Bible Readings and Devotion for April 18, 2020
Here are the references for the readings. Please look these up in your print Bible, your smartphone app Bible, or your online Bible:
Devotion for April 18, 2020
By Pastor David Tinker
There are words, statements, quotes, etc. which are part of our lives in one way or another.
We think of words of presidents such as when Kennedy said, “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Many can sing or quote the great hymn, “Amazing Grace,” by heart.
Lovers of classic English novels will remember the opening line of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” which reads, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
Although not as well known in our time, the great Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote these lines at the beginning of his poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”:
“Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.”
This poem is about the ride at the beginning of the American Revolution, 245 years ago today. The complete text of this poem is available at this link. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.
I mention these quotes and lines because today’s reading from Matthew 28 is one of the most quoted passages in the Bible. It is often referred to as, “The Great Commission.” Here is what Jesus tells the 11 remaining Apostles as his last words to them: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
There are several elements to this calling or commission of Jesus for his followers. Let’s look briefly at each section.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
Jesus, as God the Son, has all the same authority and ruling power to give commands to his followers. He has the loving force of God’s truth and word in what he says and does, for he is God.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”
Jesus calls the Apostles, and calls us, to “go” into the world with his message. We don’t sit back and wait for others. We go and help people understand and follow the teachings and message of Jesus. This is both a local and a worldwide calling for us.
“baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
Baptism is a God given connection between himself and each person. When we baptize a person, we do it according to the teaching of Jesus and by his authority. We use the name of the authority, the Lord, when we baptize a person. That authority and Word of the Lord is what gives the baptism meaning and power. You will note that the baptismal liturgy provides the God given name, “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” for each baptism. We don’t make up a new name by which we baptize a person, for that is not our role. The only one who can reverently name God is God along. See the devotion from March 27 regarding name of God.
“and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
In following the teaching of Jesus, when a person is baptized, we also teach them how to follow the way of Jesus. We help them know the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus. We live in a community of the faithful who help each other and help the new converts to follow the way of Jesus.
“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus concludes his Great Commission with a powerful promise. He will be with us always and forever. In this time between his Ascension and our final reunion with him, he is with us in these and other ways:
The Holy Spirit
The Word of God, written, discussed, proclaimed, spoken, meditated upon
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
In those who we serve, for when we serve those in need, we are serving Jesus
And other ways which Jesus chooses to be present among us.
I encourage you to read and memorize this scripture, the Great Commission of Jesus. We can make it our own as we strive to live out what he calls us to do. We can be assured of God’s love for life, both now and forever. We can be assured that God is with us as we respond to his calling for our lives.
Blessed Lord God, you have caused the holy scriptures to be written for the nourishment of your people. Grant that we may hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that, comforted by your promises, we may embrace and forever hold fast to the hope of eternal life, which you have given us in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.
Prayer from Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Copyright © 2020 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved.