They Did Not Believe Them

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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.

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Jesus Prayed for His Disciples

John 1717 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 17:6–19 (ESV)

6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus prayed for his disciples. Imagine what it would be like if he prayed for you and me. What would he pray for? I believe we have the answer when we look at this passage. He prayed that the disciples would be one (v. 11), that they be protected from the evil one (v. 15), and that they would be sanctified in the truth of God’s word (v. 17).

The content of Christ’s prayer reflects the greatest need of the Church in every age. We need unity among brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, we see how easily divided we often are over trivial things. We need protection from Satan and his attacks because he is always at work to undermine the gospel’s work in our lives and in the world. And we need to grow in our knowledge and understanding of God’s word because it is the means that God has given us for knowing who our Savior is and what he desires from us.

Jesus was not only praying for the disciples of that time, but his disciples across the ages, including you and me. What a wonderful thing to know that Jesus prayed for us!

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They Understood None of These Things

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Reading the Word

Luke 18:31–34 (ESV)

31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 20:17-28; Mark 10:32-45

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses, Jesus predicted his death for the third time (cf. Luke 9:22 and Luke 9:43-45). In this third occurrence, Jesus also tells the disciples of his resurrection. However, they did not understand what he was telling them. It was hidden from them. It would not be until after the events of the crucifixion and the resurrection that the disciples would understand how Jesus had fulfilled the Old Testament Scriptures concerning the Messiah.

It can be easy for us to think poorly of the disciples, wondering why they seemed to miss it so often. Why did things seem to go right over their heads? It is easy for us who have the completed Scriptures and the ability to read the entire story to understand Jesus’ ministry. We understand that he entered the world and lived a sinless life so he could go to the cross as a sacrifice for sin. We understand that this had to happen if mankind was going to be saved. And we understand that the resurrection was essential if sin and death were to be defeated and if we were going to have hope.

The disciples did not have what we have today. They did not have the completed Bible. They were living in the middle of the events and they were trying to make sense of it all. It would take hindsight and Jesus explaining the events for them to understand (cf. Luke 24:13-35). Let us not take for granted the blessing we have in having the completed word of God available to us so easily, which teaches us about our Savior and the importance of all he said and did.

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Choosing What Is Best

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Reading the Word

Luke 10:38–42 (ESV)

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus visited the home of Martha. While he was there, Martha put herself to work serving her guests. However, Martha’s sister Mary, who was also present, sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him as he taught. Martha thought Mary should get up and help and asked Jesus to tell her so, but Jesus would not. Instead, he told Martha that Mary had made the right choice.

This short passage emphasizes something profound. Life presents us with many choices and decisions, but they are not all equal. Sometimes, we must choose between right and wrong. In such cases, the decision is clear. However, there are other times when we must choose between what is good and what is better. Martha’s decision to serve was not wrong, but there was something more important. Jesus was in her home! Serving could wait for the moment. It was time to hear what Jesus had to say. It was time to spend time with the Lord.

We too can spend much of our time doing good things, but fail to do the most important thing: fellowship with the Lord. It is vital to the health of our faith that we take the time to sit at the Lord’s feet and hear from him through his word. We must take the time each day, even time away from doing good things, to do the best thing. We must fellowship with our Savior and grow to know him more and more. Are you taking the time to do what is best each day?

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All the Father Has Revealed

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Reading the Word

Luke 10:21–24 (ESV)

21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”

Parallel Text: Matthew 11:25-27

Understanding and Applying the Word

We read here that Jesus rejoices as he addresses the Father. The reason for his rejoicing is that the Father had revealed to the disciples, who Jesus refers to as “little children” (v. 21), the arrival of the kingdom and the reality of Satan’s fall (cf. Luke 10:17-18). The wise and understanding (i.e. the Jewish religious leaders) had not seen these things because they had rejected Jesus and the gospel. Therefore, these things were hidden from the religious leaders. The disciples were blessed to see the things that they witnessed. The Old Testament prophets had spoken of these things, but had not witnessed them. The disciples were alive at a unique time in the history of the world.

We too are blessed and live at a unique time in world history. We have the privilege of having God’s completed word readily available to us. Previous generations only had portions of the word and not everyone had easy access to it. Most of us have multiple Bibles in multiple translations in our own language and can read and study all that the Bible says concerning our Savior. We know the historical record and we know the gospel. We know the message of repentance and forgiveness and we know of the resurrection, which gives us hope for the future. Let us rejoice in all the Father has revealed to us!

