16:1–8 Three women undertake the job of properly preparing Jesus’ body for burial, which the press of time prevented earlier. When they arrive at the tomb, they find it empty and hear the wonderful (and temporarily paralyzing) message that Jesus has risen from the dead and the tomb is empty. In spite of Jesus’ clear predictions on at least three occasions (8:31–32; 9:31; 10:33–34), His disciples do not believe. Jesus rises from the dead, proclaiming His victory to all creation and providing for all believers a resurrection to eternal life on the Last Day. • “Christ Jesus lay in death’s strong bands For our offenses given; But now at God’s right hand He stands And brings us life from heaven. Therefore let us joyful be And sing to God right thankfully Loud songs of alleluia! Alleluia!” Amen. (LSB 458:1)
16:9–11 Mary Magdalene sees the resurrected Jesus and tells the disciples about Him, but they do not believe it. Sinful human nature cannot believe. Doubt assails our hearts at every opportunity. Yet faith, like life, comes as a pure gift from God. He keeps us in the true faith unto life everlasting. • “Lord, by the stripes which wounded Thee, From death’s dread sting Thy servants free That we may live and sing to Thee. Alleluia!” Amen. (LSB 464:5)
16:12–13 The pattern of unbelief continues in spite of additional eyewitness accounts. Like us, the disciples are slow of heart and deaf to the good news of their reconciliation with God through Christ’s resurrection. Yet, He still rose for them and commissioned them to proclaim the Gospel everywhere. That is still the gracious commission to the Church from Christ. • “Christ is arisen From the grave’s dark prison. So let our joy rise full and free; Christ our comfort true will be. Alleluia!” Amen. (LSB 459:1)
16:14–20 Jesus commissions His followers to proclaim the message of salvation throughout the world. Only through faith in Jesus Christ can anyone be saved. The Gospel invitation is open to all. God wants all people to be saved through Jesus (1Tm 2:3–4). • “Now let the heav’ns be joyful, Let earth its song begin, Let all the world keep triumph And all that is therein. Let all things, seen and unseen, Their notes of gladness blend; For Christ the Lord has risen, Our joy that has no end!” Amen. (LSB 478:3)
1:1–4 Luke introduces the Gospel as a well-written, researched, and historical record of Jesus’ life and teachings. God’s people need clear, accurate teaching in order to grow in faith and in service. As you study Luke’s account, pray that the Lord would make you a faithful “friend of God” through Jesus, who has accomplished your salvation by His birth, life, death, and resurrection. • “Jesus, priceless treasure, Fount of purest pleasure, Truest friend to me, Ah, how long in anguish Shall my spirit languish, Yearning, Lord, for Thee? Thou art mine, O Lamb divine! I will suffer naught to hide Thee; Naught I ask beside Thee.” Amen. (LSB 743:1)
1:5–25 Zechariah receives word that the Lord will bless him and Elizabeth with a son who has a special calling. Children are a blessing from God to be treasured and raised according to His good purposes. Pray for the children in your family, and support their nurture in the faith. Give thanks to God the Father, who nurtures us in His Holy Child, Jesus, our deliverer from sin, evil, and doubt. • “Hark! A thrilling voice is sounding! ‘Christ is near,’ we hear it say. ‘Cast away the works of darkness, All you children of the day!’ ” Amen. (LSB 345:1)
1:26–38 The angel Gabriel announces Jesus’ birth to Mary, who responds in faith. By announcing the Gospel, the Lord likewise calls us to faith and to bear Christ—not as our child—but as the Holy One of God, our Savior. • “O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray; Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels The great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel!” Amen. (LSB 361:4)
1:39–45 As Mary greets Elizabeth, baby John leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb. The work of God’s Spirit is not limited by age, gender, or socio-economic status. He is poured out for all people according to the good and gracious will of God, who blesses motherhood and children and, through them, all humanity, even as He promised Eve (Gn 3:15). Like baby John, leap for joy that salvation comes from the Lord in humble and unexpected ways as the Good News of Jesus is shared. • “Thou Christian heart, Whoe’er thou art, Be of good cheer and let no sorrow move thee! For God’s own Child, In mercy mild, Joins thee to Him; how greatly God must love thee!” Amen. (LSB 372:4)
1:46–56 The Lord delivers His people amid suffering and disappointment. Today, no matter what troubles assail you, trust in the Lord as your deliverer, and commend all cares to Him in prayer. Rejoice in His surpassing mercy through the Holy Child, who delivers the generations from sin and sorrow. • Pray or sing the Magnificat (vv 46–55; LSB, pp 248–49).
