The Resurrection of Our Lord — Sunday School Lesson, May 1, 2011

The Marys, Peter and John the beloved disciple.  All go to the empty tomb the morning after the Sabbath.  The first day of the week.  A new week.  The angels tell them, “Jesus is not here;  you will not find Him in a tomb.”  The tomb is empty.  There is nothing there but messengers.  Heavenly messengers relaying a message from the risen Christ.  They go away despondent, not understanding that our God is the God of the living.  Christ cannot be found in the tombs of the dead.  He leads us from death to life.  New life for all who follow Him.

The disciples go about their lives.  They are met on the road to Emmaus and do not recognize Him.  Christ, however, opens their eyes and makes Himself known to them in the Word and in the Sacrament, the breaking of the bread.  He reveals Himself to the 10 and then to the 11 apostles.  Behind closed doors.  In a locked room.  Christ makes Himself known to them, and He makes Himself known to us.  He is risen.  Christ is alive.  He makes us alive too.

Click here to listen to Deaconess Pam Nielsen of Concordia Publishing House discuss this week’s Sunday School Lesson on Issues, Etc.

The End — The Cross: Good Friday 2011

This is the end of our existence as humans.  The Cross.  Christ came to fulfill the promise of God to redeem mankind and restore His creation.  Christ’s purpose was to die as a sacrifice for our sins.  And in so doing, God kills to make alive.  Our fate is the same as Christ’s.  We follow Him to the Cross, are crucified with Him, and raised to new life in our Baptism.  Unlike Christ, however, our glory remains in the future as the empty tomb shows us.  He leaves us at the Cross, to carry it in this world, and so to take Him, Christ to all people.

The Way of the Cross is a difficult path to travel.  But it is our path, the path of discipleship in Christ.  At this time of year, Christians show their devotion to this way by meditating on the Stations of the Cross and the events that occurred along the way from the judgment seat of earthy authority in Pilate, to the skull hill where Christ was nailed to a tree and died.  Click the link below to view a slide show that depicts the Stations of the Cross through Scripture, pictures, video, and song.  This was a Bible Study we did in our parish during Lent last year and is intended to be viewed by whole families.

Way of the Cross 2011

Palm Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today marks the beginning of Holy Week around the world, as our Savior and King entered Jerusalem riding on the humblest of work animals.  A beast of burden, Christ told His disciples to go into the city and obtain the donkey for what would be His grand entrance into the city of God.  It must have been a wonderfully strange spectacle to see the man haled King by these peasants who laid down cloaks and raised branches from the palm and olive trees along Christ’s path.  His following had swelled as the City began its somber observance of the Passover, a time of remembrance.  It was a high feast for the children of Israel that marked their deliverance from the bondage of slavery.  It was a time in the life of this people when God gathered them all in one place, in His Holy City, to enter into His presence.  They brought their lamb of sacrifice and presented it to the Lord who blessed it, made it Holy and returned it to the people.  They then ate this great feast in the presence of their God who consecrated His people, making them Holy.  Little did they know that this year, as Christ entered the Holy City through the procession of palms, that He was the Lamb being offered up, not by the people, but by God Himself.  And He was offered up for us so that we may be made Holy by His body and His blood, that we might be raised up as He would be for the forgiveness of sins.

Three Things to Know in Order to be Saved

From Martin Luther’s Foreward to a Personal Prayer Book.  These are things to know, not things to DO to be saved. — are we teaching these three to our children?

“Three things a person must know in order to be saved. First, he must know what to do and what to leave undone. Second, when he realizes that he cannot measure up to what he should do or leave undone, he needs to know where to go to find the strength he requires. Third, he must know how to seek and obtain that strength. It is just like a sick person who first has to determine the nature of his sickness, then find out what to do or to leave undone. After that he has to know where to get the medicine which will help him do or leave undone what is right for a healthy person. Then he has to desire to search for this medicine and to obtain it or have it brought to him.

