Click here for the reading: John 1:35-42.

The Gospel of John opens with the testimony of John the Baptist regarding Jesus. This is the second time that John calls Jesus “the Lamb of God,” a clear reference to what Jesus has come into the world to do. Hearing this, two of John’s disciples immediately follow after Jesus, and John does not protest. How does John teach us the importance of humility as pastors? What does it mean to point to Jesus in an age that loves attention? Consider also the words of the Baptist in John 3:25-30 and what they mean for us who stand in the public eye.

When Jesus sees the two disciples of John following him, he turns to them and speaks for the first time in the Gospel of John. What are you seeking? People have many reasons for following after Jesus. Why is it important to stop and examine our motives regarding faith? How might someone follow Jesus for the wrong reasons? What are the consequences of seeking Jesus in the wrong way? Compare John 6 and the reasons why the crowds followed Jesus as well as the reasons why they stopped following him.

Andrew is introduced as one of those two disciples, but also as the brother of Simon Peter. By the time John wrote this Gospel, Peter was obviously well known to those who heard this Gospel, but Andrew was not. Indeed, Andrew does not appear much in the New Testament at all, but he carried out his work faithfully regardless. How does Andrew teach us what it means to be content in God when we labor in obscurity? What is the danger of seeking to be remembered simply for its own sake, rather than for what we have done for God? What does Isaiah 56:1-5 mean for us whose names will be forgotten in the world?

When Andrew began to follow after Jesus, he immediately went to his brother Peter and told him about Jesus. Here is the Messiah, the one for whom we have waited for so long. What does Andrew teach us about the mission of the Church? How should we approach sharing the Gospel? As Andrew first told the Gospel to his own brother, how should that shape our own approach to mission work in the world? How does the example of men like Philip in Acts 8, who proclaimed the Word even while fleeing from persecution, move us today?

St. Andrew’s Day occurs at or near the beginning of the liturgical year in the Christian West. Since Advent is also a time of expectation, especially of the end of all things, what can we learn from Andrew as time runs quickly away? What should our priorities be in these latter days? What does it mean to follow Jesus as we wait for his sudden return? Why does Paul exhort us to encourage one another as the day draws near in 1 Thessalonians 4-5?

Click here for the reading: Romans 10:8-18.

Paul wrestles with a question which causes a scandal: why did Israel to whom the promises came fail to believe? Here in the middle of answering this question in Romans 9-11, Paul lays out what Israel failed to understand. Righteousness is a matter of faith alone. Why was Israel hardened in this way? In what ways are we in danger of becoming hardened in the same way, even as we hear the Gospel like Israel did? Read also Deuteronomy 30, which Paul quotes in this chapter to make his point. What was Moses warning Israel against in that passage?

The Gospel is not confusing or hard to understand. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. As the heart stands for our inmost self and the mouth stands for our outward expression, faith is a matter of the whole man. In what ways, verbal and nonverbal, do we confess our faith in Christ? Why is this confession, outward and inward, so important for a living faith? In a time when we consider matters of the heart to be private, why is the Gospel meant to be public? Compare Matthew 16:13-20 and the confession of Peter to this passage.

As Acts 22:21-22 shows us, the Jews especially took offense that the promises of God were being given to the Gentiles. Paul reaffirms here that the Gospel is meant for all, Jew and Greek alike. All who call on his name will be saved, without exception, without distinction. What does this mean for the mission of the Church? Since Paul felt a strong desire that his own people might be saved, what does this mean for proclaiming the message to our own people as well? Consider also Acts 10 and Peter’s change of heart regarding Cornelius.

Yet no one can be saved if they have not heard the Gospel! No one can hear it if no one proclaims that life-giving message! Preaching is central to the mission of the Church, in a way that no other activity can be. How does this reality shape our understanding of preaching? How does it encourage us for the task? Since the word for “beautiful” can also mean “timely” or “seasonable,” how is preaching connected to God’s providence? How does Paul emphasize preaching also in passages like 2 Timothy 4:1-5?

Preaching is not an easy task, as the apostles like Andrew who died because of the word they proclaimed knew well. The prophets of old proclaimed a word which fell on deaf and angry ears. We live in the end of the ages, when the love of many will grow cold. How does this passage prepare us for difficult times, especially as the end of all things grows closer by the day? How can we find comfort in knowing that preaching is part of God’s will even when we suffer for it? How does the Lord’s reply to Jeremiah complaint in Jeremiah 15:10-21 apply even to our own day?

Click here for the reading: Ezekiel 3:16-21.

It has been seven days since Ezekiel saw the overwhelming glory of the Lord. He has had time to reflect on what the Lord has sent him to do. Yet it seems that in the bitterness of his spirit, Ezekiel sits hesitating of what is to come. Why does the Lord remind him of his call? How might the experience of the former prophets make him pause? What things make us hesitate from carrying out our own calling from the Lord? Compare also the complaints of Jeremiah to the Lord, especially in Jeremiah 20.

Ezekiel is set as the watchman of Israel. As a watchman, he must warn the people of coming dangers, letting them know what he sees and hears. Yet the approaching enemy of Israel is not something earthly, but the Lord himself! Why is the Lord opposed to his people? In what ways do we make God into our enemy? Why should we not forget that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God? Why should we also remember God’s wrath in these days? Consider also the words of Christ in Matthew 10:28 about the fear of the Lord.

The charge laid upon Ezekiel is simple, yet a difficult one. The wicked man who continues in his wickedness or the righteous man who falls from his righteousness must both be warned of the coming judgment. If Ezekiel fails in this, the judgment will still come, but for him as well! Why should we also heed this word given to Ezekiel? How is God’s call like a yoke laid upon us? How do we act as watchmen for the Church even in what we do, rather than just what we say? How do Paul’s requirements for pastors in 1 Timothy 3 relate to this passage?

On the other hand, when Ezekiel listens to the Lord and warns against evil, he delivers his soul from judgment. This is true even if the wicked man refuses to listen to that word and dies in his sin. Why does God’s judgment of pastors focus on their message? Why is it so easy to turn away from speaking the truth, especially on difficult topics? What does James mean that not many should become teachers in James 3?

Andrew, who we remember today, also suffered much for the sake of God. Tradition holds that he became a martyr by being crucified on an X-shaped cross. Suffering is part of the call of being Israel’s watchman, as Ezekiel knew while living in exile in Babylon. How do the examples of Andrew and Ezekiel teach us what it means to be faithful to God? What sort of temptations exist in our day that might lead us away from our call, even within our churches? Consider also the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:24-25 and what they mean for us in living as the watchmen of Israel.