The World Could Not Contain the Books

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Thank you for reading Shaped by the Word. This page is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I only post a suggested Scripture reading without additional comments or insights. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day!

Reading the Word

John 21:24–25 (ESV)

24 This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.

So That You May Believe

John1

Reading the Word

John 20:30–31 (ESV)

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Understanding and Applying the Word

These verses tell us why John wrote his Gospel. He wrote so that readers might know Jesus and believe that he was truly the Christ and the Son of God. John makes his case throughout his Gospel by recording Jesus’ words where he claims to be God and he also makes his case by recording the miraculous signs that Jesus performed to validate that what he claimed was true. Of course, the greatest proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be was the resurrection.

It is often said that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Well, John begins his book by making the extraordinary claim that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). A few verses later, John tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). That is truly a great claim! However, John goes on to provide the extraordinary evidence. He tells of Jesus turning water into wine, feeding a great crowd with only a few fish and small amount of bread, walking on water, healing a man born blind, raising Lazarus from the dead, and ultimately rising from the dead himself. That is extraordinary evidence!

Jesus was God in the flesh and John wrote so that we would know and believe that God had visited mankind and provided salvation and eternal for all who would turn to him. What an amazing Savior!

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The True King

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Reading the Word

Luke 23:6–12 (ESV)

6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Pilate sent Jesus to Herod hoping that doing so would relieve him of having to deal with Jesus. Herod had been wanting to see Jesus because he had heard about the miracles Jesus’ had been performing. Herod hoped Jesus would perform for him. For Herod, Jesus was entertainment. However, Jesus would not comply and remained silent. This led Herod and his guards to mock Jesus, dress him up, and send him back to Pilate. Doing so must have amused Pilate because he and Herod became friends as a result.

Herod wanted Jesus to perform on demand, but he would not. The Creator and Lord of all is not under the authority of any man. He does not bow to our commands. Herod believed he was in control and had authority over Jesus, but the exact opposite was true. Jesus was the one in control and he was the one with all authority. We too must remember this. God does not perform on demand for us. We do not control him. When we go to him, we may ask, but we must always remember that God answers us according to his plans and purposes. We can trust those plans even when they are not ours because we know he is loving and good. As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe about Aslan the lion who represented Christ:

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

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Blind Eyes and Hard Hearts

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 each day. We are currently reading through the life of Jesus Christ. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

John 12:37–43 (ESV)

37 Though he had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in him, 38 so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Power Over the Grave

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Reading the Word

John 11:38–44 (ESV)

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Lazarus had been dead for four days when Jesus arrived on the scene. When he arrived at the tomb, Jesus gave instruction to move the stone away from the entrance of the cave. Lazarus’ sister, Martha, was concerned about this idea. After all, four days was enough time for decomposition to begin and the smell would be terrible. Jesus was undeterred and they removed the stone. After a short prayer, Jesus called for Lazarus to come out of the tomb. To the amazement of everyone, Lazarus came forward still wrapped in his burial cloths, which Jesus gave instructions to remove.

What a shock this must have been for all! Perhaps you have witnessed or heard of someone being saved through CPR or an emergency surgery, but who can bring someone back from the dead after four days? Only someone with great power could do such a thing. Only someone with power over life and death could do such a thing. Jesus, the Son of God, once again proved that he was exactly who he claimed he was and his promise to give eternal life to all who believe in him were not just empty words. He has the power and the authority to do all he said. Do you believe?

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I and the Father Are One

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Reading the Word

John 10:22–39 (ESV)

22 At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. 24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” 25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” 34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I said, you are gods’? 35 If he called them gods to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be broken— 36 do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; 38 but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” 39 Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.

Understanding and Applying the Word

During the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, Jesus was confronted about his identity. He was asked to just plainly state if he was the promised Messiah. His response was that he had told them, but they simply did not want to believe what he said. Jesus went on to tell them that if they did want to believe his words, they should at least believe the works that he was doing in their midst that gave evidence that what he said was true.

The Jews were greatly offended when Jesus proclaimed that “I and the Father are one.” They immediately picked up stones to stone him when they heard those words because Jesus made himself out to be equal to God. This was blasphemous and deserving of death. As the Jews readied to stone Jesus, he explained to them that if he truly was doing the works of God then his claims were not blasphemous, but it meant that he truly was the Son of God. Once again the Jews wanted to arrest him, but he escaped them.

Jesus said many things about his identity and made great claims. He claimed to be one with the Father and the Son of God. Jesus claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath and the great I Am. He not only made bold claims, but he performed great miracles to prove what he said was true. Many believed, but many did not. We must make a decision on who Jesus is also. Was he the Lord or was he an impostor? As C. S. Lewis stated in Mere Christianity:

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

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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 Had Compassion for the Crowd

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes

Reading the Word

Mark 8:1–10 (ESV)

1 In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, 2 “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. 3 And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” 4 And his disciples answered him, “How can one feed these people with bread here in this desolate place?” 5 And he asked them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven.” 6 And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them. 8 And they ate and were satisfied. And they took up the broken pieces left over, seven baskets full. 9 And there were about four thousand people. And he sent them away. 10 And immediately he got into the boat with his disciples and went to the district of Dalmanutha.

Parallel Text: Matthew 15:32-39

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read an account of Jesus feeding a large crowd. The first was a crowd of five thousand men plus women and children. This time we have four thousand. Matthew’s account tells us it was also four thousand men plus women and children. It is interesting to note the response of the disciples when they were told by Jesus to feed the people. Even after witnessing the first feeding, they still did not know how they were going to feed such a large crowd with so little food!

Of particular interest, though, is the motivation Jesus had for feeding the crowd. We often put on special events or free meals in our churches with the hopes that they will draw larger crowds. This gives us the opportunity to communicate with people we would otherwise have no opportunity to speak to. This was not Jesus’ motivation. He was not hoping to draw a greater crowd to hear him preach. We read that he was moved with compassion for the crowd. He cared about the people and desired to meet their need of food. He simply cared.

As believers, we do well to desire to share the Good News with people and to look for opportunities to do that. Special events and dinners are good things. However, we must first care about the people we desire to reach. Otherwise, our motivation is simply to draw a bigger crowd. We must be careful not to get caught up in chasing numbers. Let us seek to minister to others because we care about them and let us point them to Jesus because he is the source of true life and joy.

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The Bread of Life

John 648 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 6:22–71 (ESV)

22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus.

25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” 28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum.

60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Evidently, some who had been in the crowd when Jesus miraculously fed thousands from a few few loaves of bread and a couple of fish, continued to seek him out. When they found Jesus, his words to them were, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.” It seems these followers were simply after another free meal. Jesus then warned them not to seek food that only satisfies for a short time, but to seek food that satisfies forever.

In Jesus’ exchange with the people, he calls himself the “bread of life.” Unlike the bread that the people ate, Jesus was fully and eternally satisfying. Bread sustains life, but a person constantly needs more of it and it can only sustain life for a short time. When a person finds Jesus, however, he is filled and his life is sustained forever. There is no lack or need to refill. Those who find themselves spiritually hungry will find that Jesus is the bread they have been looking for.

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God Has Visited His People

Widow's Son at Nain

The Resurrection of the Widow’s Son at Nain (Public Domain)

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. We are currently reading through the life of Christ and I invite you to subscribe to this page so you can follow along. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include the day’s suggested Scripture reading.

Reading the Word

Luke 7:11–17 (ESV)

11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.