15:1–17 Christ is the true vine, and His disciples are the branches, vitally connected to Him and spontaneously bearing fruit under His purifying care. Christians must love one another as friends, not regard one another as enemies. By grace, God has dwelt among us in His Son (1:14) and has joined us together in a fellowship of self-giving love. • Hear the prayers of Your faithful people, who desire to do Your will, dear Lord. Amen.
15:18–16:4a Christ predicts that His disciples will face hostility from the unbelieving world. Those who think it is easy to be a Christian fail to understand the real consequences of following Jesus Christ. In the face of persecution and the world’s hatred, Christ promises to strengthen and keep us from falling away • O Lord, let me not be discouraged when I am personally abused because of my faith. Amen.
16:4b–15 Christ comforts the disciples by promising to send them the Helper (the Holy Spirit), who will guide them into a deeper understanding of Christ’s Word. Mistakenly, we sometimes think that Jesus’ physical absence places us at a disadvantage. In fact, Jesus is present with us through the witness of the Spirit, who works among us through God’s Word and Sacraments. • O Holy Spirit, through the Word, guide us into all truth. Amen.
16:16–24 Christ promises to return after His resurrection and turn the disciples’ sorrow into joy. Human sorrow can become an expression of self-pity, hindering genuine prayer for God’s help and deliverance. Yet, God knows how to turn our sorrow into joy, and He promises to hear our prayers for Jesus’ sake. • Hear us, O heavenly Father, and give us joy in Jesus’ name! Amen.
16:25–33 The disciples confidently claim they understand Jesus’ parting words, but Jesus utters the sober prediction that they will soon abandon Him. Those boasting about spiritual maturity stand in danger of succumbing to human pride and unbelief. When we face temptation and trouble in this world, we can take heart that Christ has overcome the world for our sake. • O Christ, in crisis situations, give me the peace only You can give. Amen.
Ch 17 Knowing that He is going to the cross, Jesus prays for His disciples and asks that they be united by faith in Him. Whenever Christians ignore God’s Word, they foster divisions within the Church and diminish their witness. But God’s Word is the truth that will unite His Church, glorify Him, and enable His people to fulfill their calling in a troubled world. • Heavenly Father, reveal in my life the love that You have shown me in Your Son. Amen.
18:1–11 Jesus takes charge and powerfully confronts those who come to arrest Him in the garden, even while He voluntarily accepts the suffering that lies before Him. Jesus suffered and died not as a martyr for a noble cause but as the Savior whose sacrifice atoned for our sin. • I give You thanks, O Redeemer, that I am counted among Your own. Amen.
18:12–14 Jewish officials arrest Jesus with the assistance of Roman soldiers and lead Him to the high priest Annas for questioning. The arrest of God’s Son reveals the depths to which sinful humans will go to remove Him from their lives. God used those who led Jesus to His cross as His instruments to accomplish our salvation. • O Lord Jesus, I praise You that You died not only for my sins, but for the sins of all people. Amen.
18:15–18 Despite Peter’s “brave” promise to lay down his life for Jesus (13:37), Peter denies that he is Jesus’ disciple because of his concern for self-protection. Tragically, our mouths with which we confess Jesus as Savior can also quickly deny Him. Our loving Lord did not begrudge His atoning sacrifice even to those who had denied and abandoned Him. The living Word saves us. • “What wondrous love is this That caused the Lord of bliss To bear the dreadful curse for my soul!” Amen. (LSB 543:1)
18:19–24 After Jesus’ arrest, Annas conducts the preliminary interrogation of Jesus. As in the case of Jesus’ accusers, sinful human beings are prone to dealing unfairly with others. Jesus calls us to honest dealings. He became the innocent victim of oppression and judgment in order that He would endure the just punishment of our sin (Is 53:7–9) and become our Savior. • O Lamb of God, who went to the cross with no complaint, remind me always of Your unfailing mercy. Amen.
18:25–27 In sharp contrast to Jesus’ forthright self-disclosure (“I am,” vv 5, 8), Peter denies Jesus a third time (“I am not”), leaving Jesus alone on the way to suffering and death. Jesus warned that whoever denies Him before others, He will deny before His Father in heaven (Mt 10:33). But Christ’s love is greater than our sin, and with His forgiveness He will restore a broken heart. • Lord Jesus, be patient with me and forgive me, that I might live by Your promise. Amen.
