Sunday, April 24, 2022

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers for Sunday, April 24, 2022 — Second Sunday of Easter

 

The Sunday Bible Readings and Prayers
Sunday, April 24, 2022
Second Sunday of Easter
Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

It's the week after Easter. And some experience a “religious hangover.” But, what came alive through the events of Easter remain alive, present and available everyday, every hour and every second. Easter keeps happening!

Introduction & Theme

Today’s readings continue the great themes of Easter: resurrection, new life, and hope in the midst of profound fear and doubt. On this first Sunday after Easter, we share the conviction of Peter and the apostles who can’t help but share the message of God’s love and forgiveness. Yet we also share the all-too-human doubting of Thomas, as we struggle to believe the unbelievable. When doubting Thomas finds himself face-to-face with the risen Christ, he says, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28). Revelation makes it clear that our hope is founded on the one who was, and is, and is to come: the Alpha and Omega. Finally, we join the psalmist and John by raising our voices in praise and song for all that God has done for us.

Opening Prayer
(Revelation 1)

Eternal God, who was and is and is to come, you are the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and end of all things. Come to us now in visions and dreams, that our eyes may see more than they see, and our hearts may love more than they love. Make yourself known to us in this time of worship, for in you, we live and move and have our being. Bring your kingdom here on earth, that all may know your glory and find the courage to face each day. We ask this in the name of the one who conquered the grave to bring us eternal life. Amen.

Call to Confession
(Acts 5, John 20:28)

God who abides in our doubts, we yearn for the courage to believe where we have not seen; we long for the ability to perceive things hidden from our eyes; we desire to embrace the riches of our faith when death looms all around us. Like Thomas before us, we often struggle to believe the mystery of your resurrection. So many doubts remain. So much uncertainty closes our minds to the wisdom that stirs our souls. Yet you work in and through our doubts, leading us ever deeper into the mystery of Christ, through the power of your Holy Spirit. May we see Christ’s glory amidst our doubts and proclaim with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” Amen.

Assurance of Pardon
(Revelation 1)

God has the power to heal us. Christ has the love to save us. The Spirit has the strength to free us. These gifts are graciously given, even in the midst of our doubts. God is here to lead us deeper, and show us the way home.

Today’s Verse-of-the-Day:
1 Peter 1:18-19

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
God commanded that sacrifices were to be completely without spot or blemish in honor of His absolute holiness. That is why the virgin birth (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23) is so central to our salvation—because with a normal birth, the seed of the sin nature comes through the father (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 5:12). Yet, as we know, Jesus was miraculously conceived by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30–35)—not by a human father—so He did not receive the sin nature and lived a completely sinless life. That made Him the perfect sacrifice for us (John 1:29; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19).

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Acts of the Apostles
Acts 5:27-32

The God of our Ancestors raised up Jesus

5:27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

Commentary
The apostles testify to Christ before the council.

Many will do an evil thing with daring, yet cannot bear to hear of it afterward, or to have it charged upon them. We cannot expect to be redeemed and healed by Christ, unless we give up ourselves to be ruled by him. Faith takes the Savior in all his offices, who came, not to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins. Had Christ been exalted to give dominion to Israel, the chief priests would have welcomed him. But repentance and remission of sins are blessings they neither valued nor saw their need of; therefore they, by no means, admitted his doctrine. Wherever repentance is wrought, remission is granted without fail. None are freed from the guilt and punishment of sin, but those who are freed from the power and dominion of sin; who are turned from it, and turned against it. Christ gives repentance, by his Spirit working with the word, to awaken the conscience, to work sorrow for sin, and an effectual change in the heart and life. The giving of the Holy Ghost, is plain evidence that it is the will of God that Christ should be obeyed. And He will surely destroy those who will not have Him to reign over them.


From the Psalter
Psalm 150
Let Everything Praise the Lord


1 Praise the Lord.

  Praise God in his sanctuary;
     praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
     praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
     praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
     praise him with the strings and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
     praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

  Praise the Lord.


Commentary
A psalm of praise.

