The Book of Family Prayer: Bible Lessons for Each Day, Arranged after the Church Year by Nils Jakob Laache, 1883; trans. Peer O. Strømme, Lutheran Publishing House, Decorah, 1902.

Ed. Note: Old Lutherans’ compilation began with the week of Easter (2023), not with Adventide, which properly begins the Church Year.

Table of Contents


Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord (Easter Sunday)

174. Easter Day. I.

175. Easter Day. II.

176. Easter Monday. I.

177. Easter Monday. II.

178. Tuesday after Easter Day.

179. Wednesday after Easter Day.

180. Thursday after Easter Day.

181. Friday after Easter Day.

182. Saturday after Easter Day.


183. First Sunday after Easter. I.

184. First Sunday after Easter. II.

185. Monday after First Sunday after Easter.

186. Tuesday after First Sunday after Easter.

187. Wednesday after First Sunday after Easter.

188. Thursday after First Sunday after Easter.

189. Friday after First Sunday after Easter.

190. Saturday after First Sunday after Easter.


Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord (Easter Sunday)

174. Easter Day. I.

The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous.

Gospel Lesson, Mark 16, 1-7. And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning, the first day of the week, they came into the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering in the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment: and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

“Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre?” anxiously inquired the women; but “when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away; for it was very great.” The stone which imprisons us in death and the grave is sin. It is so large and heavy that no man and no angel could have removed it. It would without any question have held us forever in the cave of death, separated from God, shut out from all life and light. But Jesus has taken away sin, and burst open the grave; then the angel rolls the stone away, that the victory may become known. Go to the grave of Jesus; and behold, the stone is rolled away! He who died for the sins of the world, and who said, “It is finished,” he is risen, and the truth of his announcement has been established. If he had not in truth fully paid for our sins and fulfilled all things for us, the death to which he delivered himself would have held him bound. Now we know of a certainty that he is risen; and hence it is clear that the cup of death has been drained to the dregs, and that the whole burden of sin has been taken away. The stone is rolled away. Should sin still rest heavy on your conscience, and death still have terrors for you, then bear in mind that you are baptized into him who was dead and is alive, and that hence you are dead with him and risen again with him. Sin has no more any right to cause you death. In Christ death has already been suffered; it is finished. — Neither shall death be able to make your heart a grave filled with death’s ugly brood, a habitation for the evil powers of darkness. You are united with the living Christ; you are one with him, over whom death has no authority whatever. Christ is risen; therefore the stone rolled away. Christ is risen; and thereby sin is vanquished, and death destroyed. To me there is nothing, and can be nothing, more grand than the declaration of Paul (2 Tim. 1,10), that “Jesus Christ hath abolished death.” Death, this terrible reality; death abolished, done away with! Hallelujah! O, that we might make our shout of victory heard in all the earth! Verily, death is abolished, death for us and death in us. We are saved from the greatest of all terrors; for we are members of his body, who died and rose again, and are one with him in his death and in his resurrection. To be sure, our faith still is weak; but it is founded on the word of God, and is therefore stronger than all the gates of hell.

The grave of Jesus is the door to all graves in which the bodies of the faithful are laid to rest. The seal is broken, and the stone rolled away; he is the resurrection and the life. “He that believeth in me. though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and be lieveth in me shall never die.” (John 11, 25. 26). My reader, believest thou this? There is no doubt whatever of its truth; himself, who is the truth, has spoken it, and you may trust in it with absolute safety. Blessed are you, if you believe! Yes, blessed is everyone who in truth believes, even though his faith be weak and he be obliged to fight continually against unbelief.

How shall I thank thee, Lord Jesus, for thy victory over death and the devil, and for life, everlasting life, which thou hast given me! Grant me grace to live for thee while life endures, to confess thy name by walking in godliness, and to bring forth much fruit for thy kingdom. And let me then forever lie at the foot of thy throne with praise and thanksgiving. Thou knowest that it is my innermost heart which says: Blessed be thy glorious name evermore! How blest shall I be to praise thee with a new tongue in thy kingdom forever and ever! Amen.

Christ the Lord is risen today,
Sons of men and angels say;
Raise your joys and triumphs high,
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply.

Lives again our glorious king;
Where, O death, is now thy sting?
Dying once, he all doth save;
Where thy victory, O grave?

175. Easter Day. II.

Lord Jesus, our living Savior; quicken us, and sanctify us with thee. Amen.

Epistle Lesson, 1 Corinthians 5, 7-8. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

The use of leaven was, under penalty of death, prohibited among the children of Israel during the Easter festival. They ate the passover every year; and with the faith of our heart we eat the true passover all the time. Christ was sacrificed for us, and they that believe in him live in communion with him alway, and celebrate Easter without ceasing. “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.” (John 6, 63). Reference is here had to the union of the heart with Jesus. In this union only is there life. But do you hear what the apostle says in regard to the leaven? Do you remember that the leaven is prohibited, and that it is death itself? “The old leaven” is the nature and life of the natural man. War must be made on all the lusts of the flesh, even as the Israelites were to have no leaven in the house at the time of Easter. It means death, if you again conclude peace with any of your carnal lusts. “The leaven of malice and wickedness” means an evil and deceitful mind. Is it possible, do you think, that hate and anger, the spirit of Esau and Saul, can be united with Jesus, who is all love? Or how should malice, deceit, and craftiness be connected in any way with our holy and blameless Lamb of the passover? No, sincerity and truth shall be our bread. You, the Lord’s believers, are a new lump, unleavened and pure; and this is what you should be. The passover is sacrificed; and thereby you are become a new lump, says the apostle. How happy we would be, did we but understand the word of God and believe the truth! As you are a new lump you can and shall purge out the old leaven. Your whole life shall be a life in sincerity and truth. It shall be lived in the power of Christ’s resurrection and in the fellowship of his suffering. Your whole life shall be on a high plane; you shall not wallow in the mire of sin, but climb the heights, bathe in the sunshine of truth and holiness, and breathe the pure and heavenly spirit of Jesus. In like manner as a leaven leavens the whole lump, so shall the new life, the life of Christ’s resurrection, be manifest in all that you do. It is a life of the heart, and must be seen in every act down to the least important, even as the heart-beat sends the blood coursing through the body out into the tips of the fingers.