18:28–32 To avoid religious contamination, the Jewish leaders refuse to enter Pilate’s residence, but they unjustly seek to use Pilate’s authority to put Jesus to death. Even religious people are capable of manipulating others to advance personal agendas. Remarkably, Jesus’ death at the hands of unjust accusers became the very means through which our gracious God took away the guilt of sin. • “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps 51:10). Amen.
18:33–40 Pilate tries to dismiss the case before him by accommodating a Jewish custom calling for the release of a prisoner at Passover—in this instance, an insurrectionist called Barabbas. The story of Jesus’ Passion is filled with people refusing to accept responsibility for their own sins, a failure that afflicts us all. But God willed that the guilt of sin be laid on His innocent Son so we might receive God’s forgiveness. • Teach me to confess my faults, O Lord. Rule my heart with Your most gracious favor. Amen.
19:1–16a Pilate succumbs to political pressure exerted by Jewish leaders and delivers Jesus over to death by crucifixion. All human beings, by virtue of their participation in Adam’s sin (Rm 5:12), bear responsibility for Christ’s death. Yet, take comfort in this truth: “He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; . . . with His stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5). • “O sacred Head, now wounded, . . . I joy to call Thee mine.” Amen. (LSB 449:1)
19:16b–27 As He is crucified on the Place of a Skull near Jerusalem, Jesus entrusts His mother to John’s care. Though this is a special example of Jesus’ love, God calls all believers together in an everlasting bond of mutual responsibility and love—including care for parents. Like Mary and John, we also become members of Jesus’ family by faith. From the cross, Jesus reigned with love for the world; now He reigns in the hearts of those who love Him. • Dear Lord, let Your cross bring comfort and peace to me and my family. Amen.
19:28–30 Jesus the Christ dies, finishing the work of salvation that His Father sent Him to accomplish. Death is not merely a natural process but is God’s just punishment for sin (Rm 6:23). However, Jesus died not because He sinned but because He came to bear sin’s punishment for us. • Jesus, priceless treasure and trusted friend, thank You for bearing my cross and preparing for me a new home. Amen.
19:31–37 John invites us to look on Jesus, the crucified “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29). Enemies of the cross interpret Jesus’ death as disgrace, not glory. Yet, hidden beneath the outward “mask” of Jesus’ suffering and death, there stands the work of our redemption, foretold in the OT. • Through the witness of Your blessed apostles, Lord Jesus, draw many to Your saving grace. Amen.
19:38–42 Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, secretly Jesus’ disciples for fear of the Jews, honor Jesus by attending to His burial. That the Son of God should become a corpse and be entombed appears offensive and even scandalous to human reason. But Jesus’ burial proclaims the depth of Christ’s utter humiliation for the sake of our salvation. • Dear Lord, You became one with us in death that we may look to You for life. Amen.
20:1–10 The first witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection see an empty tomb bearing all the signs of the fulfillment of the OT promises and Jesus’ own declaration that He “must rise from the dead” (v 9). The disciples were slow to believe, just as we, too, can be of little faith. Yet, rejoice! For our sakes, Christ grants us His Spirit to work faith in us. Christ robbed the grave of death, confirming His own words, “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25). • Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
20:11–18 After His resurrection, Jesus first appears to Mary Magdalene, who is led to recognize Him and goes to tell the disciples she has seen the Lord. When death confronts us, sorrow and a sense of loss may overcome us. But because Christ is risen, Christians can confidently assure one another that God will wipe away our tears (Rv 21:4). • O risen Christ, end our nights of sorrow and restore to us the joy of our salvation. Amen.
20:19–23 The once-crucified Jesus appears to His disciples, commissioning them for their work and equipping them with the Holy Spirit. Christians have received the most precious treasure on earth—the Gospel of forgiveness—but often keep it hidden from others. Pray that the Lord would grant you boldness. God raised Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, and will equip us with every good thing to do His will (Heb 13:20–21). • O God, give us Your eternal peace and also boldness through the Holy Spirit. Amen.