We are here stirred up to praise God. Praise God for his sanctuary, and the privileges we enjoy by having it among us; praise him because of his power and glory in the firmament. Those who praise the Lord in heaven, behold displays of his power and glory which we cannot now conceive. But the greatest of all his mighty acts is known in his earthly sanctuary. The holiness and the love of our God are more displayed in man's redemption, than in all his other works. Let us praise our God and Savior for it. We need not care to know what instruments of music are mentioned. Hereby is meant that in serving God we should spare no cost or pains. Praise God with strong faith; praise him with holy love and delight; praise him with entire confidence in Christ; praise him with believing triumph over the powers of darkness; praise him by universal respect to all his commands; praise him by cheerful submission to all his disposals; praise him by rejoicing in his love, and comforting ourselves in his goodness; praise him by promoting the interests of the kingdom of his grace; praise him by lively hope and expectation of the kingdom of his glory. Since we must shortly breathe our last, while we have breath let us praise the Lord; then we shall breathe our last with comfort. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Such is the very suitable end of a book inspired by the Spirit of God, written for the work of praise; a book which has supplied the songs of the church for more than three thousand years; a book which is quoted more frequently than any other by Christ and his apostles; a book which presents the loftiest ideas of God and his government, which is fitted to every state of human life, which sets forth every state of religious experience, and which bears simple and clear marks of its Divine origin.


From the Apocalypse of John
Revelation 1:4-8
Jesus Christ Firstborn of the Dead


1:4 John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne,
5 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood,
6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

7 “Look, he is coming with the clouds,”
     and “every eye will see him,
  even those who pierced him”;
     and all peoples on earth “will mourn because of him.”
       So shall it be! Amen.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Commentary
The apostle John salutes the seven churches of Asia.

There can be no true peace, where there is not true grace; and where grace goes before, peace will follow. This blessing is in the name of God, of the Holy Trinity, it is an act of adoration. The Father is first named; he is described as the Jehovah who is, and who was, and who is to come, eternal, unchangeable. The Holy Spirit is called the seven spirits, the perfect Spirit of God, in whom there is a diversity of gifts and operations. The Lord Jesus Christ was from eternity, a Witness to all the counsels of God. He is the First-born from the dead, who will by his own power raise up his people. He is the Prince of the kings of the earth; by him their counsels are overruled, and to him they are accountable. Sin leaves a stain of guilt and pollution upon the soul. Nothing can fetch out this stain but the blood of Christ; and Christ shed his own blood to satisfy Divine justice, and purchase pardon and purity for his people. Christ has made believers kings and priests to God and his Father. As such they overcome the world, mortify sin, govern their own spirits, resist Satan, prevail with God in prayer, and shall judge the world. He has made them priests, given them access to God, enabled them to offer spiritual and acceptable sacrifices, and for these favors they are bound to ascribe to him dominion and glory for ever. He will judge the world. Attention is called to that great day when all will see the wisdom and happiness of the friends of Christ, and the madness and misery of his enemies. Let us think frequently upon the second coming of Christ. He shall come, to the terror of those who wound and crucify him by apostasy: he shall come, to the astonishment of the whole world of the ungodly. He is the Beginning and the End; all things are from him and for him; he is the Almighty; the same eternal and unchanged One. And if we would be numbered with his saints in glory everlasting, we must now willing submit to him receive him, and honor him as a savior, who we believe will come to be our Judge. Alas, that there should be many, who would wish never to die, and that there should not be a day of judgment!


Today’s Gospel Reading
John 20:19-31
Beholding the Wounds of the Risen Christ


20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book.
31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Commentary
He appears to the disciples (vv. 19-25); The unbelief of Thomas (vv. 26-29); Conclusion (vv. 30,31).

