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Week 2: Mathew 3–4; 12:1-32; Mark 1–3; Luke 3–6; John 1:19-51; 2–5

Sunday (Matthew 3; Mark 1; Luke 3)

Matthew

The Ministry of John the Baptist

3:1 In those days John the Baptist came into the wilderness of Judea proclaiming, 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” 3:3 For he is the one about whom Isaiah the prophet had spoken:

“The voice of one shouting in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

3:4 Now John wore clothing made from camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey. 3:5 Then people from Jerusalem, as well as all Judea and all the region around the Jordan, were going out to him, 3:6 and he was baptizing them in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

3:7 But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 3:8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, 3:9 and don’t think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 3:10 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

3:11 “I baptize you with water, for repentance, but the one coming after me is more powerful than I am – I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3:12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clean out his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.”

The Baptism of Jesus

3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. 3:14 But John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you come to me?” 3:15 So Jesus replied to him, “Let it happen now, for it is right for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John yielded to him. 3:16 After Jesus was baptized, just as he was coming up out of the water, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming on him. 3:17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my one dear Son; in him I take great delight.”

Mark

The Ministry of John the Baptist

1:1 The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 1:2 As it is written in Isaiah the prophet,

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,

who will prepare your way,

1:3 the voice of one shouting in the wilderness,

‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

1:4 In the wilderness John the baptizer began preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 1:5 People from the whole Judean countryside and all of Jerusalem were going out to him, and he was baptizing them in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins. 1:6 John wore a garment made of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 1:7 He proclaimed, “One more powerful than I am is coming after me; I am not worthy to bend down and untie the strap of his sandals. 1:8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Baptism and Temptation [Testing] of Jesus

1:9 Now in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan River. 1:10 And just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 1:11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.” 1:12 The Spirit immediately drove him into the wilderness. 1:13 He was in the wilderness forty days, enduring temptations from Satan. He was with wild animals, and angels were ministering to his needs.

Preaching in Galilee and the Call of the Disciples

1:14 Now after John was imprisoned, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. 1:15 He said, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the gospel!” 1:16 As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). 1:17 Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 1:18 They left their nets immediately and followed him. 1:19 Going on a little farther, he saw James, the son of Zebedee, and John his brother in their boat mending nets. 1:20 Immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

Jesus’ Authority

1:21 Then they went to Capernaum. When the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 1:22 The people there were amazed by his teaching, because he taught them like one who had authority, not like the experts in the law. 1:23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 1:24 “Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God!” 1:25 But Jesus rebuked him: “Silence! Come out of him!” 1:26 After throwing him into convulsions, the unclean spirit cried out with a loud voice and came out of him. 1:27 They were all amazed so that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He even commands the unclean spirits and they obey him.” 1:28 So the news about him spread quickly throughout all the region around Galilee.

Healings at Simon’s House

1:29 Now as soon as they left the synagogue, they entered Simon and Andrew’s house, with James and John. 1:30 Simon’s mother-in-law was lying down, sick with a fever, so they spoke to Jesus at once about her. 1:31 He came and raised her up by gently taking her hand. Then the fever left her and she began to serve them. 1:32 When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were sick and demon-possessed. 1:33 The whole town gathered by the door. 1:34 So he healed many who were sick with various diseases and drove out many demons. But he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Praying and Preaching

1:35 Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer. 1:36 Simon and his companions searched for him. 1:37 When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” 1:38 He replied, “Let us go elsewhere, into the surrounding villages, so that I can preach there too. For that is what I came out here to do.” 1:39 So he went into all of Galilee preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Cleansing a Leper

1:40 Now a leper came to him and fell to his knees, asking for help. “If you are willing, you can make me clean,” he said. 1:41 Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” 1:42 The leprosy left him at once, and he was clean. 1:43 Immediately Jesus sent the man away with a very strong warning. 1:44 He told him, “See that you do not say anything to anyone, but go, show yourself to a priest, and bring the offering that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 1:45 But as the man went out he began to announce it publicly and spread the story widely, so that Jesus was no longer able to enter any town openly but stayed outside in remote places. Still they kept coming to him from everywhere.

Luke

The Ministry of John the Baptist

3:1 In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip was tetrarch of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, 3:2 during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3:3 He went into all the region around the Jordan River, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

3:4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one shouting in the wilderness:

‘Prepare the way for the Lord,

make his paths straight.

3:5 Every valley will be filled,

and every mountain and hill will be brought low,

and the crooked will be made straight,

and the rough ways will be made smooth,

3:6 and all humanity will see the salvation of God.’”

3:7 So John said to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You offspring of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 3:8 Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance, and don’t begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones! 3:9 Even now the ax is laid at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.”

3:10 So the crowds were asking him, “What then should we do?” 3:11 John answered them, “The person who has two tunics must share with the person who has none, and the person who has food must do likewise.” 3:12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, “Teacher, what should we do?” 3:13 He told them, “Collect no more than you are required to.” 3:14 Then some soldiers also asked him, “And as for us – what should we do?” He told them, “Take money from no one by violence or by false accusation, and be content with your pay.”

3:15 While the people were filled with anticipation and they all wondered whether perhaps John could be the Christ, 3:16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water, but one more powerful than I am is coming – I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 3:17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clean out his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with inextinguishable fire.”

3:18 And in this way, with many other exhortations, John proclaimed good news to the people. 3:19 But when John rebuked Herod the tetrarch because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds that he had done, 3:20 Herod added this to them all: He locked up John in prison.

The Baptism of Jesus

3:21 Now when all the people were baptized, Jesus also was baptized. And while he was praying, the heavens opened, 3:22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight.”

The Genealogy of Jesus

3:23 So Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years old. He was the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli, 3:24 the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, the son of Melchi, the son of Jannai, the son of Joseph, 3:25 the son of Mattathias, the son of Amos, the son of Nahum, the son of Esli, the son of Naggai, 3:26 the son of Maath, the son of Mattathias, the son of Semein, the son of Josech, the son of Joda, 3:27 the son of Joanan, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri, 3:28 the son of Melchi, the son of Addi, the son of Cosam, the son of Elmadam, the son of Er, 3:29 the son of Joshua, the son of Eliezer, the son of Jorim, the son of Matthat, the son of Levi, 3:30 the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim, 3:31 the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David, 3:32 the son of Jesse, the son of Obed, the son of Boaz, the son of Sala, the son of Nahshon, 3:33 the son of Amminadab, the son of Admin, the son of Arni, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah, 3:34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, 3:35 the son of Serug, the son of Reu, the son of Peleg, the son of Eber, the son of Shelah, 3:36 the son of Cainan, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, 3:37 the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared, the son of Mahalalel, the son of Kenan, 3:38 the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Prayer

Lord, when I read Your Word as it transitions from the Old Testament to the New Testament, may I be mindful that the Law-based practices and traditions of the Old Testament began to collide in the Gospels with Your new covenant based on Grace through Christ.

Scripture In Perspective

Critical to and the essence of the ministry of John the Baptist was to call people to repentance and baptism in anticipation of the coming of the Savior: “One more powerful than I am is coming after me....I baptize you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:7,8).

Jesus the son of Joseph is baptized by John — Jesus the Son of God has no need of baptism. The announcement by the Holy Spirit, “You are My One dear Son; in You I take great delight” (Mark 1:11), declares in essence that Jesus is both unique and uniquely loved of God.

Worthy of note is that Jesus enduring “temptation from Satan” (Mark 1:13) forty days in the wilderness immediately follows God declaring His love for Him. Jesus, sinless up to this point in time, remains sinless after being tested (tempted) — in His weak physical condition, Jesus proves He is worthy to stand in our place as the sinless lamb to be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind.

