Overview of Scripture for this Sunday

Acts 1:15-17, 21-26

Peter explained the reason and way Matthias was chosen to be an apostle beginning in verse 16, Friends, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit through David foretold concerning Judas, who became a guide for those who arrested Jesus . . . The reason was to carry on the witness of the resurrected Jesus; to make their number twelve again after Judas died.  Peter put the need in context for the crowd.

The way was by “casting lots”, which is a way every pastor would like to choose deacons or elders at least one time in a church conference.  Imagine the tension as they each drew a stick or rolled a die.  Luke described the prayer for guidance (v.v.24-25) that was lifted up with the lots, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”  Matthias/Matthew drew the right lot and became an apostle that day.  I’m wondering how Joseph reacted at drawing the wrong lot, at what he said to his family when he went home that day, or what he wrote in his journal.  And then I wonder what Matthias experienced as his life changed forever when he reached out his hand to choose his lot.

Psalm 1

The first, and perhaps the greatest, of all psalms in the Psalter.  The psalmist provided a picture of life in God that is unique and inviting.  One can envision the dry conditions of the psalmist’s middle eastern terrain.  Trees are not only surviving there, but producing fruit.  Their secret to bearing fruit in an arid condition is from its proximity to a life source–a stream (wadi) running in the desert.  These trees, in a powerfully beautiful comparison, are like those who walk according to God.  They have their roots in God, not in the evil of the world.  They have made wise decisions about living, based on dedication to the “law of the Lord,” meditating on it day and night.  The psalmist had lived with enough observation and awareness to see that all those who did not dwell on it produced no fruit.  They were withering from their independence.

1 John 5:9-13

John used the word or a variation of “testimony” seven different times in these four verses.  One can imagine sitting in for a reading of this in church, knowing the background of John’s polemic of what it really meant to have eternal life vs. what the false teachers who had entered their midst were teaching them.  They could know what it was all about by keeping it simple:  whoever among them or their teachers had (believed in) the Son had real life. They would be able to testify with their lives and with their words.  Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts.Those among them who didn’t have the Son didn’t have life.  There is a great parallel here with the trees vs. chaf/wise vs. foolish of Psalm 1.

John 17:6-19

This is a great prayer to study close to the Day of Ascension.  Jesus is preparing to depart from the disciples, these to whom he has grown extremely close throughout his years of ministry.  I am sure his mind was flooded with vivid memories of when he first saw them and called them to follow.  I can see him remembering the shade-loving Nathaniel, the tax collecting technique of Matthew, the potential of Peter, the urgency of Andrew, and the unproven zeal of the others as he called them to change their world.

They were ready now to carry on his work as he would ascend from their sight.  They had heard his words, received and kept them, and believed he was sent from God.  A true picture of human fellowship as well as a lasting picture of divine love is in this prayer of Jesus for his friends,

Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them in your name that you have given me. I guarded them, and not one of them was lost except the one destined to be lost, so that the scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and I speak these things in the world so that they may have my joy made complete in themselves.




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