Thus the commandments teach man to recognize his sickness, enabling him to perceive what he must do or refrain from doing, consent to or refuse, and so he will recognize himself to be a sinful and wicked person. The Creed will teach and show him where to find the medicine—grace—which will help him to become devout and keep the commandments. The Creed points him to God and his mercy, given and made plain to him in Christ. Finally, the Lord’s Prayer teaches all this, namely, through the fulfilment of God’s commandments everything will be given him. In these three are the essentials of the entire Bible.”

Luther, M. (1999). Vol. 43: Luther’s works, vol. 43 : Devotional Writings II (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald & H. T. Lehmann, Ed.). Luther’s Works (11–45). Philadelphia: Fortress Press;  pp. 13-14.


Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead, Sunday School Lesson for Sunday April 17, 2011

Raising of Lazarus
Image via Wikipedia

In John 11, Jesus receives word that his friend Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, was ill.  It was serious enough that Lazarus’ family called upon the miracle worker.  Yet Jesus does not go to him, telling those whom the sisters had sent that the illness was not serious, and did not lead to death.  John goes to great lengths to point out that Jesus had a special affection for this family.  It was Mary who had anointed Jesus with oil, and Martha who was scolded for failing to recognize the rest and nourishment to be found in our Lord Jesus.  Instead of going to Bethany where they lived, Jesus stayed where He was two days longer.  His disciples must have agreed with Jesus’ decision because they become concerned when Jesus asks to go to Judea.  They argue with Him, but Jesus tells them plainly that Lazarus had died.  And curiously Jesus tells them that He is glad, for their sake, that He was not there when Lazarus died.

This ragtag band of fishermen, would be soldiers and rulers in Christ’s kingdom, had to be quite puzzled.  They were clearly afraid that they would be attacked by the Jews again.  They were angry.  Jesus had clearly agitated them, and the disciples were getting cold feet.  Dazed and confused by Jesus’ statements, Thomas tries to muster some courage and rally the troops saying, “Let us go to Bethany and die with him!”  Yet the work of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing.  God never comes to us in the way we expect Him to.  He reveals His glory in ways that we cannot anticipate.  What did Thomas expect when they got into Judea?  What about the disciples?

Martha meets Jesus before He gets to Bethany, scolding Him.  Rightly, she says that Lazarus would not have died if Jesus had been there.  Yet faith would not have been created in His disciples.  Nor would we have gotten a glimpse at the fully incarnate God-man Christ as we do here.  For Jesus gives us the full range of His humanity in the emotion and love He displays for this family, the concern for His disciples’ faith, and the full range of His Deity in the creation of faith and raising Lazarus from the dead.  And Lazarus was not just dead — he was REALLY dead.  Four days.  Decay had set in.  And lest we forget, Christ Himself makes the claim here that He IS God in one of the great I AM statements of John when He tells Martha, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”  There is life in no other.  We who are dead can only be made alive by Christ;  we only receive life in and through Christ.  Make no mistake, when it comes to our salvation, without Christ, we are all exactly like Lazarus no matter how good of a person we are.

Christ, the life of all the living,
Christ, the death of death, our foe,
Christ, yourself for me once giving
To the darkest depths of woe:
Through your suffering, death, and merit
Life eternal I inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks are due,
Dearest Jesus, unto you.                      — Ernst C. Hornburg

Listen to Deaconess Pam Nielsen of Concordia Publishing House discuss this week’s lesson on Issues Etc.

Jesus Heals a Blind Man, Sunday School Lesson April 10, 2011

The Son of Man
Image by Mike Rawlins via Flickr

Listen to Deaconess Pam Nielsen of Concordia Publishing House discuss this week’s Sunday School Lesson with Todd Wilken on Issues Etc.

