What Is the Loving Thing To Do?

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Reading the Word

Luke 14:1–6 (ESV)

1 One Sabbath, when he went to dine at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees, they were watching him carefully. 2 And behold, there was a man before him who had dropsy. 3 And Jesus responded to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” 4 But they remained silent. Then he took him and healed him and sent him away. 5 And he said to them, “Which of you, having a son or an ox that has fallen into a well on a Sabbath day, will not immediately pull him out?” 6 And they could not reply to these things.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was dining at the house of a Pharisee. This is an important detail in this story because the Pharisees were known for their strong emphasis on keeping the law. They were so committed to keeping the law, that they even added additional rules of their own to make sure they kept the law. They were the legalists of Jesus’ day.

One of the laws that was central to Jewish life was the keeping of the Sabbath. No work was to be done. So, when a man with dropsy went to see Jesus on a Sabbath, what would Jesus do? Would he heal the man or would he refuse to work on the Sabbath? Jesus asked his hosts what they thought about the situation. “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath, or not?” he asked. They remained silent, so he asked them if they had a son or an ox that fell into a well on a Sabbath, would they pull the son or ox out. Of course they would! The welfare of a person, or even an animal, is too important. It was not the intent of the law to harm people. So, of course healing a person on the Sabbath is lawful!

Jesus’ questions that confronted the Pharisees legalistic mindset cut to the heart of the matter. In essence, Jesus asked, “What is the loving thing to do?” Would love help a son that fell into a well? Would love pull an ox out of a hole in the ground? Would love walk away from a man with dropsy when healing was possible? We must be careful that our rules and regulations do not become a hindrance to loving others. After all, Jesus said that to love the Lord our God with all our hearts and to love our neighbors as ourselves is a summary of the whole law (cf. Matthew 22:36-40).

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Are We Also Blind?

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Reading the Word

John 9:35–41 (ESV)

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking to you.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus had healed the blind man and given him physical sight. Now, he also gives him spiritual sight. When Jesus asked the man if he believed in the Son of Man, he replied, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in him.” When Jesus revealed that he was the Son of Man, the blind man proclaimed, “Lord, I believe.” He had passed from blindness to Jesus’ true identity to spiritual sight.

Not everyone responds to Jesus in the way this man did. He recognized Jesus. The Pharisees, on the other hand, did not. They wondered why Jesus would say that he had come to judge those who could see (verse 39). “Are we also blind,” they asked? The Pharisees thought they knew everything, especially the truth about Jesus (cf. John 9:16, 24, 29), but they were truly blind. Their hearts were hardened towards Jesus and they were spiritually blind. They did not recognize him for who he was. As a result, Jesus was not their Savior, but their Judge.

Jesus, the Messiah, came into the world to save us from our sin. When we see our sin and recognize our need of a Savior, we can call out to him to save us and he promises to do so. When we deny our sin and deny him as our Savior, we prove to be blind and we will stand before Christ our Judge. Pray that the Lord might open your eyes to know him and your need of a Savior.

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I Was Blind, Now I See

John 925 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 9:13–34 (ESV)

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a Sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 So the Pharisees again asked him how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him, since he has opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. 21 But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, “Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 And they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?” And they cast him out.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Pharisees interrogated the blind man whom Jesus healed and the blind man’s parents. How was he healed? Was he really blind? Who is Jesus that he could do such a thing? The religious leaders were witness to all of Jesus’ signs and wonders, yet they refused to acknowledge who he was. They sought instead to condemn him. The blind man (now healed) and his parents simply accepted that Jesus was from God. How else could he do such wonderful things. When the Pharisees reached their full frustration, they kicked the healed man out of their midst.

For some, truth is not really what they are after. Some will question, argue, and debate with no intention of actually engaging in a search for the truth. In fact, no amount of truth will matter because their minds are already made up. This was the case with the religious leaders who wanted Jesus killed. It is the case with many today who spend time arguing over Jesus. Their minds are made up and no amount of discussion will ever be enough.

So what are we to do? As the man who had his sight restored, we must simply tell the truth that we know: we once were blind, but now we see. Through Jesus, we have had our eyes opened. We have been born again. Whatever the Pharisees thought of Jesus, they could not deny that the blind man could now see. Whatever people may think of Jesus today, they should see that his followers are changed people because of his powerful work in our lives.

