The Scarville Lutheran School will have their Open House on Friday, April 9th at 5:00pm. Supper will be provided at 5pm. The speaker for the evening will Renee Doyle. She is a former congressional legislative director and education advisor, and currently she is the Headmaster of Genesis Classical Academy in Winnebago, MN. After the presentation, there will be an opportunity for new students to register for next school year.
Let us pray: Lord God, heavenly Father, by Your Son You fed five thousand men in the wilderness with five loaves and two fish, showing that you nourish our bodies: We beseech You to nourish also our souls with Your gospel, that by the redemption of Your Son, we may be freed from sin, and be led with believers from every nation to our eternal inheritance by Your merciful Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one true God, now and forever. Amen.
Grace to you and peace, from God, our Father, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
8 Thus says the LORD: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages;
9 That You may say to the prisoners,`Go forth,’ To those who are in darkness,`Show yourselves.’ “They shall feed along the roads, And their pastures shall be on all desolate heights.
10 They shall neither hunger nor thirst, Neither heat nor sun shall strike them; For He who has mercy on them will lead them, Even by the springs of water He will guide them.
11 I will make each of My mountains a road, And My highways shall be elevated.
12 Surely these shall come from afar; Look! Those from the north and the west, And these from the land of Sinim.”
13 Sing, O heavens! Be joyful, O earth! And break out in singing, O mountains! For the LORD has comforted His people, And will have mercy on His afflicted.
These are Your words, heavenly Father. Sanctify us by the truth. Your Word is truth. Amen.
Dear fellow redeemed,
In the desolate place, Jesus fed the many who were hungry and faint. He had mercy on them. They needed food. Where there was very little to nourish them in this desolate place, Jesus gave them a feast. Miraculously He fed the multitude out of five loaves of bread and two fish.
This miracle is a sign, or indication, that Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah. But this feeding is not the feeding that is prophesied in Isaiah.
Let’s examine the prophesy Isaiah puts before us. Pictured before us is Israel returning to their inheritance. God’s servant will go and say to those imprisoned Israelites in exile, go free. They who are in darkness, come into the light. They who hunger in desolate places, will now have pasture from which to eat. They shall return to God. The mountains will not prevent them. God will make His mountains into roads. The highways in the valleys will be lifted up. They shall come from all over the earth. He who has mercy on them will lead them. He will give them plentiful pasture, and water for them to drink to sustain them on the way. They will return with singing and great rejoicing, because they are comforted and have received God’s mercy.
But what exactly is pictured? What is God prophesying here?
He’s speaking about the acceptable time, the day of salvation. At the time of Isaiah, the day was yet to come, but for us the day has already come. The Father hears the prayers of the Son. The Son of God became man and though He was without sin, He was able to sympathize with weaknesses of man, and thus He prayed to the Father on behalf of all mankind. And so the Father hears, and He plans out the day of salvation. He sends His Son to be the covenant of the people. That means He will be the personal bond which unites Israel and its God in a new fellowship.
So this return prophesied in our gospel reading is not a return to the land, but a return to God, who created us, but from whom we have lost communion. But on the acceptable day, the day of salvation, the Father gives up His Son to draw us to Himself and accept us for the sake of Christ alone. This is not a two-sided agreement, that we do our part and God does His. Rather Christ has made all things right between us and God. He has accounted for our sins, paying the price for them. He is the righteousness that justifies us with God. He is the bloodied, beaten, and crucified Mediator that creates peace between us and God.
This is meaningful for us only when we know what our spiritual situation is. We were in exile, separated from our Creator on account of our sins. We were in darkness, alienated from God, not knowing Him as our gracious God, but only our Judge, from whom we hide in the darkness.
We are hungry and thirsty in this wilderness. There is that innate longing for something that is missing, something lasting, that which we lost, the relationship with God. But we cannot satisfy it. Even the crowd Jesus fed had the answer before them–there was Jesus who is their righteousness and life. But they wanted from Him only satisfaction for their bellies. So also, in this wilderness, there is nothing to give us what we lost. In this wilderness, we try to fill our longings with whatever we can find, we even try to produce our own righteousness to make us right before God, but this is a delusion. It fails.
Furthermore, our spiritual situation can be compared to captivity. We can perhaps relate to this most of all these days. We’re stuck at home. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s a blessing to be home, but yet, we are limited on what we can do outside the home. We leave only for necessities. But how much greater is the captivity under sin and the devil. Our wills were completely bound to the devil. We were slaves of sin. We think we were free, but we were not. We could not budge from their grasp, not an inch to the left or to the right.
The way to God, is fraught with mountains and difficult terrain. There is no way we can make our way to Him.
But then because of Christ, what happens!? By His saving work, and through the preaching of His gospel, what wonderful things now happens for you. You in captivity: “Go forth.” You are free! Free from sin and Satan! You in the darkness, “Show yourselves, live in my light and life, and see that I am gracious to you!”
“The way to Me has been opened. Jesus is the Way. Through Him I have drawn you to Myself.” My mountains have been made into roads, the highways in the valley have been lifted up. There no longer anything separating you from Me. You are Mine, and I have claimed people from all four corners of the earth to be Mine as well. I have drawn all of you to Myself through My Son, who was lifted up on the cross. And while you remain on the earth, though it will be difficult, suffering the evil of the world, war, disaster, and famine, He will be with you. He who has mercy on You, will lead you. He is your Good Shepherd. He is also the Bread of Life. Eat of His Word, and partake of His body and blood, for He satisfies your hunger, for He is the righteousness by which you have peace and communion with Me. He will lead you beside still waters, upholding you in the grace of your baptism, and refreshing you in my grace.”
