The Authority of Jesus

Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

Jesus Teaches People by the Sea (Public Domain)

Reading the Word

Luke 4:31–37 (ESV)

31 And he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee. And he was teaching them on the Sabbath, 32 and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority. 33 And in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” 35 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent and come out of him!” And when the demon had thrown him down in their midst, he came out of him, having done him no harm. 36 And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 37 And reports about him went out into every place in the surrounding region.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ teaching was shocking to people. It was different than the teaching of the other religious leaders. He constantly went against what others had taught and claimed that he had the authority of God behind him. To prove his authority, he performed miracles in front of the people. In today’s passage, he commanded that a demon come out of a man. Even the demon recognized Jesus’ authority and obeyed him. Jesus’ powerful displays caused his fame to spread quickly.

We live in a world today where everyone wants to decide for themselves what is right and wrong or good and bad. “Who are you to judge me?” is the cry of our culture. We have come to the conclusion that we all get to decide our own “truths”. Jesus turns that idea on its head. He proclaims, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He claims the authority of God and says that if we do not heed his words that judgment and condemnation will come. He also taught that if we repent and believe that we will be saved. Jesus taught with authority. Will we listen?

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What Is Truth?

John 1837 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 18:33–38 (ESV)

33 So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34 Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35 Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38 Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

We live in a world where truth is relative. Everyone decides for themselves what is right and true. If you say your truth is better than someone else’s, you are seen as intolerant. We all know this cannot really be so, but the world insists that we play along. It’s really a strange thing to insist that truth is relative on one hand, but hold tightly to the scientific method in the other. Yet that is the word we live in.

Jesus will not allow us to play such a game with truth. When he came into the world, he taught the people authoritatively. He revealed to them and us the truth. He claimed to be the way, the truth, and the life. We might like to pretend that there is no absolute truth or that such truth is unknowable, but Jesus insists that we believe his words because he speaks as the Son of God, the King of kings.

The world cannot deny truth because Jesus came into the world and revealed the truth. Now we have the options of living according to Jesus’ teaching or denying him and going our own way. In your search for truth, be sure to open your Bible and read the words of Jesus.

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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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No Interest in Truth

John 832 b [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Luke 22:63–71 (ESV)

63 Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. 64 They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” 65 And they said many other things against him, blaspheming him.

66 When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, 67 “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, 68 and if I ask you, you will not answer. 69 But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” 70 So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65; John 18:22-24

Understanding and Applying the Word

Councils and leaders are supposed to gather to determine truth. However, the council that examined Jesus had no interest in the truth. They were willing to accept false testimony to accuse Jesus, but they were unwilling to listen to Jesus’ statement about being the Christ. This was no real search for truth. It was a group that had already decided that Jesus had no place in their lives, so they were going to remove him using whatever means necessary.

As Jesus’ followers today, we must prepared for the same reaction to Jesus. We are charged with the mission of going into the world and proclaiming that Jesus is Lord and Savior, but many resist the message. The sad thing is, most of those who reject Jesus will never make an honest attempt to uncover the truth about who he is. Why is this the case? Because many simply do not want Jesus, who confronts us in our sin and calls us to repentance. It is much easier to stick with the lies and mock Jesus than let the truth turn our world upside down. As Jesus’ followers, we must continue to proclaim the gospel because it is the most important truth there is. Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the Savior of the world.

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Your Law Is True

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Reading the Word

Psalm 119:137–144 (ESV)

137 Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules. 138 You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness and in all faithfulness. 139 My zeal consumes me, because my foes forget your words. 140 Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. 141 I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts. 142 Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true. 143 Trouble and anguish have found me out, but your commandments are my delight. 144 Your testimonies are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.

Understanding and Applying the Word

The psalmist declares, “Righteous are you, O Lord, and right are your rules…Your righteousness is righteous forever, and your law is true…Your testimonies are righteous forever.”

We live in a world that believes truth is relative. What is true for you may not be true for me. Truth depends on our backgrounds and circumstances. Truth depends on our feelings and beliefs. This is the claim of the world, but it stands in conflict with the word of God.