While Jesus is teaching in the synagogue, “a man...with an unclean spirit” (Mark 1:23) cries out, “‘Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!’” (vs. 24). [Note: The demon uses both the singular and plural personal pronouns when he cries out; apparently the demon speaks in fear for both itself and for all demons.]

Luke adds detail in his account of the ministry of John: He fixes “the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar” (3:1) as the time and “in all the region around the Jordan River” (vs. 3) as the place. John’s chastising words to the Sadducees and Pharisees, “You offspring of vipers” (vs. 7), and his fearless evangelical challenge, “Therefore produce fruit that proves your repentance” (vs. 8) are recorded.

In providing the genealogy, “He was the son (as was supposed) of Joseph” (Luke 3:23), all the way back to, “the son of Adam, the son of God” (vs. 38), Luke affirms that Jesus was the One of Whom prophesy spoke. [Note: In the Word, only Adam and Jesus are ever spoken of as “the son of God” and “the Son of God” — all others are called “the sons of men” in recorded Biblical genealogies.]

[Note: In describing the ministry of John, Luke emphasizes John’s challenge to the people, Matthew emphasizes his challenge to the religious leaders.]

The context of John’s ministry versus the ministry of Jesus is understood by John’s words, “I baptize you with water….He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11). [Note: Some understand “Holy Spirit” and “fire” as separate terms and as referring to two baptisms, a view often incorrectly used in the justification of a denominational doctrine. Yet, that these two terms refer to one baptism is clear: The baptismal fire of the Holy Spirit convicts the unsaved of sin and invites those to repent and accept the gift of Salvation offered by the Christ. The unsaved who reject the gift face a consuming and “inextinguishable fire” (vs. 12); he who accepts the gift of Salvation faces a cleansing and purifying fire.]

Faith In Action

Consider

Jesus is both the Son of God (a person of the Trinity) and the son of Mary (a man) simultaneously. Gospel text describes the glory of the God-half of Jesus being slowly revealed in the man Jesus. This revelation of glory was to equip Him for a more powerful ministry while on the earth. Only after His ascension to Heaven did Jesus receive back His full glory.

Jesus the man needed to qualify as the sinless lamb of sacrifice: The Temple sacrifice for Him at eight days, His education in the Law and the Prophets, His baptism as hosted by John “for all righteousness,” and His fasting and testing in the desert were all done to keep to the letter the prophesies of the Christ. And to prepare Him in His human body for His ministry as a Heavenly Body.

Reflect

The call to repentance is God’s message to both His followers and His leaders: Turn away from rebellion against God, whatever the form, and turn to the only One who can forgive and save. Everyone faces fire, either a consuming or a purifying fire — no one escapes. We each make a choice: no action is rebellion, rebellion is rebellion, and submission is freedom.

Identify some practical ways you might use to illustrate to someone (a seeker of Christ or a new Believer) the meaning behind these three “choices” one makes to either rebel or submit.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you are, in any way, in rebellion against God.

Act

Today I will identify one place in my life where I harbor rebellion against God (something I know to be against His perfect will for me). I will repent and turn from it. My rebellion may be a ‘common’ sin such as cheating, lying, or stealing, but Jesus taught that sin begins in a rebellious heart — I will look in my heart for evidence of anger, greed, covetousness, laziness, pride, selfishness, and unforgiveness. I will pray that God, through the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, be Lord over that part of my life, and I will surrender it to Him.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Monday (Matthew 4; Luke 4:1-13; John 1:19-51)

Matthew

The Temptation [Testing] of Jesus

4:1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 4:2 After he fasted forty days and forty nights he was famished. 4:3 The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.” 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, 4:6 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down. For it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you’ and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 4:7 Jesus said to him, “Once again it is written: ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” 4:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their grandeur. 4:9 And he said to him, “I will give you all these things if you throw yourself to the ground and worship me.” 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” 4:11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and began ministering to his needs.

Preaching in Galilee

4:12 Now when Jesus heard that John had been imprisoned, he went into Galilee. 4:13 While in Galilee, he moved from Nazareth to make his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, 4:14 so that what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet would be fulfilled:

4:15 “Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

the way by the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles –

4:16 the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light,

and on those who sit in the region and shadow of death a light has dawned.”

4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach this message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.”

The Call of the Disciples

4:18 As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). 4:19 He said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.” 4:20 They left their nets immediately and followed him. 4:21 Going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. Then he called them. 4:22 They immediately left the boat and their father and followed him.

Jesus’ Healing Ministry

4:23 Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. 4:24 So a report about him spread throughout Syria. People brought to him all who suffered with various illnesses and afflictions, those who had seizures, paralytics, and those possessed by demons, and he healed them. 4:25 And large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River.

Luke

The Temptation [Testing] of Jesus

4:1 Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan River and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 4:2 where for forty days he endured temptations from the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were completed, he was famished. 4:3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” 4:4 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man does not live by bread alone.’”

4:5 Then the devil led him up to a high place and showed him in a flash all the kingdoms of the world. 4:6 And he said to him, “To you I will grant this whole realm – and the glory that goes along with it, for it has been relinquished to me, and I can give it to anyone I wish. 4:7 So then, if you will worship me, all this will be yours.” 4:8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You are to worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

4:9 Then the devil brought him to Jerusalem, had him stand on the highest point of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 4:10 for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,’ 4:11 and ‘with their hands they will lift you up, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” 4:12 Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You are not to put the Lord your God to the test.’” 4:13 So when the devil had completed every temptation, he departed from him until a more opportune time.

John

The Testimony of John the Baptist

1:19 Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 1:20 He confessed – he did not deny but confessed – “I am not the Christ!” 1:21 So they asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not!” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No!” 1:22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Tell us so that we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

1:23 John said, “I am the voice of one shouting in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord,’ as Isaiah the prophet said.” 1:24 (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 1:25 So they asked John, “Why then are you baptizing if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

1:26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not recognize, 1:27 who is coming after me. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandal!” 1:28 These things happened in Bethany across the Jordan River where John was baptizing.

1:29 On the next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 1:30 This is the one about whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is greater than I am, because he existed before me.’ 1:31 I did not recognize him, but I came baptizing with water so that he could be revealed to Israel.”

1:32 Then John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending like a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. 1:33 And I did not recognize him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining – this is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 1:34 I have both seen and testified that this man is the Chosen One of God.”

1:35 Again the next day John was standing there with two of his disciples. 1:36 Gazing at Jesus as he walked by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” 1:37 When John’s two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 1:38 Jesus turned around and saw them following and said to them, “What do you want?” So they said to him, “Rabbi” (which is translated Teacher), “where are you staying?” 1:39 Jesus answered, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. Now it was about four o’clock in the afternoon.

Andrew’s Declaration

1:40 Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two disciples who heard what John said and followed Jesus. 1:41 He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah!” (which is translated Christ). 1:42 Andrew brought Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon, the son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

The Calling of More Disciples

1:43 On the next day Jesus wanted to set out for Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 1:44 (Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter.) 1:45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law, and the prophets also wrote about – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 1:46 Nathanael replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip replied, “Come and see.”

1:47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and exclaimed, “Look, a true Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” 1:48 Nathanael asked him, “How do you know me?” Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 1:49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel!” 1:50 Jesus said to him, “Because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 1:51 He continued, “I tell all of you the solemn truth – you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.

Prayer

Lord, may I be as excited to know Jesus as was John the Baptist, as willing to drop everything to serve Jesus as were the early disciples, and as faithful in resisting the temptations of Satan as was Jesus.

Scripture In Perspective

John sees Jesus approaching and proclaims Him to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The next day, when two of John’s disciples “heard him say this” (vs. 37), they left off following John to follow Jesus.

