Category Archives: Sunday School
In this week’s Sunday School Lesson, Jesus meets with Nicodemus, a pharisee and leader of the Jews, and teaches him of the birth of the new Adam through our new life in Christ. Jesus talks with Nicodemus about the Spirit, Baptism, and Faith in instructing him about salvation. Click here to listen to the interview with Deaconess Pam Nielsen with Pr. Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc.
Lent. We follow Christ to the Cross in this season. It is 40 days long (not counting Sundays or Passion days), just like the time Jesus spent in the wilderness where the devil tempted Him. We hear little about the devil these days, Satan, that old wicked foe. But he is real, and working his evil in this world. He tempted Jesus, the God man, thinking, quite possibly, that he could get the Son of God to choose as he did and reject His place, and seek the throne of the Father. Jesus, however, as he demonstrates and models for us time and time again, holds fast to the Word of God, and rebuffs Satan at every turn.
Matthew 4:1-11 is the text for our lesson today. Jesus’ temptation shows how He, the new Adam, did what Adam and we cannot — overcome the temptation of the devil bringing with Him life and forgiveness for those who believe. Listen to the Issues, etc. interview with Deaconess Pam Nielson of Concordia Publishing House discussing this week’s Sunday School lesson.
In Matthew 17:1-9 Jesus takes Peter, James, and John the brother of James, up onto a high mountain. The disciples did not know the purpose for doing so. Usually when Jesus went to lonely places like this, He went to pray. There is something different about this scene. In Matthew 16, Jesus has dealt with the Pharisees who demanded a sign from Him. They wanted proof that He had the authority to teach as He did. Jesus told them that they would receive no sign, but the sign of Jonah already given to them.
Christ was concerned about the influence the Pharisees could have on the disciples and the church so He warned them, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees,” for such an attitude that demanded physical proof that one could hold onto, touch and see, could affect the whole church, cause many to doubt their faith, and lead many away from the Word of Christ. Jesus then asked who people said that He was and who His disciples said He was. Peter, never one to be shy, boldly proclaimed, “You are the Christ!” This, Jesus told Him, is the faith, is the confession that the Church shall be built on. Peter thinks he knows Jesus and He knows who THE CHRIST is: why He is the King who will restore the fortune and glory of King David, of ancient Israel. Jesus then tells His disciples that (1) He must suffer, die, and rise again, and (2) if they truly want to be His followers, they too must take up their cross and follow Him. In Mark, Peter rebukes Jesus for saying He must suffer and die, and Jesus calls Peter Satan. Mark’s account shows Jesus following Peter’s rebuke with the statement that His disciples must take up a cross just like Him in order to be true followers.
Do you think Peter really understood here who Jesus was and what He was telling His disciples? Do you think that Peter thought he would have to suffer like Jesus? Carry a cross like Him? Hardly. The Mount of Transfiguration tells the story. It is there that we find Peter, James, and John with Jesus when suddenly, Jesus was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes were as white as light. Mark tells us that Jesus’ clothes were so white, that no one could bleach them that white on earth. Moses and Elijah then appeared, and Peter offered to make three tents so that they could hang out for a while. It is then that a bright cloud descends upon the mountain top. It is not a big gray storm cloud, or a fluffy cloud you see on a sunny day but a bright cloud. Moses had seen it before. In fact, he met God the Father in such a cloud. This cloud comes down upon the mountain, and overshadows them, it envelops them, gathers them into it. The voice of God the Father booms, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!” The disciples fall flat on their faces when they heard the voice! They could not get up. They were in the presence of the Triune God, and the fear was one of awe, respect, and honor for the majesty and presence of the Creator. But yes, the disciples were probably very scared too and felt unworthy of having this honor shared with them. They do not get up until God the Son physically touches them and tells them, “Rise and have no fear!” The disciples eyes were opened a little wider now to see that Jesus was really more than what they perceived Him to be.
Do Not Be Anxious
25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 7:25-34, ESV.
Do you worry? Maybe you worry about a test you have to take, or getting your homework done, or what clothes to wear, or whether you will make the team, or get the job.