God’s word tells us that there is absolute, universal truth. There are truths that are not dependent on our backgrounds, circumstances, feelings, or personal beliefs. They are true for all people in all times. They are true because the righteous Creator and Lord of all has told us they are true. We do not get to decide what is true, but we can choose to submit to or rebel against God and his word. May we delight in the truth and live according to the what God has written in his word.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

A Very Present Help in Trouble

Psalm 461 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Psalm 46:1–5 (ESV)

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Understanding and Applying the Word

When the world is falling apart, where do you turn? God is our refuge. He is the one we can turn to in every time of trouble. Our world may be falling apart in a figurative sense because of things like a job loss, sickness, or the death of a loved one. The world may even be falling apart in a very literal sense as the result of natural disasters or war. No matter what we may face in life, we can rest in the immovable God who is a refuge to his people. We know that, regardless of our struggles and trials in this world, a new heaven and a new earth await where our troubles will be no more. Praise the God who saves!

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Betrayed by a Friend

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Reading the Word

Psalm 41:9–13 (ESV)

9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me. 10 But you, O Lord, be gracious to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them! 11 By this I know that you delight in me: my enemy will not shout in triumph over me. 12 But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence forever. 13 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In the previous verse, David calls out to God because of his enemies who long to see David’s end. Now, in these verses, he mentions that not only is he dealing with the attacks of his enemies, but also one who was supposed to be his closest friend. This is one who had eaten with David and who David trusted. Many years later, we see Jesus quote this passage and apply the betrayal of a friend to Judas (John 13:18).

Even after being betrayed by his friend, David trusts that God would vindicate him. We see here an example of faith in the face of great adversity. It is easy to trust on God when things are easy, but what happens when the world stands against you? What happens when God is all you have? David trusted and his trust turned to praise in the final words of this psalm. Whatever our circumstances, may we remember the God is with us and that he is for us.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

False Accusations and Trusting God

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Reading the Word

Psalm 35:19–28 (ESV)

19 Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. 20 For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. 21 They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” 22 You have seen, O Lord; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! 23 Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! 24 Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me! 25 Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.” 26 Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice at my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me! 27 Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” 28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.

Understanding and Applying the Word

In these verses we learn that David’s accusers are those who are intentionally lying about him. The phrase “wink the eye” has the idea of deceit behind it as do the words of verse 21. There David’s enemies say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” They claim to have seen something that has not truly happened, which is why David leans on the fact that God truly has seen and knows that David is innocent.

It is a difficult thing when you are falsely accused. It is even more difficult when the false accusation comes from someone who knows they are lying about what happened. How do we handle these things? More often than not, we likely get angry, lash out, and do all we can to destroy the other person. We probably give little thought of God in the situation. This psalm tells us that we can trust in God, even in these situations. And we can sing his praises as he sustains and strengthens us.

Does this mean we should become a doormat? Absolutely not! But it does mean that we can trust in God while we do the right thing in the right way without stooping to the ways of an unbelieving world.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily Bible reading devotional. Please use the links at the bottom to subscribe to this page. You can also share this post with your friends through social media using the buttons below. Thanks for reading!

My Times Are in Your Hand

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Reading the Word

Psalm 31:9–18 (ESV)

9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. 11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. 12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. 13 For I hear the whispering of many— terror on every side!— as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. 14 But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, “You are my God.” 15 My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! 16 Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! 17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol. 18 Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As David thinks about his situation and describes his enemies’ desire to destroy him, he is encouraged by one thing: that God is in control. He declares, “But I trust in you, O Lord.” Regardless of the circumstances. Then he says, “My times are in your hands.”

Reading these words shows us the great faith of David in God. He was a man of great trust! We also need to learn how David’s trust in God is an example for us to follow. We should trust God as well. Even in the midst of difficulties, we know that the sovereign God is in control and that he is loving and gracious and good. We can trust him. Let us find the faith to say, with David, “My times are in your hand.”

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Into Your Hand

Psalm 315 [widescreen]

I do not publish devotional content on Sundays, but I do include suggested reading for the day. This will allow us to complete the scheduled reading plan on time for the year. If you have not already done so, follow this page so you can stay up to date and follow along as we read through the Book of Psalms in 2018. Thanks for reading!

Reading the Word

Psalm 31:1–8 (ESV)

1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! 2 Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! 3 For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me; 4 you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. 5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God. 6 I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the Lord. 7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, 8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.