The Identity of the Messiah

Psalms

Reading the Word

Matthew 22:41–46 (ESV)

41 Now while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?” They said to him, “The son of David.” 43 He said to them, “How is it then that David, in the Spirit, calls him Lord, saying,

44 “ ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
until I put your enemies under your feet” ’?

45 If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son?” 46 And no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day did anyone dare to ask him any more questions.

Parallel Texts: Mark 12:35-37; Luke 20:41-44

Understanding and Applying the Word

After receiving multiple questions from the religious leaders, Jesus asked one of his own. He quizzed the leaders about the identity of the promised Messiah. Jesus asked, “Whose son is he?” The response of the Pharisees was that the Messiah was David’s son, which was true on one level. However, Jesus went on to ask why David would call the Messiah his “Lord” if the Messiah was David’s son. Jesus quoted from Psalm 110:1 to make his point, which was a psalm written by David and speaking of the Messiah.

The reason for Jesus’ question was to point out that while the Messiah was a son of David, he was also more than that. David himself points to this truth in a psalm he wrote “in the Spirit.” That David was in the Spirit tells us that his words were Scripture and authoritative truth given by God. The Messiah would also be the Son of God. This would make him David’s Lord. Jesus is that Lord.

Many in Jesus’ day had their own idea of what the Messiah would be and what he would do. Jesus was not the Messiah they expected and he tried frequently to help the people see from the Scriptures that they were mistaken. Some heard Jesus and recognized him as the promised Messiah. Many were never able to accept that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. We must be willing to turn to the Scriptures to see what they say about this matter. Read the four Gospels with an eye on how Jesus fulfills the Messianic promises. He is the one the world has been waiting for.

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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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The One You Love Is Ill

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Reading the Word

John 11:1–16 (ESV)

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus received word that his close friend, Lazarus, was very ill. We get a sense of the closeness of the relationship from both verse three and verse five, where we read of Jesus’ love for Lazarus and his sisters. Does it seem strange to read that Jesus stayed two more days in the place where he was before going to see Lazarus (cf. John 11:6)? Why did Jesus remain so long? Why did he not go immediately to Lazarus?

The reason for Jesus’ delay is given in this passage. Jesus told the sisters, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” The illness that Lazarus was dealing with was for the purpose of glorifying God and bring glory to Jesus Christ. Jesus went on to tell the disciples that it was for their sake that he was going to wake Lazarus from his sleep (John 11:15). The faith of the disciples was going to be strengthened through the coming events.

For the believer, all of life is about bringing glory to the Lord. In sickness or health, in times of plenty or times of need, we glorify God by continuing to trust in him. We know that he is able to fulfill his plans and purposes in our lives and we know those plans are good. And we know that in the end, we have an eternal home without pain or suffering or death, so our deliverance is guaranteed because of what Jesus has done for us. He bore our sins and died in our place and then rose victorious from the grave to give us life. May we live to glorify him!

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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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Where Did Jesus Come From?

But No Man Laid Hands Upon Him

But No Man Laid Hands upon Him (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

John 7:25–36 (ESV)

25 Some of the people of Jerusalem therefore said, “Is not this the man whom they seek to kill? 26 And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.” 30 So they were seeking to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come. 31 Yet many of the people believed in him. They said, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?”
32 The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33 Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34 You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35 The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36 What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The people were discussing the identity of Jesus. They wondered why the religious authorities sought to kill him. Could it be that Jesus was the Christ and that is why? Why did the authorities not arrest him when they had such an opportunity. After all, Jesus was there and speaking openly.

The people wondered if Jesus really could be the Christ. They thought, “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” They also thought, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs that this man has done.” Surely Jesus had performed many miracles before the people. Who could ever produce more evidence than Jesus that he was the true Messiah and Jesus was not?

The people thought that they knew where Jesus had come from: Nazareth. They saw him as a simple man, a carpenter, and a fellow Jew. They did not recognize him as the Son of God, divine, and the Savior of the whole world. He had come from the Father and was set to return to the Father. The people thought that they knew Jesus, but their relationship with him was insufficient. They needed to come to know him as the divine Savior.