God help us to be true believers, and to lead a life of true holiness. Amen.

The strife is o’er, the battle done!
The victory of life is won;
The song of triumph has begun,

The powers of death have done their worst,
But Christ their legions hath dispersed;
Let shouts of holy joy outburst,

176. Easter Monday. I.

Come, Lord Jesus, and speak to our hearts. Amen.

Gospel Lesson, Luke 24, 13-35. And behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus. which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden, that they should not know him. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these, that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: And now the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done. Yea. and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. Then he said unto them. O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And they drew nigh unto the village whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them. Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

You never walk alone, dear Christian, but at all times in the grandest company. You have, no doubt, made the acquaintance of many most excellent men; and while travelling together you have conversed piously, as Christians should. When you have done this, he who is greater than all has been with you. Where two or three believers speak together of the Lord, he is always near; and the hearts, of a certainty, receive a blessing. But you have also often walked alone with him, in the bright morning of the new day and at night in darkness and gloom. In the scripture he has spoken your heart, and you have taken courage to speak to him. He has resolved your doubts, and changed your lamentation into a song of joy. At times you have forgotten him, but still he has walked with you, and has never for one moment forgotten you. He often disappeared from your view; but still he was near; and he always revealed himself anew to you, either in the congregation of the brethren when you were hearing the word or partaking of the sacrament, or in the secrecy of your chamber when you read the word and bent the knee in prayer. — If you have a wife, or a husband, who loves the Lord, or if you live with other friends in God, do not let Satan hinder you from speaking with one another concerning those things which came to pass in Jerusalem at the time of Easter. Let him who is the fulfillment of the scriptures, and who in these same sacred writings reveals himself to us, obtain a hearing among you. In other words, seek light and counsel in the Bible in regard to every concern of your soul; and he shall surely speak to you, and guide you into all truth. You shall see more and more clearly that Christ is that Sun of righteousness whose light, according to the eternal and loving purpose of God, was to flood the world after the multitude of beams more or less bright which had pierced the darkness during the times of the Old Testament. You shall see that this Sun must rise on the world in this way; that in him righteousness and mercy kiss each other, and that hence he ought to suffer and die. As God’s eternal nature and will are, so is his eternal decree; as it was decreed, so it is written; and as it is written, so it ought to be, and so it has come to pass. And your heart shall, on occasion at least, burn within you. — If you walk alone, dear reader, remember that you are not alone, if you have the scriptures and believe them. Open your eyes, and see. Verily, the living Savior is with you. Do you not see him? Do you not believe that he is near, and that he sees and hears you? Walk with him; speak to him; pray to him, saying: “Abide with me, Lord. Abide with us; for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent!” He tarried with the two disciples in Emmaus; and in the evening he walked with them, though not in visible form, when they returned to Jerusalem. He will do likewise with us. Through the world’s darkness we go, in company with the Invisible One, to the brethren in Jerusalem; — there we shall see him as he is.

We thank thee, precious Savior, for this mercy; and we pray thee: Expound to us the scriptures, that our hearts may burn within us. Amen.

Abide with me! fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me!

177. Easter Monday. II.

O God, give us honest hearts. Amen.

Acts 10, 34-41. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) That word, I say, ye know, which was published through out all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil: forGodwaswithhim. And we are witnesses of all things which he did, both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead.

Jesus went about in Galilee and all the land doing good, and healing all that were oppressed. Not one sought his assistance in vain. He received all that came, of all sorts and conditions, and never once refused aid to one who needed it. Let all note this: There is not one single instance in which Jesus failed to relieve misery when it came to him. Grace and mercy shine forth in his every act. After his death and resurrection he is no longer in Galilee, or in the whole land of the Jews, only; but he is in all places where human hearts, of whatever race, long for him. For he loves all; he has redeemed all by his death on the cross, and he has healing and salvation for one and all. The preaching of peace through Jesus Christ unto the children of Israel is to be continued; but the glad tidings shall be proclaimed to all gentiles also; and himself is with his witnesses alway unto the end of the world. The apostles eat and drink with him after his resurrection. In invisible form he is in their midst everywhere, and reveals himself whenever it pleases him to do so. After the ascension and the outpouring of the Spirit they see him no more; but do you think that he is not with them?

In their preaching he manifests his power in glorious fashion, gives them victory everywhere, tears down the ramparts of Satan, and makes manifest through his disciples the sweet savor of his knowledge in everyplace. — Go out confidently, then, with the words of the Savior, ye his witnesses! You shall never, never go alone. Live all the time with him in faith; and preach his death and resurrection as something in which you have your life, as something which you have yourselves experienced. His peace shall obtain victory in your heart; and he shall manifest his victorious strength in his word, which you preach. Shall not he, who even in his lowly estate on earth healed all that were oppressed of the devil, send out his power from his throne of glory, and force the devil to retreat before the truth and life in the gospel of peace? Or, peradventure, he no longer desires to save man? “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13, 8). God help us, that we may no longer be faithless, but believing!

O praise the Lord, all ye nations; praise him all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us; and the truth of the Lord endureth forever. Hallelujah ! Amen.

