Archive for the ‘disciples’ tag
The text for this lesson is Luke 11:1–13; John 16:23–33.
- Our heavenly Father invites us to pray and promises to hear our prayer for the sake of His Son, Jesus.
- Law: I sin by not trusting God and failing to pray to Him for all things.
- Gospel: God promises to hear and answer my prayers because of His Son, Jesus, and to do what is best and good for me.
- Several years ago, a book called The Prayer of Jabez was quite popular. The central thesis of The Prayer of Jabez is that if you pray the prayer of Jabez daily and believe hard enough that the Lord will grant your desires, then He will bless you in incredible ways.
According to 1 Chronicles 4:9–10, why did God grant Jabez that for which he asked? What part of this passage indicates that the prayer of Jabez is to provide a model for the prayers of believers? What does Matthew 6:9 tell us about Christian prayer?
- According to Luke 3:21–22, what event resulted in Jesus being identified as the beloved Son of the Father? What similar connection does Paul make in Galatians 3:26–27? According to Romans 8:14–17 and Galatians 4:4–7, what gives us the right to pray the Lord’s Prayer?
- In John 16:23, Jesus tells us to pray in His name—in the name of Jesus. Because of the need for Christians to pray in the name of Jesus, what implications are there for the occasion when we might be called on to pray in public, especially in a context where different religions are represented?
How do Matthew 6:6 and James 5:16b inform our view of prayer in the public square?
- In Luke 11:1–4, one of Jesus’ disciples asks Him to teach them to pray. He responds with a condensed version of the Lord’s Prayer, containing only five petitions. In Matthew 6:9–13, which is part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives the Lord’s Prayer as we know it with seven petitions. The Fourth and Fifth Petitions (Third and Fourth in Luke) could grammatically be combined to read, “Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our debts (Luke: sins).” In what part of the Divine Service is the Lord’s Prayer prayed?
How does this relate to the combined petitions above? What kind of bread is received by faith and discussed in John 6:33, 35, 51, and 54?
- In the illustrations that Jesus gives in Luke 11:5–8 and 11–13, He uses a rhetorical technique called arguing from the lesser to the greater. In the first instance, Jesus basically says, “If your neighbor is willing to help you out because you are annoying him (the lesser), how much more will the Father, who loves to be bothered, help those who ask (the greater).”
In the second instance (11:11–13), how does Jesus argue from the lesser to the greater? What is so surprising about what Jesus calls the disciples in 11:13? What is a bit surprising about the prayer itself? What does this teach us?
- Read Luke 11:9–10. On face value, what seems to be the immediate result of prayer? Do our own experiences with prayer seem to contradict Luke 11:9–10?
Luke 11:9 could be better translated, “Keep on asking, and it will be given to you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” Does this translation make Jesus’ words fit more closely to our actual experiences?
- In John 16:23–24, Jesus tells His disciples, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you. . . . Ask [literally “keep on asking”], and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” This also seems like an absolute, if-then statement about prayer—that if we ask for a specific thing in Jesus’ name, then the Father will give it.
Yet we are reminded of the discussion above concerning Jesus’ emphasis on prayer for spiritual things (e.g., prayer for the Holy Spirit in Luke 11:13) and also the future orientation of the fulfillment of our prayers. Where does 2 Corinthians 1:18–22 teach us to look for the final answer to all of our prayers?
- Sometimes people say that rote prayers are not from the heart but are merely spoken without meaning them. It may be true that we often say prayers without paying much attention to what we are saying—which is not a good thing—but what has Jesus taught us in Luke 11:2 and Matthew 6:9?
What is the advantage to rote prayers? Which book in the Bible is helpful to study if we desire to learn how to pray more faithfully?
- Prayer in the ancient world—and still today in many places—was almost always spoken; the idea of praying in thoughts would have been unusual. In fact, reading was almost always done out loud as well.
What advantage have we lost by becoming less oral in our praying and reading? What does Romans 10:17 remind us? In what context are our prayers still always spoken or sung?
- Paul admonishes us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Yet sometimes we do not or cannot pray as we should. What wonderful comfort does Romans 8:26–27 give us when we feel that we have failed to pray or do not know how to pray correctly?
The text for this lesson is Luke 7:36–50.
- In faith, a sinful woman lovingly anointed Jesus’ feet. In faith, we grasp God’s free mercy, receive the forgiveness of sins, and respond with acts of love and praise.
- Law: My sin troubles and harms me, condemning me to eternal death.
- Gospel: God offers His love and forgiveness to me and all sinners who call upon Him for mercy and grants me His peace.
