The Ongoing Influence of Jesus

Luke 2452–53 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 24:50–53 (ESV)

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Understanding and Applying the Word

With today’s reading, we come to the end of our time reading through the life of Jesus Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts. After Jesus’ resurrection he spent forty days on earth revealing himself to different individuals and groups and making final preparations for the future of his followers. At the end of those forty days, Jesus departed and ascended into heaven.

We might think that with Jesus no longer in the world that his teaching and influence would fade and disappear. However, nothing could be further from the truth. After Jesus’ departure, his fame and influence spread quickly. His original followers went throughout the known world proclaiming all they had seen and heard and many believed. Even today, the name of Jesus is known and discussed throughout the world. There are many who still hear the news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection and believe. It is amazing to think how influential Jesus has been on our world. There is none like him!

The Bible tells us that those who hear the news about Jesus, repent of their sins, and turn to Jesus in faith, will be saved and have eternal life. He came into the world to give his life as a sacrifice for sin. He died. He was buried. And he rose from the dead in victory over sin and death. That is the Good News. He came to save us. Have you trusted in him?

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Jesus on the Shore

John 2112 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 21:1–14 (ESV)

1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Understanding and Applying the Word

After the disciples had returned to fishing, Jesus appeared to them again. They had been fishing all night, but had caught nothing. That’s when Jesus called out to them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. When they did, the net was filled with fish. John called out, “It is the Lord!” and Peter jumped into the water and swam to shore to be with Jesus. When they reached the shore, they ate some of the fish they had caught for breakfast.

Jesus had told the disciples that he would meet with them in Galilee (Matthew 28:10; Mark 14:28). Evidently, they had gone there to wait, but had become restless and discouraged and returned to fishing. When they realized that Jesus was on the shore, their feelings of discouragement quickly faded. Look at Peter’s excitement as he jumped into the water to swim!

We too can become discouraged when we feel like God has abandoned us or is distant. However, Jesus has promised to never leave us. In whatever circumstances we are facing, we know that the Lord is walking right beside us. We often fail to recognize him, but we are assured he is there. Let us be like Peter as we find strength and encouragement in his presence.

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

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!

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

My Lord and My God!

John 2028 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:24–29 (ESV)

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

This passage gives us the origins of the phrase “doubting Thomas.” It also gives us insight into the mindset of the disciples as word of the resurrection spread. They were not quick to believe the reports. They doubted. In fact, Thomas commented that he would not believe unless he saw with his own eyes  the wounds in Jesus caused by the nails and spear.

Not long after Thomas’ remark, Jesus paid a visit. When he did, he showed Thomas his hands and side and encouraged him to believe. Thomas stood face-to-face with the risen Lord and called out, “My Lord and my God!” Thomas knew that Jesus was really alive and he also knew that Jesus was no ordinary man. He was God in the flesh!

Thomas had the benefit of seeing Jesus with his own eyes and coming to belief as a result. We do not have that opportunity, nor have the large majority of Christians through the ages. Those who actually saw the risen Savior are few in number, but this does not mean we cannot know what transpired. We have the word of God written by those who were there and we also have the Spirit of God to convict us of the truth of that word. Jesus told Thomas that he believed because he had seen, but there would be others (like you and me) who would not see, but still believe. Those people would be blessed because they would belong to Christ and have the promise of eternal life.

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Jesus Rose in the Flesh

Luke 2438–39 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. On Sundays, I post a suggested Scripture reading without supplemental content. Please be sure to subscribe to this page so you can follow along every day. We are currently reading through the life of Christ. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Luke 24:36–43 (ESV)

36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.

All of Scripture Is about Jesus

Black and White Bible Quote

Reading the Word

Luke 24:13–35 (ESV)

13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” 33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.

Parallel Text: Mark 16:12-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why didn’t the two disciples recognize Jesus? It is a question that we probably all have asked at one time or another. I know I have heard many others ask it through the years. The only thing we are told is that “Their eyes were kept from recognizing him.” God’s sovereign plans and purposes were at work in the situation and it was not yet time for them to see that it was Jesus. The time was not far away, however, as their eyes were opened and they did recognize him in verse 31.

Notice that Jesus’ emphasis in his discussions with these disciples was on showing them how he was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures. Jesus began with Moses, the first five books of the Bible, and taught them that all of Scripture was ultimately about him. Did you know that? When you read your Bible, are you connecting the promises and allusions to Christ and gaining an understanding of how Jesus is the focus of our entire Bible, both Old and New Testaments? It is such a wonderful book and it is wonderful because it reveals to us our Savior.

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

Covering Up the Resurrection

black and white black and white depressed depression

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:11–15 (ESV)

11 While they were going, behold, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests all that had taken place. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13 and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Some of the guard went to the chief priests and told them all that had taken place. They told them that the stone had been rolled away. The told them that Jesus had come out of the tomb. They told them about the angel that had terrified them. The response of the priests’ was to give money to the guards to spread a lie to cover up what really happened. The cover story was to say that some of the disciples of Jesus had stolen the body. The guards went along with the plan because they needed the priests to cover for them as losing the body would have been seen as a mistake punishable by death by the Roman authorities.