Matthew reports in detail the Spirit leading Jesus “into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1). In response to this testing, Jesus does what Adam and Eve failed to do when they were tested in the Garden: He uses the Word of God, “the sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), to defeat the subtle lies of the Enemy. Jesus is the “Second Adam,” because He represents a new beginning for mankind to get it right this time (see 1 Cor. 15:20-28).

Affirming the perfect consistency of God’s Word, the prophesy of Isaiah (see Isaiah 9:1) is fulfilled regarding where and to whom Jesus would first preach: “the way by the sea” (Matt. 4:15) and to “those who sit in the region” (vs. 16). Matthew echoes the other reports of Jesus’ call to the disciples to “follow Me” (vs. 19).

[Note: The unique joining of the Holy Spirit and Jesus when He is being tempted by the devil, “Then Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1), reveals two of the three members of the Trinity physically and spiritually together in the human body of Jesus. Believers post-Pentecost are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit, although our adoption into the family of Christ is not the same as our being eternal deity. Jesus full of the Spirit is symbolic of what He made possible for us through His death and resurrection, that of being filled with the Spirit.]

Faith In Action

Consider

God instructs us in the New Testament that His Word is powerful and is written upon our hearts and minds when we read and meditate on His Word.

Reflect

The humility of John is notable, for he believed nothing about his ministry glorified himself.

There are practical ways in our lives to use the sword of the Word to defeat the subtle lies of the Enemy.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where fear of criticism has caused you to show a false humility, one that is people-pleasing in order to avoid jealousy or accusations of being a braggart and which denies the gifts and talents the Lord has provided for you. Seek to be, with God’s help, more honest about who you really are and the gifts you have been given, all for His glory.

Act

Today I choose to identify where in my life the Holy Spirit has led me to enjoy a healthy humility and to thank Him for His leading me to be free when fear has caused me to live a false humility.

Be Specific ________________________________________________

Tuesday (Luke 4:14–5:11; John 2–4)

Luke

The Beginning of Jesus’ Ministry in Galilee

4:14 Then Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and news about him spread throughout the surrounding countryside. 4:15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by all.

Rejection at Nazareth

4:16 Now Jesus came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 4:17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written,

4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and the regaining of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed,

4:19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 4:21 Then he began to tell them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled even as you heard it being read.” 4:22 All were speaking well of him, and were amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth. They said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” 4:23 Jesus said to them, “No doubt you will quote to me the proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ and say, ‘What we have heard that you did in Capernaum, do here in your hometown too.’” 4:24 And he added, “I tell you the truth, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 4:25 But in truth I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s days, when the sky was shut up three and a half years, and there was a great famine over all the land. 4:26 Yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to a woman who was a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. 4:27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, yet none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” 4:28 When they heard this, all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage. 4:29 They got up, forced him out of the town, and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 4:30 But he passed through the crowd and went on his way.

Ministry in Capernaum

4:31 So he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he began to teach the people. 4:32 They were amazed at his teaching, because he spoke with authority.

4:33 Now in the synagogue there was a man who had the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 4:34 “Ha! Leave us alone, Jesus the Nazarene! Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are – the Holy One of God.” 4:35 But Jesus rebuked him: “Silence! Come out of him!” Then, after the demon threw the man down in their midst, he came out of him without hurting him. 4:36 They were all amazed and began to say to one another, “What’s happening here? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” 4:37 So the news about him spread into all areas of the region.

4:38 After Jesus left the synagogue, he entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 4:39 So he stood over her, commanded the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.

4:40 As the sun was setting, all those who had any relatives sick with various diseases brought them to Jesus. He placed his hands on every one of them and healed them. 4:41 Demons also came out of many, crying out, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them, and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Christ.

4:42 The next morning Jesus departed and went to a deserted place. Yet the crowds were seeking him, and they came to him and tried to keep him from leaving them. 4:43 But Jesus said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, for that is what I was sent to do.” 4:44 So he continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.

The Call of the Disciples

5:1 Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God. 5:2 He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 5:3 He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 5:4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 5:5 Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word I will lower the nets.” 5:6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. 5:7 So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were about to sink. 5:8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 5:9 For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 5:10 and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” 5:11 So when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

John

Turning Water into Wine

2:1 Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, 2:2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. 2:3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” 2:4 Jesus replied, “Woman, why are you saying this to me? My time has not yet come.” 2:5 His mother told the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

2:6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 2:7 Jesus told the servants, “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top. 2:8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” and they did. 2:9 When the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he called the bridegroom 2:10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper wine when the guests are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!” 2:11 Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee. In this way he revealed his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

Cleansing the Temple

2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there a few days. 2:13 Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2:14 He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. 2:15 So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 2:16 To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” 2:17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.”

2:18 So then the Jewish leaders responded, “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?” 2:19 Jesus replied, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” 2:20 Then the Jewish leaders said to him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and are you going to raise it up in three days?” 2:21 But Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. 2:22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the saying that Jesus had spoken.

Jesus at the Passover Feast

2:23 Now while Jesus was in Jerusalem at the feast of the Passover, many people believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs he was doing. 2:24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people. 2:25 He did not need anyone to testify about man, for he knew what was in man.

Conversation with Nicodemus

3:1 Now a certain man, a Pharisee named Nicodemus, who was a member of the Jewish ruling council, 3:2 came to Jesus at night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3:3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 3:4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter his mother’s womb and be born a second time, can he?”

3:5 Jesus answered, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born of water and spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 3:6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 3:7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’ 3:8 The wind blows wherever it will, and you hear the sound it makes, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

3:9 Nicodemus replied, “How can these things be?” 3:10 Jesus answered, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you don’t understand these things? 3:11 I tell you the solemn truth, we speak about what we know and testify about what we have seen, but you people do not accept our testimony. 3:12 If I have told you people about earthly things and you don’t believe, how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 3:13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven – the Son of Man. 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 3:15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”

3:16 For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. 3:18 The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. 3:19 Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. 3:20 For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. 3:21 But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.

Further Testimony About Jesus by John the Baptist

3:22 After this, Jesus and his disciples came into Judean territory, and there he spent time with them and was baptizing. 3:23 John was also baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming to him and being baptized. 3:24 (For John had not yet been thrown into prison.)

3:25 Now a dispute came about between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew concerning ceremonial washing. 3:26 So they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, the one who was with you on the other side of the Jordan River, about whom you testified – see, he is baptizing, and everyone is flocking to him!”

3:27 John replied, “No one can receive anything unless it has been given to him from heaven. 3:28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but rather, ‘I have been sent before him.’ 3:29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This then is my joy, and it is complete. 3:30 He must become more important while I become less important.”

3:31 The one who comes from above is superior to all. The one who is from the earth belongs to the earth and speaks about earthly things. The one who comes from heaven is superior to all. 3:32 He testifies about what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. 3:33 The one who has accepted his testimony has confirmed clearly that God is truthful. 3:34 For the one whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for he does not give the Spirit sparingly. 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed all things under his authority. 3:36 The one who believes in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him.

Departure From Judea

4:1 Now when Jesus knew that the Pharisees had heard that he was winning and baptizing more disciples than John 4:2 (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were), 4:3 he left Judea and set out once more for Galilee.

Conversation With a Samaritan Woman

4:4 But he had to pass through Samaria. 4:5 Now he came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the plot of land that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 4:6 Jacob’s well was there, so Jesus, since he was tired from the journey, sat right down beside the well. It was about noon.

4:7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me some water to drink.” 4:8 (For his disciples had gone off into the town to buy supplies.) 4:9 So the Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you – a Jew – ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water to drink?” (For Jews use nothing in common with Samaritans.)

