This Is My Beloved Son

Matthew 175 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 17:1–8 (ESV)

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3 And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8 And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Parallel Texts: Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read here that Jesus went into a high mountain and took three of his disciples with him. Peter, James, and John seemed to make up an inner circle within the twelve who Jesus took along at times when the entire group was not present. In this passage, we read that Jesus was transfigured as the three looked on. Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Jesus and a voice from heaven called out, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Peter, not really knowing how to respond to this event, asked if he should make tents (or booths) for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses. When the three disciples heard the voice from heaven, they fell to the ground terrified. Jesus then assured them that they had no reason to fear, so they got up and they were alone again with Jesus.

This event is commonly referred to as the Transfiguration. The word “transfigure” is translated from the Greek word metamorphoo, which is the word we get metamorphosis from. Jesus was changed before their eyes. The disciples caught a glimpse of the glory of Jesus as his face “shone like the sun” and his clothes “became white as light.” Moses and Elijah’s appearance represented the law and the prophets of the Old Testament and pointed to Jesus’ fulfillment of the Scriptures. Through this the disciples received confirmation that Jesus was indeed the Messiah in fulfillment of the Scriptures and that they should trust him and obey him.

All of the Bible points us to Jesus Christ. The Old Testament points to his future coming, while the New Testament tells us of his advent and also points us ahead to his eventual return. All that we find recorded in Scripture is to assure us that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that we can trust in him for salvation and eternal life. God tells us through his written word, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him!”

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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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An Evil Generation Seeks a Sign

Empty Tomb

Reading the Word

Matthew 16:1–4 (ESV)

1 And the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and to test him they asked him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times. 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.” So he left them and departed.

Parallel Text: Mark 8:10-12

Understanding and Applying the Word

The Pharisees and Sadducees were not friends. They were at odds with each other over religious disputes. However, they agreed on one thing: they did not like Jesus! He had come and undermined all of their authority by teaching things that went against their own teaching. So, in order to put Jesus in his place, they came to ask for a sign from heaven. Such a sign would validate that Jesus had the authority to say the things he was saying. How many signs did they need? Jesus had been performing many. The crowds were certainly aware of them!

Jesus’ response to the religious leaders was that he would not perform a sign for them. The only sign they would receive would be “the sign of Jonah.” Jesus had said the same thing earlier in Matthew 12:40, where he also gave more information about what he meant by this statement. There he said:

“For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40)

So, Jesus was referring to his death and resurrection as the sign that all people would receive.

Think about this: Jesus died and rose from the dead! What other sign is needed? In his resurrection, Jesus showed that he is who he claimed to be and he has the authority he claimed to have. He has the power to grant eternal life to all who believe and the authority to judge sin. Those who seek further signs do so out of hardness of heart. We have been given the greatest sign that could be given: a risen Lord!

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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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The Wind and Sea Obey Him

Storm on the Sea of Galilee

Rembrandt’s “Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee” (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 4:35–41 (ESV)

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 8:18-19, 23-27; Luke 8:22-25

Understanding and Applying the Word

The account of Jesus calming the storm is a well-known one. We often sit in judgment of how the disciples could have acted the way they did. Why were they so afraid? We forget that among the twelve were experienced fishermen. They would have been familiar with storms on the water and dealing with such things. The fact that they were afraid tells us something: this storm was severe! The disciples truly feared for their lives when they woke Jesus and said, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”

Jesus arose from sleeping and commanded the wind and the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And they obeyed him! When the disciples witnessed this amazing act of Jesus, they were in awe. This is why the text reads that they were filled with great fear. They were in the presence of a power that they could not comprehend! They wondered, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

Of course, the answer to the disciples question is that Jesus was God in the flesh. He was in complete control of all things. The Creator made a command to his creation and it obeyed. Jesus asked his disciples why they were so afraid. “Have you still no faith?” They had heard Jesus teach and witnessed many of his miracles, but they were still putting the pieces together about who Jesus was.

What about us? When we face difficulties in our lives, do we face them with strength and confidence knowing that our Lord is in complete control? Or, are we more like the disciples in the boat who were afraid for their lives and scrambling to save themselves. If that is our response to our circumstances, it is because we have forgotten that Jesus is the one who speaks and even the wind and the sea obey him. Lord, help us to trust you!

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You Want a Sign? How about an Empty Tomb?

Empty Tomb

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I include a suggested Scripture reading, but no supplemental material. Please be sure to subscribe to this page or our Facebook page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Matthew 12:38–45 (ESV)

38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Blaspheming the Work of God

black and white cemetery christ church

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

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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Great Forgiveness and Great Love

Christ at Simon the Pharisee

Christ at Simon the Pharisee (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 7:36–50 (ESV)

36 One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, 38 and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” 40 And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. 46 You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. 47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” 50 And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus went to a Pharisee’s home to eat with him. While there, a “woman of the city, a sinner” arrives and wept at Jesus’ feet, wiped them with her hair, and anointed them with oil. This was a great show of love and honor by the woman. The problem, as expressed by the Pharisee, is the woman was a known prostitute! Why would Jesus allow such a woman to touch him? If he were really a prophet he would not allow such a sinner to come near him, right?

No so! Jesus responds to the Pharisee with a parable about a moneylender. He loaned two people money and forgave both of their debts. One had borrowed five hundred denarii, the other fifty. Who would love the moneylender more? Who would be the most thankful?  Well, of course it would be the one whose debt had been greater.

Jesus used the parable to speak of the woman prostitute’s and the Pharisee’s attitude towards Jesus. The woman knew her sin was great and that the forgiveness she had been granted through Jesus was great. She loved Jesus greatly. On the other hand, the Pharisee did not believe he needed forgiveness because he was already righteous on his own. He did not need Jesus and did not feel deep gratitude towards him.

When we are able to see our sinfulness and honestly admit the deep debt we owe as a result, our love for Christ will grow. Such understanding helps us better understand the great love Christ has shown for us by going to the cross as a sacrifice for our sins. Think of John 3:16 and what it means about God’s love:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

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