And so we go led by our Lord, feasting on Him, and living in our baptism, until we enter the glorious presence of God in heaven. And so we go, with believers from every tongue, tribe, and nation.
It hasn’t been long that we’ve been away from church, but I’m really looking forward to when we can leave the walls of our house, and we will come from the north, the west, the south, and east, and join together within the walls of our Father’s house, to gather in His most gracious presence, and partake of the Bread of Life, in Word and Sacrament, receiving from Him, His forgiveness, righteousness, and refreshment! It will be a joyful day!
And this is a foretaste of heaven, isn’t it? Gathering together with one another in God’s most gracious and glorious presence. And so we sing and rejoice, for the Lord has comforted us and has mercy on us! He has united us to Himself, and we shall be with Him forever. Amen.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, forevermore. Amen.
22Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Dear fellow redeemed in Christ our risen Lord,
Joseph had been stripped of his coat of many colors, a special and unique gift from his beloved father; he had been thrown into a pit, and then sold into slavery. His own brothers had done this to him. But Joseph did not stay a slave. Over the course of years he rose to become one of the most powerful men in the world. His brothers probably figured he was long dead. They were wrong.
They found out how wrong they were when they needed food during a severe and long-lasting famine. Joseph was in charge of the food in all the land of Egypt, and that’s where the brothers had to go to get food. Without the food they and their families would starve to death. Joseph recognizes his brothers when they come to Egypt, but they do not recognize him. Finally though, Joseph lets them know who he is. And Moses, the writer of Genesis, tells us: “they were dismayed in his presence.” Yes indeed, the brothers who had wickedly sold Joseph years before out of their jealousy and hatred of him, the brothers who despised him, the brothers who had to “settle” for just selling him into slavery when most of them wanted him dead – these are the ones who are now “dismayed” in front of Joseph.
The fate of these brothers, these sons of Israel, is in the hands of Joseph. Joseph has reason to hate them. He has reason to want them punished for their evil; for their betrayal, for their cruelty. Yet what does Joseph do? Listen to what Moses tells us: “And Joseph said to his brothers, “Please come near to me.” So they came near. Then he said: “I am Joseph your brother, whom you sold into Egypt. But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:4-5). Joseph knows that God had a purpose for his slavery – the purpose was that Joseph might save lives through God putting him in the right place at the right time. Joseph does not use his power nor his advantage over his brothers to give them what they deserve. Instead, he forgives them, he accepts them back as his brothers, as his family, and rejoices to be with them again.
You can probably figure out the connection between Joseph and Jesus. On that first Easter evening Jesus meets His disciples. What are His first words to these men? These are the ones who all promised that they would never leave Him. These are the ones who said they would die before they would abandon Him. But what did they actually do? They fell asleep instead of praying. They ran away when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter had actually denied even knowing Jesus three times. They did not rally around Jesus to protect, support, or help Him in any way. They left Him alone during the time of His greatest need.
So, now it is the evening of the third day. Stories of resurrection have been circulating, but the disciples have hardly dared to believe. How does Jesus greet these men? He could have refused even to meet with them. He could have met them with fire and brimstone, punishing them for their cowardice, their lack of faith. He could have scolded them.
What are His words? “Peace be with you.” I want you to remember that. I want you to have this picture of Christ in mind when you wonder if God will forgive you, if He wants to forgive you, if He’ll hold your sins against you. Jesus did not scold. He did not punish. He gave peace to them.
Now, some abuse this peace with God and interpret it to mean that now God allows every and any thing to be done, as if there is now no morality, no right and wrong, and that God will simply love no matter what. There is enough truth in that statement to make it sound right, but it also has enough error to make it deadly to souls.
Why doesn’t Jesus need to scold or punish the disciples on that Easter evening? There’s no need for more law because they know their sin. They know they failed. They know they cannot excuse their actions or lack of action for Jesus. They are not trying to say that what they did was right or something that God should allow. The disciples, like the brothers of Joseph, understand their sin. And by the grace of God alone they are forgiven.
One disciple is not there on that first Easter evening. When he hears the story of the resurrection for the other ten Thomas doubts it. He demands to see, to touch.
When Jesus shows Himself to Thomas the next week, He doesn’t need to scold Thomas much either. Jesus says: “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas sees Jesus and recognizes Him. He does believe. He confesses his faith in the risen Jesus: “My Lord and My God.” Thomas knows why the nail prints are in the hands of Jesus, and why the side of Jesus has a wound. These are the marks of the crucifixion. These are the marks of the winning of salvation: forgiveness from sin, life.
The wounds of Jesus are a reminder that forgiveness came with a price – the death of the Son of God. Those who imagine that God’s love for us allows us to continue in sin or to think that God doesn’t care about sin, are not only mistaken, but they also blaspheme the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus died to pay for sin. He didn’t die so we can consider sin as of no consequence.
But as we realize our sin, as we come to understand more and more that our sins are known to God even more than Joseph knew the sins of his brothers against him, then let us remember that Jesus wants us to believe in Him. Jesus wants us to know peace with God. Jesus wants us to hear forgiveness for all sin. He doesn’t want us to be afraid of Him, or to run away from Him, or to hide from Him. Jesus calls us to Him with words of peace, forgiveness, and love.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
Blessed are you, by faith in Jesus Christ. Life is yours, by believing in the name of Jesus. You have a God who forgives, who paid for sin with His own death, who rose again in triumph, all for you. Trust the words written for you, that you may believe and live. God grant this to you all in the name of Jesus – Christ is risen, He is risen indeed. Alleluia!