4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you had known the gift of God and who it is who said to you, ‘Give me some water to drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 4:11 “Sir,” the woman said to him, “you have no bucket and the well is deep; where then do you get this living water? 4:12 Surely you’re not greater than our ancestor Jacob, are you? For he gave us this well and drank from it himself, along with his sons and his livestock.”

4:13 Jesus replied, “Everyone who drinks some of this water will be thirsty again. 4:14 But whoever drinks some of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again, but the water that I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up to eternal life.” 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 4:16 He said to her, “Go call your husband and come back here.” 4:17 The woman replied, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “Right you are when you said, ‘I have no husband,’ 4:18 for you have had five husbands, and the man you are living with now is not your husband. This you said truthfully!”

4:19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 4:20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you people say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 4:21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 4:22 You people worship what you do not know. We worship what we know, because salvation is from the Jews. 4:23 But a time is coming – and now is here – when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such people to be his worshipers. 4:24 God is spirit, and the people who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 4:25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (the one called Christ); “whenever he comes, he will tell us everything.” 4:26 Jesus said to her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”

The Disciples Return

4:27 Now at that very moment his disciples came back. They were shocked because he was speaking with a woman. However, no one said, “What do you want?” or “Why are you speaking with her?” 4:28 Then the woman left her water jar, went off into the town and said to the people, 4:29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Surely he can’t be the Messiah, can he?” 4:30 So they left the town and began coming to him.

Workers for the Harvest

4:31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 4:32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” 4:33 So the disciples began to say to one another, “No one brought him anything to eat, did they?” 4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work. 4:35 Don’t you say, ‘There are four more months and then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, look up and see that the fields are already white for harvest! 4:36 The one who reaps receives pay and gathers fruit for eternal life, so that the one who sows and the one who reaps can rejoice together. 4:37 For in this instance the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 4:38 I sent you to reap what you did not work for; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”

The Samaritans Respond

4:39 Now many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the report of the woman who testified, “He told me everything I ever did.” 4:40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they began asking him to stay with them. He stayed there two days, 4:41 and because of his word many more believed. 4:42 They said to the woman, “No longer do we believe because of your words, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this one really is the Savior of the world.”

Onward to Galilee

4:43 After the two days he departed from there to Galilee. 4:44 (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 4:45 So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him because they had seen all the things he had done in Jerusalem at the feast (for they themselves had gone to the feast).

Healing the Royal Official’s Son

4:46 Now he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had made the water wine. In Capernaum there was a certain royal official whose son was sick. 4:47 When he heard that Jesus had come back from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and begged him to come down and heal his son, who was about to die. 4:48 So Jesus said to him, “Unless you people see signs and wonders you will never believe!” 4:49 “Sir,” the official said to him, “come down before my child dies.” 4:50 Jesus told him, “Go home; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him, and set off for home.

4:51 While he was on his way down, his slaves met him and told him that his son was going to live. 4:52 So he asked them the time when his condition began to improve, and they told him, “Yesterday at one o’clock in the afternoon the fever left him.” 4:53 Then the father realized that it was the very time Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live,” and he himself believed along with his entire household. 4:54 Jesus did this as his second miraculous sign when he returned from Judea to Galilee.

Prayer

Lord, may I be willing to share Your truth despite any resistance encountered, stand against sin in Your church despite those who would compromise for comfort, and be Your vessel of healing to the suffering.

Scripture In Perspective

Luke reports the return of Jesus to Nazareth and His welcome there. He is “praised by all” (4:15) until He reminds them of the story of the prophets Elijah and Elisha: The prophets had brought God’s blessing to the teachable non-Israelites rather than to the rebellious Israelites. Instead of a repentant reaction to the story, the people try to kill Jesus, “but He passed through the crowd and went His way” (vs. 30).

John tells the stories of the first public miracle, “the water that had been turned to wine” (2:9), and His cleansing of the temple courts, “‘Take these things away from here!’“ (vs. 16). After reporting the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus regarding being “born from above [born again]” (3:3), John includes the well-known John 3:16 and the “basis” upon which God judges (see vss. 19-21).

John the Baptist’s ministry parallels that of Jesus:

John’s ministry was leading people to the first step, that of repentance. Instructing them that their salvation was not complete until they accept Jesus the Christ, he was reaching those who could not, unaided, make the leap from rebellion to acceptance. Then baptizing them in water, a pre-Pentecost baptism, he in essence “sealed” them for the next step to which Jesus the Christ would take them.

Jesus’ ministry was leading those who had made the leap from rebellion to acceptance to a total submission. Once they submitted, the disciples of Jesus performed the baptisms.

The interaction of Jesus with the Samaritan woman (to whom He would have given the “living water,” John 4:10), is followed by His explanation to His confused disciples as to why He is doing what He is doing (speaking with the woman) — “My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me” (vs. 34).

The healing of the royal official’s son is done through Jesus without any physical contact with, or His even being in the presence of, the boy: “Go home, your son will live” (John 4:50).

Faith In Action

Consider

God is telling us to never be arrogant about denomination, genealogy, membership, or nationality. As soon as Jesus leaves the resistant Nazareth in Israel for Samaria, He blesses a non-Israelite. Jesus reaches the teachable before the proud (they who think they know it all).

Notice that Jesus explains Who He is by using an image from the Garden of Eden: The tree with the fruit of Eternal Life, which Adam and Eve scorned in favor of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, a knowledge which made them accountable for sin.

There is a possible continuation, in contemporary times and some churches, of the parallel ministry models of Jesus and John: Do some ministries today mimic John’s baptism for repentance, yet fail to disciple the work necessary for a submitted relationship with Jesus?

Reflect

Jesus chose to turn mere water into wine and causing the best wine to be served last, when tradition was to do the opposite. Jesus was creating a contrasting image of the ‘first and the last’ — what will He do for us if we humble ourselves before Him?

Some churches skip the ‘turning away from sin’ step in the ministry models of John and Jesus and jump straight to a “cheap grace” absent true repentance.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where there may be clutter or confusion in your worship life.

Act

Today I choose to identify something in my worship life to which I cling because of the comfort of social familiarity or tradition or due to a fear of change — anything non-Biblical or that distracts from my worship. I will repent of this and humbly accept the strength and help of the Holy Spirit to break free of it.

I will carefully review the Biblical elements of true Salvation as opposed to ‘cheap grace’.

Be Specific _______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Mark 2; Luke 5:12-39)

Mark

Healing and Forgiving a Paralytic

2:1 Now after some days, when he returned to Capernaum, the news spread that he was at home. 2:2 So many gathered that there was no longer any room, not even by the door, and he preached the word to them. 2:3 Some people came bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 2:4 When they were not able to bring him in because of the crowd, they removed the roof above Jesus. Then, after tearing it out, they lowered the stretcher the paralytic was lying on. 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 2:6 Now some of the experts in the law were sitting there, turning these things over in their minds: 2:7 “Why does this man speak this way? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 2:8 Now immediately, when Jesus realized in his spirit that they were contemplating such thoughts, he said to them, “Why are you thinking such things in your hearts? 2:9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up, take your stretcher, and walk’? 2:10 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins,” – he said to the paralytic – 2:11 “I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher, and go home.” 2:12 And immediately the man stood up, took his stretcher, and went out in front of them all. They were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”

The Call of Levi; Eating with Sinners

2:13 Jesus went out again by the sea. The whole crowd came to him, and he taught them. 2:14 As he went along, he saw Levi, the son of Alphaeus, sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. And he got up and followed him. 2:15 As Jesus was having a meal in Levi’s home, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 2:16 When the experts in the law and the Pharisees saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, they said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 2:17 When Jesus heard this he said to them, “Those who are healthy don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

The Superiority of the New

2:18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. So they came to Jesus and said, “Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples don’t fast?” 2:19 Jesus said to them, “The wedding guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they do not fast. 2:20 But the days are coming when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and at that time they will fast. 2:21 No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; otherwise, the patch pulls away from it, the new from the old, and the tear becomes worse. 2:22 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins will be destroyed. Instead new wine is poured into new wineskins.”

