The Ongoing Influence of Jesus

Luke 2452–53 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 24:50–53 (ESV)

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

With today’s reading, we come to the end of our time reading through the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts. After Jesus’ resurrection he spent forty days on earth revealing himself to different individuals and groups and making final preparations for the future of his followers. At the end of those forty days, Jesus departed and ascended into heaven.

We might think that with Jesus no longer in the world that his teaching and influence would fade and disappear. However, nothing could be further from the truth. After Jesus’ departure, his fame and influence spread quickly. His original followers went throughout the known world proclaiming all they had seen and heard and many believed. Even today, the name of Jesus is known and discussed throughout the world. There are many who still hear the news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and believe. It is amazing to think how influential Jesus has been on our world. There is none like him!

The Bible tells us that those who hear the news about Jesus, repent of their sins, and turn to Jesus in faith, will be saved and have eternal life. He came into the world to give his life as a sacrifice for sin. He died. He was buried. And he rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. That is the Good News. He came to save us. Have you trusted in him?

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The Great Commission

Matthew 2819 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:16–20 (ESV)

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared to depart this world and return to the Father, he left his disciples with instructions. He told them that they were to “make disciples of all nations.” They were to accomplish this through “baptizing” and “teaching.” When we read these words, we can summarize the task given to the disciples as evangelism and discipleship. Jesus used the term “baptizing” to summarize bringing an unbeliever into the faith. Baptism is the picture of that. Jesus then used the word “teaching” to describe the ongoing growth of the believer as they learn the word of God and how to live in the world.

As believers today, our task remains the same. We are called to proclaim the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to a lost world. In doing so, we will see unbelievers saved. As unbelievers are saved, it is then our responsibility to continue to teach the word of God so that new believers can grow to maturity. These twin callings are the core of the Christian life. May we go into the world as the people of Christ and proclaim the gospel.

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The World Could Not Contain the Books

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word. This page is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I only post a suggested Scripture reading without additional comments or insights. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day!

Reading the Word

John 21:24–25 (ESV)

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

You Follow Me!

John 2122 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 21:20–23 (ESV)

20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” 22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” 23 So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus had given instruction to Peter about what he was to do, Peter asked Jesus about what the future held for John. Jesus’ response can be summarized as “Don’t worry about what I have planned for others. Just make sure you are following me.”

In this short passage we are reminded that the Lord has unique plans for his people. We should not look to compare ourselves to others for our sense of worth or success. Our primary concern is not to outdo one another, but to focus on following Christ wherever he may lead us. Our faithfulness to him is what we are called to. The Lord may ask some of us to go to far away lands as missionaries. Others he may call to preach to megachurches of thousands. Still others he may lead to tiny country churches that only a handful of people attend. And he may call us to be stay-at-home moms, factory workers, farmers, or a host of other things. Whatever he has called us to, our main priority is to be faithful and do it for his glory.

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Do You Love Me?

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Reading the Word

John 21:15–19 (ESV)

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus’ resurrection, there probably was no one more ashamed of their actions than Peter. He had promised to stand at Jesus’ side come what may, but when Jesus was arrested, Peter had run away and left Jesus alone. When Peter was asked by others if he was one of Jesus’ followers, he denied that he even knew Jesus. And Jesus knew this was the case. He had predicted it and had witnessed Peter’s actions. So, while Peter was happy that Jesus was alive, he was surely feeling great remorse for what had transpired.

Jesus spoke with Peter and asked him if Peter loved him. He asked him three times, which is the same number of times that Peter had denied being one of Jesus’ followers. Each time, Peter affirmed his love for Christ and each time Jesus instructed Peter to care for his followers. Jesus used these questions and instructions to encourage Peter that, even though he had failed, Jesus was not done with him. He was still very important to Jesus and he was still going to play a vital role in the days ahead.

We must not think that just because we have failed in the past that we are no longer useful to Jesus. We too can acknowledge our sin, turn our hearts to Jesus, and serve him with our lives. We all fail. Thankfully, we have a Savior who stands ready to forgive us and restore us. What a wonderful savior!