Let every kindred, every tribe
On this terrestrial ball
To him all majesty ascribe
And crown him Lord of all.

O that with yonder sacred throng
We at his feet may fall;
Join in the everlasting song,
And crown him Lord of all!

178. Tuesday after Easter Day.

Lord, increase our faith. Amen.

Luke 24, 36-48. And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them. Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Be hold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honey-comb. And he took it, and did eat before them. And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.

Jesus showed the disciples his hands and feet with the print of the nails by which he had been suspended to the cross, that they might make sure of its being he and none other. When he comes again we shall know him by these same prints. The Lord really has his wounds still, but in transfigured form. He is the same on the throne as on the cross, God and man in one person, the crucified and risen Savior. After death he might have resumed his body without its scars, had he wished it; but it was his will to show them to the Father and the angels, as well as to his accuser; and, as for us, we have reason to hold them dear; for they speak our cause before God. He that died for us, the same lives for us with the atoning and saving grace of his death.

In the meantime, our eye cannot see him; for this is precisely the condition which God has fixed in regard to our salvation, that we must believe without having seen. “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” But how, then, shall we find him, and be assured that we are with him, and that he is with us, and that it is he himself? For on this our life depends, and here we must not build on dreams, nor on human wisdom; here, if anywhere, it is necessary that we have sure foundation under our feet. O that the Spirit might declare this truth to your heart! Pay attention, then, to that which you read in this gospel text. He sends his apostles, who were eye witnesses of his death and resurrection, out into the world to gather people to him; and he promises to be with them in this work. But they could no more than we point to the print of the nails and exhibit his scars to the eye: they could and should only preach the gospel and baptize. Herein his scars are plainly enough to be seen by the eye of faith. Where repentance and forgiveness are preached he is himself present and creates faith, as surely as he was with the ten disciples and brought conviction to them and caused them to believe. Let us not, as did the Pharisees, seek a sign from heaven; but let us hear the word and study the scriptures. Are not these all the signs that we need? They are precisely the right signs, certain, clear, and infallible. For the Lord himself is in them. Through them Jesus is in truth come to us with his death and resurrection, with peace and pardon. What more do you desire? By these means the Holy Spirit creates faith in your heart, if you do not stubbornly resist him. What more do you need? If you refuse to believe, that will be your condemnation. Whosoever believeth hath life in his name.

Precious Savior, thou art at the right hand of God and dost make intercession for us; and thou art here and dost reveal thyself to our heart. We thank thee for thy holy word and thy worthy sacraments; we will ask no other sign, and will seek thee in no other place. Nevertheless, thou knowest how hard a fight we still have against the unbelief in our heart. We pray thee, increase our faith, open the scriptures to us, give us a simple and childlike spirit, keep us by thy side, and give us grace to confess thee, and never to be offended by reason of thy cross. Amen.

He closed the yawning gates of hell;
The bars from heaven’s high portals fell;
Let hymns of praise his triumphs tell;

Lord! by the stripes which wounded thee,
From death’s dread sting thy servants free,
That we may live, and sing to thee,

179. Wednesday after Easter Day.

O God, let our hope of resurrection be grounded in the resurrection of Christ. Amen.

John 20, 1-10. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. And he, stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, and the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

The stone is rolled away, and the sepulchre is open; the Lord is not there; the linen clothes remain, and the napkin is wrapped together in a place by itself. Everything contradicts the assumption that enemies have despoiled the grave; nor is it possible that his friends have removed his body. — The grave is a tenement of death no more; nothing remains in it save the trappings of death. This is the grave of Jesus; but his grave is my grave. For whose sin did he die? It must have been for ours; for himself had none. It is, then, our death which he dies; but then it also is our grave in which he is buried. Does anyone doubt that the eyes of Mary and Peter and John told them the truth; that the sepulchre was empty? That is a fact about which there can be no question, whether or no. But who can be supposed to have opened the grave and removed the body? The disciples could not have done it; for a watch had been set, and the stone had been sealed. Besides, such a thing would never have occurred to them; for they had no idea that he would, in fact, rise again from the dead. No; this is what has transpired, and to us it means eternal life: He is risen; the grave is rent asunder; for the wages of sin has been paid, and death is swallowed up in life. The scripture speaks true; and Jesus was in the right when he said that he would rise again on the third day. My grave still looks, to be sure, as though it were the tenement of death. The casket and the shroud and the napkin are there, and my body also, for a time; but my Jesus, who lay in the grave and arose again, has said: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11, 25). The truth of this is evidenced to me by his open and empty sepulchre. My heart lives in Jesus; I may say that I feel that the life which he gave, and which throbs in my innermost heart, is eternal and cannot die. Nevertheless, that which is more sure and certain, a thousand times more certain than all things else, is his promise: “Because I live, ye shall live also.” (John 14, 19). Because he is risen, we shall rise from the dead also.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life, O God; in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Give us grace to believe; give us the light of the Spirit, that we may have a true and living faith. Amen.

Jesus lives! thy terrors now
Can no longer, death, appall me;
Jesus lives! By this I know,
From the grave he will recall me.
Brighter scenes will then commence:
This shall be my confidence.

Jesus lives! henceforth is death
But the gate of life immortal;
This shall calm my trembling breath,
When I pass the gloomy portal.
Faith shall cry, as fails each sense,
“Lord, thou art my confidence.”

180. Thursday after Easter Day.

Living Savior, reveal thyself to our heart. Amen.