1:57–66 Elizabeth gives birth to John; Zechariah confirms his son’s name. John is truly the Lord’s gift to you as well because he prepared the way for your Savior, Jesus. Do not doubt, but dare to proclaim what the Lord has promised and accomplished for your salvation. His blessings never cease to amaze! • “When all the world was cursed By Moses’ condemnation, Saint John the Baptist came With words of consolation. With true forerunner’s zeal The greater One he named, And Him, as yet unknown, As Savior he proclaimed.” Amen. (LSB 346:1)
1:67–80 The theme of ch 1 is fulfillment. God faithfully keeps His promises by sending one like Elijah to prepare His people, and then by announcing the advent of the Son of God and Savior of all humankind. Nothing is impossible with God! Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are bold to hope for an even more wonderful fulfillment of divine promises, including our glorification. • Blessed are You, O Lord, the God of Israel, for You have visited and redeemed Your people and raised up a horn of salvation for us. You have assured us that our final day of salvation will someday be completed, when Christ returns. Therefore, come, Lord Jesus. Come quickly! Amen.
2:1–7 Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, where Jesus is born in humble circumstances. The birth of a child always comes with great hardship (Gn 3:16). The birth of this Child comes with great blessings for sinners. As you reflect on the wonder of Jesus’ birth, pray also for a humble and pure heart. The mighty Lord will have mercy on you and exalt you by grace alone (Lk 1:49–52). • O Holy Child, grant me sincere humility, even as You exalt me by calling me God’s child. Amen.
2:8–21 Angels reveal to shepherds the Good News of the Savior’s birth. The shepherds in turn announce the Good News to others. As you celebrate the glory of Christmas, be sure to announce Jesus’ saving work to others also. The Savior is your peace and joy this day and always! • O Holy Child, I treasure the Good News of Your birth for my salvation. Call others to faith through me. Amen.
2:22–38 As confirmed by prophecy, Jesus is appointed as the Savior. Today, pray that the Lord would grant you the enduring faith of Simeon and Anna, to see the Lord’s salvation and give Him thanks face-to-face in eternity. • Pray the Nunc Dimittis (vv 29–32; LSB, p 165).
2:39–40 Jesus matures as a normal child and also has the blessings of God’s wisdom and favor. Today, pray for the children in your family or neighborhood, that they would grow in the knowledge of their Savior and receive His favor. He who has blessed and kept you in faith will likewise hear and bless them too. • I thank You, Holy Child, that You fulfilled the Law for me. Fill me with the wisdom only You can give. Amen.
2:41–52 Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth and childhood repeatedly sets the ordinary beside the miraculous (e.g., a youth from the hinterland stuns the Jerusalem rabbis with His wisdom). Given the mysterious and often apparently ordinary ways God chooses to reveal Himself and His salvation—in the flesh of His Son, in words, in water, in bread and wine—we easily underestimate their power. Thankfully, the very common aspects of God’s gifts mean that they are never far from us. • Lord Jesus, open my eyes to Your life-giving presence. Through Your Word, Sacraments, and Spirit, bless my life, so that things that seem mundane become a foretaste of blessedness in Your eternal presence. Amen.
†Ch 3 Luke’s account of John’s ministry and Jesus’ ancestry hint at the universal nature of the Messiah’s kingdom. How sad, then, that churches too often show little concern for those outside the immediate boundaries of their fellowship. The Gospel is for everyone! Jesus’ death and resurrection bring life and salvation to all who repent and call on His name. • Lord, open my eyes to the nature of Your kingdom, and so move me to live a life worthy of Your Gospel by reaching out with the Good News that leads to everlasting life. Amen.
4:1–13 The Holy Spirit leads Jesus and abides with Him through His temptation, affirming that Jesus truly is the Son of God. The blessed Trinity likewise abides with us, that we may withstand Satan’s temptation of our flesh, our pride, and our will. Through Holy Baptism in God’s name, we are truly His beloved children. • “Almighty God, unto You all hearts are open, all desires are known, and from You no secrets are hid. Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You, and worthily magnify Your holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.” (Gregorian Sacramentary, TLWA, p 261)
4:14–15 Jesus begins to teach publicly for the first time since He was a child (2:41–52). Reflect on Jesus’ teaching, which relies on the work of the Holy Spirit and cannot be judged by popularity alone. Pray that the Holy Spirit would bless your speech and lead others to the Lord through you. What blessings He bestows through the Gospel! • “May we in faith its message learn Nor thanklessly its blessings spurn; May we in faith its truth confess And praise the Lord, our righteousness.” Amen. (LSB 580:6)
4:16–30 Jesus’ ministry begins with victories over Satan and his minions, but also with an episode in Nazareth that foreshadows His rejection at the hands of His own people. Our lives typically include a similar mixture of successes and rejections. That is why we do well to focus more on the end of the Gospel story, for there we see resurrection, God’s greatest victory over sin and the devil, and the revelation of His grace and mercy for us. • Eternal God, give me grace when I face temptations from the devil and assaults from the unbelieving world. Remind me that You have already overcome these things for me and even now are preparing a place for me in Your eternal presence. Amen.
