A Call to Respond

greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 7:18–35 (ESV)

18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 11:2-19

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage begins with messengers sent by John the Baptist to Jesus. They went to Jesus to confirm whether he was indeed the Messiah. Jesus responds by sending them back to John to tell him that the blind can see, the lame are healed, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. Why did Jesus respond in this way? Because this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah had said would happen when the Messiah came (cf. Isaiah 26:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:11)! Yes, Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah!

Jesus then turns to the crowd and speaks to them about John the Baptist. Jesus compares the crowds to those sitting in a marketplace and calling out to each other, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.” These may seem like strange words, but Jesus was making the point that no matter what was said or done, many of the people were not receptive. Whether it was a joyous song on the flute to celebrate in dance or a solemn dirge to mourn, the people did not respond. Instead, they remained skeptical, doubting, hostile, or uninterested in the teachings of both John the Baptist and Jesus himself.

Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection are not just events in history to be aware of. The life of Jesus forces us to make a decision about him. How are we going to respond to this one who came into the world, claimed to be the Son of God, taught with unparalleled authority, and rose from the grave? We must respond to Jesus. We must either repent of our sins and turn to him in faith or dismiss him. There really is no middle ground. What will you do with Jesus?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

God Has Visited His People

Widow's Son at Nain

The Resurrection of the Widow’s Son at Nain (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. We are currently reading through the life of Christ and I invite you to subscribe to this page so you can follow along. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include the day’s suggested Scripture reading.

Reading the Word

Luke 7:11–17 (ESV)

11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.

Belief in Jesus’ Authority

Lord, I Am Not Worthy

Lord, I Am Not Worthy (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 8:5–13 (ESV)

5 When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, 6 “Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.” 7 And he said to him, “I will come and heal him.” 8 But the centurion replied, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. 9 For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” 10 When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, “Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

Parallel Text: Luke 7:1-10

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is an amazing exchange. A centurion was a Roman soldier. The title comes from the fact that he would have had one hundred men under his authority. The Jewish people despised the Romans because they were thought of as oppressors of Israel, unclean Gentiles, and the enemy. The Jewish people would not have been quick to help such a man.

The centurion soldier went to Jesus and asked him to heal his servant who was at home. Jesus agreed to go to the centurion’s servant, but the soldier did not find himself worthy to have Jesus visit his home. Instead, he asked if Jesus would simply exercise his authority without visiting. This soldier understood the kind of power and authority belonged to Jesus! In fact, Jesus commented that he had not seen the kind of faith this Gentile soldier had in all of Israel. The Jewish people, the people of God, had not received Jesus in this manner!

The Roman centurion’s faith is demonstrated in his belief that Jesus had the power and authority to heal his servant. It is also evident in the title that he uses when speaking to Jesus. He calls him “Lord” multiple times. And lastly, this soldier was willing to travel to see Jesus, cross cultural and racial barriers, and humbly ask for Jesus’ help. He believed and his belief showed in his actions. How is your belief in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord evident in your life?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

A House on the Rock

Matthew 724 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:24–27 (ESV)

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Parallel Text: Luke 6:47-49

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus uses an illustration contrasting two houses. One house is built on a rock. It has a firm foundation and is able to withstand the rains and the wind. Another house is built on sand. When the rains and the wind come against it, the water and the wind will cause the house to collapse.

Jesus uses this illustration to contrast the different responses to his teaching. Those who hear him and respond to his teaching through obedience are like the house built on the rock. They will stand. It is not enough to just hear or even to hear and understand, but it is the person who hears Jesus’ words and “does them.” In contrast, those who do not respond to Jesus will be destroyed.

The winds and the rains are a picture of the coming judgment. We are told throughout Scripture that God will judge the world because of sin. We are also told that we all stand condemned because we are all sinners. Jesus’ preaching tells us that if we repent and trust in him, we will be forgiven and will not be judged, but have eternal life. Have you turned to Christ in repentance and faith? Have you built your house on the true Rock?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

I Never Knew You

1 John 26 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Understanding and Applying the Word

Many claim to follow the Lord, but many are only counterfeits. They may say all of the right things, even calling Jesus “Lord”, as he is. They may even do many good things. However, the true disciple not only says the right things and performs certain works, but is obedient to the will of the Father. The true disciple has a changed life that is centered on living for God, not self.

This passage serves as a warning for those who would fool themselves into thinking that they can say the right things and even do certain religious works (e.g. go to church, give lots of money, teach Sunday school, serve as a deacon, etc.) to be counted among God’s people. It is possible to do all of that and still not really know the Lord. Jesus tells us in John 15:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” In Luke 6:46 he says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do what I tell you?” And we read the following in 1 John:

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.(1 John 2:3–6, ESV)

Are you living your life for the Lord? Do you truly know him?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

close up of snowflakes on snow against sky

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:15–20 (ESV)

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Parallel Text: Luke 6:43-45

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses serve as a warning to Jesus’ followers. There will be false teachers who may appear to belong Christ, but they really do not. They are not sheep. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

How do we spot a false teacher? Jesus says that we will know them by their fruit. What we truly believe will be reflected in how we live. So the life of one who belongs to Jesus will reflect that truth while the life of a false teacher will not be Christ-like. Just as one type of tree produces a certain type of fruit, so it is with people. You will know them by their fruit.

