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Midweek Lent Devotional for March 25


Please take a few minutes to spend with the Lord as we learn of His great love for us.  For those who would rather read from the attachment, it is provided.  Also the coming Sunday Service, with the help of Steve Tyler, will be videoed and placed on YouTube.

May God continue to bless you,
Pastor Elkins

† MIDWEEK SERVICE Five † The Miracle of the Splitting Rocks March 25, 2020 INVOCATION In the name of the Father, and of the † Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen PSALMODY Psalm 118:14–23 The Lord is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation. Glad songs of salvation are in the tents of the righteous: “The right hand of the Lord does valiantly, the right hand of the Lord exalts, the right hand of the Lord does valiantly!” I shall not die, but I shall live, And recount the deeds of the Lord. The Lord has disciplined me severely, But he has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness, That I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; The righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me And have become my salvation. The stone that the builders rejected Has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. Glory be to the Father and | to the Son and to the Holy | Spirit; as it was in the beginning,* is now, and will be forever. Amen. The stone that the builders rejected Has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. HOLY GOSPEL READING Matthew 27:11–26 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus said, “You have said so.” But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed. Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you: Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much because of him today in a dream.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!” So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. SERMON The Miraculous Raising of the Saints from Death “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:52–53) Are you a curious person? I can recall one curious lady in my first congregation in about 1980. Her curiosity was really peaked by our text for this evening. Several times she asked me questions about the text. All I could tell her is that I can’t say anything over and above what Scripture says. We are not told who “the saints” were, how many, whether they went back to their homes or walked the streets, whether they appeared once or many times, how long they lived, or whether they experienced death a second time. Over the years, others have asked me questions about this text. It seems like it is a natural for peaking our curiosity. This evening, I would like to direct your attention to the miraculous raising of the saints from death. Let’s listen to our text. It reads: “The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” I spent a significant amount of time on this sermon. I read as much as I could in commentaries and in Bible handbooks on this text. I read two sermons on this text. I went to the Internet and found some Web sites that deal with this text. I read the writings of a lot of curious people. I read a lot of speculations. I read some denials written by people who in their unbelief just didn’t know what to do with it. The people who were raised were no doubt believers in Christ when they died. As I said, we are not told who exactly they were, how many, whether they went to their homes or walked the streets, whether they appeared once or many times, how long they lived, or whether they experienced death a second time. In short, after reading as much as I could about this text, I really cannot say anything with certainty over and above what I told the lady in my first congregation around 1980. One messianic Web site had something interesting to say. Apparently there was a belief among the Jews in Jesus’ day that when the Messiah would come, bodily resurrections of the dead could be expected. Assuming that this is true, the bodily resurrections of these people would have made a powerful witness to Jesus as being the Messiah. The Web site of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod includes the following question and answer: Question: “Could someone please elaborate on Matthew 27:52–53? I don’t recall it ever being addressed in any of my Sunday School classes. It seems like a pretty significant event!” Answer: “The significance of the event is well summarized by one of our LCMS New Testament theologians, the late Dr. Martin Franzman, who wrote, ‘The saints proceeding from their tombs and appearing in the Holy city indicates that Christ’s death is victory over death, that he is the firstborn from the dead.’ Matthew’s mention of this event, of course, was not intended to satisfy our curiosity about the details of what this event might have entailed at a personal level, but to impress on all readers in subsequent times that Christ is the Victor over death and that his resurrection guarantees our own.” One thing we can say for certain is that these resurrections are connected with the death of Christ. For we read: “Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” The Web sites I reviewed had these comments: “How ironic that at the moment of Christ’s death, death loses it’s sting and is swallowed up in victory.” These resurrections “point back to the sufficiency of Christ’s work, and forward to the future resurrection of all believers.” This is supported by a countless number of Scripture verses. The following are a few: • In 1 Peter 3:18, we read: “Christ . . . suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” • In 1 John 1:7, we read: “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.” • In Hebrews 10:10, we read: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” • In 1 Peter 2:24, we read: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” • In 2 Corinthians 5:21, we read: “For our sake [God the Father] made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” Another writer wrote that these resurrections foreshadow the resurrections we in Christ will enjoy. St. Paul wrote the following (1 Corinthians 15:50–58): I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. Amen THE APOSTLES’ CREED I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit; the holy Christian Church, the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. COLLECT PRAYERS OF THE DAY Almighty God, our heavenly Father, Your mercies are new to us every morning; and though we deserve only punishment, You receive us as Your children and provide for all of our needs of body and soul. Grant that we may heartily acknowledge Your merciful goodness, give thanks for all your benefits, and serve You in willing obedience; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. O God, creator of heaven and earth, grant that as the crucified body of Your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on the holy Sabbath, so we may await with Him the coming of the third day, and rise with Him to newness of life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. O God, in the paschal feast You restore all creation. Continue to send Your heavenly gifts upon Your people that they may walk in perfect freedom and receive eternal life; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen. LORD’S PRAYER Lord, remember me in Your kingdom, and teach me to pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen BENEDICTION The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with me. Amen


#Lent #BSLC #PastorElkins

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