–yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17
LIST OF DEDICICATED ACCOUNTS Want to make a donation and know exactly where your money is going?! Here is a list of accounts between St. John’s Church and School that you can choose from: Church GeneralSchool GeneralHouse/Parking LotFamily Easter FestivalSunday SchoolVacation Bible SchoolSchool TechnologyChurch Video/Audio SystemSecurity SystemTuition AssistanceAthletic FundOutreach EventsSchool Server UpgradeSchool HVAC/Purifying System
COVID PLAN FOR WORSHIP UPDATE
On Monday 3/8, the Joint Council met to discuss the 2/25 Joint Worship Committee’s proposals regarding the next phase of our COVID worship guidelines. Beginning on Easter Sunday 4/4, the JC approved returning to the pre-COVID common forms of liturgy with full congregational singing, masks and social distancing for the Sunday services. The Saturday service music, however, would continue to be led by a soloist. The JC decided to replace the 6am Easter Sunrise Service at St. John’s to a 8am Easter Worship at St. John’s. The JC also approved the Joint Worship Committee’s proposal to resume choir practice and school singing after Easter. Finally, the JC also approved the change in the wording of the COVID plan to encourage in-person worship. We are concerned that some are staying away from in-person worship because the policy states that if a person can watch the service online, he or she is asked to do so. We feel it is very important for our members to get back to in-person worship when they feel comfortable to do so. – Pastor Z
We Are His Witnesses
Third Sunday of Easter – B
God’s Word for Today
Does witnessing to your faith intimidate you? Are you afraid of how people will react? Today we will see that Jesus’ death and resurrection give the believer confidence. Our sins have been washed clean in his blood. We have forgiveness for any and all sins. Such truths give us the courage to witness boldly to others of Christ’s love and of the salvation that we have in his name.
First Lesson (Acts 4:8-12)
1. Peter stands before the Sanhedrin, the religious court of the Jews, to defend his healing of a crippled beggar. What does it mean that the man was healed “by the name of Jesus Christ”?
2. Peter here quotes Psalm 118:22. What does it mean that Jesus is the capstone?
Second Lesson (1 John 1:1-2:2)
3. How could John be so sure about what Jesus did for our salvation?
4. With what confidence do we confess our sins to God?
5. What does the word “atonement” mean?
Gospel (Luke 24:36-49)
6. What did the disciples think when Jesus appeared to them?
7. In what way were the disciples witnesses? In what way are we also witnesses?
1. Peter did not heal the crippled beggar. God healed him. Moreover, to heal by the name of Jesus does not mean that his name is some sort of magical incantation. It just means that Jesus was the one who healed him. Such a miracle shows God’s incredible mercy and also the authority that Peter and John had to be preaching what they were preaching.
2. The capstone in a building was either the stone that was placed at the top of an arch or the cornerstone that guided the dimensions of the building. The capstone was the most important stone of a building. Without it, a building could not stand or even be built. Jesus, the stone rejected by the Jews, is the one stone that is necessary for our salvation. Without him there is no salvation. Without him the Church cannot stand.
3. He was an eyewitness to Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection.
4. With the confidence that God will always forgive us because Jesus, with his sacrifice on the cross, washed away all of our sins.
5. To atone literally means to make “at one” with someone. It has the idea of reconciliation. Our sins separate us from God, but Jesus’ sacrifice reconciles us to God and makes us “at one” with the Father.
6. They thought he was a ghost. The disciples even after Jesus’ resurrection were weak and still didn’t quite understand what Jesus’ death and resurrection meant. It was only after receiving a special measure of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost that they truly understood and received the strength and courage to be witnesses to the Gospel.
7. The disciples were first hand witnesses of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. They walked with him and talked with him. They were sent out to share with the world what they had seen and heard. We too are witnesses, even though we have not seen Jesus physically. We have come to know him through his Word. We now have the privilege and responsibility of sharing that precious message with others.