Lord of the Sabbath

2:23 Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath, and his disciples began to pick some heads of wheat as they made their way. 2:24 So the Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?” 2:25 He said to them, “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and he and his companions were hungry – 2:26 how he entered the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the sacred bread, which is against the law for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to his companions?” 2:27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. 2:28 For this reason the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Luke

Healing a Leper

5:12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came to him who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he bowed down with his face to the ground and begged him, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” 5:13 So he stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” And immediately the leprosy left him. 5:14 Then he ordered the man to tell no one, but commanded him, “Go and show yourself to a priest, and bring the offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” 5:15 But the news about him spread even more, and large crowds were gathering together to hear him and to be healed of their illnesses. 5:16 Yet Jesus himself frequently withdrew to the wilderness and prayed.

Healing and Forgiving a Paralytic

5:17 Now on one of those days, while he was teaching, there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting nearby (who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem), and the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 5:18 Just then some men showed up, carrying a paralyzed man on a stretcher. They were trying to bring him in and place him before Jesus. 5:19 But since they found no way to carry him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down on the stretcher through the roof tiles right in front of Jesus. 5:20 When Jesus saw their faith he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” 5:21 Then the experts in the law and the Pharisees began to think to themselves, “Who is this man who is uttering blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 5:22 When Jesus perceived their hostile thoughts, he said to them, “Why are you raising objections within yourselves? 5:23 Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Stand up and walk’? 5:24 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he said to the paralyzed man – “I tell you, stand up, take your stretcher and go home.” 5:25 Immediately he stood up before them, picked up the stretcher he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God. 5:26 Then astonishment seized them all, and they glorified God. They were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen incredible things today.”

The Call of Levi; Eating with Sinners

5:27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax booth. “Follow me,” he said to him. 5:28 And he got up and followed him, leaving everything behind.

5:29 Then Levi gave a great banquet in his house for Jesus, and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. 5:30 But the Pharisees and their experts in the law complained to his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 5:31 Jesus answered them, “Those who are well don’t need a physician, but those who are sick do. 5:32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

The Superiority of the New

5:33 Then they said to him, “John’s disciples frequently fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours continue to eat and drink.” 5:34 So Jesus said to them, “You cannot make the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them, can you? 5:35 But those days are coming, and when the bridegroom is taken from them, at that time they will fast.” 5:36 He also told them a parable: “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old garment. If he does, he will have torn the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. 5:37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 5:38 Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 5:39 No one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’”

Prayer

Lord, may I prioritize evangelism of the unsaved over arguments with religious nitpickers, give precedence to the truths in Your Word over the traditions of stuck and immature Believers, and delight in the grace of Your New Testament gift of freedom over the hopeless box of the Law-bound Old Testament.

Scripture In Perspective

A paralytic is lowered through the thatched roof of a rural home in to the presence of Jesus, and He says to him, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5). Then, challenging “the experts in the law” (vs. 6) who are accusing Him of blasphemy (only God can forgive sin!), He heals the man as proof that God is working through Him “so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (vs. 10).

Jesus visits the tax collector’s home, where He is confronted by the Pharisees for eating with “sinners” (Mark 2:16). He reminds them that He came for the “sick” (vs. 17), the humble and the teachable who know they are in need — and He cautions that one who is “healthy (or who thinks mistakenly that he is) will not seek treatment” (NET sn).

Jesus contrasts the legalistic Old Testament practices of the Pharisees with the transitioning-to-the-New Testament ministry of John in response to the Pharisees asking Him, "Why do the disciples of John...fast, but your disciples don't fast?" (Mark

Jesus neutralizes the Pharisees legalistic understanding of the Jewish Sabbath when He tells them He is, “Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:28). The Sabbath rest from work is not law for His people who are free to rest in Him — those free in Christ are no longer in bondage to the sacrificial rituals of the Sabbath.

Luke tells of the healing of the paralytic and of the leper, and of the large crowds “gathering together to hear Him and to be healed” (5:15). He relates the Pharisees challenge to Jesus at Levi’s house for eating and drinking with “tax collectors and sinners” (vs. 30) and the preference for the new covenant over the old covenant — metaphorically, “a new garment...and an old garment” (vs. 36).

Faith In Action

Consider

God tells us that the rituals of the past do not apply to those who are set free in Christ today. We need to be intentional about avoiding the ‘new wine in old wineskins’ error of trying to pour the new covenant of freedom in Christ in to the old system of bondage to traditions which Jesus has set aside.

We make the error of dragging bits and pieces of the pagan world into our lives when we seek signs showing God’s will or presence, honor superstitions born of old traditions, or entertain views contradicting the Word of God.

Reflect

The faith of the paralytic was rewarded with the forgiveness of sin and healing. Jesus wants to forgive sins and heal today — if we will let Him.

Gathering for corporate worship and Bible study out of obligation or tradition, rather than in excitement for and celebration of God’s amazing grace, shows a legalistic understanding of ‘draw near to God’ — a ‘salvation earned through works’ mindset as opposed to a heartfelt desire to draw nearer to Him, enjoy His presence, and hear from Him.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you where you have dragged so-called stinking thinking (smelling of smoke from the pit of hell) and non-Biblical practices into your fellowship and walk with God.

Act

Today I choose to accept God’s healing of my mind, heart, and body. I will identify when and where my worship of God is done intentionally to draw nearer to Him and will celebrate that. I will look for a place where I ‘practice religion’ for some less-than-righteous reason. I will surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit and ask Him for strength and the healing of any broken place in my life, so that I might fully accept God’s love.

Be Specific _______________________________________________________

Thursday (John 5)

Healing a Paralytic at the Pool of Bethesda

5:1 After this there was a Jewish feast, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 5:2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool called Bethzatha in Aramaic, which has five covered walkways. 5:3 A great number of sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people were lying in these walkways. 5:4 [EMPTY] 5:5 Now a man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. 5:6 When Jesus saw him lying there and when he realized that the man had been disabled a long time already, he said to him, “Do you want to become well?” 5:7 The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get into the water, someone else goes down there before me.” 5:8 Jesus said to him, “Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk.” 5:9 Immediately the man was healed, and he picked up his mat and started walking. (Now that day was a Sabbath.)

5:10 So the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and you are not permitted to carry your mat.” 5:11 But he answered them, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk.’” 5:12 They asked him, “Who is the man who said to you, ‘Pick up your mat and walk’?” 5:13 But the man who had been healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped out, since there was a crowd in that place.

5:14 After this Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.” 5:15 The man went away and informed the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the one who had made him well.

Responding to Jewish Leaders

5:16 Now because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began persecuting him. 5:17 So he told them, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working.” 5:18 For this reason the Jewish leaders were trying even harder to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was also calling God his own Father, thus making himself equal with God.

5:19 So Jesus answered them, “I tell you the solemn truth, the Son can do nothing on his own initiative, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. 5:20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he does, and will show him greater deeds than these, so that you will be amazed. 5:21 For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whomever he wishes. 5:22 Furthermore, the Father does not judge anyone, but has assigned all judgment to the Son, 5:23 so that all people will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

5:24 “I tell you the solemn truth, the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life. 5:25 I tell you the solemn truth, a time is coming – and is now here – when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 5:26 For just as the Father has life in himself, thus he has granted the Son to have life in himself, 5:27 and he has granted the Son authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man.