John 20, 11-18. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, and seeth two angels in white, sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father and to my God, and to your God. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

The Lord had rescued Mary Magdalene out of the most wretched condition, into which she, by her sins, had plunged herself. He had saved her; had driven seven devils out of her. Now she was a new person, and she loved him with a living love. To her was given also the great honor and mercy of being the first to see him after his resurrection. Still, she had not as yet reached the perfection of saintliness. She clings too fondly to the earthly aspect of the Savior, though not, to be sure, in the same manner as the apostles. It is not probable that her mind was especially bent on seeing the Lord as a king, in order that she m1ght reign with him; but her love still savoured somewhat of the senses, though we must by no means think of it as being in any way a carnal affection; and it had its roots in sight and sense, rather than in faith. “Tell me where thou hast laid him,” she says, “and I will take him away.” And Jesus says to her: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.” She was to see his holiness and greatness and divine majesty in a new light, and learn to say “We know Christ no more after the flesh.” Her love was in need of being purified;the Spirit of God must unite it with a holy reverence for the exalted Son of God. And yet, how gently does he not correct her! He speaks her name, “Mary;” and in the tone there is nothing but kindness. Then he adds only, “touch me not;” and her heart quakes with awe, and does penance.

It were to be wished that all Christians had a mind as zealous and pure as that of Mary Magdalene. The kind of carnality which Paul especially rebuked in the Corinthians, namely, envy, contentions, and heresies, is not the only one among us. There are various kinds of sensuality more secret and more dangerous. We are acquainted with it, and we know how it gnaws at the heart unless we fight against it with all our strength; but we also know and testify that the Spirit of God gives victory to the upright. All the old leaven must be purged out, and by the grace of God it shall be done; for Christ is dead and risen again for us, we are baptized into his death, we eat and drink his body and blood, and our life in him is spiritual and heavenly. Make no terms, brethren, with any sort of carnality in you; but have a pure bridal spirit toward our heavenly bridegroom. Love him of your whole soul with a holy devotion, proclaim his death and resurrection everywhere, and love one another tenderly of a pure heart! Then shall you have great peace.

Lord, chasten us, and cleanse us, and draw our mind to thee in heaven. Amen.

Now let the heavens be joyful,
Let earth her song begin,
Let all the world keep triumph,
And all that is therein:
In grateful exultation,
Their notes let all things blend,
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our joy that hath no end.

181. Friday after Easter Day.

Lord, show us the excellence of our heritage, and strengthen our hope. Amen.

Psalm 16. Michtam of David. Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust. O my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee; but to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight. Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips. The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot. The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. I will bless the Lord, who hath given me counsel; my reins also instruct me in the night seasons. Ihave set the Lord always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

This psalm was fulfilled in Christ when he rose from the dead. But the head, which is raised up, will not let the members remain in the grave. As many as are united with Jesus through a living faith can sing this psalm as applying to themselves; and they shall thereby stir their soul to rejoice in the Lord. What are the riches and honors of the world worth as compared with the bliss of living in God? The human heart multiplies its sorrows when it hastens after other gods; but whosoever can say that “the Lord is the portion of his inheritance and of his cup,” has received “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away.” Together with all the saints he shall have fulness of the purest joy in the presence of the Lord for evermore. — As surely as Jesus lives, all his believers shall live with him; as surely as he has entered heaven, we shall be gathered to him in the pleasant mansions at the right hand of God. Let us remember this, and praise the Lord, who gave us so goodly a heritage, and caused our lines to fall in pleasant places. His Spirit shall remind us of these things when we walk in darkness; at night, in the deepest darkness, he shall speak to us concerning them in the innermost chamber of the heart. Be assured that the Lord will maintain your lot, dear Christian. It is of his mercy that you can say: “The Lord is my portion; I have set the Lord always before me!” How shall you be moved, when he is at your right hand? Or how shall death be able to hold you fast, now that you are a member of the body of Christ? Be obedient to the Spirit of God; remember your hope! Train yourself to set the Lord always before you! Do not let unbelief, or a slavish spirit of fear, or the cares of this world, choke the joy which the Holy Ghost pours out in your innermost heart by showing you the path of life and reminding you of your goodly heritage.

Preserve me, O God; for in thee do I put my trust. Let me no more grieve thy Holy Spirit, whereby thou hast sealed me unto the day of redemption. Help me to be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing instant in prayer.” Let me not lose my goodly heritage, but reach it, in heaven. Amen.

O Lord of heaven and earth and sea,
To thee all praise and glory be;
How shall we show our love to thee,
Who givest all?

Thou didst not spare thine only Son,
But gav’st him for a world undone.
And freely with that blessed one
Thou givest all.

182. Saturday after Easter Day.

Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. Amen.

Psalm 118, 14-24. The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation. The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. The right hand of the Lord is exalted; the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly. I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord; this gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. This is the day which the Lord hath made: we will rejoice and be glad in it.

This psalm was sung at the time when the foundation of the temple was laid in the days of Ezra, an account of which is given in his book, Ezra 3, 10-13. Israel had been in exile; but the Lord had again received them into favor, and had made them the cornerstone of the world’s development. But it is through Christ that Israel is what it is. He is the stone which was rejected, and which then was made the chief stone of the corner. The Jews, the builders of God’s kingdom, despised him; but it was by the death which they caused him that he became the substructure of his church, which is the habitation of God among us and the tabernacle of life on earth. As the people of Israel exulted when they had been delivered out of Egypt, while their enemies sank like lead into the deep waters; as they shouted aloud for joy in the gate of the Lord at Jerusalem when they had returned from Babylon; thus the church of Christ sings of victory and life and salvation through the death and resurrection of Jesus, by which death and hell have gone down into an eternal grave, so that we never more shall see them. To be sure, the voice of weeping still is mingled with the voice of gladness, as in the days of Ezra: but the rejoicing shall prevail: for “the glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2, 9). — “Open to me the gates of righteousness.” The doors were opened to the court of the temple, and the people streamed in with their joyful songs of praise. To us the gates of righteousness are opened; the entrance to heaven itself through the merit of Jesus; and we go in, and stand before his throne. This we now do in faith; but later on we shall see that which we now believe. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. Let us rejoice and be glad in him!

