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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Responding to Rejection

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Reading the Word

Luke 9:51–56 (ESV)

51 When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. 52 And he sent messengers ahead of him, who went and entered a village of the Samaritans, to make preparations for him. 53 But the people did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. 54 And when his disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But he turned and rebuked them. 56 And they went on to another village.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus knew that his days on earth were few. He was soon to go to the cross. With this in mind, he set out towards Jerusalem. As Jesus traveled, he had to pass through a Samaritan village. This was a problem because Jews and Samaritans did not care much for each other and their animosity ran back hundreds of years. As Jesus traveled through, because he was set to go to Jerusalem, the Samaritan people did not welcome him.

The lack of a welcome angered James and John. They asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the people. They must have been furious! Yet Jesus rebuked them for this way of thinking. It was not time for judgment. It was time for the gospel to be preached. God will exercise judgment in his timing.

When we are ridiculed or mocked or rejected as Christians, it can be easy to feel the same way as James and John. We may feel like we want to get even or inflict punishment on others for how they treat us or the word of God. However, we must remember that it is our calling to proclaim the gospel to the world. God will take care of judging mankind. Let us show love to all people while we spread the Good News of Jesus Christ and then let us leave the rest to God.

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Separating Good from Bad

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Shaped by the Word is a daily- Bible-reading devotional. I do not write supplemental material for Sundays, but I do include a suggested reading from Scripture. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can continue to follow along each day. May God bless you as you read and reflect on his word.

Reading the Word

Matthew 13:47–50 (ESV)

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Wheat and Weeds

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Reading the Word

Matthew 13:24–30, 36-43 (ESV)

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”

Matthew 13:36–43 (ESV)

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

Understanding and Applying the Word

This parable is divided into two parts. The parable is given in verses 24-30 and its interpretation appears in verses 36-43. There are two other short parables given in between these sections.

The parable describes a farmer sowing seed in his field. Another, an enemy of the farmer, sneaks in later and sows weeds among the farmer’s crops. The weeds became evident only as the crops matured. The farmer instructs his workers to leave the weeds until the harvest so the workers do not unintentionally harm the crops trying to remove the weeds. At harvest time, the weeds will be separated from the harvest and destroyed.

Jesus’ interpretation tells us that the good seed represents the sons of the kingdom (i.e. believers), while the weeds represent sons of the evil one (i.e. non-believers). At the end of the age, God will gather all people and they will be separated into two groups: those who belong to Jesus Christ through faith and those who do not. Those who belong to Christ will be gathered to be with him. Those who do not belong to Jesus will be judged for their sin and condemned for eternity.

The parable depicts final judgment. The Bible tells us that we have all sinned against God and deserve judgment and destruction. However, God has provided a sacrifice for our sins to pay the penalty. The sacrifice is Jesus Christ, who went to the cross on our behalf. All who trust in him will be saved while those who reject God’s provision will stand in their sin for judgment. Our God has graciously provided payment for our sin. Won’t you turn to Christ today?

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Woe to the Unrepentant

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Reading the Word

Matthew 11:20–24 (ESV)

20 Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

Parallel Text: Luke 10:12-15

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verses, Jesus spoke of how he had been rejected by the people. He now denounces those who continue to reject him, even though they had the benefit of seeing the mighty works of Jesus. They had witnessed more of Jesus’ works than anyone, yet they did not believe. The miracles were not an end in themselves, but were to authenticate Jesus’ ministry, but the hearts of the people remained hardened.

Shockingly, Jesus goes on to say that the cities of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would have repented in sackloth and ashes had the same signs and wonders been done in them. These cities were notorious for their sin. However, the punishment that would fall on the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida in the day of judgment would be greater than that reserved for those other cities.

With greater revelation comes greater responsibility. We live in an age where God’s word is readily available to us along with access to different resources to help us study and understand it. The chief resource being the Church empowered and gifted by the Holy Spirit. That word bears witness to the mighty acts that God has done and culminates in the Resurrection. When we stand before God, we will not have the excuse that we did not know. There is no reason for not knowing. God has revealed himself in his word and he will judge us according to all that is in it. Let us make it a priority in order that we might know God and know how we ought to live.

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Anger and Reconciliation

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Reading the Word

Matthew 5:21–26 (ESV)

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus comments that the people have heard that they should not murder. Of course, this is explicitly stated in the Mosaic Law in Exodus 20:13 in what is often referred to as the Ten Commandments. However, Jesus does not stop at the physical act of murder. He tells the people that anger, insults, and degrading speech are all violations of the will of God and brings one under judgment. Jesus gives three different pictures of judgment when he says the person would be liable to judgment, liable to the council, and liable to the hell of fire. It is not likely that these represent ascending degrees of judgment, but rather more vivid descriptions.