Life is full of worries. Many things press on us from all sides, each clamoring for our attention. The things of this world draw our focus and attention from God and His Christ. They are much less important than what He has in store for us. Those things that draw our attention from God lead us to trust in people and things instead of God. In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives us comforting words about a Father who takes such good care of His creation that he provides food for the smallest of birds, and clothes the flowers in the fields. Jesus tells us that we are more important than they are, and if God shows such great care for the flowers and birds, how much more DOES He care for us? Yet too often we do not trust in God to care for us and we get in the way, rejecting the help we so desperately need. Yet He is always there, caring for us, and providing for our needs.
Click here to listen to Deaconess Pam Nielson from Concordia Publishing House discuss with Todd Wilken on Issues, Etc. how Jesus teaches us to trust God to provide for our physical and spiritual needs.
In the days after Christ ascended to heaven, the church was persecuted. One of its great persecutors was Saul of Tarsus. He is a pharisee of pharisees, born of the tribe of Benjamin. He learned at the feet of the great teacher Gamaliel. He was present and held the coats of the stone throwers at the stoning of Stephen, the first martyr. Saul’s hatred of the followers of the Way was so great, that he sought out letters from the High Priest permitting him to go to the synagogues of Damascus and bring them gagged and bound to Jerusalem. But as always, our Lord intervenes, and comes to Saul in a most unexpected way, blinding him as he makes his way to Damascus.
After Paul is confronted on the road to Damascus by the risen and ascended Lord Christ, he is sent on to Damascus where he is blind for three days, and neither eats nor drinks. It is then that a Disciple named Ananias comes to him, being called by Christ to do so. Ananias is reluctant to do so at first, having heard of Saul’s infamy. Yet our Lord tells him that this murderer is His chosen instrument to bring the Gospel to the gentiles.
Click here to listen this week’s lesson from Deaconess Pam Nielson at Concordia Publishing House from her interview on Issues, etc.
He must increase, and I must decrease. Repent! Repent! Behold the Lamb of God. John the Baptist, the man of the desert, came preaching a Baptism of repentance, but Christ came preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Listen to Deaconess Pam Nielson from Concordia Publishing House discuss this week’s Sunday School lesson here on Issues, Etc.
And the older shall serve the younger. Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated. Twins. Born to Isaac and Rebecca. One became the father of the people of God. The other many nations that surrounded his younger brother. One of the great themes of Scripture is birthed in this story — the last shall be first, and the first last; the proud will be brought low and the low exalted. These themes deal with the Word of God and its effect on its hearers. Esau rejected the birthright, and sold it for a mess of pottage, thereby ignoring the promise of God to his Grandfather Abraham. Listen to Deaconess Pam Nielsen from Concordia Publishing House talk about this week’s Sunday School Lesson here on Issues, Etc.
This week our children will continue with the Old Testament story of Isaac and Rebecca. God continues to work out His plan of salvation in the story of these two persons. We find that Abraham sends his servant to his own people, far away to find a wife for his son, Isaac. “LORD,” when used in uppercase, refers to the personal name of God. It is used many, many times in this story, and holds a central place for Abraham and his people in their daily lives and in their worship. This is not just another arranged marriage.
Click here to listen to the Issues, Etc. weekly interview with Deaconess Pam Nielson for insight into this week’s lesson.
God promised Sarah and Abraham a son, a real son of their own. Sarah was old and barren, yet God provided. Isaac was the son born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age. This week, God asks something of Abraham. A sacrifice. As they walk up the mountain, Isaac asks his father where the sacrifice may be. Abraham replies in faith, “God will provide.” Click here to listen to this week’s interview with Deaconess Pam Nielson of Concordia Publishing House on Issues, etc.
This week, Abraham receives three heavenly visitors who tell him that Sarah will have a child. Sarah laughs, but learns that God’s covenants and promises are no laughing matter. Click here to listen to the Issues Etc. interview with Deaconess Pam Nielson of Concordia Publishing House discuss preparing this lesson for Sunday.