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A Man Born Blind

John 93 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 9:1–12 (ESV)

1 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. 2 And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6 Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7 and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing.

8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar were saying, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said, “It is he.” Others said, “No, but he is like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 So they said to him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read of Jesus performing a miracle. In this instance, he healed a man who had been blind since birth. Jesus’ disciples asked Jesus why the man was blind. Had his parents sinned? Had he sinned? Whose sin was it that caused this blindness? Jesus’ response to his disciples is an important one for us to consider.

In the first century, it was common for the Jewish people to think of life in a cause and effect manner. If a person was good, good things happened. If the person was bad, punishment and bad things happened. So, sickness and disabilities were thought of as a direct result of sin. Jesus corrects this faulty understanding by saying, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” Sin was not the reason for the man’s blindness. He was blind so that God’s work could be displayed in him when Jesus healed him. The man’s blindness was not as a result of punishment, but so that God would be glorified through him.

We often interpret the world in much the same way that Jesus’ followers did in this passage. We wonder why bad things happen to us or others. We wonder what we did to deserve some of the bad things that come our way. How often do we stop to consider that the way we handle our troubles and adversities can bring glory to God? Let us find strength and courage in him, knowing that he works all things for his glory. Let us tell of his goodness both in the good things and in the bad, because we know that our troubles are only temporary and one day we will all find healing and restoration in the presence of our Savior.

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Proclaiming Jesus with Zeal

Isaiah 354–5 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 7:31–37 (ESV)

31 Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. 32 And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. 33 And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. 34 And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” 35 And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. 36 And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. 37 And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 15:29-31

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was traveling in the region of the Decapolis, the ten cities. This region was largely Gentile in population and points us to the fact that Jesus did not only come to minister to and save the Jewish people, but came as the Savior of all of mankind.

In these verses, Jesus again performed a miracle of healing a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. When the crowds saw what Jesus did, they were “astonished beyond measure” (v. 37). The comment of the crowd as quoted in verse 37 points back to Isaiah 35:1-10, which states that there would be a day when God would work in a special way among his people. In that day, the blind, deaf, lame, and mute would be healed. In Jesus, that day had dawned. Jesus attempted to quiet the fast-spreading news of his miracle-working, but the people were talking. The news traveled far and wide and the crowds were growing larger and larger as people came with their sick and to see who this man, Jesus, was.

It is interesting to see the zeal of the crowds in spreading the news of Jesus. No one could keep them quiet! How wonderful it would be in our day if we shared the same passion. What would this world be like if believers everywhere were as ready to share the Good News of Jesus, the one who brings salvation to all? Yet, most believers are all too ready to remain quiet and speak little of Jesus. Let us not remain quiet, but let us tell the world of the One who brings life and healing to all who call on him!

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The Faith of a Gentile Woman

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Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can read along each day. We are currently reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Matthew 15:21–28 (ESV)

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

Parallel Text: Mark 7:24-30

Jesus Is More than a Wonder Worker

In the Villages the Sick Were Presented to Him

In the Villages the Sick Were Presented to Him (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 6:53–56 (ESV)

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Parallel Text: Matthew 14:34-36

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ fame traveled quickly. People had heard that he had the power to heal, so when he arrived in Gennesaret, the people brought their sick to him in desperation for healing. All who even touched Jesus’ garment were made well.

As we read this passage, we notice a couple of important things. Jesus had great compassion for the crowds and ministered to them with great love for them. Jesus’ great power to heal demonstrated his identity as the Son of God, but the people were more interested in his wonder-working power because it directly benefited them at that moment. This was the case throughout Jesus’ ministry.

Unfortunately, many today turn to Jesus for the same reason the crowds did in the Gospels. They go to him to meet their immediate needs and no more. They desire some sort of powerful intervention in their lives, whether it is physical healing, fixing a marriage, helping with an addiction, etc. These are all wonderful things, but they should not be our primary pursuit. Jesus calls us to him as our Savior and Lord and offers us something far greater than instant release from our temporary ills in this world. He tells us that he has the authority to grant eternal life to all of those who trust in him because his death and resurrection have purchased the forgiveness of our sins and victory over death. Let us not forget who Jesus truly is and the primary reason that he came.