Verses 19-25: This was the first day of the week, and this day is afterwards often mentioned by the sacred writers; for it was evidently set apart as the Christian sabbath, in remembrance of Christ's resurrection. The disciples had shut the doors for fear of the Jews; and when they had no such expectation, Jesus himself came and stood in the midst of them, having miraculously, though silently, opened the doors. It is a comfort to Christ's disciples, when their assemblies can only be held in private, that no doors can shut out Christ's presence. When He manifests his love to believers by the comforts of his Spirit, he assures them that because he lives, they shall live also. A sight of Christ will gladden the heart of a disciple at any time; and the more we see of Jesus, the more we shall rejoice. He said, Receive ye the Holy Ghost, thus showing that their spiritual life, as well as all their ability for their work, would be derived from him, and depended upon him. Every word of Christ which is received in the heart by faith, comes accompanied by this Divine breathing; and without this there is neither light nor life. Nothing is seen, known, discerned, or felt of God, but through this. After this, Christ directed the apostles to declare the only method by which sin would be forgiven. This power did not exist at all in the apostles as a power to give judgment, but only as a power to declare the character of those whom God would accept or reject in the day of judgment. They have clearly laid down the marks whereby a child of God may be discerned and be distinguished from a false professor; and according to what they have declared shall every case be decided in the day of judgment. When we assemble in Christ's name, especially on his holy day, he will meet with us, and speak peace to us. The disciples of Christ should endeavor to build up one another in their most holy faith, both by repeating what they have heard to those that were absent, and by making known what they have experienced. Thomas limited the Holy One of Israel, when he would be convinced by his own method or not at all. He might justly have been left in his unbelief, after rejecting such abundant proofs. The fears and sorrows of the disciples are often lengthened, to punish their negligence.

Verses 26-29: That one day in seven should be religiously observed, was an appointment from the beginning. And that, in the kingdom of the Messiah, the first day of the week should be that solemn day, was pointed out, in that Christ on that day once and again met his disciples in a religious assembly. The religious observance of that day has come down to us through every age of the church. There is not an unbelieving word in our tongues, nor thought in our minds, but it is known to the Lord Jesus; and he was pleased to accommodate himself even to Thomas, rather than leave him in his unbelief. We ought thus to bear with the weak (Rom. 15:1; Rom. 15:2). This warning is given to all. If we are faithless, we are Christless and graceless, hopeless and joyless. Thomas was ashamed of his unbelief, and cried out, My Lord and my God. He spoke with affection, as one that took hold of Christ with all his might; "My Lord and my God." Sound and sincere believers, though slow and weak, shall be graciously accepted of the Lord Jesus. It is the duty of those who read and hear the gospel, to believe, to embrace the doctrine of Christ, and that record concerning him (1 John 5:11).

Verses 30,31: There were other signs and proofs of our Lord's resurrection, but these were committed to writing, that all might believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Savior of sinners, and the Son of God; that, by this faith, they might obtain eternal life, by his mercy, truth, and power. May we believe that Jesus is the Christ, and believing may we have life through his name.


Here end the Readings

The Nicene Creed

  • We believe in one God, the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
  • And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, begotten from the Father before all ages, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made; of the same essence as the Father. Through him all things were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven; he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human. He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate; he suffered and was buried. The third day he rose again, according to the Scriptures. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will never end.
  • And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified. He spoke through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church. We affirm one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look forward to the resurrection of the dead, and to life in the world to come. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer


Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that 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, for ever and ever. Amen.

Holy Communion


A nondenominational serving of bread and wine
Though no video can truly replace the experience of celebrating together in our places of worship, we know that where two or more are gathered, the Lord is present. This table is open to all who recognize Jesus Christ as healer and redeemer. This table is open to all who work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. No one is turned away because of life circumstances. No one is barred from this table. No one seeking God’s abundant grace and mercy is turned aside. We see before us the abundance that a life of faith offers as we respond to God’s everlasting mercy in prayer and deed.

Benediction
(Acts 5, John 20, Revelation 1)

Peace to you from the One who is and was, and is to come. Grace and peace to you from the One who loves us and frees us, the One who gives us repentance and forgiveness. As God sent Jesus into the world, so the Spirit now sends us to continue God’s holy work. To God be glory and dominion forever and ever! Amen.


Jesus is alive! His promises are fulfilled, and the story is complete! Right? Actually, it's not. Easter was just the beginning, and now it's our turn.



Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year C. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2022, we will be in Year A. The year which ended at Advent 2021 was Year B. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

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