Thinking of Jesus as simply a man, even a good man, is not enough. Yes, he came into the world as a man and died as a substitute for mankind to save us from our sins. But we also must know that Jesus is the God-man, which is why he could be the sacrifice that we needed. He could live a perfect sinless life because he was perfect in every way. We can trust in him and praise his name for our great salvation. He is worthy of worship and honor and blessing because of where he came from: he is God in the flesh (John 1:1)!

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Who Is Jesus?

Matthew 1616 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Matthew 16:13–20 (ESV)

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

Parallel Texts: Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21

Understanding and Applying the Word

Who is Jesus? That’s an important question and it’s the question Jesus put to his disciples. First, he asked the disciples what the people were saying about him. It seems that the people were convinced Jesus was some sort of prophet, but they were unsure of exactly which prophet. Perhaps he was one of the great prophets from the Old Testament come back to life?

After Jesus’ initial question about what the people were saying, he asked his disciples who they thought Jesus was. Peter replied, “You are the Christ (i.e. Messiah), the Son of the living God.” With this statement, Peter affirmed his belief that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah from the line of David who would deliver and save his people. Jesus responded to Peter by calling him “blessed” because no person (i.e. flesh and blood) had revealed this truth to Peter, it had been revealed by God. This truly was a divine blessing!

Today, every person must answer the same question posed to the disciples. Who is Jesus? There are many responses to this question. Some say Jesus was a great teacher, others say he was simply a man that legend has inflated through the years, and still others try to say he did not exist at all (even the overwhelming majority of secular scholars admit that Jesus really existed). However, there are some today that echo the words of Peter. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. He came to save his people and deliver them and he did just that by going to a cross and dying as a sacrifice for sins. Jesus’ resurrection on the third day authenticated who he was and his life, death, and resurrection give hope to all who recognize him and trust in his name.

We are entering into the Easter season over the next two weeks where Christians remember the death of Jesus on the cross and celebrate his resurrection. There is no better time than now to ask this question: Who do you say Jesus is? It is the most important question you will ever answer. You owe it to yourself to seek out the answer and pray that God would open your eyes to the truth.

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Jesus Is More than a Wonder Worker

In the Villages the Sick Were Presented to Him

In the Villages the Sick Were Presented to Him (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Mark 6:53–56 (ESV)

53 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and moored to the shore. 54 And when they got out of the boat, the people immediately recognized him 55 and ran about the whole region and began to bring the sick people on their beds to wherever they heard he was. 56 And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

Parallel Text: Matthew 14:34-36

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ fame traveled quickly. People had heard that he had the power to heal, so when he arrived in Gennesaret, the people brought their sick to him in desperation for healing. All who even touched Jesus’ garment were made well.

As we read this passage, we notice a couple of important things. Jesus had great compassion for the crowds and ministered to them with great love for them. Jesus’ great power to heal demonstrated his identity as the Son of God, but the people were more interested in his wonder-working power because it directly benefited them at that moment. This was the case throughout Jesus’ ministry.

Unfortunately, many today turn to Jesus for the same reason the crowds did in the Gospels. They go to him to meet their immediate needs and no more. They desire some sort of powerful intervention in their lives, whether it is physical healing, fixing a marriage, helping with an addiction, etc. These are all wonderful things, but they should not be our primary pursuit. Jesus calls us to him as our Savior and Lord and offers us something far greater than instant release from our temporary ills in this world. He tells us that he has the authority to grant eternal life to all of those who trust in him because his death and resurrection have purchased the forgiveness of our sins and victory over death. Let us not forget who Jesus truly is and the primary reason that he came.

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Water to Wine

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Reading the Word

John 2:1–11 (ESV)

1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was attending a wedding in Cana. At some point during the celebration, Jesus’ mother went to him to tell him that the wine had run out. We are not told what Mary expected Jesus to do, but to run out of wine was a potential problem for the groom. It would have been an extreme embarrassment. In response, Jesus has the servants fill the jars with water and then serve it to the master of the feast. At that point, the water had been turned into wine of superior quality.

What are we to make of this episode? Some will scoff and say such a thing is not possible. However, the writer tells us that this was the “first of his signs.” Jesus turned the water into wine, but he also did many other things that we will soon read about. He did all of these things to prove to us that he was who he claimed to be. Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Skeptics often say, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Jesus turned water into wine and his disciples believed in him. What will you do?

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