84 (8am) 87 (10am)
St. John’s Altar Committee for April 2021:Lucy Laun&Kathy North
●●● Welcome To Our Visitors! Find & Like us on Facebook Visit our website:www.stjohnsmontello.org Pastor Peter Zietlow: (608) 408-7830, E-mail:zietlowPL6@hotmail.com Little Lambs Director & Teacher Mrs. Lynn Sellnow: 616-826-0816 K, 1st & 2nd Grade Teacher Ms. Shelley Myers: 920-285-7554 3rd-5th Grade Teacher Ms. Katlynn Tindall: 262-352-7021 Principal & 6th – 8th Grade Teacher Mr. Larry Sellnow:616-822-6689, Email: email@example.com Church & School Secretary/Office Ciara Neuhauser: (608) 297-2866 Church & School Address/Mail: 313 E Montello St, Montello, WI 53949 Church & School E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org ●●●
At first glance, it might seem strange that the angel sent the women who saw him on Easter morning to tell Jesus’ disciples about Jesus’ resurrection. After all, they had deserted him when he was arrested. Why not leave them behind? Wouldn’t it have been better to send the first witnesses of the resurrection to Caiaphas, Herod, or Pilate for a little “I told you so”? Actually no. “I told you so” was not the mission Jesus had come to accomplish, and it wasn’t the message that he wanted to send.
Besides, Jesus’ disciples needed to hear this good news of the resurrection more than anyone else. After all, their fall from grace had made the loudest crash.
Regardless of what they deserved to be called, the angel did not call them “traitors,” “cowards,” or even “underachievers.” After all that had happened, they were still called Jesus’ “disciples.” It’s not because they’d merited the moniker. They were disciples by grace.
The same is true for all of Jesus’ disciples. The truth is we have all given Jesus good reason to distance himself from us, to make a clean break from us and leave us behind. And we need so desperately to hear the good news of a living and gracious Savior, who in his mercy still rejoices to call us his disciples.
The empty tomb was so many things to Jesus’ disciples. Evidence of promises kept, of Jesus’ divinity, of victory over death. Here’s one more thing the empty tomb meant for them: a fresh start.
So also for Jesus’ modern-day disciples! Because of the forgiveness he won for us, every day is a fresh start—an opportunity to follow him more closely and serve him faithfully.
Send me your Holy Spirit, living Savior, that I may rejoice in the new life of Easter and live each day in your service and to your glory. Amen.
“You’re going to die; here’s how to deal with it.” That was the headline of an online news article that caught my attention recently. The article proceeded to offer all sorts of advice on ways for a person to ease their anxiety about death. Have open conversations about dying. Get your paperwork in order. Declutter and downsize now so that others won’t have to do it later. Don’t wait to achieve your goals. Don’t put off reconciling with people from whom you’re separated. All practical ideas, however, in some way missing the point.
If you want to know how to deal with the inevitability of death, look at Jesus’ empty tomb and see the place where they laid him.
The devil definitely doesn’t want you to see this! He wants you to see the yawning pit of your own grave. He will point his finger and cackle that your final bed has been made up for you. He wants you to think that the grave will be the end for you.
But the devil can’t change history. He can’t change Calvary. And he sure can’t stuff Jesus back in the tomb. See the place where they laid him? He’s not there. And that means that everyone who trusts in him for forgiveness and eternal life will have both.
We’re not so naïve as to think that dying is ever easy or that coping with the death of someone dear is a breeze. It’s not easy, but it is inevitable. How do you deal with it? It’s thoughtful to declutter now so that others won’t have to later. It’s smart to have your paperwork in order. But if you really want to be prepared to die, trust in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, although death is real, your resurrection changes everything. Remind me each day of your empty tomb and draw me to yourself in faith that I may ever be prepared for this life to end and life eternal to begin. Amen.
After someone dies, they’re pretty easy to keep track of: They don’t run errands; they don’t go on vacation. They pretty much stay put. The women in our Bible reading for today knew that Jesus had been placed in the tomb on Friday. And so they had every logical reason to assume that he was still going to be there on Sunday.
But when they arrived, they found nothing as they had expected it. The tomb was open. A man in white sitting in the tomb, and the body of Jesus nowhere to be found. So Mark tells us, “they were alarmed.”
They were understandably alarmed that Jesus’ body was not there. But, it would have been much more alarming if it had been.
Consider that possibility. If Jesus’ body was there when the women arrived, that would have made Jesus a liar, a hoax, a fraud that duped thousands of gullible people. Because, after all, he had said, “The Son of Man…after three days he will rise.” (Mark 9:31) And it’s not like he just let it slip out one time. He promised three different times in Mark’s Gospel alone: I am going to rise from the dead.
And then he did.
Jesus’ resurrection means he is able to keep his promises. He promises to always be with us (Matthew 28:20). He promises that his work of saving us from our sins is finished (John 19:30), that he’s preparing a place in heaven for us, and that he will come back for us (John 14:2,3). The fact that Jesus can do what he has promised means everything for the child of God.
Thank God the tomb was empty on Easter morning!
