One You Do Not Know: John 1:19-34

Focus Passage: John 1:19-34 (NASB)

On discovering that John the Baptist was not claiming to be Elijah, “the Prophet”, or the Messiah, John the disciple’s gospel includes an amazing statement in this conversation between Jesus’ forerunner in ministry and the priests and Levites.

After John the Baptist has shared that he is simply the one who comes before, “They asked him, and said to him, ‘Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’” (v. 25)

This is a valid question. If John makes no claims to be special or significant, than what would give him the right to baptize?

While we learn the reason later on in this passage, the point in time when John shares why he baptizes happens the following day. In John’s direct reply to the priests and Levites, we find a surprising foreshadowing regarding how these spiritual leaders would react to Jesus.

John responds to these messengers by saying, “I baptize in water, but among you stands One whom you do not know. It is He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (v. 26-27)

In this response, John the Baptist calls these leaders out that they do not know the One who God sent. In many ways this is true, however, Jesus had already subtly showed up on the scene. Jesus had already been baptized publicly by John, but even before this, Jesus had already spent three days in Jerusalem with some of these leaders about 18 years earlier when He was 12 years old.

John confidently challenges these leaders that the One God sent to Israel is alive among them, but also that they would not know Him. This man would follow after John and John admits that he isn’t worthy to even untie the sandal of the One God sent.

John’s statement is amazing foreshadowing, since all throughout Jesus’ ministry, the religious leaders – who should have been the ones to proclaim who Jesus was – were the ones who were standing in the strongest opposition to what He was doing.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Truth from a Liar: Luke 4:31-41

Focus Passage: Luke 4:31-41 (NIV)

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority.

33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!”

35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.

36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.

40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.

Read Luke 4:31-41 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

One of the interesting events that stand out in my mind happens in the passage we are going to focus on in this journal entry. While there are many places where Jesus casts out impure spirits (or “demons” depending on the translation), there are two interesting distinctions that separate these healings from other similar ones included in the gospels.

On one Sabbath, as Jesus was teaching in the synagogue, a man with an impure spirit interrupts Jesus by shouting, “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (v. 34)

Probably not even looking the slightest bit phased, we read Jesus’ response in the next verse: “‘Be quiet!’ Jesus said sternly. ‘Come out of him!’ Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.” (v. 35)

That evening, after word had spread about what happened, more people bring their sick and demon-possessed family members to have Jesus heal them. Luke tells us, “At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.” (v. 40-41)

In both of these cases, the demons were declaring the truth about who Jesus was, and Jesus silenced them from speaking.

Why would Jesus want to silence these impure spirits? After all, wouldn’t Jesus benefit from being known for who He was?

While there are a number of reasons for not allowing the demons to speak, probably the most notable one is that anything that comes from a liar’s mouth cannot be trusted. If the evil spirits could lie about other things, how would anyone know if what they say here is a lie or the truth? Even though a declaration about who you are carries some weight when it comes from your enemy, if your enemy is a known liar, then there is no way for others to know if he is lying or telling the truth.

Also worth noting is that the popular belief about who the Messiah would be was different than the Messiah Jesus came to be. The people expected a military-minded messiah, not a meek and selfless Messiah. Jesus knew that if too many people knew He was God’s promised Messiah, they might rally around who they think He should be rather than being open to who He really came to be. If too many people knew the truth too soon, they could derail the focus of His mission.

So Jesus keep the demons quiet, in order for Him to build His ministry on His own terms – and not in a way that might jeopardize His ultimate mission of dying for our sins on the cross.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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Flashback Episode — Enduring to the End: Mark 13:1-31


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During the week leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion, we read about a point where Jesus’ three closest disciples have some questions, and they pull Jesus aside to get some answers. To set the stage for this event, and for Jesus’ response, we read about a brief prediction Jesus shares as He and the disciples were leaving the temple.

Our passage is found in several of the gospels, but for our time together in this episode, we will look at Mark’s gospel, chapter 13, and we will read from the New American Standard Bible translation. Starting in verse 1, Mark tells us that:

1 As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

Pausing our reading briefly here, I wonder if the disciples, and perhaps the unnamed disciple who made the original statement, were bothered by Jesus’ prediction that the temple would be destroyed.

Because this was on their minds as the afternoon passed and evening came, we discover that some of the disciples want a little more information.