Can any others sing, as do the faithful: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord”? “Not die, but live.” These words are a present to you from the Lord, faithful Christian. “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” This is the lot which the Lord has given you. The sickle of death mows down every thing on earth; the throne and the cottage, the scholar and the clown, the virtuous and the vicious; but the church of Christ breasts the storm without being shaken, and lifts its golden spire toward heaven.

And in this church is life, and the voice of rejoicing and salvation. When the eternal gates of death open to receive the unbelievers, the righteous shall enter their perfect and everlasting home of joy.

Lord, thou hast chastened me sore; but thou hast not given me over unto death. I will praise thee; for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord; O Lord, send now prosperity. Thou art my God, and I will praise thee; thou art my God, I will exalt thee. Give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever. Amen.

Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!
His grace to thee proclaim!
And all that is within me join
To bless his holy name.

Oh, bless the Lord, my soul!
His mercies bear in mind!
Forget not all his benefits!
The Lord to thee is kind.


183. First Sunday after Easter. I.

Gospel Lesson, John 20, 19-23. Then 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, came Jesus, and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

It is entirely certain that Jesus has earned everlasting life for us all. He has in truth redeemed us all from sin and death and the devil, and gained for us eternal salvation. Now, if any man would reap the benefit and possess this salvation, he must come to Jesus and accept his grace, that he may, in reality, experience salvation, and live. For this also the Lord has made provision. He has given to us the ministry of reconciliation, and he sends his servants out into all the world with the word of salvation. “As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.” He was the messenger of his Father to carry out his purpose, and he brought about pardon and peace. The ministers of the word then do his errand, bringing forgiveness and peace to all who will repent. In the word he is himself present with his atoning death and his resurrection. As the crucified and risen Savior, about to ascend to his glory, he says: “Behold I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Note well that he says, “alway, even unto the end of the world;” hence not only with the apostles, but with their successors in the ministry. He does not stand in the midst of the ten apostles, only, pronouncing peace on them, but in the midst of every company of believers who are gathered together in his name; that is to say, gathered around his word and sacraments for edification in the faith. — When he pronounces peace it is not an empty word, but a divine reality which brings comfort and strength into every soul that is opened to receive it. The words of absolution are not the words of man, but are in very truth the words of the Lord himself; and they are, therefore, able to give that which they pronounce, namely remission of sins. It is the Lord who says to you that your sins are forgiven you. Must it not, then, be true? If you will but receive it in faith, you in truth have remission. The word of man may deceive, but the word of God never. Do you not hear Jesus say that he sends his servants, even as the Father had sent him? When a minister, then, who has the true word of God offers you the gift, it is your business to receive it as coming from Christ himself. If the word be there, the Lord is there with his gift; if it be the proper word, it contains the proper gift. Do not let it give you any concern whether the servant who brings you the gift be or be not a believer, if he do but have the true word of God; for it is not the faith of the minister, but the will and word of Christ which gives you the treasure. If the minister be one in whom I can have no confidence, I cannot open my heart to him as my pastor, when I am struggling with difficulties, or torn with doubts, or assailed by temptations; but there is no reason why I may not through him receive absolution which shall be a blessing to my soul and assist me against sin and death. God shall judge the unbelieving and faithless servants; do not let this be your concern. But let it be your care, when you receive absolution, that your heart may believe that which you hear, may believe the words of forgiveness from the lips of the Lord. For then you have in truth that which the word promises you; while all who do not believe make God a liar; from which the Holy Spirit preserve us! Amen.

O faithful God, thanks be to thee,
That thou forgiv’st iniquity,
And helpest me in sin’s distress,
And dost my soul and body bless.

Now, Lord, us all thy Spirit give,
Help us in holiness to live;
Preserve to us, till life is spent,
Thy holy word and sacrament.

184. First Sunday after Easter. II.

Speak, Spirit, in my heart, and say that Jesus is my life alway. Amen.

Epistle Lesson, 1 John 5, 4-12. For whatsoever is born of God over- cometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son, hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not life.

On the occasion of the baptism of Jesus the Spirit bare witness that he is the Son of God. But the water in which he was baptized — to suffer death, — and the water which flows from his side, together with the blood which he shed in death as an atonement for us; these two, the water and the blood, must be added, in order that he may be our Savior; and hence the Spirit and the water and the blood together bear witness that God has given us his Son for our Savior. The testimony of the Spirit cannot be dispensed with; he is the principal witness. But the blood and water also are indispensable. (Note in this connection the words used by John in his Gospel 19, 34 and 35: “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out water and blood. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true; and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.”) If we did not have these three, the Spirit and the water and the blood, we could not know of a certainty that God has given his Son for us. But now that we have these three as ever living witnesses before the eye and ear of faith, we through them have the full assurance that the Son of God died for us, and lives for us. The voice of the Spirit, which gave testimony when Christ was baptized, still comes to our ears through the word which we have received of God. The water in which Jesus was baptized, and the water that flowed from his side, together with the blood; these we have in our baptism. Furthermore, we have the blood which he shed, together with his body, in the Holy Supper. He who does not believe this testimony of God must, it would seem, find it extremely difficult to answer the question, how it is possible that these three, the word and baptism and the sacrament of the altar, can have survived so long, and how they can have continued to exert such divine power among men. On the other hand, he that believes has the witness in himself that the Spirit has created a new life in him.— This life, dear Christian friend, is life everlasting. For your new nature, your sanctified mind, which loves God and the brethren, but which hates sin, and brings the body into subjection, and overcomes the world; what is this but Christ himself in you? Without seeing him you hold him fast by reason of these three witnesses; he is yours, and you love him with your whole heart; the Son of God is in you, and you in him. If you have this life, dear reader, you are truly blest; if you do not, you have no life at all. But come and hear; the three witnesses are still giving their testimony; make haste to hear it before it is too late! You must be born of God, and overcome the world, or you are lost.