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The True Source of Authority

John 717 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 7:14–24 (ESV)

14 About the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began teaching. 15 The Jews therefore marveled, saying, “How is it that this man has learning, when he has never studied?” 16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. 19 Has not Moses given you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” 20 The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?” 21 Jesus answered them, “I did one work, and you all marvel at it. 22 Moses gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. 23 If on the Sabbath a man receives circumcision, so that the law of Moses may not be broken, are you angry with me because on the Sabbath I made a man’s whole body well? 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the middle of the Feast of Booths, Jesus went from attending in secret to becoming very public as he began teaching in the temple. The Greek word heiron indicates that Jesus was in the outer court of the temple and would have been very visible. The people were amazed at his knowledge of the Scriptures as he had never had formal training.

When Jesus spoke, he spoke with authority and did not rely on the teaching of others to back up his teaching. Jesus explained that his teaching had authority because it originated with God, not man. Anyone who knew God and desired to live according to God’s will would recognize the truth of Jesus’ teaching. Others taught for their own glory rather than the glory of God.

We must continue to beware of those who seek their own glory rather than the glory of God. There are sure signs to look for. Does the teacher insist on titles and being recognized as superior to others? Does the teacher like to take personal credit for successes rather than give the credit to God? Does the teacher like to talk about himself? Does the teacher speak down towards others and elevate himself? A true teacher of God has authority not because of who he is or what he has accomplished, but because he teaches the truth of God’s word. The authority is in the word, not the teacher and the teacher must submit to that same word.

May we continue to turn to the Scriptures as the final authority in our lives, knowing that they are the revealed teaching of God. We know that they are true and life-giving in all that they teach.

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Make Your Face Shine upon Me

Psalm 119135 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:129–136 (ESV)

129 Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. 130 The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple. 131 I open my mouth and pant, because I long for your commandments. 132 Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name. 133 Keep steady my steps according to your promise, and let no iniquity get dominion over me. 134 Redeem me from man’s oppression, that I may keep your precepts. 135 Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes. 136 My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Why do we keep God’s word? According to Psalm 119, God’s “testimonies are wonderful.” It is in our best interest to live according to the teachings of Scripture. Through it, we are made wise and we show our love for the Lord.

When we understand who God is, we love him. When we know of his goodness and his grace and his unfailing love for us, we grow in our desire to show our love for him. We do this by living for him. We read and study the word of God so that we can grow in knowledge of who God is, what he has done, and what he desires of us. Let us seek to show our love for him through the keeping of his word. And let us call on him to continue to teach us through his word.

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Lead Me

Psalm 11935 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include a Scripture reading for the day. If you would like to follow along each day, please subscribe to this page. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:33–40 (ESV)

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes; and I will keep it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! 37 Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways. 38 Confirm to your servant your promise, that you may be feared. 39 Turn away the reproach that I dread, for your rules are good. 40 Behold, I long for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life!

The Wonderful Word of God

Bible Law

Reading the Word

Psalm 119:1–8 (ESV)

1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! 2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! 4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. 5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! 6 Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. 7 I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules. 8 I will keep your statutes; do not utterly forsake me!

Understanding and Applying the Word

Psalm 119 is the longest of the psalms, stretching 176 verses. The psalm is organized as an acrostic based on the Hebrew alphabet with the first eight lines beginning with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph), the second eight lines with the second letter (beth), and so on. The focus of the entire psalm is on the goodness of God’s instruction (i.e. God’s law). Every line of the psalm uses the word “law” or a synonym for it to express the greatness of God’s word to mankind.

How wonderful is the word of God! It brings goodness and life to those who study it and obey it. Yet, for many of us, we neglect it and choose to live life our own way. This is only to our detriment as it is the Lord who created us and knows what is best for us. The good and loving God who sent his Son into the world to save us from our sin has also given us his word to guide our lives. How could we neglect the words of one who has shown us such great affection? Let us turn to his word again and again as we seek to understand this world and how to live in it.

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Let This Be Recorded

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Reading the Word

Psalm 102:18–22 (ESV)

18 Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord: 19 that he looked down from his holy height; from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, 20 to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die, 21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord, and in Jerusalem his praise, 22 when peoples gather together, and kingdoms, to worship the Lord.

Understanding and Applying the Word

“Let this be recorded,” begins this passage. The psalmist desires for the acts of God to be written down so that later generations would know of his wonderful works and give him praise.

The Bible is the recording of the words and works of God. It is through the Scriptures that we hear of all that God has done in the past in saving his people. It is through the Scriptures that we learn of and come to know our Savior, Jesus Christ and the events of the cross. We are the later generations the psalmist speaks of. And it is through the Bible, the recording of God’s work, that we know him and are drawn to worship. Praise God for his word!

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