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Jesus on the Shore

John 2112 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 21:1–14 (ESV)

1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After the disciples had returned to fishing, Jesus appeared to them again. They had been fishing all night, but had caught nothing. That’s when Jesus called out to them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. When they did, the net was filled with fish. John called out, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumped into the water and swam to shore to be with Jesus. When they reached the shore, they ate some of the fish they had caught for breakfast.

Jesus had told the disciples that he would meet with them in Galilee (Matthew 28:10; Mark 14:28). Evidently, they had gone there to wait, but had become restless and discouraged and returned to fishing. When they realized that Jesus was on the shore, their feelings of discouragement quickly faded. Look at Peter’s excitement as he jumped into the water to swim!

We too can become discouraged when we feel like God has abandoned us or is distant. However, Jesus has promised to never leave us. In whatever circumstances we are facing, we know that the Lord is walking right beside us. We often fail to recognize him, but we are assured he is there. Let us be like Peter as we find strength and encouragement in his presence.

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So That You May Believe

John1

Reading the Word

John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses tell us why John wrote his Gospel. He wrote so that readers might know Jesus and believe that he was truly the Christ and the Son of God. John makes his case throughout his Gospel by recording Jesus’ words where he claims to be God and he also makes his case by recording the miraculous signs that Jesus performed to validate that what he claimed was true. Of course, the greatest proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be was the resurrection.

It is often said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Well, John begins his book by making the extraordinary claim that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). A few verses later, John tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). That is truly a great claim! However, John goes on to provide the extraordinary evidence. He tells of Jesus turning water into wine, feeding a great crowd with only a few fish and small amount of bread, walking on water, healing a man born blind, raising Lazarus from the dead, and ultimately rising from the dead himself. That is extraordinary evidence!

Jesus was God in the flesh and John wrote so that we would know and believe that God had visited mankind and provided salvation and eternal for all who would turn to him. What an amazing Savior!

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My Lord and My God!

John 2028 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:24–29 (ESV)

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage gives us the origins of the phrase “doubting Thomas.” It also gives us insight into the mindset of the disciples as word of the resurrection spread. They were not quick to believe the reports. They doubted. In fact, Thomas commented that he would not believe unless he saw with his own eyes  the wounds in Jesus caused by the nails and spear.

Not long after Thomas’ remark, Jesus paid a visit. When he did, he showed Thomas his hands and side and encouraged him to believe. Thomas stood face-to-face with the risen Lord and called out, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas knew that Jesus was really alive and he also knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God in the flesh!

Thomas had the benefit of seeing Jesus with his own eyes and coming to belief as a result. We do not have that opportunity, nor have the large majority of Christians through the ages. Those who actually saw the risen Savior are few in number, but this does not mean we cannot know what transpired. We have the word of God written by those who were there and we also have the Spirit of God to convict us of the truth of that word. Jesus told Thomas that he believed because he had seen, but there would be others (like you and me) who would not see, but still believe. Those people would be blessed because they would belong to Christ and have the promise of eternal life.

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I Am Sending You

John 2021 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:19–23 (ESV)

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples. Understandably, they were surprised and had a difficult time accepting what they were seeing. To convince them, Jesus showed the disciples his hands and side where the nails and the spear had pierced. This brought joy to the disciples as they now realized that Jesus was really alive again.

As Jesus met with his followers, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” Jesus was preparing to depart from them and ascend to the Father, but they would not be left alone. The Spirit would be with the disciples to equip and empower them for the task of proclaiming the gospel to the world. You can read more about the Spirit’s coming in Acts 2.

Jesus also said to the disciples, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” As Jesus’ representatives in the world, the Spirit-empowered disciples were also given the authority of the Lord. This does not mean they could do whatever they wanted, but that as they spoke for Christ their words carried the same force as if Christ himself were saying them. Christians today carry this same authority. When we speak the truths of God’s word to the world, the world is accountable to respond as if God himself were speaking. Christ has called all of his followers to go into the world and proclaim the gospel. This is a great task, but we have not been left alone to do it in our own power. We have been given the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit to prepare us for the task.

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Jesus Rose in the Flesh

Luke 2438–39 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I post a suggested Scripture reading without supplemental content. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are currently reading through the life of Christ. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Luke 24:36–43 (ESV)

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.