The Ascension of Jesus, which took place on the 40th day after His resurrection, seems to be the forgotten festival of the Church. Yet, Jesus returning to heaven is a vital part of His “victory tour” and a comfort to all who believe. We celebrate it today! Join with Pastor Jeff as he helps us better understand the importance of Jesus ascending to the right hand of the Father in heaven.
In this message for Confirmation Sunday, Pastor Jeff Alexander helps us look at Jesus’ words in John 14:15-21. Sent as the “Helper” to those who trust in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is promised as the One who will be with Christ-followers forever. The Spirit brings new life to all who trust in Jesus and receive Him as “the Truth” by whom we become the Father’s own.
The Apostle Thomas is often called “Doubting Thomas,” due to his trouble believing the resurrection and his demand to see the risen Lord Jesus for himself. Perhaps “Honest Thomas” would be a better nickname. As Jesus speaks to His disciples about His upcoming departure and the preparations He will be making for them in the Father’s house, Thomas asks an honest question: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” This honest question gets a straightforward answer that becomes the message we disciples share with all the world!
Today we look at one of the most famous passages in the Bible: the 23rd Psalm. Let’s dig deep to gain a better understanding of the Lord, who is our Shepherd, and ourselves, who are helpless “sheep” without His guidance and provision. In Christ, we have a faithful Shepherd who alone satisfies the deepest needs of our lives. In Christ, we have a host who seats us at His table and blesses us in His house forever.
It’s Easter evening. Two Christ-followers are on the seven-mile journey back home to Emmaus from the Passover feast. They’re talking about everything that happened to their Master during the past week, when, all of a sudden, Jesus comes and walks along with them. While at first He hides his identity from them, Jesus eventually teaches them from His Book and reveals Himself to them in the breaking of the bread. Today, as you open the Word, God desires to work on your heart, too, as He did those travelers en route to Emmaus on the first Easter evening. What will He teach you? How will His Book interpret you?
When the disciples see their risen Lord, they are overjoyed. He stands among them. He speaks to them. He sends them. Filled with His Spirit, they go out to bring forgiveness to all the world. There’s only one problem: Thomas, one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the others when they first saw the risen Jesus. Thomas demands to see and touch Jesus for himself before he will believe. Jesus graciously accommodates Thomas’ demands and appears again, on the Sunday after Easter. “Stop doubting and believe,” He says. Thomas sees. Thomas touches. Thomas believes. And he confesses, “My Lord and my God!” As Jesus blesses us with His presence in Word and Sacrament, may we do the same.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Join with the women who were the first to witness the empty tomb of Jesus and experience their joy when their Savior suddenly appears to them. Come and see! Go and tell! As surely as the sun comes up at dawn, the Son of God is risen from the dead, triumphant over the grave, never to die again. He gives life, full and free, to all who trust in Him!
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