Knysna Methodist Church

24 April 2022

Knysna Methodist Church, Lectionary Notes – 24 April

Acts 5:27-32
The Jewish religious leaders made several attempts to intimidate the disciples to stop them preaching the Gospel in Jesus’ name. But the disciples knew that God was protecting them so they did not allow themselves to be deterred. Peter and John had told the authorities they would continue to preach, in obedience to God. The High Priest’s accusation testified to the effectiveness of the disciples’ preaching. It seemed as if the Gospel message was everywhere. The accusation that the disciples wanted to bring the blood of ‘this Man’ down on them was interesting. Firstly, the High Priest refused to say the name of Jesus, and secondly he was right. The disciples did want to bring the blood of Jesus down on them but not as they imagined – they did not try to blame the leaders, but they did want the blood of Jesus to cleanse them of their sin as they came to faith in Him. Peter and John were adamant. They would obey God rather than any man. They did not defend themselves nor ask for mercy. They just explained what they were doing and why they were doing it. Peter pointed out the enormity of the leaders’ rejection of Jesus. They would have known the Scripture which said that a person hung from a tree was cursed by God (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). Jesus had been killed by the Jewish authorities and the Romans in the worst possible way – on a tree – on a cross. Peter informed the leaders that he and John were eye-witnesses to the events he was talking about – as was God. The council was furious. They decided to rid themselves of the disciples and began to plan their death.

Psalm 118:14-29
The psalmist is surrounded by enemies but he knows that God Himself is his strength and song and quotes from the song Miriam sang (Exodus 15:2) to affirm his faith. Her song had been sung repeated by the Israelites and now it was sun again. The psalmist knew God would supply all his needs, would never disappoint him, would give him rest and save him. God would fill him with joy Having been blessed by God it was only right that people sang about the way God had rescued them. This psalm was sung at the Passover Seder (supper) and during the Feast of the Tabernacles. It is interesting to think that Jesus sang the same words ‘I shall not die, but live’ as He celebrated the last supper with His disciples. He knew He could trust God to fulfil His promises. Jesus knew death was not the end for Him. The psalmist knew he too would be saved. The psalmist probably had the gates of Jerusalem in mind and he declares God’s righteousness as he goes through them. Jesus would have sung of the gates of heaven. In both instances the singers would have been accompanied by the righteous people of the earth. Now the singers are in the city they are free to praise God for all He has done. Whilst we do not know David’s reason for singing about the cornerstone was, we do know that Jesus fulfilled this prophesy, so it may have been a prophetic word David had received from God. The cornerstone or capstone was used to hold two stones in place to strengthen a corner or an archway. It was key to the strength of the building. Jesus, as the cornerstone, holds Jew and Gentile together, man and God together. In spite of being rejected, He was the chief cornerstone. Once again, the people of God rejoice. Only He could do what He has done. The day the Lord has made may apply to any day; but it may also be connected by means of prophecy with the day Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. The following words may have been said or sung by a different speaker or singer. The deliverer was welcomed into the city as he entered through the gates and went towards the house of the Lord. The word ‘save’ which is the request of the people is hosanna in Hebrew – exactly what the crowds had been crying out as Jesus rode into the city. The next words are sung by the people who are already in the house of the Lord, who sing of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’. The sacrifice will be bound by cords to the altar. It is poignant to think of Jesus singing these words as He willingly offers Himself to be bound as the sacrifice for the entire human race. Now we return to the voice of the traveller, the deliverer who sings of his praise to God. The psalm began with praise and now it ends in the same way. There is no doubt in the singers’ minds that God’s loving kindness is constant for all God’s people.


Psalm 150
This final psalm in the Book of Psalms can be seen as a hymn of praise that closes the Book. It contains nothing but praise. The psalmist places no limit to the places where praise can happen. Wherever a believer finds themselves they can praise God for all the wonderful things He has done and for who He is in every way they can. The psalmist lists the instruments, leaving none out. The trumpet is mentioned first for it was sounded at every solemn and grand event, whether the coronation of a king or the call to war. It can also be linked to the return of Jesus when the dead will be raised. Whilst we do not know what instruments the people had at the time the psalm was written, it seems that anything can be used to praise the Lord. We do know that the priests would play the trumpet, the Levites would use the harp and the lute and women would play the timbrels. The other instruments were not reserved for the Levites, so they may have been played by men who held no office. They would have been played in an exuberant celebration of sound which would have filled the room. Everything that breathes is encouraged to praise the Lord, the One who gave breath in the first place. Revelation 5:13 assures God’s people that this will happen. The Book of Psalms, which began with the word ‘Blessed’ (Psalm 1:1) could only end with one word – ‘Hallelujah’ – translated as ‘praise the Lord!’

