Saturday of Easter 4

7How precious is your steadfast love, | O God!*
         The children of mankind take refuge
in the shadow | of your wings.

8They feast on the abundance | of your house,*
         and you give them drink from the river of | your delights.

9For with you is the foun- | tain of life;*
         in your light do | we see light.

10Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who | know you,*
         and your righteousness
to the up- | right of heart!

11Let not the foot of arrogance come up- | on me,*
         nor the hand of the wicked
drive | me away.

12There the evildoers lie | fallen;*
         they are thrust down, unable | to rise.
         —Psalm 36:7–12

Additional Psalm: Psalm 39

Old Testament Reading:
Leviticus 19:9–18, 26–37
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

9“When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest. 10And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the LORD your God.

11“You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; you shall not lie to one another. 12You shall not swear by my name falsely, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

13“You shall not oppress your neighbor or rob him. The wages of a hired servant shall not remain with you all night until the morning. 14You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

15“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor. 16You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the LORD.

17“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.…

[You Shall Keep My Statutes]

26“You shall not eat any flesh with the blood in it. You shall not interpret omens or tell fortunes. 27You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard. 28You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the LORD.

29“Do not profane your daughter by making her a prostitute, lest the land fall into prostitution and the land become full of depravity. 30You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the LORD.

31“Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them: I am the LORD your God.

32“You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the LORD.

33“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

35“You shall do no wrong in judgment, in measures of length or weight or quantity. 36You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 37And you shall observe all my statutes and all my rules, and do them: I am the LORD.”

New Testament Reading: Luke 11:14–36
Jesus and Beelzebul

14Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. 15But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” 16while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. 17But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. 18And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 19And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 20But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 21When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; 22but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. 23Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

Return of an Unclean Spirit

24“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

True Blessedness

27As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” 28But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

The Sign of Jonah

29When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

The Light in You

33“No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

It is an evangelical word and the sweetest comfort in every way for miserable sinners, where Ezekiel [Ezek. 18:23, 32] says: “I desire not the death of a sinner, but rather that he may turn and live,” like Psalm 28[30:5]: “For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime.” Then there is Psalm 68[109:21]: “How sweet is thy mercy, O Lord” and “For I am merciful” [Jer. 3:12], and also Christ’s saying in Matthew 11[:28]: “Come unto me, all you who labor, and I will give you rest,” and that in Exodus 20[:6]: “I show mercy to many thousands, to those who love me.” What, indeed, does almost more than half of Holy Scripture contain but sheer promises of grace, in which mercy, life, peace, and salvation are offered by God to men? And what else do words of promise have to say but this: “I desire not the death of a sinner”? Is it not the same thing to say, “I am merciful,” as to say, “I am not angry, I do not want to punish, I do not want you to die, I want to pardon, I want to spare”? And if these divine promises were not there to raise up consciences afflicted with the sense of sin and terrified with the fear of death and judgment, what place would there be for pardon or hope? … He does not say, “I desire not the sin of a man,” but, “I desire not the death of a sinner,” plainly showing that he is speaking of the penalty of sin, which the sinner experiences for his sin, namely, the fear of death. And he lifts up and comforts the sinner from his affliction and despair, so as not to quench the smoking flax and break the bruised reed [Isa. 42:3], but to give hope of pardon and salvation, so that he may rather be converted (by turning to salvation from the penalty of death) and live, that is, be at peace and happy with an untroubled conscience.
         —Martin Luther

Christ, the devil’s might unwinding,
         Leaves behind His borrowed tomb.
Stronger He, the strong man binding,
         Takes, disarms his house of doom;
            In the rout
            Casting out

Pow’rs of darkness, sin, and doubt.
         —All the Earth with Joy Is Sounding (LSB 462:2)

Prayer of the Day
Lord Jesus, You are the Stronger Man who plundered Satan’s house by casting out demons with Your finger and finishing him off by Your death on the cross. Blessed are those who hear Your Word and keep it by their works of mercy and charity as Satan falls like lightning from heaven when he sees You in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1018)

Suggested Reading from
the Book of Concord
Solid Declaration of the Formula
of Concord VIII 38–45

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.