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Our DAILY GOSPEL DEVOTIONAL is the story of Jesus from Incarnation to Ascension. This is a chronology and harmony of the gospel accounts in which the ongoing narrative and doctrinal context are carefully considered. In one year we reflect on every passage of every gospel.
May God bless you as we follow the disciples on the journey through the earthly life of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Here come the sheep

John 10:40-42…

Jesus controlled His own destiny. He would not be killed by the religious crowd and their attempt at mob violence. He would return to Jerusalem on His own terms at the final Passover, the time appointed by the Father for Him to die. Jesus is in control (John 10:17-18).

In the meantime He went back to the place where John the Baptist had publically identified Him as Messiah. The atmosphere there was quite different than the hotbed of the Jerusalem temple. Of course, during the time of John the Baptist it didn’t seem as if Jesus had gained much of a following there. Yet despite his apparent failure, John the Baptist’s witness was not wasted; in God’s timing, it led many to be saved.

It can take a while for the Providence of God to produce a harvest. God’s watch doesn’t work like ours, although it is more divinely precise. We are the ones who need attuning. Your “weak witness” or “I wish I would have said that” doesn’t mean that God won’t use what you have said. It means that you are responsible to be ready (1 Peter 3:15 / Philemon 1:6), and God is responsible for the results. 

Jesus does all things well (Mark 7:37), even when we don’t think we do. Just get out there and tell people about Jesus. Remember, we don’t make sheep, we find them. He is the one who promised that they would hear and follow. He didn't say when.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Making it plain

John 10:22-39…

Jesus had previously revealed His identity (John 6:35, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 11), but the majority did not believe. They wanted a plain answer: was He the Christ? Jesus says He speaks to His sheep and leads them through life. He holds them and keeps them eternally secure. He then boldly announced, “I and the Father are one”. They are in one accord, one in nature, essence, purpose. This is as opposed to the leaders, who are not doing what was right, by God or by the people.

This statement was blasphemy in their view. They took up stones to put Him to death. Jesus responded by quoting from Psalm 82:6. The judges of Psalm 82 were called “gods” because in their office they determined the fate of other men. If God called those people entrusted with teaching and leading “gods”, it was no blasphemy for Jesus to call Himself the Son of God.

There are many things called “god”, but there is actually only one true God (1 Corinthians 8:4-6 / Psalm 115:3-8 / Jeremiah 10:14 / Habakkuk 2:18-20). God calls earthly judges “gods” (cf. Exodus 21:6, 22:8-9). Satan is called “god” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but he isn’t equal to God. It is merely speaking to the fact that the devil is captivating the minds of the unbelievers, keeping them in bondage (cf. Ephesians 2:2-3 / 2 Timothy 2:24-26 / 1 John 5:19).

Jesus was not applying “you are gods” to all humanity, or to all believers. In essence, He was saying to the Jewish leaders, “You are ‘gods’ but you mistreat and neglect the poor and downtrodden, and yet when I help them you say I blaspheme”. Psalm 82 refers to this matter of injustice. It has nothing to do with our being gods like Jesus is; it has to do with people of stature ignoring their responsibilities to help the less fortunate. They weren’t keeping each other accountable in matters of discipline and sin. They were abandoning social justice. They were false shepherds, unlike Jesus, the Son of God, who is the Good Shepherd.

Today we must make the same decision. Either we bow the knee now to the Lord Jesus as our Savior, or we will bow the knee to Him as our Judge (Philippians 2:9-11).

That is as plain as it gets.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Object lesson

John 10:19-21…

Once again the words of Jesus bring division, even among those religious leaders who were against Him (cf. John 6:52, 7:12, 43, 9:16). The people present were beginning to realize that they could not just sit on the sidelines about Jesus and His seemingly impossible claims (John 10:17-18). Some in the audience recall the healing of the blind man, while others repeat the charges of demon possession, and accuse Him of insanity.

This is an object lesson; the mixed response to His words is exactly as Jesus said it would be. His sheep hear His voice, and they follow Him. Those who are not His sheep do not hear His voice, and they will not follow the Good Shepherd.

Some rightly reason that Jesus’ words must be judged in the light of His works. A demon possessed man would not speak and act as Jesus does. The miracle of healing the man born blind gave credibility to His words. Others dismiss Jesus and are quick to reject Him as their shepherd. Those who are opposed are intensified in their opposition. They are coming to steal, kill, and destroy (cf. John 5:18, 7:1, 19-20, 25, 8:37, 40, 10:10).

What do you believe? You can’t just set the claims of Jesus aside. He is either everything He says He is, or He is none of it. He claims exclusivity (John 14:6); He cannot be lumped in with other religions or their leaders (Acts 4:12 / 1 Timothy 2:5). He demands full allegiance. So what is it? Is He a liar, a lunatic, or Lord?