The Words of Jesus

John

Reading the Word

John 12:44–50 (ESV)

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

The word of God cuts two ways. For some, the word brings salvation and life. These are the people who hear the word and trust in it. They believe Jesus is the Savior of mankind and place their faith in his atoning sacrifice. They demonstrate this faith through obedience to God’s word.

On the other hand, the word of God also brings judgment and condemnation for some. Jesus warns in today’s passage that the Father will hold accountable those who reject Jesus and his message. Jesus came to bring light into a dark world. His message was that all have sinned and must repent and trust in Christ for salvation. To reject Jesus is to reject the message given from the Father.

We must never treat Jesus and his words as merely interesting sayings. He was not a philosophical guru. Yes, he said many wise things that were, and still are, challenging. The most challenging and the most important teaching of Jesus is that he is the eternal Son of God who speaks with the authority of God and came to bring salvation to a lost world. To reject Jesus is to reject the word of God and the only means of forgiveness and salvation. We must weigh the words of Jesus carefully.

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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 I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but do include a suggested Scripture reading.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.

Who Is Your Father?

Dad Son Walking

Reading the Word

John 8:39–47 (ESV)

39 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus told his opponents that they were not children of Abraham. As Jews, the people did not know why Jesus would say such a thing. After all, they were biological descendants of Abraham. However, Jesus meant that they were not the spiritual children of Abraham because Abraham received the word of God and obeyed it, unlike those who did not believe Jesus and wanted him dead. Instead, Jesus proclaimed, “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” The people’s unbelief and opposition to Jesus showed that they did not belong to God, but instead they belonged to the devil.

Those who belong to God are evident because they seek to hear his voice through his word and they desire to obey. Those who have no desire for the word of God and live their lives in disobedience prove that they do not truly belong to him. The word of God tells us that Jesus came into the world to save us from our sin and that we need to trust in him for eternal life. There is no other way of salvation. Have you trusted in Christ? Are you living according to the world of God? Who is your father?

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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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From Death to Life

John 524 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 5:1–47 (ESV)

1 After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, in Aramaic called Bethesda, which has five roofed colonnades. 3 In these lay a multitude of invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. 5 One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” 7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” 8 Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” 9 And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked.

Now that day was the Sabbath. 10 So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.” 11 But he answered them, “The man who healed me, that man said to me, ‘Take up your bed, and walk.’ ” 12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Take up your bed and walk’?” 13 Now the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had withdrawn, as there was a crowd in the place. 14 Afterward Jesus found him in the temple and said to him, “See, you are well! Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you.” 15 The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. 16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

19 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. 21 For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. 22 For the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

30 “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me. 31 If I alone bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. 32 There is another who bears witness about me, and I know that the testimony that he bears about me is true. 33 You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth. 34 Not that the testimony that I receive is from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. 35 He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. 36 But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen, 38 and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe the one whom he has sent. 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 41 I do not receive glory from people. 42 But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. 43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you: Moses, on whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Once again we read of Jesus’ confrontation with the religious leaders. This time, they were upset because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath. When they confronted Jesus, his words were, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This was blasphemous to the religious leaders. Jesus was claiming equality with God. This deserved death and they sought to kill him.

Jesus went even further. He explained how he and the Father were not opposed to each other, but together. Jesus had the authority to grant life to whomever he chose (verse 21). And it was Jesus who had the authority to judge all people (verse 22). So, if one wanted life rather than judgment, he needed to hear Jesus and believe what he was teaching (verse 24). Jesus’ miracles served as signs that he truly had the authority he spoke of.

Unfortunately, we read that many refused to turn to Jesus that they might have life (verse 40).  Many refused to believe him then and many refuse to believe him now. Jesus came into the world to save sinners by teaching us about God’s great love and grace and then by going to the cross to pay the penalty we all deserve. He has done everything he can to save us, yet many refuse to turn to Christ. May we find renewed wonder at what Christ has done for us, but also may we find a renewed zeal to share the gospel with those who are lost and to pray that their hearts may be open to the word of God.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

Belief in a World of Unbelief

john 450 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 4:43–54 (ESV)

43 After the two days he departed for Galilee. 44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) 45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast.

46 So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. 47 When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. 48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” 49 The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” 50 Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. 51 As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. 52 So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” 53 The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. 54 This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.

Parallel Texts: Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:14-15; Luke 4:14-15

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus returns to Cana where he had performed his first miracle, the turning of water to wine. While he is there an official goes to Jesus to ask him to heal his son who was very ill. The Greek word used here indicates that this man was a royal official, probably of Herod’s court. He had most likely heard about Jesus’ earlier miracle and went to see Jesus concerning his son. Jesus’ initial response seems harsh as he replies, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The man asks Jesus to go to his son and Jesus tells him his son will live. The official believes Jesus and goes home to find his son healed.

Why did Jesus reply to the man so harshly at first? We must not overlook the beginning verses of this section for the answer. In verse 44, Jesus had testified that a prophet has no honor in his hometown. The people are welcoming him and accepting him, but only because of the miracles. They do not fully believe in him. So, when Jesus replies to the official he says, “Unless you see signs…” The “you” is in the second person plural. Jesus is not addressing the man in particular, but the mindset of all of the people. When Jesus tells the man his son would be healed, the text tells us that this official believed his words. When he receives report of his son being well, we are told that he believed and all of his household believed with him.

Here we find a reminder that even in the midst of great unbelief, there are those who will trust in Jesus. We may often feel like it is a hopeless thing to proclaim the gospel to an unbelieving world, but this is not true. God is still calling people to himself through the message of the gospel. Unbelievers are still turning in faith to Jesus Christ. Let us not lose heart, but let us continue to proclaim that Jesus has come to give life to all who will believe.

**Read through the Life of Christ in 2019 by following along with Shaped by the Word. Just subscribe to this page and be sure to read along every day!

When We Doubt

ask blackboard chalk board chalkboard

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Reading the Word

Luke 1:5–25 (ESV)

5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.

8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home.

24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Luke gives us the background to the birth of John the Baptist in today’s passage. Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were both advanced in age. They had no children and Elizabeth was barren (v. 7). She had not been able to conceive when she was younger and now she is beyond her childbearing years. In this seemingly impossible situation, an angel appears to Zechariah while he is on duty in the temple and tells him that Elizabeth is going to have a baby. This will not be just any baby, but one who will be used in an amazing and unique way. This baby will prepare the way for the ministry of Jesus Christ.

When Zechariah heard the words of the angel, he did not jump up and down in joyful celebration. He did what many of us would likely do. He doubted. After all, how could an old man and woman have a baby? He did not believe the angel and asked for proof that what he was saying was true. Because of his unbelief, Zechariah received a sign. He was left unable to speak until John the Baptist was born.

Unbelief is sin and we see that Zechariah is punished for it. However, we also see that the plans and purposes of God will be accomplished. God fulfills his promises even among sinful people who doubt him and fail in their response to his word. This should bring comfort to us all because we have all failed at one time or another. We have all doubted. Yet God’s plans stand forever. We can have complete confidence in him, even when we cannot trust ourselves.

**Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. Please subscribe to this page so you can follow along each day. We will be reading through the life of Christ as recorded in the four Gospel accounts in 2019.