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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They Did Not Believe Them

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

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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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No Interest in Truth

John 832 b [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 22:63–71 (ESV)

63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65; John 18:22-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

Councils and leaders are supposed to gather to determine truth. However, the council that examined Jesus had no interest in the truth. They were willing to accept false testimony to accuse Jesus, but they were unwilling to listen to Jesus’ statement about being the Christ. This was no real search for truth. It was a group that had already decided that Jesus had no place in their lives, so they were going to remove him using whatever means necessary.

As Jesus’ followers today, we must prepared for the same reaction to Jesus. We are charged with the mission of going into the world and proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but many resist the message. The sad thing is, most of those who reject Jesus will never make an honest attempt to uncover the truth about who he is. Why is this the case? Because many simply do not want Jesus, who confronts us in our sin and calls us to repentance. It is much easier to stick with the lies and mock Jesus than let the truth turn our world upside down. As Jesus’ followers, we must continue to proclaim the gospel because it is the most important truth there is. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world.

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The Words of Jesus

John

Reading the Word

John 12:44–50 (ESV)

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The word of God cuts two ways. For some, the word brings salvation and life. These are the people who hear the word and trust in it. They believe Jesus is the Savior of mankind and place their faith in his atoning sacrifice. They demonstrate this faith through obedience to God’s word.

On the other hand, the word of God also brings judgment and condemnation for some. Jesus warns in today’s passage that the Father will hold accountable those who reject Jesus and his message. Jesus came to bring light into a dark world. His message was that all have sinned and must repent and trust in Christ for salvation. To reject Jesus is to reject the message given from the Father.

We must never treat Jesus and his words as merely interesting sayings. He was not a philosophical guru. Yes, he said many wise things that were, and still are, challenging. The most challenging and the most important teaching of Jesus is that he is the eternal Son of God who speaks with the authority of God and came to bring salvation to a lost world. To reject Jesus is to reject the word of God and the only means of forgiveness and salvation. We must weigh the words of Jesus carefully.

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Get Rid of the Evidence

The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together

The Chief Priests Take Counsel Together (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 for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day as we read through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

John 12:9–11 (ESV)

9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

The Resurrection and the Life

John 1125–26 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 11:17–27 (ESV)

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Jewish custom was to bury the dead on the same day the person died. We were told in yesterday’s reading that Jesus waited two days before he set out to go to Lazarus. The reason for the delay and the mention of Lazarus having been in the tomb for four days seems to be in order to make the upcoming miracle unquestionable. There would be no way to say that Lazarus was only sleeping or not really dead.

As Jesus arrived in the area, Martha rushed to meet him. Her words tell us that she believed Jesus could have saved Lazarus had he been there sooner. Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise, but Martha assumed he meant in the last days when all believers would rise. Jesus had something more immediate in mind and replied to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

“Do you believe this?” These are the concluding words of Jesus to Martha and they are the words that we must answer as well. Jesus promises resurrection and eternal life to all who believe in him. Do you believe? Jesus went on to raise a man from his tomb who had been dead for four days to prove that he had the power to fulfill his promises. Yet, his greatest miracle was still to come. Soon Jesus would be in the tomb after being put to death on a cross and, on the third day, he would rise from the dead. The One who promises resurrection to all who believe is the resurrected One who has power over death and the authority to give life. Do you believe?

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Who Is Your Father?

Dad Son Walking

Reading the Word

John 8:39–47 (ESV)

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his opponents that they were not children of Abraham. As Jews, the people did not know why Jesus would say such a thing. After all, they were biological descendants of Abraham. However, Jesus meant that they were not the spiritual children of Abraham because Abraham received the word of God and obeyed it, unlike those who did not believe Jesus and wanted him dead. Instead, Jesus proclaimed, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” The people’s unbelief and opposition to Jesus showed that they did not belong to God, but instead they belonged to the devil.

Those who belong to God are evident because they seek to hear his voice through his word and they desire to obey. Those who have no desire for the word of God and live their lives in disobedience prove that they do not truly belong to him. The word of God tells us that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin and that we need to trust in him for eternal life. There is no other way of salvation. Have you trusted in Christ? Are you living according to the world of God? Who is your father?

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The Truth Will Set You Free

John 832 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 8:31–38 (ESV)

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After addressing his opponents in the previous verses, Jesus turned to speak to those who had believed him. He urged them to continue in his teaching. Surprisingly, Jesus went on to say that some of these “believers” were not actually followers at all. He said to them, “My words find no place in you,” and “I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Many people may initially have a positive response to Jesus. Yet, it is also true that many will later fall away. To truly follow the Lord is costly (cf. Luke 14:25-35). There are many who only want Jesus as long as he is of benefit to them. Can he make me healthy, wealthy, and happy? As soon as the going gets difficult due to suffering as a follower of Christ or Jesus’ teachings interfere with our desires, superficial belief ends. It is only the true believer who has been born again through the word of truth and Spirit of God who is able to abide in the teachings of Jesus and find that they give true freedom and joy.

Are you abiding in the teaching of Jesus?

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You Will Die in Your Sin

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Reading the Word

John 8:21–30 (ESV)

21 So he said to them again, “I am going away, and you will seek me, and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.” 22 So the Jews said, “Will he kill himself, since he says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?” 23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. 28 So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. 29 And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” 30 As he was saying these things, many believed in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In this dialogue with the Jewish leaders (cf. John 8:13), Jesus got right to the point with the Pharisees. If they did not believe in him, they would die in their sins. The Pharisees had continually sparred with Jesus and refused to accept him as the Messiah. Now Jesus warns them that if they continue to reject him, they would not be able to go where he was going (i.e. to the Father). As a result of Jesus’ pointed warning, some did respond in belief (cf. John 8:30).

Jesus and the entire New Testament teach us that we are all condemned because we are all sinners. Jesus came into the word to save us from our sin and the punishment we deserve, which is eternal separation from the holy God who created us. Jesus died as a perfect sacrifice for our sins and all who trust in Jesus’ sacrificial work on their behalf will be saved. However, those who do not trust in Jesus will die in their sins and will not be saved. Those people will not spend eternity in the presence of God.

Take this as a strong warning. Trust in Jesus Christ today and find forgiveness and salvation in his name.

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Your Time Is Here

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Reading the Word

John 7:1–9 (ESV)

1 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read that it was the time of the Feast of Booths and Jesus was ministering in Galilee because those in Judea were seeking to kill him. Jesus’ brothers wanted Jesus to go to Judea to attend the feast. His brothers had witnessed some of his miraculous works, but they did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mark 3:21, 31-35). They did not come to belief until after the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:14). His brothers included James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (i.e. Jude; cf. Matthew 13:55). James and Jude would later write the New Testament books that bear their names.

According to verses 3-4, Jesus’ brothers wanted him to go to Judea to display his signs and wonders more openly, but Jesus told them that it was not yet time for such displays. He went on to tell them that while it was not time for him to show himself to the world, their time had come and was always present.

What did Jesus mean by his statements to his brothers? They had seen Jesus. They knew him. They had grown up with him. They had witnessed some of his miracles. Jesus was telling them that they could believe in him. They had no need to wait. We too must make a decision on who Jesus is and today is the day. We should not think we will make a decision in the future. The question of Jesus’ true identity is too important to put off. 2 Corinthians 6:2 tells us, “Now is the day of salvation.” Will you believe in him? Will you tell others about him?

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