The Temptation of Jesus

matthew 42–3 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 4:1–11 (ESV)

1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written,

“ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple 6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“ ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“ ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’ ”

7 Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” 8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“ ‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’ ”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Parallel Texts: Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus was baptized and anointed by the Holy Spirit, we read that he was lead into the wilderness (i.e. desert) where he was tempted by the devil. He was in the wilderness for forty days and was fasting during his time there. It was after forty days, when he was hungry, that Satan came to him to tempt him.

Jesus’ temptation reminds us of another temptation in the Bible, that of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. In Genesis 3, Satan temps the first humans in the garden of Eden and they fall into sin. Jesus, the Savior of mankind, is also tempted, but resists the devil and proves that he is worthy to be a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. Jesus, the second Adam, did what we could not. He lived a perfect, sinless life. Adam’s sin brought condemnation and death into the world. Jesus’ obedience and death brought life and hope (1 Corinthians 15:21-22). Let us praise our Savior, who was tempted in every way, but remained sinless for us (Hebrews 4:15).

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

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The Baptism of Jesus

john 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 1:29–34 (ESV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22

Understanding and Applying the Word

As John the Baptist fulfills his role as the one who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus shows up to be baptized by John. John tells us that when he baptized Jesus, he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus and remain on him. God had previously revealed to John that this would be a sign of who was the chosen one of God. In the parallel texts, a voice from heaven calls out, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” So John now bears witness that Jesus is the Son of God.

As Jesus approaches, John refers to him as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This is an amazing statement that connects Jesus to the Old Testament Passover. When God brought the people out of Egypt, he commanded that the people slaughter a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts. When they did this, they would be safe from the angel that had been sent to kill the firstborn of every family. The blood of the lamb would protect them from the judgment of God. As the Lamb of God, Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). When we trust in him, his blood is applied to us and protects us from God’s judgment on the world for sin. He takes away our sin and gives us life through his sacrifice for us. What a great Savior!

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Imprisoned for Christ

saint john the baptist

Saint John the Baptist (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Thank you for reading! If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Luke 3:18–22 (ESV)

18 So with many other exhortations he [John the Baptist] preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Unworthy to Untie His Shoes

saint john the baptist and the pharisees

John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 3:15–18 (ESV)

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
18 So with many other exhortations he preached good news to the people.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 3:11-12; Mark 1:7-8; John 1:24-28

Understanding and Applying the Word

As John the Baptist was preaching and preparing the way for the coming Messiah, people began to wonder if John himself might be the Messiah (i.e. “the Christ”). John’s response was that he was not. The Messiah was on his way and John was not even worthy to untie the strap of his sandals!

Jesus was so much greater than John. John was not even in the same league. This is how John thought of himself as he proclaimed the gospel. With his words, John the Baptist reminds us of our place in the sharing of the good news with others. We must remember that we are not calling people to follow us or to fulfill our desires for power or fame. We are calling people to follow Christ, the one who is worthy of all glory and honor and praise. He alone is the one who will judge the world. And he alone is the one who can save us from our sins. So, let us preach the good news and point the world to Jesus.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

What then Shall We Do?

colossians 110 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 3:10–14 (ESV)

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In yesterday’s reading, John the Baptist proclaimed, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). He warned them that judgment would come. Not surprisingly, after his warning, the people come and asked, “What then shall we do?” In effect, they were asking, “What does it look like to bear such fruit?”

There are three different groups that approach John and he gives three answers for us to consider. The first group, the crowd, is the first to ask what they should do. His reply is in verse 11: be willing to share with those who are in need. The second group are tax collectors. John tells them in verse 13 to be fair with the people. They are not to take extra from them. The last group, soldiers, also want to know how they should live. John tells them to be content with their wages and not to extort the people through threats and lies (verse 14).

The people of God are called to live differently from the world. We are to be generous towards others, fair in our dealings, and content with what we have. How are you living your life in Christ? Do your life bring glory to your Lord?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

The Fruit of Repentance

luke 39 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 3:7–10 (ESV)

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Parallel Text: Luke 3:7-9

Understanding and Applying the Word

John the Baptist’s ministry was focused on calling people to repentance. When the Pharisees and Sudducees show up, he has harsh words for them. He calls them a “brood of vipers.” And warns them to bear fruit consistent with repentance. The Pharisees and Sudducees prided themselves in their ability to keep the Mosaic Law and follow religious rules. For this reason, they would have felt little need to repent. In their minds, they had done nothing wrong! They also would have thought, “We are biological descendants of Abraham. We are fine with God!” However, John warns them that being the physical descendants of Abraham will not be enough.

