Today, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, taking our devotion from A Year in the New Testament.
- Revelation 7:2–17
- Psalm 149; antiphon: v. 4
- 1 John 3:1–3
- Matthew 5:1–12
Read the propers for today in Lutheran Service Builder.
This feast is the most comprehensive of commemoration, encompassing the entire scope of that great cloud of witnesses with which we are surrounded (Hebrews 12:1). It holds before the eyes of faith that great multitude which no man can number: all the saints of God in Christ—from every nation, race, culture, and language—who have come “out of the great tribulation…who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9, 14). As such, it sets before us the full height and depth and breadth and length of our dear Lord’s gracious salvation (Ephesians 3:17–19). It shares with Easter a celebration of the resurrection, since all those who have died with Christ Jesus have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:3–8). It shares with Pentecost a celebration of the ingathering of the entire Church catholic—in heaven and on earth, in all time and places—in the one Body of Christ, in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Just as we have all been called to the one hope that belongs to our call, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4–6). And the Feast of All Saints shares with the final Sundays of the Church Year an eschatological focus on the life everlasting and a confession that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18). In all of these emphases, the purpose of this feast is to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, that we might not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12:2–3).
Meditation on the Gospel
Jesus’ great sermon to His followers has a twofold purpose. First, He clarifies the meaning of the Law in view of the shallow interpretation given by the world. Doing what is moral is necessary, but Christ looks at the heart, one’s attitude. For example, if we are kind to our neighbor because we want him to be kind to us, then we are being selfish.
The Law is not fulfilled by keeping yourself respectable. You have not kept the commandment only if you have not killed your neighbor. If we have not loved others as much as ourselves, we have broken the Law and are condemned. Therefore no one is good enough in God’s perception to save his own soul.
Second, Christ tells believers how we are to live and please God. Because we have been saved by God’s grace in Christ, we desire to serve Him. The Law then serves as a road map for Christian living.
Qualifications for membership in God’s kingdom are unique by worldly standards. Money, power, or success do not count. “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it” (Luke 17:33).
Jesus tells us that His kingdom includes:
- The poor in spirit, who know their spiritual uncleanness and that salvation cannot be earned but is theirs only by grace.
- Those who mourn over their sins and are comforted that Christ’s blood cleanses them from all sin.
- The meek, the humble, who do not boast of their own salvation but are called through the Gospel and kept in faith by God’s grace to enjoy God’s richness.
- Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, who desire to please God in appreciation of His love in Christ. Their satisfaction comes in finding great joy in serving God.
- The merciful, who are kind, patient, thoughtful, and sympathize with the suffering. As they do good works from their renewed hears, mercy is shown to them.
- The pure in heart in whom no guile or deceit or lip service is found. They shall see God.
- The peacemakers, who lubricate life, keeping friction to a minimum. How they are needed! They keep things running smoothly at home, in the church, and nation.
- The persecuted, who , because they confess Christ as Savior are hated. Lies and false accusations are their lot. Life is hard, bitter, and dangerous.
However, we can rejoice with all these, for their names and our names are written in the Book of Life. “Beloved, we are God’s children now… we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).
Prayer of the Day
Almighty and everlasting God, You knit together Your faithful people of all times and places into one holy communion, the mystical body of Your Son, Jesus Christ. Grant us so to follow Your blessed saints in all virtuous and godly living that, together with them, we may come to the unspeakable joys You have prepared for those who love You; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Devotional reading, meditation, and prayer adapted from A Year in the New Testament, pages 291 and 325. Copyright © 2010 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.