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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Who Is Your King?

Kingdom of God Title

Reading the Word

John 19:1–15 (ESV)

1 Then Pilate took Jesus and flogged him. 2 And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and arrayed him in a purple robe. 3 They came up to him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him with their hands. 4 Pilate went out again and said to them, “See, I am bringing him out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” 5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!” 6 When the chief priests and the officers saw him, they cried out, “Crucify him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.” 7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has made himself the Son of God.” 8 When Pilate heard this statement, he was even more afraid. 9 He entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.”

12 From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The situation quickly spun out of control for Pilate. He sought to appease the bloodthirsty crowd, but could not. Then he was told that Jesus was not just a man, but one who claimed to be the Son of God. At this revelation, Pilate questioned Jesus and declared his authority over Jesus. However, Jesus told Pilate plainly that his authority was only what had been given to him from above. Pilate again sought to release Jesus, but the crowd would not allow him. It was very clear that Pilate had little or no authority over anyone or anything surrounding this situation. Finally, Pilate asked the Jewish people if he should crucify their King. Shockingly, the chief priests cried out, “We have no king but Caesar.”

After years and years of waiting for the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah, he finally came. However, when he came, rather than a grand welcome, he was largely rejected. Ultimately, he was sent to a cross to be crucified. In the end, the King of the Jews was rejected in favor of Caesar. The kingdom of man was chosen over the kingdom of God. We have the same choice before us. Will we choose Christ and his kingdom or the kingdom of man and its rebellion against God. Who is our king?

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So You Are a King?

John 1837 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 18:29–38 (ESV)

29 So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” 30 They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” 31 Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” 32 This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was accused by the religious leaders of claiming to be king. The Jewish leaders said this because of Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah. They rejected Jesus’ claim and when they brought him before Pilate, they knew that such a claim would not sit well with the Romans because it would be a power grab. The leaders were hoping that such an accusation would make the Romans want to execute Jesus.

Pilate asked Jesus if he was “King of the Jews.” In response, Jesus explained that his kingdom was not a worldly kingdom. It is not made up of geographic borders and military strength. Jesus’ kingdom is made up of all who believe in him and his truth. When Pilate realized that Jesus was not a threat to Rome, he went out and told the religious leaders that he did not find any reason that Jesus should be condemned.

When we read this, it is clear that Jesus was going to the cross even though he was guilty of no crime. The reason the Jewish leaders wanted him put to death was because they had rejected him as their Messiah, even though he was the fulfillment of all that God had promised. But we see how we might be a part of Jesus’ kingdom. When we recognize the truth of Jesus’ words and turn to him in faith, we enter the kingdom of the Messiah, the kingdom of God. And the King in this kingdom is Christ, who laid down his life in love for his people, so that they could have life. What a great King!

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In Those Days

island during golden hour and upcoming storm

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do included a Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Mark 13:19–23 (ESV)

19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.

Indecision about Jesus

choices decision doors doorway

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

John 7:40–52 (ESV)

40 When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42 Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43 So there was a division among the people over him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

45 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46 The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” 47 The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48 Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51 “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

There was great debate and disagreement about Jesus. Some believed he was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures regarding a prophet like Moses. Some thought he was the promised Messiah. Still others believed he was just an impostor and that he did not fulfill their understanding of the Scriptures.

In the end, every person must make a decision on who Jesus is. Was he a great prophet? Was he the promised Messiah? Was he both of these and more? Or, was he just an impostor? We must decide and there is no room for indecision because if he was who he claimed to be eternity is at stake. Who is Jesus?

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Where Did Jesus Come From?

But No Man Laid Hands Upon Him

But No Man Laid Hands upon Him (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

John 7:25–36 (ESV)

25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The people were discussing the identity of Jesus. They wondered why the religious authorities sought to kill him. Could it be that Jesus was the Christ and that is why? Why did the authorities not arrest him when they had such an opportunity. After all, Jesus was there and speaking openly.

The people wondered if Jesus really could be the Christ. They thought, “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” They also thought, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs that this man has done.” Surely Jesus had performed many miracles before the people. Who could ever produce more evidence than Jesus that he was the true Messiah and Jesus was not?

The people thought that they knew where Jesus had come from: Nazareth. They saw him as a simple man, a carpenter, and a fellow Jew. They did not recognize him as the Son of God, divine, and the Savior of the whole world. He had come from the Father and was set to return to the Father. The people thought that they knew Jesus, but their relationship with him was insufficient. They needed to come to know him as the divine Savior.