John’s warning to these two groups to bear fruit in keeping with repentance tells us that God is looking for more than external religious activity. He is looking for sincerity of heart. True repentance may be symbolized through baptism, but it is only real if there is a heart change. And when there is a heart change, it is reflected in how we live.

The gospel calls us to repent and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. When we do that we are saved. Have you done that? Does your life reflect it? If not, take the time right now to repent and call on the Lord. He is faithful and gracious to all who will turn to him.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

the voice in the desert

The Voice in the Desert (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 3:1–6 (ESV)

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’ ”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John 1:19–23 (ESV)

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 1:1-6; Luke 3:1-6 

Understanding and Applying the Word

The prophets Malachi and Isaiah had spoken of one who would appear before the Messiah to prepare his way (cf. Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6 and Isaiah 40:3). He would be one who would prepare the hearts of the people and he would come in the spirit of Elijah. The Gospel writers quote from Isaiah to tell us that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning this one who would prepare the way of the Lord. And the description of John’s clothing and food reminds us of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8.

John the Baptist’s message was one of repentance. The Messiah was coming and the people needed to prepare for him. To “repent” means to turn from sin, which the Bible tells us is what separates us from our holy Creator. It is only through repentance and forgiveness that we find in Christ that we are able to come into a right relationship with the Lord. Let us prepare ourselves by turning from our sin and calling out to Jesus to forgive us so that we can stand before him, not as enemies, but as reconciled friends.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

Jesus, the Submissive King

luke 249 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 2:41–52 (ESV)

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. 43 And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the group they went a day’s journey, but then they began to search for him among their relatives and acquaintances, 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, searching for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 And when his parents saw him, they were astonished. And his mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.” 49 And he said to them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 50 And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them. 51 And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.

52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Outside of the birth narrative, we do not get much information about Jesus’ childhood. The only other details we have come from the passage we are reading today in Luke’s Gospel. This takes place when Jesus was twelve years old. He and his parents had traveled to Jerusalem for Passover, but they had become separated when the family began their trip home. Jesus stayed behind. His parents eventually realize that he is not with them on their return trip (likely a caravan of travelers). So, they return to Jerusalem and find him in the temple interacting with the teachers.

This brief passage gives us a quick glimpse of Jesus as a young boy, but it also gives us a sneak preview of who he will be as a man. The people in the temple were amazed at how he interacted with the teachers. He knew so much about the Scriptures! Of course, as the author, we would expect him to!

We also see how he interacted with his parents. He knew who he was and what his purpose in the world was. When his parents found him he said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house.” He was God in the flesh, yet we are told that he returned to Nazareth and was submissive to Mary and Joseph.

Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, humbly submitted to his parents. Later, he would humbly submit to the will of the Father as he went to the cross to bear the sins of mankind. Paul reflects on Jesus’ humility in Philippians:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:1–11, ESV)

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

Destroy Jesus?

the massacre of the innocents

The Massacre of the Innocents (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 2:13–21 (ESV)

13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men. 17 Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

18 “A voice was heard in Ramah,
weeping and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be comforted, because they are no more.”

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.” 21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When Herod realized that the Messiah had been born, he immediately wanted to remove the threat. Herod was in charge and he wanted to keep it that way. So, when he could not locate Jesus, he commanded that every male child two years or younger be killed. However, unknown to Herod, God had instructed Joseph to flee with his family to Egypt to escape this massacre.

From the very beginning, Jesus’ entry into the world did not go as we might expect. Should not the long-awaited Messiah be met with great joy and happiness? Should not the Son of God receive great honor and praise? Yet, while Jesus was joyfully greeted by some (e.g. the shepherds and wise men), he was also despised and rejected by many others at his birth and during his later life. Herod tried to put him to death while he was still a child. The religious leaders sought his life when he was an adult and eventually succeeded in sending him to the cross.

We see in the actions of the different people we read about in the Gospels that there are ultimately two responses to Jesus. We can either reject him and denounce him and try to destroy him or we can rejoice in his coming and fall before him in worship and praise. How do you respond to Jesus?

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

luke 2_30–32 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading, which is below. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along as we read through the Life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Luke 2:21–38 (ESV)

21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

22 And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”) 24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. 26 And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, 28 he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

29 “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
30 for my eyes have seen your salvation
31 that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”

33 And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. 34 And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.”

36 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.