4:31–37 With authoritative words, Jesus silences and sends away unclean spirits. God’s Word bears authority for your sake, too, pointing out your uncleanness due to sin, yet also promising deliverance from sin and from attacks of the evil one. Revel in Jesus’ teaching and its great blessings for you. • “Thy strong Word bespeaks us righteous; Bright with Thine own holiness, Glorious now, we press toward glory, And our lives our hopes confess.” Amen. (LSB 578:3)
4:38–41 Jesus heals many people by a word and a touch. His works reveal the bond between sin and sickness, which corrupts the world and touches our lives. Pray that Jesus would deliver you from evil and protect you from the effects of sin. Christ can forgive and restore you by His grace. • Restore me, precious Savior, that I may serve You faithfully. Amen.
4:42–44 People chase after Jesus as though they could possess Him and keep Him for themselves. Do we blame them? They had never before witnessed God’s blessings so greatly. Yet, with His blessings, Jesus would also teach us His generous ways, that He belongs not only to us but to all. His kingdom knows no human boundaries. • “Son of God, eternal Savior, Source of life and truth and grace, Word made flesh, whose birth among us Hallows all our human race, You our Head, who, throned in glory, For Your own will ever plead: Fill us with Your love and pity, Heal our wrongs, and help our need.” Amen. (LSB 842:1)
5:1–11 A miraculous catch of fish shows the disciples that Jesus is more than a great teacher—God is working mightily through Him. Like the disciples, the mundane struggle for daily bread, and the sin and doubt it fosters, may make you feel distant from God. But He is ever near and also ever prepared to forgive your sins. • Stay with me, Lord, for I am a sinful person. Grant me repentance and a new life in service to You. Amen.
5:12–16 Jesus cleanses a leper by touching him and sends him to fulfill the Law of Moses. He still touches lives today and has mercy according to His good and gracious will. Bring your requests to Jesus, and trust in His good purposes for you. Even now, your Savior is interceding for you in heaven. • Cleanse me, dearest Jesus, and make Your will known in my life, that I may fulfill Your Word and fill the world with the report of Your goodness. Amen.
5:17–26 Jesus asserts His authority to forgive sins by healing a paralyzed man. Though Jesus could easily say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” the price of that forgiveness cost Him His life. He bore the cross and your sins willingly, and He will also bear with you in all infirmities. • Grant me firm faith, O Lord, that I may walk in Your ways. Amen.
5:27–32 Jesus teaches the people that He came to save sinners by leading them to repentance. No matter what your past, whether you are a notorious sinner or smugly self-righteous, Jesus calls you to a life of daily repentance. As the great physician, He can forgive all manner of sins. • Jesus, I would follow You. Lead me by repentance and faith to leave behind my old life. Amen.
5:33–39 Jesus fulfills God’s promise to make all things new: He makes fishermen and a tax collector into disciples, He makes a leper and a paralytic whole, and He forgives sins. Unfortunately, some resist such changes, not only in Jesus’ day but also in our lives. That is why He calls us to embrace the Gospel wholly. Jesus’ astounding promise is this: whatever we leave behind for the sake of the kingdom of God will be replaced with much more in this age and with eternal life in the age to come (18:30). • Lord Jesus, give me grace to follow wherever You lead. By Your Spirit, strengthen me to live as Your disciple, reaching out to others in need of Your life-changing love and forgiveness. Amen.