Lord Jesus, open our eye and ear. Help us to believe; overcome our unbelief by the testimony of thy Spirit; and draw our heart to thee, that thou, thou mayest be our life. Amen.

I build on this foundation,
That Jesus and his blood
Alone are my salvation,
The true eternal good:
Without him, all that pleases
Is valueless on earth:
The gifts bestowed by Jesus
Alone my love are worth.

185. Monday after First Sunday after Easter.

Lord Jesus, overcome our unbelief; give us grace to believe. Amen. 

John 20, 24-31. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him. W e have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. And after eight days, again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and’ Jesus stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that, believing, ye might have life through his name.

How dark the soul of Thomas while he walked in unbelief! Was the Lord, then, not risen from the dead, and did he not live? Was he not near? Were the thoughts true which Thomas harbored in his unbelieving heart? Many, alas, who hear the word and use the sacraments have much less faith than Thomas had, and know nothing whatever of the peace of Christ, although of a truth the Lord is in our midst with his gifts that bring salvation. The other disciples, who believed the testimony of them that had seen him after his resurrection, who believed without having seen; these disciples had the truth, and obtained the peace which he pronounced on them. Dear reader, if you should see Christ dying for you; if you should see him hang on the cross and die, and should see him after his resurrection with the print of the nails and the wound of the spear; if you should see him come to you with open arms, and should hear him call you in his own voice; would you then fall down before him and say with Thomas: “My Lord and my God”? Would you with all your heart surrender yourself to him, and serve him with all your soul? Would you rejoice in his love, turn with terror from your sin, believe his forgiveness, and trust confidently in his mercy? Let us hope so. Now, precisely in this manner he is near to you in his word, and yet you continue to live without peace in your heart! Verily, it is his very voice which you hear in the preaching of the gospel, in absolution, and in the words of the sacraments. Do you dare to believe that your unbelief, which denies or doubt this, is truth, and that the Lord’s own promise is a lie? What was right and true, the declaration of Jesus in regard to his resurrection, or the unbelief and denial on the part of Thomas? What is right and true, the Lord’s promise that he will be present in the midst of his own with his grace and peace unto the end, or your unbelief which denies this? Do you understand this, poor soul, that he still could reveal himself to our bodily eye, if he would; but he has decreed, that “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Be satisfied to let the provisions in the Lord’s gracious counsel for our salvation remain as they are. Believe without having seen, and you are saved. You may do it by the power of God in his word; for this word is the means by which the Spirit creates and preserves faith in us. — Away with this wretched unbelief, which makes the eternal and truthful God a liar! Yes, away with unbelief, which is a lie of the devil’s own invention!

We beseech thee, merciful God, preserve us from the dead faith of the world, which takes thy grace in vain; and preserve us from the doubts of our own unbelieving heart, which refuse to let thee have full sway over us with thy living truth. Give us faith, the true and living faith which trusts in thy word, partakes of thy grace, confesses thy name, and mans the soul with courage in life and death. Amen.

I now have found the ground that ever
Shall hold my anchor firm and last;
I cannot be deceived, no never,
For on my Savior it is cast;
This ground unmoved and firm shall stay
When heaven and earth have passed away.

186. Tuesday after First Sunday after Easter.

“Whom have I in heaven but thee, and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.” God grant us this mercy. Amen.

Colossians 3, 1-6. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry; for which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.

To be united with Christ is the one thing needful. Vital Christianity is the communion of the heart with him. Then we have died with him, and have been raised again from the dead with him. Christ is the life of the true believers. He that does not live in Christ is no Christian. What sort of Christianity may that be which is not life? But what life could Christianity be, if it be not the life of Jesus Christ? Let none deceive himself with a vain or dead hope in Christ ! For Christ has overcome death; he is the living God, who quickens all them that are his own, and gives them a living hope. As Christ is in heaven, the heart of the faithful, which live in him, must likewise be in heaven. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” “God has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2, 6). Mind and heart have been set free and endowed with high aspirations. The soul’s longing reaches out beyond this life, and its goal is eternal communion with God in perfect holiness. Then you are dead to the world, its honors and pleasures, its riches and benefits, its poverty and misery, its dogmas and ordinances, its nursery tales and its thraldom. And the world regards you as lost and dead. The life which you live is the life of Christ, and it is hid with Christ in God. As Christ is invisible to the world, so also is his life in the faithful. Their faith in the Lord, their hope and peace and joy in him, their love, their holy longing after heaven, their zealous endeavors to keep their lives clean, their self-denial and their resistance to the devil, their prayers in the sanctuary of the heart; in a word, their life in God, is wholly hid from the world, which neither sees it nor understands it, but regards it as being nothing more than an idle dream. The glory of the Christians is covered over with troubles and poverty and afflictions and tears; nay, with sin and many infirmities. — But Christ shall appear, then shall you also appear with him in glory. Rejoice in this hope, and be not led astray by reason of your afflictions in this world. Your members, which are of the earth, are to be mortified; and herein the Lord assists you by means of the cross. The evil lusts are the members and joints of your old Adam, who by your conversion to the Lord has been mortally wounded, but has not as yet been entirely annihilated. They will seek to drag you down to the earth again; therefore mortify them with the cross of Christ; mortify them, for Jesus’ sake!

