Living Water

landscape photography of water flowing

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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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading.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 follow along every day! Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 7:37–39 (ESV)

37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

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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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Contrasting Views of Jesus

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Reading the Word

John 7:10–13 (ESV)

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Jesus’ conversation with his brothers in verses 1-9, we are told that his brothers went up to the Feast of Booths without Jesus. However, Jesus did also go, but he did so secretly. His popularity must have made him a focus of conversation at the feast. The people were looking for him and there were competing opinions on who Jesus was. Some said the he was a “good man” while others said “he is leading the people astray.” The people were afraid to speak openly of him because the Jews (i.e. the Jewish religious leaders) were set on killing Jesus (cf. John 7:1).

If you were to take a poll today and ask people what they think of Jesus, you would probably get many answers, but the majority of the answers would likely fit into one of two categories: those who say Jesus is a “good man” and those who say “he has led people astray.” There really is not much middle ground on Jesus. He is as polarizing today as he was in the first century. And we are left to answer the same questions that people have been answering since he walked on this earth. Who is Jesus and what will we do with him?

How would you answer?

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Your Time Is Here

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

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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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Why Do You Seek the Living among the Dead?

Luke 245–6 [widescreen]

Today is a special day as we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. May we all be encouraged as we consider what this event means for all of mankind. Be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day as we read through the life of Jesus.

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.

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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