5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 5:29 and will come out – the ones who have done what is good to the resurrection resulting in life, and the ones who have done what is evil to the resurrection resulting in condemnation. 5:30 I can do nothing on my own initiative. Just as I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will, but the will of the one who sent me.

More Testimony About Jesus

5:31 “If I testify about myself, my testimony is not true. 5:32 There is another who testifies about me, and I know the testimony he testifies about me is true. 5:33 You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. 5:34 (I do not accept human testimony, but I say this so that you may be saved.) 5:35 He was a lamp that was burning and shining, and you wanted to rejoice greatly for a short time in his light.

5:36 “But I have a testimony greater than that from John. For the deeds that the Father has assigned me to complete – the deeds I am now doing – testify about me that the Father has sent me. 5:37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified about me. You people have never heard his voice nor seen his form at any time, 5:38 nor do you have his word residing in you, because you do not believe the one whom he sent. 5:39 You study the scriptures thoroughly because you think in them you possess eternal life, and it is these same scriptures that testify about me, 5:40 but you are not willing to come to me so that you may have life.

5:41 “I do not accept praise from people, 5:42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God within you. 5:43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not accept me. If someone else comes in his own name, you will accept him. 5:44 How can you believe, if you accept praise from one another and don’t seek the praise that comes from the only God?

5:45 “Do not suppose that I will accuse you before the Father. The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have placed your hope. 5:46 If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. 5:47 But if you do not believe what Moses wrote, how will you believe my words?”

Prayer

Lord, may I let nothing stand between me and Your call to freedom and service, and may I be found ready to testify to Your truth whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Scripture In Perspective

John describes the paralytic at the pool at Bethesda, whom Jesus heals and then urges “Don’t sin any more” (5:14). The paralytic appears to be as paralyzed by his excuses for not being well as by his actual physical limitations – he had been stuck in the cycle of opportunity and failure for 38 years!

The Jewish leaders are disinterested that a man for years a paralytic had been healed. Instead they persecute Jesus, incensed and obsessed that He had violated their ritualized Sabbath regulation for no work on a Sabbath. When Jesus responds, “My Father is working until now, and I too am working” (John 5:17), they try even harder to kill Him — He was not only breaking the Sabbath but calling God His own Father!

Jesus notes that the religious leaders want to “rejoice greatly for a short time” (John 5:35) with John (the one “who testifies about Me,” vs. 32), although they ignore John’s clear testimony as to Who Jesus is (“you do not accept Me,” vs. 43). Jesus reminds them that He relies only upon the testimony of God as found in His Word — “these same scriptures testify about Me” (vs. 39).

Jesus warns them of functionally worshiping, as their intercessor, Moses (“in whom you have placed your hope,” John 5:45) despite the clear teaching of the Old Testament about the coming of Jesus (“he wrote about Me....But...you do not believe what Moses wrote,” vss. 46, 47). Moses would become their accuser for their failure to honor Jesus.

Faith In Action

Consider

May we be in some ways like the paralytic, stuck in our excuses yet blaming our circumstances and causing ourselves to be unable or unwilling to get unstuck?

Are we aware of how sticking with our habits, rituals, and traditions insidiously becomes more important than seeking truth? Discern habits, rituals, or traditions which have become more important than Truth in your individual life or in your fellowship with other Believers. What has been done or will you do to resolve this?

Reflect

Unpack the ‘day of rest’ from the Creation narrative package. God never said that He, or any of His created beings, were required to cease from all activity on the day observed in the Old Testament as the Saturday Sabbath. What He says in Genesis 2:2 is that He Himself had “finished the work that He had been doing” and had “ceased on the seventh day.”

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place(s) that weaken both your witness and your walk and show you how you compromise with the world in which you live.

Act

Today I choose to identify a place where I have been making excuses for a less-than-righteous lifestyle and, as a result, am distorting the image of a Biblical Christian before a watching world. I will accept the power and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to overcome this, so that I may permanently repent (turn away from) my rebellion.

Be Specific _______________________________________________________

Friday (Matthew 12:1-32; Mark 3; Luke 6:1-16)

Matthew

Lord of the Sabbath

12:1 At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on a Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pick heads of wheat and eat them. 12:2 But when the Pharisees saw this they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is against the law to do on the Sabbath.” 12:3 He said to them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry – 12:4 how he entered the house of God and they ate the sacred bread, which was against the law for him or his companions to eat, but only for the priests? 12:5 Or have you not read in the law that the priests in the temple desecrate the Sabbath and yet are not guilty? 12:6 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here. 12:7 If you had known what this means: ‘I want mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. 12:8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

12:9 Then Jesus left that place and entered their synagogue. 12:10 A man was there who had a withered hand. And they asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” so that they could accuse him. 12:11 He said to them, “Would not any one of you, if he had one sheep that fell into a pit on the Sabbath, take hold of it and lift it out? 12:12 How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” 12:13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out and it was restored, as healthy as the other. 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and plotted against him, as to how they could assassinate him.

God’s Special Servant

12:15 Now when Jesus learned of this, he went away from there. Great crowds followed him, and he healed them all. 12:16 But he sternly warned them not to make him known. 12:17 This fulfilled what was spoken by Isaiah the prophet:

12:18 “Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I take great delight.

I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations.

12:19 He will not quarrel or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets.

12:20 He will not break a bruised reed or extinguish a smoldering wick, until he brings justice to victory.

12:21 And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Jesus and Beelzebul

12:22 Then they brought to him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute. Jesus healed him so that he could speak and see. 12:23 All the crowds were amazed and said, “Could this one be the Son of David?” 12:24 But when the Pharisees heard this they said, “He does not cast out demons except by the power of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons!” 12:25 Now when Jesus realized what they were thinking, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and no town or house divided against itself will stand. 12:26 So if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 12:27 And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? For this reason they will be your judges. 12:28 But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has already overtaken you. 12:29 How else can someone enter a strong man’s house and steal his property, unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can thoroughly plunder the house. 12:30 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters. 12:31 For this reason I tell you, people will be forgiven for every sin and blasphemy, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 12:32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven. But whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.

Mark

Healing a Withered Hand

3:1 Then Jesus entered the synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. 3:2 They watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they could accuse him. 3:3 So he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Stand up among all these people.” 3:4 Then he said to them, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath, or evil, to save a life or destroy it?” But they were silent. 3:5 After looking around at them in anger, grieved by the hardness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 3:6 So the Pharisees went out immediately and began plotting with the Herodians, as to how they could assassinate him.

Crowds by the Sea

3:7 Then Jesus went away with his disciples to the sea, and a great multitude from Galilee followed him. And from Judea, 3:8 Jerusalem, Idumea, beyond the Jordan River, and around Tyre and Sidon a great multitude came to him when they heard about the things he had done. 3:9 Because of the crowd, he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him so the crowd would not press toward him. 3:10 For he had healed many, so that all who were afflicted with diseases pressed toward him in order to touch him. 3:11 And whenever the unclean spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, “You are the Son of God.” 3:12 But he sternly ordered them not to make him known.