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Son of David

Matthew 219 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 9:27–34 (ESV)

27 And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, “Have mercy on us, Son of David.” 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to him, “Yes, Lord.” 29 Then he touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it done to you.” 30 And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” 31 But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

32 As they were going away, behold, a demon-oppressed man who was mute was brought to him. 33 And when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke. And the crowds marveled, saying, “Never was anything like this seen in Israel.” 34 But the Pharisees said, “He casts out demons by the prince of demons.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus heals two blind men and a man possessed by a demon. The Old Testament Scriptures told of a day when God would exercise his power and that the blind would see (cf. Isaiah 29:18; 35:5–6; 42:7). It is significant that the two blind men address Jesus as the “son of David.” In doing so, they were saying that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who was a descendant of David. Jesus healed the blind men and also a man possessed by a demon that demonstrated that he truly was the son of David, the Messiah, and that God was at work in a powerful way.

The Pharisees, those who were looked at as religious leaders of the people, did not see Jesus in a positive light. They saw him as an enemy and even said that his mighty works were done through the power of the prince of demons, Satan!

Jesus’ life calls us to make a decision about who he is. Will we accept him as Lord, the promised Messiah, and Savior? Or will we reject him? In rejecting him, the Pharisees became opponents to what God was doing in the world. They rejected the Savior that the Father had sent on their behalf and sought to get rid of Jesus. Take the time to get to know the truth abut Jesus so that you too can know him as Savior.

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Power Over All Things

Mark 536 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 5:21–43 (ESV)

21 And when Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered about him, and he was beside the sea. 22 Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, and seeing him, he fell at his feet 23 and implored him earnestly, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well and live.” 24 And he went with him.
And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. 25 And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, 26 and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. 28 For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I will be made well.” 29 And immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone out from him, immediately turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my garments?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’ ” 32 And he looked around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him and told him the whole truth. 34 And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. 38 They came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and Jesus saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why are you making a commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began walking (for she was twelve years of age), and they were immediately overcome with amazement. 43 And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, we find the healing of two people. The first was a woman who had a “discharge of blood” for twelve years. The phrase “discharge of blood” was a euphemism for vaginal bleeding. Not only would this have been a medical issue for the woman, but a religious one as well. Such bleeding would have made her ceremonially unclean and a source of uncleanness for others. She sought Jesus so she could touch him and find healing, which is exactly what she received. Jesus’ words to her were, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”

A twelve-year-old girl was the second healing. When Jesus went to her, she was already dead. The people were ready to let Jesus go on his way because it was too late for him to do anything, but Jesus told the girl to “arise.” Immediately, the girl got up and walked!

The past three days, we have looked at four miracles of Jesus: the calming of the storm, the casting out of demons, the healing of the woman with a discharge of blood, and the raising of Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Through these miracles, we have seen that Jesus has power over creation, the spirit world, disease, and even death! He is the source of all power, which is why the power went out “from him” when the woman touched him. Have you placed your faith in the one who exercises power and authority over all things?

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Blaspheming the Work of God

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Reading the Word

Matthew 12:22–37 (ESV)

22 Then a demon-oppressed man who was blind and mute was brought to him, and he healed him, so that the man spoke and saw. 23 And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24 But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25 Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26 And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house. 30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 31 Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

33 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Parallel Text: Mark 3:20-30

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus heals a man who is demon-possessed and the Pharisees accused Jesus of exercising the power of Satan to do so. In response, Jesus tells them that it would make no sense for him to do that. It would equate to Satan fighting against himself.

Instead, Jesus’ power was the power of God at work. For the Pharisees to resist Jesus and deny him was equivalent to resisting the kingdom of God and blaspheming the work of the Holy Spirit. To oppose God and the work of the Spirit would bring judgment and condemnation.

Those who mock Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity need to think carefully about what they are doing. If Jesus is who he claimed to be, then to resist him and dismiss his teachings is foolishness. To treat the Bible, which he authenticated, as inferior to human understanding or to persecute his Church is to stand against Christ himself. One day all will stand before Jesus and be judged. How will he judge those who had every opportunity to trust in him, but chose to actively oppose him and his people? Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and rose from the dead as evidence of the truth of his claim. You owe it to yourself to examine the truth of the Resurrection. Below is a link to some resources that could help you get started.

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/

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