20:24–29 Jesus appears before a skeptical Thomas, who upon seeing Jesus is moved to confess Him as Lord and God. Today, we live in a skeptical age that operates by the saying “I’ll believe it when I see it.” However, in the Word and the Sacraments, we see and we do receive the benefits of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Those who believe receive God’s divine favor, for whoever believes has everlasting life (3:36). • Even though I do not now see You, Lord, I believe and rejoice with inexpressible joy. Amen.
20:30–31 John, the author of this Gospel, clearly states its purpose and summarizes its central message. People commonly and mistakenly think that biblical books were written mainly to provide rules for godly living. Speaking through John, God announces the Good News that Jesus is His Son and that by faith in His name, we have life and salvation—the core message of the entire Scripture. • Let me gladly share this Good News, O God, that others may believe and live. Amen.
21:1–14 During Jesus’ third appearance after the resurrection, He performs another miracle and serves as host at a meal for the disciples. Jesus shows once again His servant heart, teaching us to follow in His way. We bless and serve one another because our gracious Savior continues to bless and serve us, especially in His Holy Supper. • As I come regularly to Your Holy Supper, dear Lord, prepare me to receive You and Your gifts worthily. Amen.
21:15–19 In His threefold exchange with Peter—who in pride and weakness failed His Lord—Jesus restores this disciple for service to Him and His flock. Our own past sins and failures make us feel unworthy to serve God. But Jesus continues to comfort shepherds and the souls they serve with the forgiveness of sins and with compassion. • Great Shepherd of the sheep, bless all pastors who bring Your consolation and peace to Your people. Amen.
21:20–25 In the closing exchange between Jesus and Peter, Jesus kindly reminds this beloved apostle that God is in control of matters related to his future. All Christians must humbly recognize that God has not chosen to reveal certain things to us. But the Scriptures do reveal what is necessary for us to know: Jesus and the salvation He brings. • Blessed Lord, by patience and comfort of Your Holy Word, may we embrace and ever hold fast the glorious hope of everlasting life. Amen.
1:1–11 Jesus, truly risen in His body from the dead, reigns as unseen King over the here and now. He will return in full sight of all in the Father’s good time. Therefore, do not let the evil one lock Jesus in the past or reduce His ministry to you now. Boldly pray to Jesus, and acknowledge Him as your Lord. Your good standing today and your eternal tomorrow flow from Jesus’ victory over the grave and His enthronement at the Father’s right hand. • Lord, increase our faith in Jesus’ past, present, and future triumph, and make us bold witnesses to Him in every facet of our lives. Amen.
1:12–26 The disciples and others seek the Lord’s will concerning the candidate of His choice to replace Judas as a leader of the Church, the new Israel. Today, entrust your future to the Lord in prayer. He will prepare your way before you. Since our Lord is present with us till the end of the age, He will knit together in love His faithful people with Himself and with one another. • Jesus, our King, may we never tire of watching in prayer before Your throne, and may Your will be our delight. Amen.
2:1–13 The Holy Spirit descends as a gift, sounding forth one message in many tongues, showing that Israel will soon burst its ethnic bounds. Cynics of all eras belittle God’s mighty deeds and explain them away. However, humility before the Holy Spirit is in order, along with sheer wonder that God gives Himself to people of all nations. • “Come, holy Fire, comfort true, Grant us the will Your work to do And in Your service to abide; Let trials turn us not aside.” Amen. (LSB 497:3)
2:14–41 Peter shows from the Scriptures that Jesus is Israel’s Lord as well as Savior of the nations. Rejoice that God pours out His Spirit in Baptism and multiplies His blessings to us in daily repentance and forgiveness. He makes a new Israel, a new house of David—the Church! • Lord, grant that I may confess and proclaim You with confidence, as Peter did. Amen.
2:42–47 The early Christians lived only for their Lord and for the other members of His Body, the Church. How cheap in comparison is our indifference to the Church; how sad are our compromises with the world. Yet the Holy Spirit still dwells and works among us; we still have the apostles’ teaching embodied in the NT Scriptures. How blessed are we in such heavenly fellowship! • Lord, open our eyes to Your reality, order our priorities, and let Your light transfigure these latter days. Amen.