Appointing the Twelve Apostles

3:13 Now Jesus went up the mountain and called for those he wanted, and they came to him. 3:14 He appointed twelve (whom he named apostles), so that they would be with him and he could send them to preach 3:15 and to have authority to cast out demons. 3:16 He appointed twelve: To Simon he gave the name Peter; 3:17 to James and his brother John, the sons of Zebedee, he gave the name Boanerges (that is, “sons of thunder”); 3:18 and Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, 3:19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

Jesus and Beelzebul

3:20 Now Jesus went home, and a crowd gathered so that they were not able to eat. 3:21 When his family heard this they went out to restrain him, for they said, “He is out of his mind.” 3:22 The experts in the law who came down from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and, “By the ruler of demons he casts out demons.” 3:23 So he called them and spoke to them in parables: “How can Satan cast out Satan? 3:24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom will not be able to stand. 3:25 If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 3:26 And if Satan rises against himself and is divided, he is not able to stand and his end has come. 3:27 But no one is able to enter a strong man’s house and steal his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can thoroughly plunder his house. 3:28 I tell you the truth, people will be forgiven for all sins, even all the blasphemies they utter. 3:29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin” 3:30 (because they said, “He has an unclean spirit”).

Jesus’ True Family

3:31 Then Jesus’ mother and his brothers came. Standing outside, they sent word to him, to summon him. 3:32 A crowd was sitting around him and they said to him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you.” 3:33 He answered them and said, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 3:34 And looking at those who were sitting around him in a circle, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 3:35 For whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Luke

Lord of the Sabbath

6:1 Jesus was going through the grain fields on a Sabbath, and his disciples picked some heads of wheat, rubbed them in their hands, and ate them. 6:2 But some of the Pharisees said, “Why are you doing what is against the law on the Sabbath?” 6:3 Jesus answered them, “Haven’t you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry – 6:4 how he entered the house of God, took and ate the sacred bread, which is not lawful for any to eat but the priests alone, and gave it to his companions?” 6:5 Then he said to them, “The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

Healing a Withered Hand

6:6 On another Sabbath, Jesus entered the synagogue and was teaching. Now a man was there whose right hand was withered. 6:7 The experts in the law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely to see if he would heal on the Sabbath, so that they could find a reason to accuse him. 6:8 But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man who had the withered hand, “Get up and stand here.” So he rose and stood there. 6:9 Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath or to do evil, to save a life or to destroy it?” 6:10 After looking around at them all, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” The man did so, and his hand was restored. 6:11 But they were filled with mindless rage and began debating with one another what they would do to Jesus.

Choosing the Twelve Apostles

6:12 Now it was during this time that Jesus went out to the mountain to pray, and he spent all night in prayer to God. 6:13 When morning came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles: 6:14 Simon (whom he named Peter), and his brother Andrew; and James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, 6:15 Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, 6:16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

Prayer

Lord, may I stand strong against spiritual attack, wearing the armor of Your Word, recognize that my “family” is for me first those who are fellow Believers, and remember that many prophesies over thousands of years have pointed toward and been fulfilled in You.

Scripture In Perspective

Issuing a direct challenge to the Pharisees, in order to reveal their obsession with tradition over truth and hierarchy over heart, Jesus asks them if wanting “to do good...to save a life or destroy it” (Mark 3:4) is acceptable on the Sabbath. They keep silent, unwilling to say that anything so clearly from God is unacceptable, while yet knowing their man-made rules and traditions make it seem so). Following their silence, Jesus heals the man’s withered hand in front of them and, sadly, their reaction to this evidence of God in their midst is to plot “how they could assassinate Him” (vs. 6).

Jesus commands demons that He has cast out “not to make Him known” (Mark 3:12) and reveal His full identity to the onlookers. The people know Him to be a healer, a prophet, and a teacher, but they do not yet know Him as the Son of God, their prophesized Messiah. Jesus knows that they will try to make of Him a political leader, thereby missing His much more important message. Embedded here is the harsh reality that the demons knew Him to be a member of the Trinity — “You are the Son of God” (vs. 11) — something even the most sophisticated religious leaders of His day were incapable of accepting. Many today remain resistant to that same Biblical truth.

In the anointing of those Jesus named as His apostles, who were set apart to preach and to cast out demons, “He appointed twelve” (Mark 3:14). Judas of Iscariot, the only non-Galilean, was among their number. Mark notes that Judas would be the one “who betrayed Him” (vs. 19), despite his special calling to be near to and hear from Jesus.

Jesus leaves for His home, where a crowd quickly gathers — the people all over the region had “heard about the things He had done” (Mark 3:8). He is apparently casting out demons, and in response to this the crowd (including some Scribes and perhaps even members of His own family, the text is unclear) challenges Him: “by the ruler of demons He casts out demons (vs. 22). Jesus illustrates the absurdity of the accusation by asking, “How can Satan cast out Satan?” (vs. 23), and then teaches spiritual truths using a series of parables.

“Whoever does the will of God is My brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35) is a very important message from Jesus: Our first and most important family is our family of fellow Believers.

Jesus and His disciples pick and eat grain as they pass through the fields on the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees object that what they are doing is “against the law on the Sabbath” (Luke 6:2). Jesus reminds the Pharisees that King David had taken sacred bread from the temple and given it to His men “when He and His companions were hungry” (vs. 3) — “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath” (vs. 5), He declares.

Jesus’ challenge, “something greater than the temple is here” (Matt. 12:6), and His declaration, “I want mercy and not sacrifice” (vs. 7), contrast with the heartless legalism of the Pharisees.

Jesus warns, “whoever is not with Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30). He teaches, “whoever speaks against [blasphemies] the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (vs. 32): The Spirit tells us that the Way to salvation is through belief in the sacrifice of Christ, and His presence in us is confirmation of our salvation. Not believing in the Way to salvation is calling the Spirit a liar (blaspheming Him) and the Spirit’s absence from us is evidence of our lack of salvation.

Faith In Action

Consider

How and when do we sometimes place fitting-in, habit, partisanship, or tradition ahead of sacrificial loving-care of others and/or Biblical truth?

Do we find ourselves “betraying” Jesus, despite His incredible gift of salvation and the privilege we have to represent Him in this world?

Reflect

To “blasphemy the Holy Spirit” is to blame God for ones own sin, to deny the Lordship of Christ, or to credit Satan for the work of the Holy Spirit.

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to encourage you with a reminder of your faithfulness and to caution you to stand strong against spiritual attack.

Act

Today I choose to identify a way in which I rightfully honor the incredible gift of salvation and celebrate that by sharing my story of faith found with another.

I will identify a place where I have allowed a worldly habit or an objectionable personal trait to slip into my life, and I will intentionally cooperate with the Holy Spirit in purging that from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Luke 6:17-49)

The Sermon on the Plain

6:17 Then he came down with them and stood on a level place. And a large number of his disciples had gathered along with a vast multitude from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon. They came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases, 6:18 and those who suffered from unclean spirits were cured. 6:19 The whole crowd was trying to touch him, because power was coming out from him and healing them all.

6:20 Then he looked up at his disciples and said:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you.

6:21 “Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! 6:23 Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.

6:24 “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.

6:25 “Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.

6:26 “Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.

6:27 “But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 6:28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 6:29 To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. 6:30 Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. 6:31 Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.

6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 6:33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. 6:34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full. 6:35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people. 6:36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Do Not Judge Others

6:37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

6:39 He also told them a parable: “Someone who is blind cannot lead another who is blind, can he? Won’t they both fall into a pit? 6:40 A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher. 6:41 Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? 6:42 How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,’ while you yourself don’t see the beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

6:43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, 6:44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles. 6:45 The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart.

6:46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do what I tell you?

6:47 “Everyone who comes to me and listens to my words and puts them into practice – I will show you what he is like: 6:48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep, and laid the foundation on bedrock. When a flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 6:49 But the person who hears and does not put my words into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against that house, it collapsed immediately, and was utterly destroyed!”

Prayer

Lord, may I never forget that all blessings come from You and that I am most-blessed when You choose to pour Your blessings through me into the lives of others.