Thinking of Jesus as simply a man, even a good man, is not enough. Yes, he came into the world as a man and died as a substitute for mankind to save us from our sins. But we also must know that Jesus is the God-man, which is why he could be the sacrifice that we needed. He could live a perfect sinless life because he was perfect in every way. We can trust in him and praise his name for our great salvation. He is worthy of worship and honor and blessing because of where he came from: he is God in the flesh (John 1:1)!

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Who Is Jesus?

Matthew 1616 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 16:13–20 (ESV)

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Parallel Texts: Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

Understanding and Applying the Word

Who is Jesus? That’s an important question and it’s the question Jesus put to his disciples. First, he asked the disciples what the people were saying about him. It seems that the people were convinced Jesus was some sort of prophet, but they were unsure of exactly which prophet. Perhaps he was one of the great prophets from the Old Testament come back to life?

After Jesus’ initial question about what the people were saying, he asked his disciples who they thought Jesus was. Peter replied, “You are the Christ (i.e. Messiah), the Son of the living God.” With this statement, Peter affirmed his belief that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah from the line of David who would deliver and save his people. Jesus responded to Peter by calling him “blessed” because no person (i.e. flesh and blood) had revealed this truth to Peter, it had been revealed by God. This truly was a divine blessing!

Today, every person must answer the same question posed to the disciples. Who is Jesus? There are many responses to this question. Some say Jesus was a great teacher, others say he was simply a man that legend has inflated through the years, and still others try to say he did not exist at all (even the overwhelming majority of secular scholars admit that Jesus really existed). However, there are some today that echo the words of Peter. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He came to save his people and deliver them and he did just that by going to a cross and dying as a sacrifice for sins. Jesus’ resurrection on the third day authenticated who he was and his life, death, and resurrection give hope to all who recognize him and trust in his name.

We are entering into the Easter season over the next two weeks where Christians remember the death of Jesus on the cross and celebrate his resurrection. There is no better time than now to ask this question: Who do you say Jesus is? It is the most important question you will ever answer. You owe it to yourself to seek out the answer and pray that God would open your eyes to the truth.

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A Samaritan Woman

the woman of samaria at the well

The Woman of Samaria at the Well (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

John 4:1–42 (ESV)

1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Today’s reading is a little longer than usual, but it is important to read the entire episode to best understand it as a whole. As Jesus travels to Galilee, he travels through Samaria. We are told in this text that this is a surprising route for Jesus to take because “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” The Jewish people thought of Samaritans as half-Jews because they had intermarried with the Assyrians many years prior. The two groups did not care much for each other, but Jesus insists on traveling through Samaria.

As Jesus travels, he encounters a Samaritan woman at a well and asks for a drink of water. The woman wonders why a Jewish man would be talking to her. As the conversation continues, Jesus tells her that he is the long-awaited Messiah. She then goes into her town and tells the people of her encounter. The people come out to see Jesus and many of them believe.

Through Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman, we learn that God’s plans are spreading to the world. Jesus, the Messiah, did not just come for the benefit of the Jewish people. He came for Samaritans, who were seen as unworthy by most Jews. We will soon see that he also came for Gentiles (those with no connection to the Jewish people). Jesus came to proclaim a gospel for the world that was not based on nationality, race, color, social class, or gender. All who believe in Jesus as the Christ and trust in his sacrifice for sins will be saved. This is a gospel for you, for me, and for all who will believe. And it is the gospel we proclaim to the world.

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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.

Have Regard for the Covenant

Abstract Cross Header Subheader

Reading the Word

Psalm 74:18–23 (ESV)

18 Remember this, O Lord, how the enemy scoffs, and a foolish people reviles your name. 19 Do not deliver the soul of your dove to the wild beasts; do not forget the life of your poor forever. 20 Have regard for the covenant, for the dark places of the land are full of the habitations of violence. 21 Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name. 22 Arise, O God, defend your cause; remember how the foolish scoff at you all the day! 23 Do not forget the clamor of your foes, the uproar of those who rise against you, which goes up continually!

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the closing verses of Psalm 74, the psalmist calls out to God to remember His covenant (verse 20). In making a covenant with His people, God promised to be with them as their God. This promise was not made with a people who had somehow earned God’s favor, but was an act of God’s grace. He made a covenant out of mercy and love. And it is the grace of God that this psalmist now calls out out for.

This is the theme of all of Scripture. We are told that all people are sinners and have offended the holy God. We do not deserve His favor, but He is gracious and forgives those who will call out to Him and trust in His word. In His word, God tells us that He gave His Son, Jesus Christ, as a sacrifice for sins and that all who trust in him will be saved. We call out to God and ask Him to remember His promise to forgive. We call out and ask for His grace.

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