Lord Jesus, I build my life on your promises and do so confidently because I know you always keep them. Your empty tomb is proof. Send me your Holy Spirit to preserve me in faith that when my last hour comes, I will hold fast to your promises and be found in you. Amen.
The women came to Jesus’ tomb that first Easter morning with a lot on their minds. Jesus had been the center of their lives. And now he was gone. How would they spend their days? Who would take care of them? Being such open followers of an outlaw like Jesus, was their own safety and wellbeing now in question? Those were big questions. But of course, the women had a more immediate question uppermost on their minds that morning: “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” You might bring a heart full of questions with you to this day. Will things ever get better? Will my job be something I can count on? Will my marriage survive? Will my family be happy and successful? Will I outlive my savings? Will my health take a turn for the worse?
Jesus doesn’t give us answers to every question that weighs on our hearts—he wants us to entrust our unknown to him, after all. But his empty tomb does give us the one answer that rolls away our fear and puts all of our other questions into proper perspective. When questions fill your heart, remember that you have a Savior who is alive!
When Jesus met the women that day, he told them, “Do not be afraid.” (Matthew 28:10) And so the living Jesus says the same thing to us today. Don’t be afraid of Satan’s condemnations because Jesus lives to plead your case in God’s courtroom. Don’t be afraid of the future because Jesus lives to direct and support you in the days ahead. Don’t be afraid even of death itself because Jesus lives to share his victory over the grave with you.
Lord Jesus, my life is filled with unknowns, and my heart is filled with questions. But you are my living Savior, powerful and capable, and so I entrust my today and tomorrow into your capable hands. Calm my heart. Assure me that you are ever near. And give me the strength to face each day with you by my side. Amen.
When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb. Mark 16:1,2
What do you expect to see when you go to a funeral? You expect to see friends paying their respects and loved ones trying to hold it together. You expect to see the deceased person’s body or an urn full of ashes.
That’s what you expect because that’s what you’ve experienced. That’s what the women who visited Jesus’ tomb on Easter morning were expecting, too. They’d been to funerals before. They thought they knew how this funeral was going to go. Only when they arrived, there was no body. That was definitely unexpected!
The women saw Jesus die on Friday. They saw his lifeless body carried down from a cross and put in the tomb. They saw that he was dead. But with Jesus, what you see with your eyes doesn’t tell the whole story.
So it is at the funerals of those who die believing in Jesus. You may see friends coming to pay their respects and see grieving loved ones trying to hold it together. You may see a body. But your eyes don’t tell you the whole story. And they certainly don’t tell you the best part of the story.
The grave could not hold Jesus. And it will not hold the ones who have faith in Jesus either. He promises, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) The grave is where we were supposed to get what our sins deserve. But instead, the grave is where the believer gets what Jesus deserves—heaven, forever. Instead of closing our eyes in death and opening them again to see even greater death, we close our eyes in death and open them to see Jesus. Leave it to our Greatest Friend to take the devil’s greatest weapon and use it as the believer’s greatest blessing.
I praise you, living Savior, for your victory over death and the devil. Even more, I thank you that you share your victory with me. May your victory be my comfort in difficult days and my certain hope for the life to come. Amen.
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. John 20:19,20
How secure are you? Is your job safe, or is there a lay-off coming? How about your health? Or what if you had a serious car accident, or your home caught on fire, or what if …?
Important questions, but in reality, they are insignificant in comparison to, “What is my relationship to God?” Or this question, “When I die, where will I go?” Now THOSE questions simply HAVE to be answered, or there will be a nagging sense of worry, emptiness, insecurity.
Problem is, as we look into our hearts and minds, we’re not helped. Have we been perfectly patient with those around us? Have we always been an example of Christ-like love toward others? Or do we see in ourselves a rash of impatience, unkindness, and selfishness? That’s more insecurity!
Jesus’ disciples understood insecurity. They locked themselves in a room; they had no idea what was going to happen next, no idea where their life was going, just no idea. And then Jesus miraculously appeared and stood among them.
And what did he do? He showed them his hands and his side. Those pierced hands and side were proof that the disciples were forgiven. Jesus’ suffering on the cross and death was full payment for all their sins. The crucified and now risen Jesus was proof that the favor of God was upon them and heaven was open for them!”
“Look!” Jesus says also to you. “Look at my hands, look at my side! You’re forgiven! Loved by God! Heaven is your home! And you have my peace!”
Jesus, my risen Savior, often I’m nervous and afraid. Forgive me! Focus my attention on your pierced hands and side, that I might see clearly that my sins are forgiven, and you have opened heaven for me. Fill me with your peace. Amen.