“On the first day of the week, at early dawn,” the women who were witnesses of Jesus’ death and burial came to His tomb. “They did not find the body.” Instead they heard the report of two angels testifying to the resurrection of the Messiah: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
That very day “Jesus Himself drew near” two men who had traveled in the company of the disciples, “but their eyes were kept from recognizing Him.” He questioned them about their conversation, and they were shocked that He needed to ask about what was apparently common knowledge in Jerusalem, namely the expectations of the people “concerning Jesus of Nazareth,” and particularly the facts surrounding His death. They said that they had “hoped that He was the one to redeem Israel.” Even though they had received the report of the women from that morning, they could not comprehend the fact that He was alive again.
Their companion along the road spoke to them of the necessity “that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory.” Jesus proved this from the Hebrew Bible. “He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” They were still unable to identify Him until He was “at table” with them. Once their “eyes were opened and they recognized Him,” He was suddenly gone.
Returning to the other disciples, they learned that Jesus had appeared to Peter. Suddenly He “Himself stood among them.” Before His ascension on high, “He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” They would soon receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and be sent out so that “repentance and forgiveness of sins” could be “proclaimed in His Name to all nations.” What was the response of the believers? “They worshiped” their Savior who had been “carried up into heaven” before their very eyes.
Sovereign Lord, the stone, the guards, and the seal could not keep our Savior in the grave. He is risen! Thank You for the faithful testimony that we have regarding the facts that changed the world. What world-changing events took place in Jerusalem in those days! Your Son was condemned to death and crucified, but on the third day He rose again. In accord with the ancient oracles of the Prophets, Christ suffered and entered into glory. We see and confess what the Scriptures teach us about Jesus. May our Redeemer be known to us by Word and sacrament. Grant that we too will partake of the promised resurrection. Cast far away from us any lingering doubts concerning the events recorded for our faith. Everything written in the Bible shall be fulfilled. Our King has ascended into heaven, and we are blessed with the gift of the Holy Spirit poured out upon Your church. Strengthen us as we seek Your face.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The great person that the apostle John writes about was the eternal source of all that was made and the fountainhead of God’s merciful love to fallen humanity.
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.” This was not the same individual as the author of the gospel, but was the one we normally refer to as “John the Baptist.” He announced to first century Israel the imminent arrival of “the Lord.”
The “only God,” the Master of everything, “became flesh” and lived among the chosen people of Yahweh. He became the central focus of those who would put their trust in the power of the Almighty to save them from their sins. How would sinners align with their Redeemer? “To all who did receive Him, who believed in His Name, He gave the right to become children of God.” They would have spiritual renewal as those who were born “of God.”
Jesus’ part in this historic work of salvation would be utterly unique. As John the Baptist directed some of his own followers, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” The Scriptures had prepared the Jews for the coming of a Messiah who would die as a sacrificial offering that would cancel the guilt of those who put their trust in Him.
Jesus is the stairway between heaven and earth that the Jewish patriarch Jacob had seen in a dream centuries before (Genesis 28:12). We can spend our whole lives seeing Christ in the pages of the Old Testament. Because of what our Friend from heaven has accomplished for us, our destiny is secured as those who are rightly counted as members of the household of Jehovah and who will see with our own eyes the Man who is our heart’s greatest desire.
Eternal Father, You and Your Son were in the beginning, together with the Holy Spirit. We rejoice in You, the Triune God of Creation. We praise You for Your Word, now recorded in the Scriptures. We receive and believe in the Name of the One who is full of grace and truth, who became flesh and dwelt among humanity for our salvation. Our Redeemer is now with You in glory. We thank You for this great King. Announced by the prophets, Jesus is our Savior and Lord. Teach us to follow the Lamb of God who has taken away the sins of people near and far. He has sent forth the divine Gift of the Spirit for the church. Grant to us a holy regard for the Messiah. Cause Your beloved children to stand on this Cornerstone of Your temple. He is good and kind, wise and true, for He is the God at Your right hand. He has made the way to heaven for us.
Jesus and His disciples went to a wedding in the town of Cana in the region of Galilee and it became the occasion for the first of seven public “signs” recorded by John in his gospel. At the request of His mother, the Messiah took water in jars used for ceremonial washing and turned it into wine without attracting any public notice, though the servants at the feast and Jesus’ friends knew what had happened.
John writes that this miracle “manifested His glory.” The wonder of who He was became visible through the works that He did. What was the result of this amazing display of joyful power? “His disciples believed in Him.” Not that they did not have faith before, or that they wouldn’t struggle with doubt in the midst of later difficulties, but it was something that God used in their growing trust that Jesus was sent from heaven as the Christ.
After this Jesus “went up to Jerusalem” in connection with the Passover. When He entered the temple, He was appalled to see that local peddlers had turned the sacred courts of His Father into a “house of trade.” Observers questioned Him regarding His actions of judgment. “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” His answer pointed forward cryptically to His own future resurrection from the dead. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Adversaries would put His body to death, but He would rise again as the beginning of a new world of indestructible life.
While those all around our Lord could not fathom the mystery of His message and mission, His followers eventually “believed the Scripture and the Word that Jesus had spoken.” Not only were they able to see the glory of God in Jesus’ great deeds of power, they loved His gospel of salvation and the words of the Bible. Their hearts longed for the greatest future marriage feast and a more permanent life in the presence of the Almighty that would be beyond anything they could imagine.
Merciful Lord, Your Son is a great Husband for His bride. We will enjoy the perfect wedding feast when He returns. The majestic day of His second coming will arrive according to Your own wisdom and love. We will rejoice with the fullest happiness, for we long for His appearing. We thank You for the signs that Jesus gave of His glory. He will return with justice as well as salvation. Grant that we would mourn for the present distresses of Your church, but give us confidence that You will make all things new. Christ has built an eternal dwelling for Your glorious presence. He raised up His body in divine power and we are now united to that beautiful Temple of the Holy Spirit.