Today's readings draw our attention to our Baptism and then to our Lord's command to love one another. Whenever we are able to produce such sweet fruit for God it is only because he has lavishly bestowed grace and forgiveness on us. He has pruned us as a faithful gardener would prune the vines of his vineyard. When and where God intervenes with his care, we bear much fruit and give him the glory.
What's in it for me? That is often the world's question and ours too. Jesus comes as the Good Shepherd to battle the enemies of sin and death and to protect and defend us, his sheep. He does this all not for himself but for us. For us he lives, for us he dies, and for us he rises again. He took on our flesh and blood not for gain or glory but in order to battle our enemies and win for us the victory only he could win. Now we hear his voice, respond with joy, and in gratitude follow his lead to eternal life. What's in it for me? Jesus answers: "Your salvation."
The risen Lord Jesus commissions his church to boldly and faithfully proclaim the Easter gospel. Though some may oppose the message, the Easter gospel is the only gospel that gives spiritual and eternal life.
The disciples were gathered together in fear and apprehension, yet Jesus brings a word of peace and assurance. His presence among them gives a full sense of complete well-being. Jesus is present among us today as well, assuring us that all is well and that we are truly at peace with God and with one another.
Today is Easter Sunday, the day on which we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord from the dead. On this day Christians throughout the world join their voices in praise and proclamation of the most central part of their faith – that Jesus suffered on the cross, died, was buried, and rose on the third day. Thanks be to God!
Today, we recall not only the last hours of the life of our Lord and King, Jesus Christ, as he was paraded through a puppet court system, suffered under Pontius Pilate and marched to Golgotha, carrying the cross to which he would be nailed, but also his purpose in doing all of this—our salvation.
As the time draws near for our Lord to sacrifice himself for the sins of the world, he does a remarkable thing. He offers his disciples a foretaste of the forgiveness he would soon offer the entire world. In, with, and under the bread and the wine is the true body and blood of Jesus, given and shed for the forgiveness of all of their sins—and ours. He offers that foretaste also to us today. The Lord engages all of our senses as we walk with him and his disciples through the events that lead up to his trial; those events we remember on this holy Maundy Thursday.
Those who accompanied Jesus into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday were people who wanted a king in the style of their hopes and dreams. Instead they got a King who was determined to go to the cross and conquer our foes of sin, death, and the devil. Because he was obedient to death, the Father highly exalted him, at whose name "every knee should bow" (Philippians 2:10). Although the praises of Palm Sunday seem to be in contrast to the sorrow of Jesus' Passion, it is by his suffering that he became the King worthy of eternal praise.
Each Sunday in this Lenten season we have been presented with the central truth of Scripture, Jesus is the world’s Savior, with a slightly different focus. Today we highlight this key truth by remembering that through his painful suffering and death, Jesus has won forgiveness and eternal life for all.
The cross is not some incidental part of the story of God's love for us. The cross is the place where that love is revealed most of all. The love of God cannot be told without the cross and where the cross is raised up; God will draw all people to himself. As Jesus was lifted up on the tree of the cross, so are we lifted up by that tree, raised up from our death and sin through Christ's forgiveness. This is our glory and comfort and this is the message that God has given to us to proclaim to the world.