In John 9, Jesus heals a man blind from birth.  As they pass near this man, Jesus’ disciples pose the question — “Who sinned?  This man or his parents?”  The disciples recognized that man is sinful, but linked the physical disability to a specific sin of the parent or the child.  And while there is a kernel of truth here, namely that our sin has consequences that are felt in this world both physically and spiritually, Jesus, acknowledging that kernel of truth, tells His disciples they miss the bigger point:  This man is blind, so that God’s glory may be revealed in Him. And Jesus, pulls the man aside, spits in the dirt, creates mud, puts the mud on the man’s eyes, and tells the man to go wash in the pool of Siloam.  When he returns, the man can see.

The Pharisees are shocked and dismayed by this act.  They argue that a sinner like this man Jesus, a carpenter’s son whom they know, cannot heal the blind.  Only God can do miracles such as these.  But it is in the creative work of Christ, coming to the blind man, making a healing salve out of spit and mud, speaking to the man the Word of God, and the washing of water which gives the blind man faith to believe.  It is a pure gift of God in Christ and through the Holy Spirit which leads this man to confess that Jesus must be a great prophet.  And when the pharisees finish their questioning, Jesus again seeks out the man, and being the Christ, he confronts the man, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  His reply, “Tell me who He is Sir, that I may believe.”  The Spirit has not only opened this man’s eyes to see the world, but his heart has been opened to draw on the well of spiritual knowledge from which he has been fed throughout his life.  And so when Christ, the Cross itself, comes to him and confronts him, the blind man has a sense of hope welling within him.  Having been made ready to receive salvation by the law, Christ reveals Himself to the man.  This was done in the presence of some Pharisees, and Jesus takes the opportunity to reiterate His purpose in coming into this world — for judgment — that those who see or think they see may be made blind, and that those who are blind may be given sight.

Just as Jesus comes to the blind man to heal him, He comes to us, creates in us the faith to believe and receive Him.  Christ openly confronts each one of us with the reality of the Cross and our sinfulness — He  makes us ready to receive salvation, giving us the faith to receive Him.  Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet believe!  Keep us humble dear Christ, that in faith, we may receive you and carry you to others.

Listen to Deaconess Pam Nielsen of Concordia Publishing House discuss this week’s Sunday School Lesson with Todd Wilken on Issues Etc.

Just Heard on Issues Etc. 24: When you raise a child like he is the Messiah, you get Cain.

Dr. John Saleska, Director of the Concordia Bible Institute at Concordia University Wisconsin, just made a brilliant point in his talk on the book of Genesis on Issues Etc. 24.  Referring to the children of of Adam and Eve, Dr. Saleska observed that “when you raise a child like he is the Messiah, you get Cain.”  And who was Cain?  A selfish murderer of his very own brother.  He was jealous of his brother Abel’s sacrifice, and had no difficulty in killing him out of pure rage and spite.  And that was simply with the first children of our forbears.   Just imagine what we do to our children when we raise them as if they were like a Messiah.

Dr. Micah Parker of Trust Guy Ministries at Our Savior Lutheran Church Nashville — Saturday and Sunday April 9 & 10 2011

Saturday, April 9, 2011, a fundraiser is being held to benefit Our Savior Lutheran Academy.  The event will take place at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 5110 Franklin Road, Nashville, Tennessee.  Tickets are $50.00 at the door.  Grandparents $25.00.  There will be dinner and entertainment featuring our very own Jennie Williamson and Ben Glover, 2010 ASCAP Christian songwriter of the year.  The keynote speaker will be Dr. Micah Glover of Trust Guy Ministries.  Dr. Parker will also be leading Bible Study for all ages Sunday morning.

Dr. Parker is a featured speaker at the wildly successful Lutheran Hour Ministries Regional Outreach Conferences.   He also speaks at youth conferences, apologetic conferences, and other outreach gatherings throughout the country. You can find out more information about him at his website.  At, there is an interview with him telling how he got started speaking.  Come out and support our school.  Proceeds will go to fund technology upgrades, and art and music programs in the school.