Revelation 1:4-8
The book of Revelation was written by the apostle John to the seven churches which were in the Roman province of Asia, namely, Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea, all of which are in Turkey.
John passed on a greeting to these churches from God the Father who is, and who was and who is to come. This was followed by a greeting from the seven spirits of God (See Isaiah 11:2 which lists seven characteristics of the Holy Spirit) and from Jesus Christ. This greeting demonstrates how the New Testament depicts the doctrine of the Trinity. The One who loved us is Jesus Christ. The past tense points back to the time on the cross when Jesus’ showed humanity just how much He loves them and when He washed all sin away with His own blood once and for all. In this way, He made those who love Him kings and priests to the Father; that is they have a special status and authority as well as being special servants. As a result Jesus is worthy of all praise. He should receive glory and authority for ever. John ends this passage with the word Amen – yes! What has been written will be so.

John now moves on to describing Jesus’ return. He instructs those who read his letter to watch and wait for Jesus to come back. John knew this will happen because Jesus said so (John 14:3). When He does come, he will be surrounded by clouds, just as He was when He was taken up at His ascension. Everyone will see Him – it doesn’t matter where anyone is or when it happens (Matthew 24:26-27), even those who are of the Jewish faith – the ones who pierced Him. By the time this event happens everyone – Jew and Gentile – will mourn Him, just as He has said they will (the Jews will have turned to Jesus (Matthew 24:30). Jesus introduced Himself as the Alpha (A) and Omega (Z), the Beginning and the End. Jesus is before all things and will continue beyond all things. He has authority over everything between A and Z. His eternal nature is the same as that of God the Father. Describing Himself as the Almighty confirms that He has sovereign control over everything, always. He is in control.

John 20:19-31
The women had gone to the tomb in the morning and had found it empty. On the same day the disciples were together behind locked doors. Jesus was suddenly with them. His resurrection body was not the same as His earthly body (the locked doors were no obstacle for Him) indicating that our resurrected bodies will also be different from how they appear now. Even though the disciples had deserted Him, He did not reprimand them but gave them His peace. He showed them His hands and His side to prove to them that He was real. It is not hard to imagine their fear and shock at His presence with them and so once again He gave them His peace to calm them down and reassure them. Jesus gave them a commission to tell the world about Him, just as the Father had commissioned Him to do. They were to continue with His work on earth. In an echo of creation when God breathed life into Adam, John writes that Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into His disciples, giving them new life for their new work. He also gave them the authority to forgive sins or to withhold forgiveness, as the Spirit would lead them. Those who reject God are in danger of missing out on His mercy. For some reason Thomas was not there and he refused to believe what the disciples told him about Jesus being with them. He made some far-fetched demands which he wanted fulfilled before he would believe.

It was a week before Jesus came again, entering the locked room in the same way, and gave the same greeting. This time, Thomas was there and Jesus invited him to touch His wounds to fulfil the conditions he had laid down before he would believe. Jesus knew exactly what Thomas had demanded. He was merciful and told Thomas to stop his unbelief and believe. And Thomas does just that and addresses Jesus as his Lord and his God – something no Jew would normally do in regard to another person. His belief was absolute. Jesus had wanted to remove Thomas’ doubt and replace it with faith – and that is what had happened. Thomas believed because he saw the resurrected Jesus (although there is no record of him touching His wounds as he had demanded). Now Jesus gives a blessing to all those who believe because of the testimony of others, but who have not seen. John admits that Jesus did a great deal more than he has recorded but that it was impossible to write about them all. The Gospel writer had chosen certain events in Jesus’ life in order to enable those who heard about them to believe in Him themselves. The greatest of all of these events is the death and resurrection of Jesus and believing in this led to eternal life.

Points to Ponder
• What do you do when someone criticises you for something you believe God is telling you to do? How do you
respond to them? Do you stop what you are doing or do you continue? Why do you react in this way? How does
you reaction affect your relationship with God – and with your critic?
• What is your favourite praise song? Why do you enjoy it so much? What does it say about your relationship
with God?
• Have some fun! Gather together what you can find around you to make music for the Lord. Perhaps you can use
spoons, or keys, maybe a couple of stones as cymbals, a bicycle horn or bell. Whatever you can find. Then
sing a well-known worship song together and make music exuberantly! Don’t be shy. You are not trying to
impress one another – you are praising God with all you can. Imagine God laughing and clapping along with
you! What has this exercise done for your soul?
• How does the thought of Jesus returning make you feel? What makes you excited about it? What makes you
concerned about it? Do you expect it – or do you think it probably won’t happen for a long time yet? What
makes you think this? If you are not sure, find someone to ask, or a book to read on the second coming of
Jesus. Does this change your thinking?
• What is your biggest struggle in regard to your faith relationship with Jesus? Why is this a struggle for
you? If you are alone, spend some time speaking to God about this matter and then listen for His response.
If you are in a group, how can the group help you? Whichever is the case, spend some time in prayer asking
God to assure you of the truth of the Gospel. Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you. Jesus lives! Hallelujah!


Bible Commentary

Acts 5; Psalm 118 OR Psalm 150; Revelation 1; John 20

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