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Daily Gospel Reading - May 25, 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Gospel Reading: Matthew 28:16-20


16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."

Meditation:

Why did Jesus leave his disciples forty days after his resurrection? Forty is a significant number in the Scriptures. Moses went to the mountain to seek the face of God for forty days in prayer and fasting. The people of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in preparation for their entry into the promised land. Elijah fasted for forty days as he journeyed in the wilderness to the mountain of God. For forty days after his resurrection Jesus appeared numerous times to his disciples to assure them that he had risen indeed and to prepare them for the task of carrying on the work which he began during his earthy ministry.

 

The Risen Lord is with us always to the end of time
Jesus' departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus' physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus' presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time (Matthew 28:20). Now as the glorified and risen Lord and Savior, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would anoint them with power from on high on the Feast of Pentecost, just as Jesus was anointed for his ministry at the River Jordan (Luke 3:21-22, 4:1,18). When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief. Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.

 

The Risen Lord empowers us to carry on his work
Why did the Risen Lord ascend into heaven? The Father raised the glorified body of his Son and enthroned him in glory at his right hand in heaven. The Lord Jesus in his glorified body now reigns as Lord over the heavens and the earth - over all that he has created. The Risen Lord reigns from the throne in heaven as our Merciful Redeemer and Gracious King. He intercedes for us and he empowers us through the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus gives us new life in his Spirit and he strengthens us in faith, hope and love so we can serve him and carry on his work as citizens of his kingdom here on earth.

 

You will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth
Jesus' last words to his disciples point to the key mission and task he has entrusted to his followers on earth - to be his witnesses and ambassadors to the ends of the earth so that all peoples, tribes, and nations may  hear the good news that Jesus Christ has come to set us free from sin, Satan, and death and has won for us a kingdom of peace, joy, and righteousness that will last forever.

 

How can we be effective witnesses for Christ? Jesus told his disciples, "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you - and you shall be my witnesses... to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Jesus gives his followers the same power he received when the Holy Spirit came upon him and anointed him at the beginning of his mission (John 1:32-33). The Gospel is the power of God, the power to release people from their burden of sin, guilt, and oppression, and the power to heal, restore, and make us whole. Do you believe in the power of the Gospel to change and transform your life?

 

We are ambassadors for Jesus Christ
Paul the Apostle reminds us that we are called to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Just as ambassadors are appointed to represent their country and to speak on behalf of their nation's ruler, we, too are appointed by the Lord Jesus to speak on his behalf and to bring others into a close and personal encounter with the Lord and Ruler of heaven and earth. This is the great commission which the risen Christ gives to the whole church. All believers have been given a share in this task - to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the only savior of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit. Today we witness a new Pentecost as the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people to renew and strengthen the body of Christ and to equip it for effective ministry and mission world-wide. Do you witness to others the joy of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection?

 

“Lord Jesus, through the gift of your Holy Spirit, you fill us with an indomitable spirit of praise and joy which no earthly trial can subdue. Fill me with your resurrection joy and help me to live a life of praise and thanksgiving for your glory. May I witness to those around me the joy of the Gospel and the reality of your great victory over sin and death.”

 
Daily Gospel Reading - May 24, 2017 PDF Print E-mail

Gospel Reading: John 16:12-15


12 "I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.

 

Meditation:

Are you hungry for truth? Jesus proclaimed that he is the Truth, the Way, and the Life (John 14:6). Truth is not something we create nor is it our discovery. It is the gift of God who is the possessor and giver of all truth. Jesus tells his disciples that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to reveal what is true, right, and good. How can this be? Many skeptics of truth don't want to believe in an absolute, objective, and unchanging Truth. If truth is objective then it must be asserted to as trustworthy and right and be submitted to as authoritative and binding. Some fear the truth because they think it will inhibit their freedom to act, think, and judge as they wish. Jesus told his disciples that the truth will set you free (John 8:32). The truth liberates us from whatever is false, misleading, doubtful, or deceptive. In God there is no lie or falsehood since he is utterly true, good, and just. Since he is the author and source of all that is true and good, then the closer we draw near to him in order to listen to his word and understand his mind and will for us, the more we will grow in the knowledge of God and of his great love, wisdom, and plan for us.

 

The Spirit of truth
Jesus told his disciples that he would send them the Spirit of truth who will guide you into all the truth ..and declare to you the things that are to come (John 16:13). Jesus knew that his disciples could not fully understand on their own everything he had taught and revealed to them while he was physically present with them. He knew that they would need the ongoing guidance and help of the Holy Spirit after he returned to his Father in heaven. That is why he assured them that the Holy Spirit would take what he had spoken to them and guide them into a fuller understanding of God's wisdom, power, and glory he wished to share with them so they could live in the joy and freedom of his love and truth.

 

Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) explains the progressive work of the Spirit in guiding the disciples of Jesus in all the truth:

 

"Accordingly, when he says, 'He will teach you all truth' or 'will guide you into all truth,' I do not think the fulfillment is possible in anyone's mind in this present life. For who is there, while living in this corruptible and soul-oppressing body (Wisdom 9:15), that can know all truth when even the apostle says, 'We know in part'? But it is effected by the Holy Spirit, of whom we have now received the promise (2 Corinthians 1:21), that we shall attain also to the actual fullness of knowledge that the same apostle references when he says, 'But then face to face' and 'Now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known' (1 Corinthians 13:12). He is not talking about something he knows fully in this life but about something that would still be in the future when he would attain that perfection. This is what the Lord promised us through the love of the Spirit, when he said, 'He will teach you all truth' or 'will guide you unto all truth.'" (TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 96.4)

On the day of Pentecost after the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the first disciples of Jesus, the apostles boldly began to carry out the mission Jesus had entrusted to them - to proclaim the truth of the Gospel and to make disciples [followers of Jesus] of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).

 

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher and Helper
Today, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we, too, proclaim the same ancient faith which the apostles taught - that Jesus died, and was buried, and rose again on the third day, and will come again to judge, raise the dead, and give everlasting life (from the Apostles Creed). We not only share the same faith which was given to the apostles, we also have the same Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. The Lord Jesus gives each of us his Holy Spirit as our divine Teacher and Helper that we may grow in the knowledge, wisdom, and strength of God. Do you  listen attentively to God's word and allow his Holy Spirit to give you understanding of God's truth and plan for your life?

 

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and guide me in your way of life, truth, and goodness. Free me from ignorance of your truth, and from deception and moral blindness caused by sinful pride and the refusal to believe and obey your word of truth. May I love you with all of my heart, mind, and strength, and seek to please you in all things."

 
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