Picking back up reading in verse 3, Mark tells us that:

3 As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” 5 And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8 For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. 12 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 15 The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; 16 and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. 20 Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; 22 for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

In this long passage, Jesus shares a broad look at the future of the world. While there are plenty of specific parts we could focus on within Jesus’ response, the part I want to focus in on for the rest of our time together is the last few verses. Jesus concludes this teaching by telling the disciples that they should pay attention to what is happening around them in the world and know that when we hear and see things happening, such as wars and rumors of wars, that we can be reminded that Jesus is coming soon.

While Jesus promises that the current generation of people would not pass away until all these things took place – which is something that is perplexing in itself and something that would take too much time than we have left to dig into – the closing words in Jesus’ message is one of the biggest promises we can find in the entire Bible. Jesus tells these disciples in verse 31 that “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

This promise is powerful, because it reminds us that with whatever happens in this life, and whatever Satan tries to throw at us to take our focus off of God, in the end, Jesus’ words and His message will survive. Jesus’ words last forever. Jesus’ words last longer than sin. Jesus’ words bring eternal life.

We are reminded and challenged with the truth that we will be hated and abused by people in this world because we follow Jesus, but those who endure to the end will be saved. We are challenged to endure to the end of our lives or until Jesus returns, and the reward for our endurance is eternity – specifically an eternity in a sinless, perfect, recreated world.

As we come to the end of another podcast episode, here are the challenges I will leave you with:

Be sure to always place God first and to stay loyal to Him. Choose to endure and ignore those who try to challenge our faith because we know from Jesus’ promise that those who endure to the end find salvation.

Also, as I always challenge you to do, be sure to pray and study the Bible for yourself to grow your personal relationship with God each and every day. While pastors, podcasters, authors, or speakers can give you great ideas to think about, only through personal study can you grow a personal relationship, and a personal relationship with God is one key part of being saved!

And as I end every set of challenges by saying in one way or another, never stop short of, back away from, or chicken out of where God wants to lead you to in your life with Him!

Flashback Episode: Year of the Cross – Episode 15: Discover what we can learn when three of Jesus’ closest disciples ask Him about what will happen leading up to the end of the world.

Join the discussion on the original episode's page: Click Here.

Friend or Enemy: Matthew 26:47-56

Focus Passage: Matthew 26:47-56 (NLT)

47 And even as Jesus said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the leading priests and elders of the people. 48 The traitor, Judas, had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I greet him with a kiss.” 49 So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss.

50 Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.”

Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. 51 But one of the men with Jesus pulled out his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, slashing off his ear.

52 “Put away your sword,” Jesus told him. “Those who use the sword will die by the sword. 53 Don’t you realize that I could ask my Father for thousands of angels to protect us, and he would send them instantly? 54 But if I did, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that describe what must happen now?”

55 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? Why didn’t you arrest me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. 56 But this is all happening to fulfill the words of the prophets as recorded in the Scriptures.” At that point, all the disciples deserted him and fled.

Read Matthew 26:47-56 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Of the few events that all four gospel writers include, the one that is the most notable in my mind is Jesus’ arrest in the garden. While there are other events that all four gospels include, in this event, every gospel writer includes something that the other three writers don’t include – and in these unique details, we find some amazing truths about Jesus and God.

One of the unique details that Matthew includes is immediately following Judas’ greeting and kiss, Jesus replies to him, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” (v. 50)

This statement is amazing to me.

All this time, Jesus was not caught off guard, or surprised at what was coming. From even before the supper a few hours earlier, Jesus knew who would betray Him, and how it would happen. And Jesus still calls Judas His friend.

Jesus also knows that this mob would lead Him towards the cross. This was not the first mob that tried to get Jesus, but this was the first mob that Jesus humbled Himself to – and this began by humbling Himself to Judas. When Jesus says, “Go ahead and do what you have come for”, we see the Messiah of the world lowering Himself to be betrayed willingly at the hand of one of His twelve closest followers.

This greeting tells us so much about God and His character.

Even when we are actively sinning against God, He is still willing to call us His friend. Even when we mean to do Him harm, He is willing to take the punishment just to be close to us. Even when our hearts don’t understand what our actions will lead to, Jesus is willing to stand by us. Jesus is the clearest picture of the only God worth serving.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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