Jesus Lives to Assure Us of His Abiding Presence!
Live in eager expectation of glory! That glory is not dimmed by earthly suffering; rather, such suffering reminds us of the glory that awaits us. First the cross; then the crown. Our light and momentary troubles cannot mute the joy of living in eager expectation of glory. The week that falls between Ascension and Pentecost is one of waiting and expectation for the promised Spirit and the promised glory. The Prayer and Verse of the Day mark the impending nature of our departure and Christ’s return.
Gospel Lesson: John 17:1–11
Can you hear the certainty in Christ’s voice? Can you feel the authority resonate from his words? Stop for a moment and marvel at the words Christ speaks even as his enemies prepare to arrest him, to torture him, to kill him. Christ enters his passion as victor. We know the end of the story; we know this is Christ’s path to glory. But what would the disciples think in the next few hours as the blows landed, the whip bit, the nails pierced, and the blood flowed? This is glory? Just wait…these sufferings would not last. Just wait…glory is coming. Look at Jesus’ promise: he has been granted all authority—but he uses it to give, not to take. He gives us life eternal won by the glory of his completed work. On this post-ascension Sunday, Christ’s promise to return to his Father has proven true. What comfort, then, is his promised prayer for us who remain behind! We are in the world, but not as orphans, and so we bear our sufferings in eager expectation of the glory that’s coming.
John 17:1–11 —1 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. 6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.
First Lesson: Acts 1:1–14
The disciples rightly expected glory; they just expected it too soon. The time would come for them to rule with Jesus in his kingdom. The time would come for glory that knows no limit. But that time had not yet arrived. The Christian life is not lived in glory here and now, but in eager expectation of the glory that’s coming soon.
Acts 1:1–14 —1 In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” 12 Then the apostles returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day’s walk from the city. 13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Second Lesson: 1 Peter 4:12–17, 5:6-11
Peter wrote at a time when Nero and the empire had turned against the Way (Name for Christians). As followers of an illegal religion, great suffering impended for the faithful Christians. The lion’s roar could be heard coming ever closer to the people of God. In this life, sufferings will come; but we live in eager expectation of glory. The God of all grace called us to future glory, and no suffering, no emperor or empire can make us lose sight of what awaits us. The cares we have, we cast on him, knowing that any suffering can be borne in joy with eyes fixed on the glory that’s coming.
1 Peter 4:12–17 —12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
1 Peter 5:6–11 —6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Verse of the Day:
Alleluia. Alleluia. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Alleluia. (John 14:23).