- This week, we see how a sinful woman encountered the love and forgiveness of Jesus, which moved her to repentance, saving faith in Him, and also great love for Him. She was not saved by her works of love but by trusting in Jesus.
How does Romans 4:4–5 explain why faith is not a work done by people? What does Romans 4:6–8 say is the essence of the righteousness of faith?
- Luke provides the only account among the Gospel writers of the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet with tears and ointment. Matthew, Mark, and John describe a woman coming to Jesus soon before His Passion in order to anoint His head with oil.
Though Luke records a different event than the other evangelists, the anointing of Jesus in Luke might have the same symbolic value as the anointing recorded in the others. According to Matthew 26:12, what was the purpose of Jesus’ anointing? How is this appropriate as we approach Holy Week?
- In Luke 7:36–39, it is mentioned four times that Simon was a Pharisee. It seems that Luke wanted to make sure that the hearer of His Gospel would pick up on the fact that Simon was a Pharisee.
What clue could this fact indicate about the way the story will unfold? Do we still have Pharisees in our midst today?
- We confess in the Nicene Creed that Jesus Christ is “God of God, light of light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.” What things does Jesus do in today’s lesson that only God can do?
- What actions demonstrate Simon’s rejection of Jesus as the greatest Prophet, the Messiah? What is ironic about Simon’s statement, “If this man were a prophet, He would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39)? According to Luke 5:20–21 and Luke 7:49, what work of Jesus scandalized the Pharisees more than any other?
- What is the main point of the parable of two debtors? Which of the debtors represents us?
- The contrast between the woman and the Pharisee is striking. Jesus says to Simon, “I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” (Luke 7:47). Does this verse indicate that the woman was forgiven because she loved Jesus or that she loved Jesus because she was forgiven?
How do the second half of the verse and the parable of the two debtors help us find the right answer? How does 1 John 4:19 shed light on this question?
- Throughout Luke’s Gospel, Jesus shares table fellowship with tax collectors, sinners, and Pharisees. In today’s lesson, the woman was one of those sinners whom Jesus ate with and to whom He delivered forgiveness. Jesus ate with the Pharisees, but they did not desire His forgiveness.
According to Luke 13:26–27, what will be Jesus’ message on the Last Day for Pharisees who ate at the same table with Jesus but did not believe in Him? What words of warning does Luke 13 give to us today as we gather around our Lord’s Table?
- Paul says in Romans 3:23, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When we realize that, we will appreciate why we needed Jesus to come save us. What does Luke 1:77 tell us is Jesus’ mission? How was His mission completed, according to Ephesians 1:7?
- The liturgy for Holy Communion takes us through a remarkable transition. We enter as poor, miserable sinners. When we receive the Benediction, the Lord blesses us with the gift of peace as we depart. According to Romans 5:1, what is the cause of our peace with God?
The text for this lesson is Acts 1:1–11; Luke 24:44–53
- Jesus, our risen Savior, ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us there with Him.
- Law: I sin when I think that Jesus has left me alone when He ascended. It is a sin to want to keep Jesus physically present with me here on earth. Like the disciples, I am tempted to want Jesus to be an earthly ruler and restore His kingdom on earth.
- Gospel: Jesus ascended for me to prepare an eternal home, yet He promises to be with me always. Jesus, my ascended Lord, gave me His body and blood in the Lord’s Supper and His Word to sustain me until I join Him in heaven. Jesus’ death and resurrection restores me to Himself; His ascension promises that He will come again to bring me to His heavenly kingdom.
- Since about the fifth century, the Church has kept a paschal candle lit during worship from Easter through Ascension Day. On Ascension Day, which occurs forty days after Easter (Acts 1:3), the paschal candle is extinguished after the reading of the Gospel. This symbolizes Jesus’ removal from the sight of His disciples. We now live by faith, not by sight. However, the other candles in the church have been lit from the paschal candle, and they continue to burn. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus tells His disciples, “You are the light of the world,” and in Psalm 119:105, we hear that God’s Word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. In light of these verses, what might the candles that remain lit after receiving light from the paschal candle symbolize?
- Luke begins Acts by saying, “In the first book . . . I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts 1:1–2). By saying that Jesus “began to do and teach” things in Luke, it suggests that Jesus will personally continue to do and teach. What do this passage and Acts 1:8 tell us about how Jesus’ “doing and teaching” will continue even after His ascension? How is this reminiscent of Luke 10:16?
- This week we celebrate Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Where is heaven? What insights do Philippians 2:9–11 and Ephesians 4:8–10 give us concerning Christ’s ascension and exaltation?