6:1–5 Jesus reapplies the Third Commandment to reveal the blessings of the Sabbath. When we consider laws and their application, God would have us see not simply how laws restrict but also who and what they protect. All God’s Word is written for our benefit, that we may enjoy the inherited blessings of His mercy. • “ ‘You shall observe the worship day That peace may fill your home, and pray, And put aside the work you do, So that God may work in you.’ Have mercy, Lord!” Amen. (LSB 581:4)
6:6–11 Jesus, despite facing severe criticism, has mercy on the man with a withered hand. As God grants you opportunity to show mercy, act with care and confidence. Goodness and life are God’s great blessings for you and for all in Jesus. • “As You, Lord, have lived for others, So may we for others live. Freely have Your gifts been granted; Freely may Your servants give.” Amen. (LSB 842:2)
6:12–16 Jesus chooses 12 men as His apostles, an office specifically appointed by Jesus for the early years of the Church. Today, Jesus continues to call people for various roles of service in the Church, depending on God’s order, our gifts, and the Church’s needs. There are no self-appointed offices in God’s Church. He calls people and extends His care by His gracious and good will. • “Make them apostles, heralds of Your cross; Forth let them go to tell the world of grace. Inspired by You, may they count all but loss And stand at last with joy before Your face.” Amen. (LSB 682:5)
6:17–19 Jesus preaches and ministers to the crowds. Jesus continues to touch our lives today through the ongoing ministry of His life-giving Word. • “Lord, Your words are waters living When my thirsting spirit pleads. Lord, Your words are bread life-giving; On Your words my spirit feeds. Lord, Your words will be my light Through death’s cold and dreary night; Yes, they are my sword prevailing And my cup of joy unfailing!” Amen. (LSB 589:3)
6:20–23 Jesus blesses the crowds and describes their estates in this life and the life to come. Even amid sorrows, God’s blessings prevail. • Set my heart, dear Savior, on Your blessings and promises, that I remain steadfast in all circumstances. Amen.
6:24–26 Jesus condemns those who live for today, neglecting the ways of God and the care of His people. When pride and self-interest allure you, turn to the Lord in repentance. Daily He provides for all your needs and forgives you by grace. • Hear my daily confession of sins, O Savior, and set my heart on things above. Amen.
6:27–36 Jesus overthrows the common ethics of human culture to emphasize the Father’s ways of love and mercy. God calls you to have self-sacrificing love. Pray for wisdom and patience with yourself as you put God’s ways into practice. The Father of all mercy will hear your plea. He is ever ready to forgive and strengthen you. • Lord, lead me to love the ungrateful and the evil, even as You have loved and cared for me. Amen.
6:37–42 Jesus teaches the disciples to judge mercifully and lead faithfully. We can never outgrow our good teacher, who by grace judged and declared us not guilty while we were yet dead in our sins. His grace in our lives—measured, pressed, and shaken—always runs over. • Grant me a forgiving heart, merciful Judge, even as You have forgiven me. Amen.
6:43–45 A person’s words and deeds—not appearances—are the true marks of one’s character. In repentance and through the Gospel, the Lord grants you a pure heart, set free from sin by God’s grace. • Create in me a clean heart, O God, that I might bear the fruit of faith. Amen.
6:46–49 Jesus authoritatively teaches about the ethic of God’s kingdom. Unfortunately, His teachings are so radically demanding and countercultural that even the most dedicated believers fail to live up to them. It is good news indeed, then, that Jesus does not merely command long-suffering, forgiveness, and love of enemies. He Himself puts them into practice, lovingly bearing with us and forgiving us! • Lord Jesus, lead me to know the blessings of a life that reflects Your divine qualities of compassion, forbearance, and forgiveness. Amen.
7:1–10 Jesus reveals His authority over every threatening foe, even death, by healing a centurion’s servant. How often we try everything else before turning to the Lord when we find ourselves in similar desperate straits! Through regular worship, devotional time, and the reception of the Sacrament, God’s Spirit brings us into a deeper and livelier trust in Jesus. • “May Thy rich grace impart Strength to my fainting heart; My zeal inspire! As Thou hast died for me, Oh, may my love to Thee Pure, warm, and changeless be, A living fire!” Amen. (LSB 702:2)
7:11–17 Out of compassion for a widow who lost her only son, Jesus raises the young man back to life. Tragedy knows no bounds, striking people of every nation, age, and station in life. Thank God for His great compassion, that Jesus is the Savior for all people. The Gospel shows He has conquered every foe for us, even death and the grave. • “For us He rose from death again; For us He went on high to reign; For us He sent His Spirit here To guide, to strengthen, and to cheer.” Amen. (LSB 544:6)
7:18–35 In response to doubt and criticism, Jesus affirms that He is indeed the Messiah announced by John and that John, who heralded His advent, is Israel’s greatest prophet. Yet, many will accept neither John’s thunderous warnings nor Jesus’ proclamation of the Good News of the kingdom. Such skepticism continues today. Thank God, conversion is God’s work through His Word. God’s Spirit continues to enlighten, sanctify, and keep us in the true faith. • “Holy Spirit, light divine, Shine upon this heart of mine; Chase the shades of night away, Turn the darkness into day.” Amen. (LSB 496:1)
7:36–50 Jesus teaches that even notorious sinners can be forgiven and restored; indeed, they sometimes become all the more devoted to God for having received greater deliverance. His teaching challenges us to consider: Do we act like the begrudging Pharisee or the grateful penitent? Do we trust that God can truly change people’s lives? By God’s Spirit, we grow daily in our appreciation of the fact that “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rm 5:20). • “Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed His blood for me, Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die. As the branch is to the vine, I am His, and He is mine.” Amen. (LSB 611:1)
8:1–3 Jesus breaks with rabbinic tradition and allows women to become disciples. The Church likewise calls all its members to various forms of service. The Lord has appropriate forms of service for every member of His Kingdom, regardless of gender, ethnicity, or social standing. He serves one and all by taking away their sins and giving them His Holy Spirit. • Give Your Church wisdom, O Lord, that she may be a faithful steward of all people baptized in Your name. Give me zeal for my own vocation and service, as well as the grace to encourage others. Amen.