Scripture In Perspective

In Luke 6, Jesus presents a series of blessings and woes and instructions in righteous living, sustained by a loving yet judging God and based on the choices made by His people. Speaking in parabolic language, Jesus challenges His followers to seek integrity in their walk with Him, in what has become known as The Sermon on the Plain:

“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you” (vs. 20). Jesus is addressing the poor in spirit, those who recognize the inability of anything in the world to meet their eternal needs and are therefore willing to humble themselves before God.

“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied” (vs. 21). Jesus is speaking to those who hunger for truth, because they will have that hunger satisfied by Him — those satisfied by ‘truth’ as the world sees it (the unteachable) will one day long for the Truth of God not tasted, even though it has been offered to them.

“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (vs. 21). Jesus weeps for the world, the hard hearts of man and all things that are the way they are though not created that way. Those who weep with Him in righteous sadness will one day, in Heaven, be blessed with joy and be witness to perfection standing in the presence of the perfect Father.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets” (vss. 22, 23). Those who resist and reject God are partnering with the Enemy, whether they are aware of or intentional in this alliance or not. And they are attacking those who belong to Jesus because their prince, Satan, hates Jesus. However, when Believers are attacked it is evidence that we have the Holy Spirit of God in us and affirmation that we are actively partnering with Him in a way that threatens the Enemy.

“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already” (vs. 24). Those arrogant in their worldly wealth, power, and religious rituals, and who are wise in their own eyes are already seemingly comforted by these vanities; so they make no effort to store up for themselves treasures in Heaven in service to God.

“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry” (vs. 25). Those who look only for physical comfort and food, not for the deeper comfort food for the soul that Jesus (the bread of life) offers, will one day find themselves alone, frightened, and hungry.

“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep” (vs. 25). Those who, for the time being, settle for circumstantial happiness will lack eternal joy in the times ahead.

“Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets” (vs. 26). Being satisfied with the praises of shallow unsaved humans is dangerous, as they can easily turn on you and will eventually disappoint you. The only praise we should seek and value is that which we offer to God.

[Note: Jesus often speaks rhetorically and in parables to make a point in such a way as to make His hearers (of yesterday and today) best understand His intended meaning. Therefore, it is imperative that we trust Bible translators and Biblically-correct commentaries in order to rightly understand His intended meaning when speaking to His children 2,000 years earlier and in a different culture.]

“But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (vss. 27, 28). The best way to love an enemy is to pray earnestly for their salvation and to earn credibility by actively showing Christian integrity and love. Bless those who curse or mistreat you, while remembering that they are not attacking you but God in you.

“To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either” (vs. 29). Do not escalate violence by returning insult-for-insult, attack-for-attack. This is not a teaching of pacifism, as Christianity is not a pacifist religion. Jesus is generally speaking rhetorically: By lowering the level of conflict — handing the bully your tunic when he takes your coat, not waiting for him to forcefully remove it — there is not only less escalation, but you will earn testimony of the freedom you have in Christ.

“Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away” (vs. 30). Be generous, not violating your prior obligations, but freely giving that which has not already been promised. Once you have given something, it is no longer yours; not wanting it returned is evidence of maturity, integrity, and believing that everything you have is a gift from God.

“Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you” (vs. 31). Through our treatment of others we teach them the value of boundaries and respect, or the lack thereof.

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same” (vss. 32, 33). Our worlds are not to revolve around only that which directly benefits us (or those who benefit us). We are not to be the same in nature as shallow self-important unbelievers.

“And if you lend to those from whom you hope to be repaid, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, so that they may be repaid in full” (vs. 34). When it comes to pouring Christ into others and earning the right to be heard through sacrificial giving, we do so with no expectation of personal benefit — we should do so only out of love and obedience to Christ. The goal in giving to others is not that we will see a repayment of sorts, but that they will be blessed and pass on the blessing to others.

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to ungrateful and evil people” (vs. 35). We love and serve those who are our enemies because we are Christians, not because our goal is personal benefit or reward — we are kind to them because He is kind to us. In doing so, we function here and now as we will more purely function with Him in Heaven.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (vs. 36). Since we are saved and daily forgiven due only to God’s mercy, we are expected to share that mercy with others — in our obedience to be merciful, the Holy Spirit pours out blessings through us into the lives of others.

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven” (vs. 37). There is a difference between the two uses of the term “judge” in the Bible: One refers to taking the place of God — by wrongfully declaring or ‘pretending’ to know the eternal status of another or the intentions of their heart, when only God truly knows the heart. The other refers to discerning sin and confronting a brother or sister in love — by walking with them, through confession and repentance, to a place of freedom from that sin. Condemning others is to wish evil upon them and to act or speak that wish out. We have been forgiven much and ever more so daily; being unforgiving toward others is in direct rebellion to the instructions of God. Unforgiveness creates a toxic bitterness in us, poisoning the well of our fellowship with others.

“Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive” (vs. 38). Jesus uses a marketplace image — a vendor filling a container with grain, shaking it to displace pockets of air, pressing down to get more in, then adding more until the container is full to overflowing — to illustrate a heart of generosity in all things. Selfless giving creates a fellowship with others in which everyone is motivated to be generous. Appealing to our sense of what we would value, Jesus notes that a brother or sister who is blessed with our generosity will also be gracious to others in return. When our hearts are generous toward others (loving, forgiving, filling needs) God will fill us to overflowing with His generous gifts.

“He also told them a parable: ‘Someone who is blind cannot lead another who is blind, can he? Won’t they both fall into a pit? A disciple is not greater than his teacher, but everyone when fully trained will be like his teacher. Why do you see the speck in your brother’s eye, but fail to see the beam of wood in your own? How can you say to your brother, “Brother, let me remove the speck from your eye,” while you yourself don’t see the beam in your own? You hypocrite! First remove the beam from your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye’“ (vss. 39-42). We must be most watchful over that which we have the most control, our personal righteousness, rather than challenging others to live as we do not ourselves always live.

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from brambles” (vss. 43, 44). The fruit of our lives will flow from either hearts of love-motivated selflessness or from hearts of fear-driven selfishness — we will be known by our fruit.

“The good person out of the good treasury of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasury produces evil, for his mouth speaks from what fills his heart” (vs. 45). Our words and actions tell a story to the world of the health of our hearts.

Jesus challenges, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and don’t do what I tell you?” (vs. 46), and follows with the parable of a house built on a firm foundation, or no foundation, to illustrate His point. When we do more than gather knowledge of Jesus but also seek to understand it (a house on a firm foundation, “on bedrock,” vs. 48), we will also have the wisdom with which to use that knowledge. However, if we only have knowledge that we don’t really understand (a house “without a foundation,” vs. 49), then that knowledge does not equip us to handle the storms ahead. The influences of the world and Satan, the prince of this world, are like a flood — we can only stand against them if we understand and practice all that Jesus has taught.

Faith In Action

Consider

Are we both convicted and encouraged by the Sermon on the Plain, and do we discern the challenging truths in His parables, while seeking how both should be applied in our lives today?

Reflect

Do we call God our “Lord,” “Father,” “Master” and sing out to Him “I worship You” on Sunday morning, yet live in constant rebellion against what He has told us to do all week?

Pray

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you specifics in today’s text which He wants you to apply in your life, with His help.

Act

Today I choose to read through the Sermon on the Plain and the parables to find one encouraging word and one challenging word which God has illuminated in both my heart and mind. I will share what I find with others and ask for their prayers in agreement, celebrating the encouragement and seeking victory over the challenge.

Be Specific __________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study –” The Chronological Gospels” – “Week 2 of 12” - prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in June of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Related Topics: Devotionals, Curriculum