- In Acts 1:4–5, Jesus tells the apostles to wait for the promised Holy Spirit to come, “for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” We recall that John’s was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 3:3). Most likely all of Jesus’ apostles had been baptized by John. Yet Jesus promised to baptize them with the Holy Spirit, which was fulfilled when the Spirit descended on the apostles on Pentecost. Some people argue that water Baptism does not give the Holy Spirit, but that there is a separate Baptism of the Holy Spirit. How do John 3:5; Ephesians 4:5; and Acts 2:38 refute the idea that the Lord ordained more than one kind of Baptism for the Church?
- On the road to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ disciples were lamenting His death and expressing their disappointment, saying, “we had hoped that [Jesus] was the one to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). In other words, they were hoping that Jesus would be a powerful earthly Messiah who would restore Israel to greatness. How does the question from the apostles in Acts 1:6 demonstrate that they had not yet gotten it? What do John 18:33–38 and 19:1–3, 18–19 teach about Jesus’ kingdom? When would the apostles finally get it? How does Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:29–36 demonstrate this?
- Acts 1:9 says that Jesus “was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight.” Poof! Jesus was gone. Well, not really. In fact, the presence of the cloud was a sign that Jesus was not really leaving but just changing His mode of presence with the apostles. According to Exodus 13:21–22 and 14:24–25, what was the significance of the cloud over Israel during the Exodus? According to Exodus 40:34–38, where did the cloud reside with Israel? What might the cloud at the ascension have to do with that Old Testament cloud?
- Acts 1:11 states, “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” What exciting thing for believers does Luke 21:25–28 tell us about Jesus’ return? What event does 2 Corinthians 5:10 say will occur when Jesus returns? According to Mark 13:32, when should we expect Jesus’ return to happen? What should be the Christian’s constant expectation and prayer, according to Revelation 22:20?
- The disciples’ separation from Jesus was not a sad one. “They worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52–53). Based on Matthew 28:20, why were they so joyful? How does the celebration continue in Acts 2:42? What pattern did their worship set for the Church of all ages?
- Sometimes people call God the man upstairs. Since the ascension, perhaps that’s not such a bad title for Jesus. However, that expression comes from the days when the office of the boss was located above the factory floor. His office had windows, and he could observe what everyone was doing without their knowledge. That’s actually intimidating and scary, but according to Hebrews 4:13, what is the nature of God’s knowledge of our lives? Is that passage Law or Gospel? What do 1 Timothy 2:5–6 and Romans 8:33–34 tell us about the man upstairs? Are those passages Law or Gospel?
- What words in John 14:1–3 show us that to be in heaven is to be where Jesus is? Why is the passage so frequently used as the text for funeral sermons?
The text for this lesson is John 21:1–14
1. Read Romans 6:3–5. Why is every day a perfect one for reflecting on Jesus’ resurrection?
2. Luke 5 tells how Jesus calls His first disciples, including Simon Peter. He says to him, “From now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10). How had Peter’s catching men progressed in the days and months prior to today’s lesson? When does Peter’s job as a fisher of men really begin?
3. What did the sign in John 2:11 accomplish? According to 1 John 4:9, how was the love of God revealed (manifested) to the world?
4. Simon Peter and six other disciples were together in Galilee. John 21:3 records Peter suggesting that the group go fishing. The best time to fish was at night, which explains why they went out when they did. What possible reasons could have motivated the disciples to go fishing so soon after Jesus’ resurrection?
5. After a night of fruitless fishing, the disciples surely were frustrated. They did not know Jesus standing on the shore. He said, “Little children, you do not have any fish, do you?” What do you think it means that Jesus called them little children? How does this event reinforce what the disciples had learned from Jesus in Matthew 6:8?
6. Peter’s response to Jesus was zealous, as we see in his plunge into the water. He was an emotional person, prone to follow his instincts, which were often wrong. The other disciples lagged behind, dragging in the net. On shore, Jesus already had a charcoal fire lit, with fish and bread prepared. Yet strangely, Jesus told them to bring some of the catch, and Peter went out and dragged it in himself. John notes that the net was not torn, and there were 153 large fish. The details in this story seem puzzling, but Jesus never revealed Himself without revealing more fully who He is for His disciples and for the Church. Peter, as the representative of the apostles, had dragged the fish ashore, and there were an abundance of large fish. In light of the saying from Luke 5 that Peter would be catching men, what might these fish have symbolized?
7. After Jesus invited the disciples to breakfast, none of them dared ask who He was since “They knew it was the Lord.” Then He took the bread and fish and gave it to them. Compare this passage with Luke 24:30–31, 35 and John 6:11. What do we learn about one of the ways Jesus revealed Himself to the disciples? How does this point to one of the ways He reveals Himself to us today?