8:4–8 Jesus warns that not everyone hearing God’s Word will have an enduring faith. Tragically, some hear the life-giving Gospel of Jesus but fail to produce the fruit of a Christian life, eventually dying in unbelief. Genuine faith, however, so transforms our lives that we joyfully serve the Lord in this world and enjoy eternal life. • “On what has now been sown Thy blessing, Lord, bestow; The pow’r is Thine alone To make it sprout and grow. Do Thou in grace the harvest raise, And Thou alone shalt have the praise!” Amen. (LSB 921:1)
8:9–15 Jesus uses an agricultural metaphor to explain how the Gospel ministry works and why it is sometimes thwarted. As our own experience bears out, the sinful nature, the world, and the devil all resist the Holy Spirit, who calls people to faith and would lead them into committed discipleship. By God’s grace, however, our faith not only withstands trial and temptation but even grows stronger. The Christian’s faithful endurance is a testimony to Christ’s constant love. • “To Thee our wants are known, From Thee are all our pow’rs; Accept what is Thine own And pardon what is ours. Our praises, Lord, and prayers receive, And to Thy Word a blessing give.” Amen. (LSB 921:2)
8:16–18 Jesus calls His followers to be just as transparent in their attitudes and irreproachable in their behavior as He is. However, we often fare poorly under such a glaring light, where our failures seem magnified. Nevertheless, when we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1Jn 1:9). • Draw us ever to Your light, O Lord. Although it makes clear our unworthiness to stand in Your presence, it also removes our darkness and, by Your forgiving grace, restores us to the glory for which You created us. Amen.
8:19–21 By faith, we inherit the kingdom of God. Yet, fewer and fewer people break away from earthly cares and make time for the Church and the eternal fellowship God bestows through it. Those attending the Lord’s Table, however, enjoy an eternal family fellowship and a foretaste of the feast that goes on forever in God’s presence. • Lord, show us the need for both our earthly and Church families. By Your Spirit, increase our commitment to both our temporal and eternal relations; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
8:22–25 After calming a storm, Jesus challenges His disciples to consider the answer to their question, “Who then is this?” Though any Christian can answer this question correctly while sitting in an armchair, it is a different matter altogether when facing trouble. Yet, when we are similarly overwhelmed, the risen Christ comes to our aid. • “Yea, though I walk in death’s dark vale, Yet will I fear no ill; For Thou art with me, and Thy rod And staff me comfort still.” Amen. (LSB 710:3)
8:26–39 Luke’s lengthiest report of an exorcism is also his most dramatic: in the Gerasene region, Jesus frees a deranged and menacing demoniac. The magnitude of this man’s suffering leads some—especially the pious—to dread evil spirits and wonder what prevents any of us from being the object of their attacks. Though we do well to take note that demons exist, we may also trust in Jesus, whose resurrection has disarmed the forces of sin, death, and even Satan. • “The pow’rs of death have done their worst, But Christ their legions hath dispersed. Let shouts of holy joy outburst. Alleluia!” Amen. (LSB 464:2)
8:40–56 After displaying His mastery over nature and demons, Jesus shows His authority over incurable illness and even death. Just as the disciples despaired in the face of danger (v 25), we also sometimes despair as catastrophe looms. But Jesus can deal with any problem. His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection prove that He can overcome even the gravest threat. • “O Lord God, the just Judge, strong and patient, You know the frailty and wickedness of men. Be my strength, and all my trust, for my own conscience does not suffice for me. Although I know nothing by myself, yet I cannot hereby justify myself; for without Your mercy, in Your sight shall no man living be justified. Amen.” (Thom K, TLWA, p 231)