A Call to Respond

greyscale photography of woman wearing long sleeved top

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 7:18–35 (ESV)

18 The disciples of John reported all these things to him. And John, 19 calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 20 And when the men had come to him, they said, “John the Baptist has sent us to you, saying, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?’ ” 21 In that hour he healed many people of diseases and plagues and evil spirits, and on many who were blind he bestowed sight. 22 And he answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. 23 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

24 When John’s messengers had gone, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 25 What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who are dressed in splendid clothing and live in luxury are in kings’ courts. 26 What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 27 This is he of whom it is written,

“ ‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
who will prepare your way before you.’

28 I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 (When all the people heard this, and the tax collectors too, they declared God just, having been baptized with the baptism of John, 30 but the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.)

31 “To what then shall I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? 32 They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another,

“ ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.’

33 For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ 34 The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 Yet wisdom is justified by all her children.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 11:2-19

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage begins with messengers sent by John the Baptist to Jesus. They went to Jesus to confirm whether he was indeed the Messiah. Jesus responds by sending them back to John to tell him that the blind can see, the lame are healed, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. Why did Jesus respond in this way? Because this is exactly what the prophet Isaiah had said would happen when the Messiah came (cf. Isaiah 26:18-19; 35:5-6; 61:11)! Yes, Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah!

Jesus then turns to the crowd and speaks to them about John the Baptist. Jesus compares the crowds to those sitting in a marketplace and calling out to each other, “We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.” These may seem like strange words, but Jesus was making the point that no matter what was said or done, many of the people were not receptive. Whether it was a joyous song on the flute to celebrate in dance or a solemn dirge to mourn, the people did not respond. Instead, they remained skeptical, doubting, hostile, or uninterested in the teachings of both John the Baptist and Jesus himself.

Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection are not just events in history to be aware of. The life of Jesus forces us to make a decision about him. How are we going to respond to this one who came into the world, claimed to be the Son of God, taught with unparalleled authority, and rose from the grave? We must respond to Jesus. We must either repent of our sins and turn to him in faith or dismiss him. There really is no middle ground. What will you do with Jesus?

**If you enjoy reading Shaped by the Word, please consider sharing this post on social media. Doing so helps us reach a larger audience. Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

The Kingdom for All People

jesus teaches the people by the sea

Jesus Teaches People by the Sea (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 4:12–17 (ESV)

12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
16 the people dwelling in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death,
on them a light has dawned.”

17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15

Understanding and Applying the Word

After John the Baptist was arrested, we are told that Jesus withdrew into Galilee. He went there to avoid confrontation since John had been pointing his followers to Jesus. The fact that Jesus went into this region was a fulfillment of prophecy from Isaiah 9:1-2, as Matthew made clear in his writing.

Galilee was a place where many Gentiles resided, as is mentioned in Isaiah’s prophecy when it is called “Galilee of the Gentiles.” Jesus went there and brought light to people who were living in darkness. He went there and taught those who had not heard by declaring, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Jesus’ ministry to Gentiles is a major theme throughout the Gospel of Matthew. In fact, the ending of Matthew stresses an ongoing ministry to both Jew and Gentile as Jesus told his disciples to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. Again, we see that Jesus came into the world not just for a select group, but for all people. If you will place your faith in him, you will be saved, no matter where you are from or what you have done. You can enter into the kingdom of heaven because Jesus came to save all people.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

He Must Increase

increase

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish extra material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019 as recorded in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

Reading the Word

John 3:22–36 (ESV)

22 After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. 23 John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized 24 (for John had not yet been put in prison).

25 Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.” 27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

31 He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. 33 Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. 34 For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. 35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

The Baptism of Jesus

john 129 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 1:29–34 (ESV)

29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22

Understanding and Applying the Word

As John the Baptist fulfills his role as the one who would prepare the way for the coming Messiah, Jesus shows up to be baptized by John. John tells us that when he baptized Jesus, he saw the Spirit descend upon Jesus and remain on him. God had previously revealed to John that this would be a sign of who was the chosen one of God. In the parallel texts, a voice from heaven calls out, “This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.” So John now bears witness that Jesus is the Son of God.