8. In last week’s lesson, we learned that Jesus gave His Holy Spirit to the apostles so that they could forgive and retain sins. In which places do many people seek to find the Holy Spirit revealed today? Where have Lutherans always confessed—based on the sure Word of God—that the Holy Spirit is revealed among us? See John 6:63 and 3:5.
9. One of the Bible passages we are studying today is 1 Peter 2:24, which says that Christ “Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” This reminds us we are saved only by the wounds of Jesus. John paints a beautiful picture of this in John 19:34 and 1 John 5:6–8. What does this picture depict?
The text for this lesson is John 2:1–11.
- Through His first miracle, Jesus revealed Himself to be true God. God uses His Word and physical means—water, bread, and wine—to reveal to me that Jesus is my Savior.
- Law: Like the disciples, I am unsure who Jesus is.
- Gospel: In His Word and Sacraments, Jesus shows me that He is the Savior, as He showed the disciples through His Word and miracles.
The text for this lesson is Matthew 14:22–33.
- Jesus was gracious to Peter when he feared drowning. Jesus is gracious to us and is ready to catch us as we sink in sin and unbelief; His hand is always strong to save us.
The text for this lesson is Mark 4:35–41.
- Just as Jesus calmed the storm with His Word for the frightened disciples, so He calms and ends the storm of sin and its certain death by taking our sin on Himself and dying in our place so we may live eternally.
- Law: “God doesn’t care about us, our fears, our sufferings, our anything.” That’s what we think, all too often, when the storms of life hit. We feel God is giving us the cold shoulder, or, worse by far, wonder if He even exists. Fear suffocates faith, leading ultimately to despair and hopelessness.
- Gospel: God does care. In the vast cosmos, nothing is as much the object of His love as you. Though, when walking through this valley of sorrow (or being tossed about in a ferocious sea), it seems the Lord is heartless, He is anything but. He is with you. At the right time, He will provide peace through His Word, bring you out of the valley and storm, and calm your trembling heart.
The text for this lesson is Mark 5:1–24, 35–43.
- Just as Jesus by Word and touch raised the dead girl to life, so by His divine Word, Baptism, and Supper, He kills and buries death and raises us to life eternal.
- Law: “The wages of sin is death”—wages death pays faithfully and fatally (Romans 6:23). From the stillborn babe to the gray-haired grandma, death is no respecter of persons. It has its way with us all, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Thus, for the sinner, death is the ultimate defeat, the ultimate fear, the sad end to pre-hell days.
- Gospel: The glory of God is a living man. Death is the foe of God, man, and the God-man Jesus. He is not only life itself, He is a killer of death and the bestower of life. That life He gives via Hiw Word, the very Word that once crafted a living man from dust and will, one day, raise us from the dust, resurrected and re-created to live forever with Him.
The text for this lesson is Mark 2:13–17.
- We sinners rejoice, for we too have been called from our own sin to dine at the table of the friend of sinners: Jesus.
- Law: “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8). But also, if we say we have no sin as bad as so-and-so’s, we dupe ourselves just as much. The root of hypocrisy is self-deception. We think we are much higher up on God’s “honor roll” than our peers. Such lies, which dam up the flow of repentance and forgiveness, leaves the sinner damned. Jesus is the friend of sinners. He lives with them, eats with them, dies with them. Self-made saints have no friend in Jesus, for they despise His compassion as well as His companions.
- Gospel: If we confess our sins, if we say “I am a sinner,” Jesus will say, “I am your friend. Fear not. I am faithful and just to forgive your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness” (see 1 John 1:9).
The text for this lesson is John 1:43–51.
- In Jesus, access to heaven is given to all who believe.
- Law: You get the god you believe in. If you believe “God” to be a mean-spirited, unforgiving, damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don’t deity, then your belief in that false god attaches you to him. Again, if you believe “God” to be an everybody-gets-to-heaven, anything goes, laid-back Lord, then your belief in that false god attaches you to him. Remember, you get the “God” you believe in. But if the deity in whom you believe is false, then, alas, he is nothing more than one of the devil’s myriad disguises. And what you get is hell.
- Gospel: Jesus is who Jesus is. He is not whomever we twist, wrench, or otherwise manipulate Him into being. He defies our expectations, knowing all, loving all, dying for all. Something good did come down from Nazareth. That good is the Savior, who is the true Jacob’s ladder, for upon Him the angels come down to escort us upward to our heavenly home.