Lord Jesus, knowest thou me, that I live in thee, and thou in me? Grant me this boon, most merciful Savior. “O take my heart and soul and might, and fill them with thy heavenly light.” Amen.

Not for any worldly pleasure
Doth my thirsty spirit pine:
Not the earth with all its treasure
Could content this soul of mine;
For its Savior yearning ever:
I will leave my Jesus never.

From that living Fountain drinking,
Walking always at his side,
Christ shall lead me without sinking
Through the river’s rushing tide,
With the blest: to sing for ever:
I will leave my Jesus never.

187. Wednesday after First Sunday after Easter.

Teach us, Lord Jesus, to go whither thou hast said, there to meet thee. Amen.

John 21, 1-6. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

The Lord had told the disciples that he would shew himself to them in Galilee; and hence we now find them at the sea of Tiberias. Still, though he lives in them, and is in their thoughts and on their lips, they do not expect him to shew himself just now; and they therefore go a fishing. Even when he stands on the shore, and addresses them as “children,” and bids them cast the net on the right side of the ship, they do not know him. For the apostles had not yet celebrated Pentecost. — Does not the same thing often occur in our case? He says to us: “I will meet you in the gospel, in the Gennesaret of holy baptism, at the holy communion table.” We come to the tryst, and he is there, but we do not know him. He has said that he will shew himself to us in poor and despised Galilee; that is to say, he will meet us in his needy members on earth; and he leads us thither, and is there before us, and yet we do not see him, or do not see that it is he. — The apostles found happiness in obeying him. He had told them to go to Galilee, and they had gone; he found them there when he came, and they found him. He was their dearest treasure, their life. They could not fail to keep the appointment; and in the end they could not fail to know him. Let us follow them, and we shall have the same experience. Let us go and meet the Lord at the places which he has appointed; namely in the means of grace, on the path of self-denial at the foot of the cross. Should we do as the apostles did; that is, should we know him to be there, and yet forget it; should we expect him to make himself known to us, but not in the manner in which he had said; should we fail to recognize him at once; should our spirit be faint, and our eyes dim;— he will be with us for all that. He never fails to keep his appointment; he comes before we know it, and is at hand when we least expect it. And he makes himself known to us when it is necessary; reveals himself, not to our senses, but to our spirit; disciplines us, and confirms our faith. But do not forget that everything depends on our being upright, as were the disciples, and going to Galilee, as he has directed. There we shall find him. And the stranger on the shore, whom we dismiss with a brief “no, we have nothing,” gives us a greater draught than we are able to draw. — Cast the net on the right side, brethren; cast the net on the right side of the ship!

Praise be to thee, Lord Jesus, for that thou art ever near to thy disciples, who are needy, and whose faith is so weak! Now we will in truth believe without having seen, and will ever thank thee, and serve thee, and never lose heart. Help us herein; of thy mercy grant us this blessing! Amen.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope in years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!

Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defence is sure.

188. Thursday after First Sunday after Easter.

Teach us to say with all our heart: Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory. Amen.

John 21, 7-14. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord. he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

John, the apostle of love, has the clearest vision, and is the first to recognize Jesus. His writings also bear witness to the depth of his knowledge of the Lord. The eye of love sees more clearly than any other. Peter, however, is at all times the most ardent and courageous. On the morning of Easter day he was the first to enter the sepulchre. The other five disciples who are in the ship quietly ply their vocation of drawing the net. This episode has been interpreted as illustrating the diversity of gifts with which the Lord’s people are endowed. One has the tender love and the clear eye of John; another has the zeal and courage of Peter; while still others have their strength in the quiet, patient endurance with which they follow their humble vocations. — We have here also a picture of the work of the apostles and the whole church for the saving of souls, according to what the Lord himself said on the occasion of that former draught of fishes by Peter: “From henceforth thou shalt catch men.” (Luke 5, 10).

However, what we especially want to impress upon one another as the lesson of this gospel is the declaration of John: “It is the Lord.” It is the Lord who says: “Cast the net on the right side of the ship.” The Lord has commanded all his disciples to cast the net of the word. The Lord sent the apostles out into the world; and the same Lord has sent you, who are now engaged in casting the net of the gospel out into the sea of humanity and down into the depths of the heart. You would not have been his witness, if the Lord had not issued this command to his church: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” It is the Lord who has made you one of his witnesses. — Furthermore, it is the Lord who makes the draught a successful one. When a minister of the word is given grace to add many converts to the number of the saints, the honor belongs not to him, but to the word of God, which he preaches. Let him beware of priding himself on his achievement; for it is not his own. Let him also beware of despising others who are engaged in the same work, but who seem not to be equally successful. It is possible that they may be working more patiently and faithfully, even though they do not draw a multitude of fishes to the shore. If the Lord were not with you in his word, you would accomplish nothing; when you do, “it is the Lord.” When we lose heart let the spirit of John whisper into our soul: “It is the Lord.” Then shall we gather courage anew. When we become slothful this word shall inspire us with fresh zeal; and when we are puffed up it shall humble us. Truly, it is the Lord who has given you your work, if you are a servant of Christ; and he is with you, and blesses you.

To the apostles of infidelity the world cries out: “Cast the net on the left side, on the banks of human reason, and draw many with you away from the faith.” But is this of the Lord, do you think? These apostles want no Lord; they wish to be their own masters. They do not know that their inspiration comes from their Lord below.

Grant that we may hear thy voice, and know thee, Lord Jesus. Give us charity and wisdom and faithfulness in thy work, and give us grace to save many souls by means of thy word. Amen.

Baptize the nations; far and nigh
The triumphs of the cross record:
The name of Jesus glorify,
Till every kindred call him Lord.