Jesus tells the people that if they are offering their gift on the altar and remember that a brother has an issue, they should immediately go to their brother and seek reconciliation. By brother, Jesus is not speaking of a biological family member, but one who is related through the family of faith. This is how Jesus uses the term throughout the Gospels. Notice that Jesus tells the people that it is more important to take care of their relationships than to fulfill religious ritual. He urges the people to seek reconciliation before they would reach judgment.

Our attitudes towards others matter, especially our attitudes towards other Christians. We are called to be a part of the family of God, the church. Unfortunately, there are often broken relationships in the church that are not addressed. Neither the offender nor the one offended seeks to bring reconciliation to the relationship. As a result, negative thoughts and opinions form and often these result in speaking poorly about fellow believers. While this is going on, we go through all of the religious routines and think that we are pleasing God. This is not true! Jesus tells us to seek reconciliation with our brother (or sister) in Christ and to seek it now. Whether you are the one who caused the offense or are the one who has been offended, both share in the responsibility to seek reconciliation. Who do you need to reach out to today?

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From Death to Life

John 524 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 5:1–47 (ESV)

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read of Jesus’ confrontation with the religious leaders. This time, they were upset because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. When they confronted Jesus, his words were, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was blasphemous to the religious leaders. Jesus was claiming equality with God. This deserved death and they sought to kill him.

Jesus went even further. He explained how he and the Father were not opposed to each other, but together. Jesus had the authority to grant life to whomever he chose (verse 21). And it was Jesus who had the authority to judge all people (verse 22). So, if one wanted life rather than judgment, he needed to hear Jesus and believe what he was teaching (verse 24). Jesus’ miracles served as signs that he truly had the authority he spoke of.

Unfortunately, we read that many refused to turn to Jesus that they might have life (verse 40).  Many refused to believe him then and many refuse to believe him now. Jesus came into the world to save sinners by teaching us about God’s great love and grace and then by going to the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve. He has done everything he can to save us, yet many refuse to turn to Christ. May we find renewed wonder at what Christ has done for us, but also may we find a renewed zeal to share the gospel with those who are lost and to pray that their hearts may be open to the word of God.

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Protector of the Oppressed

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Reading the Word

Psalm 129:1–8 (ESV)

1 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”—
let Israel now say—
2 “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth,
yet they have not prevailed against me.
3 The plowers plowed upon my back;
they made long their furrows.”
4 The LORD is righteous;
he has cut the cords of the wicked.
5 May all who hate Zion
be put to shame and turned backward!
6 Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
which withers before it grows up,
7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand
nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
8 nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the LORD be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the LORD!”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This psalm reflects the words of one who has been freed from oppression. The wicked have “afflicted” the psalmist from his youth, yet God has cut the cords and delivered the oppressed. The wicked are described as those who “hate Zion.” Zion is synonymous with Israel and God’s people, which also means that the oppressors hate God.

God’s people in every age face opposition. As those who represent the Lord and who carry the word of God to the world, the opposition is largely because the world has rejected God. Jesus tells his followers, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

The Lord is the protector of the righteous and the oppressed. He will deliver his people and the wicked will be judged for their wickedness. Let us continue to trust in him and proclaim the message of Scripture to a world that desperately needs a Savior.

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The Lord Surrounds His People

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Reading the Word

Psalm 125:1–5 (ESV)

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,

which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

so the Lord surrounds his people,

from this time forth and forevermore.

For the scepter of wickedness shall not rest

on the land allotted to the righteous,

lest the righteous stretch out

their hands to do wrong.

Do good, O Lord, to those who are good,

and to those who are upright in their hearts!

But those who turn aside to their crooked ways

the Lord will lead away with evildoers!

Peace be upon Israel!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Before the days of airplanes and missiles, the best way to fortify against any enemy attack was to build a fortress in the mountains. The mountains would make defense much easier. This psalm tells us that, just as the mountains are a protection, the Lord surrounds his people to give them security.

The Lord offers a sure defense to the righteous because one day all will stand before him in judgment. At that time, the wicked and the righteous will be separated and the wicked will be led away. Scripture tells us that those who belong to the Lord will dwell in his presence for eternity and that there will be no more sin or wickedness (cf. Revelation 21:1-8). We can trust in the Lord and his ways because in him we know our future is secure.

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The Lord Says to My Lord

Philippians 29–11 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 110:1–7 (ESV)

A Psalm of David. 1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 2 The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! 3 Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. 4 The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” 5 The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. 6 He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. 7 He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus quotes this psalm in Mark 12:36-37:

David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.” ’ David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.

Jesus points out that David, the king of Israel, calls another one “my Lord.” How could David, the king of Israel, refer to another as his Lord? The answer is that there would be a descendant from David who would be greater than David. Of course, that descendant is Jesus himself, the divine King of Israel. The remainder of the psalm speaks of Jesus’ reign and judgment over the nations.

Jesus is the promised King (i.e. Messiah) of the line of David. However, Jesus is not just any king. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is God in the flesh. He is the divine ruler of all creation whose kingdom will never end. And he will judge the nations with righteousness and justice. In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!