I Have Seen the Lord

John 2018 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:11–18 (ESV)

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Mary stood weeping at the tomb wondering where Jesus’ body had gone. She was in such distress that she did not even notice the presence of angels. When they spoke to her, she simply answered without regard to the fact that they were heavenly beings. Then Jesus spoke to Mary, but she failed to recognize him also, thinking he was the gardener. Mary was in deep grief over the death of Jesus and now the disappearance of his body. She was unable to really see what was going on around her.

Jesus then said, “Mary.” At that point, she recognized Jesus and responded, “Rabboni!” In English, she said, “My Teacher!” Jesus was risen and was standing before her! Her grief was turned from sorrow to joy. Surely Jesus would be with her from now on. However, Jesus told her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Jesus was with her now, but it would only be temporary. He would soon ascend to heaven and the Holy Spirit would be poured out in his absence. Things were changing. Now was the time to gather the disciples and let them know that Jesus was risen and that he would soon be departing and they would take the message of the resurrection to the world.

Jesus’ ascension marked a major change in how God works in and through his people. Christ had been physically present with his people, but now he would soon be gone. In his place, the Holy Spirit would be with the people of God to empower them as witnesses and to lead them into all truth. This means that you and I, fellow Christian, have this same Spirit working in us as we live in this world. And this means we are equipped for everything that God has called us to do, which is centered on proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is alive again!

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They Did Not Believe Them

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Reading the Word

Luke 24:1–12 (ESV)

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Parallel Text: John 20:1-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the women went to the apostles and told them what they had heard from the angel, the apostles did not believe them. How could someone rise from the dead? The women were obviously making up a story. Of course, Jesus had repeatedly told them that this he was going to die and rise again, but they had not fully understood his words.

Peter decided to check the situation out himself. He ran to the tomb and looked in. When he did, he saw the burial cloths lying inside. Jesus was gone. How could this be? Peter went away marveling. It would be a short time later that Jesus would appear before Peter and the others and they would see that Jesus truly was alive again.

The Bible often records the apostles in a bad light. They failed to understand Jesus’ teachings. They argued among themselves selfishly. They did not even believe the report of the resurrection at first. Why would Scripture put the apostles in such a bad light? Because Scripture is the record of what actually took place. There is no effort to make the apostles look like super-humans. They were flawed and mistake prone just like you and me. They were real people with real shortcomings. And, just like you and me, when they heard the report that Jesus had come back from the dead, they were not quick to believe it.

That the Bible does not remove all of the embarrassing parts is one of the tings that points to its truthfulness. There would be no reason to record many of these things unless they really happened. We read of the apostles’ skepticism and watch the transformation in their lives as they learn that Jesus really was risen. Such a transformation is only explainable by a real resurrection.

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He Is Not Here

Matthew 286 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:1–8 (ESV)

1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Parallel Text: Mark 16:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

Imagine going to Jesus’ tomb, where you plan to put spices and perfume on his body, only to find the tomb empty. Surely you would be surprised. You would wonder what had happened to Jesus. This is what happened to these women that we read about today. They were still grieving their loss, as Jesus had only been in the tomb since Friday evening and it is now Sunday morning.

As they wondered about Jesus, we are told that an angel appeared and spoke to them. The angel told reminded them that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead and that he had indeed done so. He showed the women the place where Jesus’ body had been laid and then told them to go and tell the others what had happened. They would soon find Jesus in Galilee.

The response of the women was mixed. We read that they were filled with both fear and joy. Joy because they had just been told that Jesus was alive, but joy because how could something like this be so? If he was alive again, what did that mean? The truth of the resurrection should cause fear and joy in us as well. We are filled with joy because Jesus has provided victory over sin and death. He is a Savior that can actually save and his resurrection proves it. However, his resurrection also tells us that there is judgment for sin. We stand condemned in our sin if we do not have Christ. We must feel fear for those who have not turned to Jesus in repentance and faith and we must tell them of the salvation available to all who will believe.