God from eternity hath willed,
All flesh shall his salvation see;
So be the Father’s love fulfilled,
The Savior’s sufferings crowned thro’ thee.

189. Friday after First Sunday after Easter.

O God, fill our heart with the love of Christ. Amen.

John 31, 15-19. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto. him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

This surely is one of the grandest of gospel lessons. There is a wealth of edification in this colloquy between the Lord and Peter. There is a powerful appeal to the heart in the Lord’s question: “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” And what a loving reproof in the addition, “more than these?” The answer of Peter reveals to us the secret depths of his heart, especially when viewed in connection with his courageous declaration at Cedron. How much of instruction is there not in the connection between the Lord’s question, “lovest thou me?” and the direction, “feed my lambs!” The Savior preaches a great penitential sermon by his thrice repeated question addressed to “Simon, son of Jonas.” At the same time, the Lord is so lenient as to omit the words “more than these”‘ from the second question; and in the third he substitutes another word for “love,” namely the one which Peter had used in making reply. There is a close relation between the humiliation of the apostle and his re-appointment as chief of the apostles. In the whole conversation the hearts meet and embrace each other in wonderful wise, with ever increasing tenderness. In the Lord we are impressed by the sublime love and wisdom of the divine teacher; and in Peter, by the humble, honest, reverent, and trusting spirit of the obedient disciple. How blessed thus to lay one’s soul at the feet of Jesus, and be taken into his embrace! But how solemn a warning in that which the Lord adds in regard to the trials which love must undergo in trouble and affliction and self-denial unto death! May the Spirit of God expound this to your heart, dear reader.

I will only ask you above all to hear and answer the Lord’s question: “Lovest thou me?” This question is not addressed to Peter only. In his love the Lord addresses it to us all. If you could but apply it to your heart, you might by this means receive the greatest of all blessings, a soul filled with the love of God. “Lovest thou me?” the Lord asks you, because he loves you. If your dearest friend on earth speaks your name, so precious and sweet to him, and in tones of the most tender affection asks you: “Lovest thou me?” you rejoice in assuring him of your love, and the fire on the altar of your hearts burns the brighter. In the eternal love with which he desires to save your soul Jesus now asks you if you love him. You know that he does this because he loves you; you know that he prizes your love so highly that, in order to win it, he suffered death for you. Do you love him? Answer; answer at once! It is Jesus who asks: “Lovest thou me?” Blessed is he whose innermost heart is made to throb by this question, and who is able to make answer: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” O, that all the world were so blest as to be able to reply: “Yes, my heart burns with love of thee, my Lord Jesus!” But, alas, the greater number would not speak true, if they made this answer. Unhappy they who do not love him! I hope that you, dear reader, know the penitent spirit of Peter, and that you have his humble and true answer in your heart: “Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee.” Speak out as Peter did: answer the Lord honestly, and tell him that he has won your heart; then shall his love more and more become the very life of your soul.

We earnestly beseech thee, O God, and we cannot let thee go, except thou hear us: Give us a heart full of the love of Jesus. Amen.

Oh, grant that nothing in my soul
May dwell, but thy pure love alone!
Oh, may thy love possess me whole,
And be my treasure, and my crown!
Strange flames far from my heart remove;
May every act. word, thought, be love.

190. Saturday after First Sunday after Easter.

Lord, give me grace gladly to carry thy cross after thee. Amen.

John 21, 20-23. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved, following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter, seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him. He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?

“Follow me,” says Jesus to Peter; meaning: Follow me in suffering and death. Then the Lord rises, and leaves the table; and Peter follows him. In like manner he shall follow him in dying on the cross. John also follows him. Peter then asks; either on behalf of John, in order that he also may know the fate which awaits him, or by reason of surprise and curiosity: “Lord, and what shall this man do?” Jesus, however, dismisses the question, and says that is a matter which he himself will dispose of. Was John, then, not to go the way of the cross in following the Lord? Certainly he was. There is no other way on which the Lord’s footsteps may be followed. “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow me.” “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” But the cross is not the same for all. Peter has one kind, and John another. The Lord gives to each that which best fits his shoulders. He can, if it be his will, exempt his dearest friend from the death of the martyr, thereby exempting him from the martyr’s crown also;or he can give him other sufferings and other honor equally great. The duty of each to take up his own cross is the very thing which Jesus here emphasizes by dismissing the question which Peter asks. Do not be dissatisfied and curious to learn whether others suffer less than you, or whether there be more honor connected with their cross than with yours; or why your path must be more narrow, or your strength less in proportion to the size of the cross. No believer has a cross which is too heavy or too light. None could afford to exchange it for any other. There is a self-willed and obstinate dissatisfaction, which murmurs against God and envies others; be careful not to let it gain a foothold in you. If you were permitted to make the exchange, you would soon discover that your neighbor’s yoke does not fit your neck. Take up your own cross, and follow Jesus. There is an obedient devotion, which teaches us to suffer without complaint, to be grateful for everything, and gladly to bear the burden for others. “Follow thou me,” says the Lord. We will take this word with us, and then go and do it. In that case none of us shall want the conflict and the suffering of the cross; but neither shall its happiness and honor, its eternal blessing, be wanting.

Draw us after thee, Lord Jesus; thou knowest that it is our wish to follow thee, and thou knowest how reluctant our flesh is to bear the cross. Draw us after thee. Give us grace to walk in thy footsteps, and to bear our cross willingly and gladly, that thy name may be honored, and that the brethren may be strengthened. Amen.

Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
By the cross are sanctified;
Peace is there that knows no measure,
Joys that through all time abide.

In the cross of Christ I glory,
Towering o’er the wrecks of time;
All the light of sacred story
Gathers round its head sublime.