As Jesus approaches, John refers to him as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” This is an amazing statement that connects Jesus to the Old Testament Passover. When God brought the people out of Egypt, he commanded that the people slaughter a lamb and put its blood on their doorposts. When they did this, they would be safe from the angel that had been sent to kill the firstborn of every family. The blood of the lamb would protect them from the judgment of God. As the Lamb of God, Jesus is our Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). When we trust in him, his blood is applied to us and protects us from God’s judgment on the world for sin. He takes away our sin and gives us life through his sacrifice for us. What a great Savior!

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Imprisoned for Christ

saint john the baptist

Saint John the Baptist (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading. Thank you for reading! If you have not already done so, please subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are reading through the life of Christ in 2019.

Reading the Word

Luke 3:18–22 (ESV)

18 So with many other exhortations he [John the Baptist] preached good news to the people. 19 But Herod the tetrarch, who had been reproved by him for Herodias, his brother’s wife, and for all the evil things that Herod had done, 20 added this to them all, that he locked up John in prison.

21 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heavens were opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form, like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

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.

What then Shall We Do?

colossians 110 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 3:10–14 (ESV)

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In yesterday’s reading, John the Baptist proclaimed, “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). He warned them that judgment would come. Not surprisingly, after his warning, the people come and asked, “What then shall we do?” In effect, they were asking, “What does it look like to bear such fruit?”

There are three different groups that approach John and he gives three answers for us to consider. The first group, the crowd, is the first to ask what they should do. His reply is in verse 11: be willing to share with those who are in need. The second group are tax collectors. John tells them in verse 13 to be fair with the people. They are not to take extra from them. The last group, soldiers, also want to know how they should live. John tells them to be content with their wages and not to extort the people through threats and lies (verse 14).

The people of God are called to live differently from the world. We are to be generous towards others, fair in our dealings, and content with what we have. How are you living your life in Christ? Do your life bring glory to your Lord?

**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.

The Fruit of Repentance

luke 39 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 3:7–10 (ESV)

7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Parallel Text: Luke 3:7-9

Understanding and Applying the Word

John the Baptist’s ministry was focused on calling people to repentance. When the Pharisees and Sudducees show up, he has harsh words for them. He calls them a “brood of vipers.” And warns them to bear fruit consistent with repentance. The Pharisees and Sudducees prided themselves in their ability to keep the Mosaic Law and follow religious rules. For this reason, they would have felt little need to repent. In their minds, they had done nothing wrong! They also would have thought, “We are biological descendants of Abraham. We are fine with God!” However, John warns them that being the physical descendants of Abraham will not be enough.

John’s warning to these two groups to bear fruit in keeping with repentance tells us that God is looking for more than external religious activity. He is looking for sincerity of heart. True repentance may be symbolized through baptism, but it is only real if there is a heart change. And when there is a heart change, it is reflected in how we live.

The gospel calls us to repent and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. When we do that we are saved. Have you done that? Does your life reflect it? If not, take the time right now to repent and call on the Lord. He is faithful and gracious to all who will turn to him.

**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.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

the voice in the desert

The Voice in the Desert (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Matthew 3:1–6 (ESV)

1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.’ ”

4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John 1:19–23 (ESV)

19 And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

Parallel Texts: Mark 1:1-6; Luke 3:1-6 

Understanding and Applying the Word

The prophets Malachi and Isaiah had spoken of one who would appear before the Messiah to prepare his way (cf. Malachi 3:1; 4:5-6 and Isaiah 40:3). He would be one who would prepare the hearts of the people and he would come in the spirit of Elijah. The Gospel writers quote from Isaiah to tell us that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning this one who would prepare the way of the Lord. And the description of John’s clothing and food reminds us of Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8.

John the Baptist’s message was one of repentance. The Messiah was coming and the people needed to prepare for him. To “repent” means to turn from sin, which the Bible tells us is what separates us from our holy Creator. It is only through repentance and forgiveness that we find in Christ that we are able to come into a right relationship with the Lord. Let us prepare ourselves by turning from our sin and calling out to Jesus to forgive us so that we can stand before him, not as enemies, but as reconciled friends.

**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.

Prepare the Way of the Lord

naming of john the baptist

The Naming of John the Baptist – Public Domain Image

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading, which is below. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. In 2019, we are reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the New Testament Gospels.

Reading the Word

Luke 1:57–80 (ESV)

57 Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

67 And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying,

68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
71 that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
in the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.