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Sealing Jesus’ Tomb

Stone Tomb Closure

Reading the Word

Matthew 27:62–66 (ESV)

62 The next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, “Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore order the tomb to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away and tell the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last fraud will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard of soldiers. Go, make it as secure as you can.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The religious leaders knew that Jesus had proclaimed that he would rise from the dead. They did everything in their power to see to it that such a story could not be fabricated by the disciples. A guard of soldiers was set and the tomb was sealed. No one was going to steal Jesus’ body and make it seem like he had risen.

The plan of the religious leaders was a good one to combat a false resurrection story. If the body was protected and still in the tomb, it would be impossible for others to say Jesus had risen just as he said he would. However, the plan had one major problem. What if Jesus really did rise from the dead? What if no one tried to steal the body and make up a false story, but Jesus rose and left the tomb on his own?

The resurrection is the center event of the whole Bible. It verifies all that Jesus said about himself. He truly is the Son of God! It is amazing to think that as hard as the religious leaders tried to put Jesus in a tomb and keep him there, they could not. He rose and the truth of the gospel spread quickly throughout the Roman world. This was not a made up story. The tomb was empty!

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The Burial of Jesus

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I post a suggested reading without any supplemental content. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are currently reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the New Testament Gospels.

Reading the Word

John 19:38–42 (ESV)

38 After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. 39 Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. 40 So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. 41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. 42 So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-47; Luke 23:50-56


That Scripture Might Be Fulfilled

Isaiah Quote

Reading the Word

John 19:31–37 (ESV)

31 Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. 35 He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. 36 For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They will look on him whom they have pierced.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was crucified on a Friday, which meant the Sabbath was at hand. That particular Sabbath was considered especially important (a “high day”) because it followed the Passover. In order not to defile the Sabbath, the people requested that the bodies of the crucified be taken down and buried. This request was in accord with Deuteronomy 21:22-23.

It was usual for Romans to leave bodies hanging and decaying for days, but they also tried to accommodate religious observances at times. In this case, they did not wish to offend the Jewish people so they decided to make sure the three would die quickly by breaking their legs. This would make it impossible to use the legs to push up and take a breath. Surprisingly, Jesus’ legs were not broken because he had already died. This fulfilled a prophecy found in Psalm 34:20 that said that none of his bones would be broken, which also applied to the Passover lambs during the Exodus (cf. Exodus 12:46).

Instead of breaking Jesus’ legs, a Roman soldier plunged a spear into his side to ensure he was truly dead. This too fulfilled a prophecy found in Zechariah 12:10.

It is an amazing thing to think about how many prophecies written hundreds of years prior that Jesus fulfilled. Many argue that he simply set out to fulfill them, but this does not account for the ones he had no ability to fulfill on his own. The events surrounding his birth and his death were completely out of his control to manufacture. Go back and re-read the Gospel accounts and make note of how many times that we are told that Jesus fulfilled an Old Testament prophecy. Go back and read those prophecies in the Old Testament. Then marvel at how Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures.

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Truly This Was the Son of God

Matthew 1616 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 27:51–54 (ESV)

51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Parallel Texts: Mark 15:37-39; Luke 23:44-47

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the Creator of all things is crucified at the hands of his creation, there is a profound mystery. Such a thing also results in a shaking of the foundations of the world. At Jesus’ death, there was a reaction form the creation itself. There was darkness, the earth shook, rocks split, and people who had died came out of their tombs alive again. I cannot even imagine what this must have been like for those who were there.

We do get the reaction of some to the shakeup that happened at Jesus’ death. A Roman centurion and others were left in awe and wonder and proclaimed, “Truly this was the Son of God!” That is a remarkable statement. Of course, it is true, but it was at Jesus’ death that they realized this, not during his life and ministry. It is even more remarkable that, even with all that transpired, many still did not recognize Jesus for who he was.

Each of us must make a decision about Jesus’ true identity. Was he a fraud or was he truly who he claimed to be, the Son of God? When confronted with all that he said and did and with the testimony of those who were there to witness it, we cannot push it aside and pretend it is of little importance. If he was a fraud, we can dismiss him. If he was truly the Son, we must hear his words, repent, and turn to him in faith. What will you do?

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It Is Finished

Cross in Red

Reading the Word

John 19:28–30 (ESV)

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus hung on the cross for about six hours. It is no surprise that he became thirsty, but we are told that his statement “I thirst” was in fulfillment of Scripture. This fulfillment likely points us back to Psalm 69:21, which reads, “and for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.” After receiving the sour wine (different from the wine mixed with myrrh in Mark 15:23), Jesus said, “It is finished” and died.