With this cover story, both the Roman guards and Jewish religious leaders admitted that Jesus was no longer in the tomb. However, they decided on a cover story to protect their personal interests rather than search for the truth. Sometimes truth takes a back seat to what we think is going to be most beneficial to us. When confronted with the resurrection, we may be tempted to deny it before we even search out the truth. We do this because if a resurrection really happened that means there is a God and he stands in authority over us. This means we will give an account and there is a final authority. Simply put, we are in trouble and need help! Rather than admit such a thing, we may be tempted to go along with the lies that fall apart on close examination: the disciples stole the body, Jesus never died on the cross and revived later inside the tomb, Jesus never existed at all, most of what we know about Jesus is legendary, etc.

I encourage you to take the time to consider the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection and ask “What really happened?” Here is an article to consider: https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/popular-writings/jesus-of-nazareth/the-resurrection-of-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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

 

I Have Seen the Lord

John 2018 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 20:11–18 (ESV)

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Mary stood weeping at the tomb wondering where Jesus’ body had gone. She was in such distress that she did not even notice the presence of angels. When they spoke to her, she simply answered without regard to the fact that they were heavenly beings. Then Jesus spoke to Mary, but she failed to recognize him also, thinking he was the gardener. Mary was in deep grief over the death of Jesus and now the disappearance of his body. She was unable to really see what was going on around her.

Jesus then said, “Mary.” At that point, she recognized Jesus and responded, “Rabboni!” In English, she said, “My Teacher!” Jesus was risen and was standing before her! Her grief was turned from sorrow to joy. Surely Jesus would be with her from now on. However, Jesus told her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.” Jesus was with her now, but it would only be temporary. He would soon ascend to heaven and the Holy Spirit would be poured out in his absence. Things were changing. Now was the time to gather the disciples and let them know that Jesus was risen and that he would soon be departing and they would take the message of the resurrection to the world.

Jesus’ ascension marked a major change in how God works in and through his people. Christ had been physically present with his people, but now he would soon be gone. In his place, the Holy Spirit would be with the people of God to empower them as witnesses and to lead them into all truth. This means that you and I, fellow Christian, have this same Spirit working in us as we live in this world. And this means we are equipped for everything that God has called us to do, which is centered on proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is alive again!

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

They Did Not Believe Them

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 24:1–12 (ESV)

1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words, 9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.

Parallel Text: John 20:1-13

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the women went to the apostles and told them what they had heard from the angel, the apostles did not believe them. How could someone rise from the dead? The women were obviously making up a story. Of course, Jesus had repeatedly told them that this he was going to die and rise again, but they had not fully understood his words.

Peter decided to check the situation out himself. He ran to the tomb and looked in. When he did, he saw the burial cloths lying inside. Jesus was gone. How could this be? Peter went away marveling. It would be a short time later that Jesus would appear before Peter and the others and they would see that Jesus truly was alive again.

The Bible often records the apostles in a bad light. They failed to understand Jesus’ teachings. They argued among themselves selfishly. They did not even believe the report of the resurrection at first. Why would Scripture put the apostles in such a bad light? Because Scripture is the record of what actually took place. There is no effort to make the apostles look like super-humans. They were flawed and mistake prone just like you and me. They were real people with real shortcomings. And, just like you and me, when they heard the report that Jesus had come back from the dead, they were not quick to believe it.

That the Bible does not remove all of the embarrassing parts is one of the tings that points to its truthfulness. There would be no reason to record many of these things unless they really happened. We read of the apostles’ skepticism and watch the transformation in their lives as they learn that Jesus really was risen. Such a transformation is only explainable by a real resurrection.

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.

He Is Not Here

Matthew 286 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 28:1–8 (ESV)

1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

Parallel Text: Mark 16:1-8

Understanding and Applying the Word

Imagine going to Jesus’ tomb, where you plan to put spices and perfume on his body, only to find the tomb empty. Surely you would be surprised. You would wonder what had happened to Jesus. This is what happened to these women that we read about today. They were still grieving their loss, as Jesus had only been in the tomb since Friday evening and it is now Sunday morning.

As they wondered about Jesus, we are told that an angel appeared and spoke to them. The angel told reminded them that Jesus had said he would rise from the dead and that he had indeed done so. He showed the women the place where Jesus’ body had been laid and then told them to go and tell the others what had happened. They would soon find Jesus in Galilee.

The response of the women was mixed. We read that they were filled with both fear and joy. Joy because they had just been told that Jesus was alive, but joy because how could something like this be so? If he was alive again, what did that mean? The truth of the resurrection should cause fear and joy in us as well. We are filled with joy because Jesus has provided victory over sin and death. He is a Savior that can actually save and his resurrection proves it. However, his resurrection also tells us that there is judgment for sin. We stand condemned in our sin if we do not have Christ. We must feel fear for those who have not turned to Jesus in repentance and faith and we must tell them of the salvation available to all who will believe.

**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!

Follow Shaped by the Word on WordPress or Facebook.