A Call to Respond

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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?

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Good News for the Poor

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Reading the Word

Luke 4:16–30 (ESV)

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives
and recovering of sight to the blind,
to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘ “Physician, heal yourself.” What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.’ ” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus returned to Nazereth, where he had been brought up, he had already begun his public ministry in Capernaum. When he arrived in Nazareth, he already had a reputation as a healer due to the works he had performed in Capernaum. This is likely why he was invited to speak at the synagogue in Nazareth.

Jesus read from Isaiah 61 then sat down to teach. Was this reading scheduled to be read on this day? Did Jesus select this passage on his own? We do not know, but it is an incredible passage concerning the ministry of the Messiah. So, when Jesus told the people that the passage had been fulfilled in their midst, he was making a claim to be the Messiah. They wondered how this could be possible since they knew he was the carpenter’s son.

Jesus predicted that the people would call on him to perform in Nazareth the healings he had done in Capernaum. After all, should not the hometown folks benefit if anyone is going to benefit? In response, Jesus reflected on incidents in the Old Testament where God’s favor had fallen on select people, even non-Jews, while many others had not received such grace. In saying this, Jesus was telling the Jewish people that his ministry was not solely, or even primarily for the Jewish people, but for both Jew and Gentile. As a result, the people wanted to seize him and thrown him off of a cliff, but he escaped from them.

How do we respond when others are shown grace? How would you feel if the neighbor you do not get along with, or the co-worker who is always causing problems, or your worst enemy showed up at church? How would you feel if they turned to Christ in saving faith? Would you rejoice? Or, would you wonder how God could show favor to “those people”? Let us remember that Jesus came to save the lost, whoever they may be, and let us give thanks for the grace we have received as well as the grace God shows to others.

**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!

A Samaritan Woman

the woman of samaria at the well

The Woman of Samaria at the Well (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

John 4:1–42 (ESV)

1 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Today’s reading is a little longer than usual, but it is important to read the entire episode to best understand it as a whole. As Jesus travels to Galilee, he travels through Samaria. We are told in this text that this is a surprising route for Jesus to take because “Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” The Jewish people thought of Samaritans as half-Jews because they had intermarried with the Assyrians many years prior. The two groups did not care much for each other, but Jesus insists on traveling through Samaria.

As Jesus travels, he encounters a Samaritan woman at a well and asks for a drink of water. The woman wonders why a Jewish man would be talking to her. As the conversation continues, Jesus tells her that he is the long-awaited Messiah. She then goes into her town and tells the people of her encounter. The people come out to see Jesus and many of them believe.

Through Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman, we learn that God’s plans are spreading to the world. Jesus, the Messiah, did not just come for the benefit of the Jewish people. He came for Samaritans, who were seen as unworthy by most Jews. We will soon see that he also came for Gentiles (those with no connection to the Jewish people). Jesus came to proclaim a gospel for the world that was not based on nationality, race, color, social class, or gender. All who believe in Jesus as the Christ and trust in his sacrifice for sins will be saved. This is a gospel for you, for me, and for all who will believe. And it is the gospel we proclaim to the world.

**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!

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.

God in a Manger

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Reading the Word

Luke 2:1–7 (ESV)

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we read of the Jesus’ birth. The whole thing is recorded in seven verses. The most startling thing, and the thing we overlook because we are so used to reading it, is that Jesus was placed into a manger. A manger is an animal feeding trough. Think about that for just a moment. Jesus, the divine Son, came into this world as a baby and was placed into a trough that animals ate from.

Would you do that with your child? Would you expect anyone to do that with their child? Consider this: Jesus was not any child. Jesus was the Messiah. He was the King. He was God in the flesh; the King of kings and Lord of lords! Would any royal family place their newborn child into a manger? No way!

When we meet Jesus in a manger, it tells us something about him. Yes, he was the Messiah, but he was different than other kings. Jesus is the King who came to save the lowly of the world. Jesus was the King who came to serve his people. Jesus was the King who came to give his life for his people that they might have life through him. What an amazing King we have!

**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 Promised King

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Reading the Word

Matthew 1:1–17 (ESV)

1 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram, 4 and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon, 5 and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king.

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, 7 and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, 8 and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, 9 and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, 10 and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, 11 and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

12 And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, 13 and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud, and Abiud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor, 14 and Azor the father of Zadok, and Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud, 15 and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, 16 and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

17 So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Yesterday, we looked at Jesus’ genealogy as recorded in the Gospel of Luke. Today, we look at Jesus’ genealogy as recorded by Matthew. When we read this list of names, it is important to understand why Matthew is giving us this list. He tips us off to his purpose in the very first verse. He wants us to know that Jesus is the son of David and the son of Abraham.

Luke shows us how Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise made to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. That is why his genealogy traces all the way back to Adam. However, Matthew is showing us that Jesus is the fulfillment of promises made to both Abraham and David. God had promised Abraham that kings would come from his line (Genesis 17:6) and he had promised David that he would have a descendant who would sit on the throne forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the King whose reign was promised and would never end.

It is amazing to think about the promises that God made in the Scriptures long ago. Through them, we see that God is faithful and trustworthy. He keeps his promises! We also see that God loves us even though we are often unlovable due to our sin. But God sent his Son into the world to be our King, the King who would die for his people so that we could be saved and have life. What a great King he is!

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We will be reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.

Restore Us!

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Reading the Word

Psalm 80:14–19 (ESV)

14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! 17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!

Understanding and Applying the Word

The phrase “turn again” in verse 14 is translated from the same Hebrew word in verses 3, 7, and 19. In those verse, the word is translated “restore”. The idea is to “turn us again.” This is the central theme of the psalm. Israel once occupied a place at the right hand of God, but had fallen as a result of sin. Now the people are calling out for mercy and restoration.

Reading this psalm reminds us of the Messiah who is the true Son who sits at the right hand of the Father. Through him, we find the salvation and life that we are longing for. It is through Jesus Christ that our sins are forgiven and that we find restoration with God.

**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!

Filled with His Glory

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Reading the Word

Psalm 72:15–20 (ESV)

15 Long may he live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all the day! 16 May there be abundance of grain in the land; on the tops of the mountains may it wave; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field! 17 May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun! May people be blessed in him, all nations call him blessed! 18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. 19 Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen! 20 The prayers of David, the son of Jesse, are ended.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses begin with a call for long life for the king and then requests that the people pray for the king. Also, there is a prayer for gold and an abundance of food and crops for the land. In verse 17 we see the nations recognizing this king’s reign and submitting to him, not out of subjection, but because they find their blessing in him.

As we have mentioned previously, this psalm does not describe any earthly king who has ever reigned, but the rule of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In Genesis, God promised Abraham that he would be blessed and that through his seed the nations would be blessed. It is through the Messiah, the descendant of Abraham, that the world finds its blessing. Jesus Christ came to remove the curse of the fall and restore the world to what it was intended to be. It is through Christ’s reign that we find life in abundance. May the whole earth be filled with his glory!

**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!