The mission that Jesus had come to fulfill was now complete. He had come as the promised Messiah, lived a sinless life, proclaimed repentance and the forgiveness of sins, performed miracles, confronted the hypocritical religious leaders, and now given his life as a substitute for those who would trust in him. Jesus had come to redeem mankind and show the way to the Father and his mission was finished. He had accomplished all that he had come to do.

Jesus’ death was a part of the plans and purposes of God. He died to bring salvation to many. And when he dealt with our sin, it was once and for all. It was finished.

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Why Have You Forsaken Me?

Orange Cross Title

Reading the Word

Matthew 27:45–50 (ESV)

45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Each of the four Gospels give us different details about Jesus’ last moments on the cross. We will look at each over the next few days. Matthew tells us that Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is a direct quote from Psalm 22:1 Many misunderstood Jesus’ words and thought he was calling out for Elijah (the words in Aramaic sound similar). The crowd continued to mock Jesus by saying “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” After crying out again, we read that Jesus died.

What was it like for Jesus? We get a sense as he quotes from Psalm 22:1. He felt abandoned and forgotten by God. He was innocent, but he was suffering as if he were guilty. How could God allow such a thing? Psalm 22 was written by David who, on at a certain level, felt the same. God had abandoned him to his enemies. As we read on in Psalm 22, we also see that David continued to trust in God for his deliverance. As Jesus quoted from David’s psalm, we should take the time to read it all, knowing that Jesus was also trusting in the Father even in the midst of his suffering.

Psalm 22:1–31 (ESV)

1  My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?
2  O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer,
and by night, but I find no rest.

3  Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
4  In you our fathers trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
5  To you they cried and were rescued;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6  But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by mankind and despised by the people.
7  All who see me mock me;
they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;
8  “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him;
let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

9  Yet you are he who took me from the womb;
you made me trust you at my mother’s breasts.
10  On you was I cast from my birth,
and from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11  Be not far from me,
for trouble is near,
and there is none to help.

12  Many bulls encompass me;
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13  they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.

14  I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax;
it is melted within my breast;
15  my strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16  For dogs encompass me;
a company of evildoers encircles me;
they have pierced my hands and feet—
17  I can count all my bones—
they stare and gloat over me;
18  they divide my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.

19  But you, O LORD, do not be far off!
O you my help, come quickly to my aid!
20  Deliver my soul from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dog!
21  Save me from the mouth of the lion!
You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!

22  I will tell of your name to my brothers;
in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23  You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him,
and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
24  For he has not despised or abhorred
the affliction of the afflicted,
and he has not hidden his face from him,
but has heard, when he cried to him.

25  From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
my vows I will perform before those who fear him.
26  The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;
those who seek him shall praise the LORD!
May your hearts live forever!

27  All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before you.
28  For kingship belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.

29  All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
even the one who could not keep himself alive.
30  Posterity shall serve him;
it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation;
31  they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn,
that he has done it.

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Always Putting Others First

John 1926–27 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 19:23–27 (ESV)

23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom, 24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says,

“They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”

So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus was dying on the cross, the Roman soldiers were dividing his clothing. The soldiers cast lots to determine who would receive Jesus’ tunic. In doing so, the soldiers fulfilled a prophecy recorded in Psalm 22:18:

“…they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.

We are also told that a few of Jesus’ followers were present at the cross. Among those present were Jesus’ mother and “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, which was a way of referring to John. As Jesus hung there in great pain, he was still focused on providing for others. He made sure to arrange for the care of his mother after his death by giving the responsibility to John, who willingly accepted.

Reading of Jesus’ concern for his mother reminds us of the reality of this event. A mother was watching as her innocent son was executed as a criminal. A son was leaving behind his mother and he wanted to make sure she was taken care of. We also get another glimpse of Jesus’ resolve to fulfill his mission as the Savior of mankind. As he hung on the cross, his first concern was not for himself, but for the welfare of others. He went to the cross specifically for that purpose. He went to save us and give us life. He gave himself for us. Even in his death he put others first.

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