Christian history is filled with false teachers. In every generation teachers and movements have come along that are contrary to true biblical teaching. We still see this even today. False teachers and preachers teach all sorts of unbiblical notions to justify and gain power, influence, wealth, sex, and control over others. Just look at the fruit. Do the teachers live lives that reflect and glorify Jesus or are they living for themselves and looking for opportunities to indulge in sin?

Beware of false prophets who come dressed in sheep’s clothing.

**Do you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word each day? Please consider sharing with your friends on social media. Just use the buttons below. Thanks for your help as we desire to encourage the daily reading of God’s word!

The Easy Way or the Hard Way?

fashion footwear grass outdoors

Photo by Tobi on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:13–14 (ESV)

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Parallel Text: Luke 13:23-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these two verses, Jesus speaks of two “ways” or two “gates”. One way, which Jesus says is wide and easy leads ultimately to a place where no one would want to go. It leads to destruction. The other way is narrow and hard. Few find it, but it leads to life.

When Jesus speaks of the narrow way that leads to life, he speaks of the path of the true disciple of Jesus. To walk the road of a disciple will lead to persecution and suffering. The way will be difficult because it will be contrary to what the majority are doing, but it will prove to be the right way because it does lead to life.

One the other hand, going the way of the world, while easy because everyone is doing it and it will be easy to fit right in, will lead to destruction rather than life. It may be the easy way, but it is not the right way.

Jesus tells us that he is the way, the truth, and the life and that no one can come to the Father except through him. It is Jesus who is the Son of God and came into this world to pay the price for the sins of mankind. It is Jesus alone who went to the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. And it is Jesus who rose victorious from the grave and conquered sin and death on behalf of all who will believe in him. It is through Jesus Christ alone that we can find eternal life. There is one narrow way. Living for Jesus in this world may not be easy, but it is the right way. It is the way that leads to life.

**Do you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word each day? Please consider sharing with your friends on social media. Just use the buttons below. Thanks for your help as we desire to encourage the daily reading of God’s word!

Do to Others

Matthew 712 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:12 (ESV)

12 “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

Parallel Text: Luke 6:31

Understanding and Applying the Word

This verse is commonly referred to as the Golden Rule. Jesus tells us that it is a summary statement for the Law and the Prophets. This means that the Old Testament Scriptures are summarized in this simple, yet profound command.

The Golden Rule calls us to action, not just restraint. We are to do what we wish others would do to us, not just refrain from doing the things we do not want done. It is easy to not hurt another person or to not steal from another person, etc. However, Jesus’ words call us to more than a list of “Thou shalt nots.” We are to actively show goodness and mercy to others. In this way, we imitate our Lord who shows his goodness and mercy each and every day to all people. Let us look for ways to do to others what we wish they would do for us.

**Do you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word each day? Please consider sharing with your friends on social media. Just use the buttons below. Thanks for your help as we desire to encourage the daily reading of God’s word!

Knock Knock

KNOCK

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. If you would like to follow along each day as we read through the life of Jesus Christ in 2019, please be sure to subscribe to this page or to our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:7–11 (ESV)

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Parallel Text: Luke 11:9-13

Pearls before Pigs

black hog prone lying on soil under shade of tree

Photo by Magda Ehlers on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 7:6 (ESV)

6 “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This is a short passage and may seem a little harsh. Who are the “dogs” and pigs” Jesus is talking about and what are the “pearls” we should hold onto? The dogs that Jesus refers to are not domesticated pets, but wild scavengers. Pigs, under Old Testament law (Deuteronomy 14:8), were considered unclean and were not to be eaten by the Jewish people. So, when Jesus speaks of dogs and pigs here, he is speaking of unholy and unclean people who have no regard for what is sacred.

When Jesus speaks of pearls, he is speaking of that which is most precious. Of course, that which is most precious to Jesus’ followers is the message of the kingdom itself (cf. Matthew 13:45-46).

Does this mean we should not give the gospel message to some? No, but it does mean that we need to be discerning about when we do share. If our sharing is only going to result in the mocking of or trampling of the gospel in mud by the person we are sharing with (like some of the arguments people get into on social media), we are better not to share. There may be a better opportunity with the same person later when they are truly ready to listen and consider rather than attack. We are called to go into the world and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, but let us pray for discernment in how we do that and let us also pray that God would prepare hearts to hear the truth.

**Do you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word each day? Please consider sharing with your friends on social media. Just use the buttons below. Thanks for your help as we desire to encourage the daily reading of God’s word!