Stuck at home with nothing to do? It’s never been better time to binge read about the life and teachings of Jesus. It’s so easy and interesting with the the The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan. So turn off the TV and open your Bible and your heart to Jesus.
The Life and Teachings of Jesus – Week 15 – April 13-17:
Monday – Luke 6:43-45 (Matt. 7:15-20; 12:34-37): Continuing with His Sermon on the Plain, Jesus begins this warning with a horticultural axiom: “For no good tree bears bad fruit, not again does a bad tree bear good fruit” (v. 43). In other words, the tree determines the fruit (v. 44). This being the case, the human axiom is easily understood, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil” (v. 45a). Significantly, Jesus emphasizes here that the mouth is what provides the primary evidence of the state of one’s heart, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (v. 45b). In other words, the heart determines the words one speaks. A person can attempt an external veneer of goodness, but the truth will become known through their words.
Make a list of your most used words, topics of discussion, and the comments you often make throughout the day. If your list was all the evidence someone had to decide if you were a Christian or not, what would they say? How would they come to their conclusion? In what ways will you turn your heart toward Jesus so that the words you speak will reflect Him?
Tuesday – Luke 6:46-49 (Matt. 7:21, 24-27): Luke concludes Jesus’ sermon to the disciples, as does Matthew in the Sermon on the Mount (7:24-27), with the parable of the Two Builders. As a lead up to His sermon, great crowds clamored to seek Jesus’ healing touch (ref. Luke 6:17-19). Now He provides an illustration of the importance of adding obedience to an eagerness to hear His message. The parable is introduced with the disciples giving lip service to Jesus, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord and not do what I tell you?” (vv. 46). So what is the antidote to false faith and discipleship? The answer is given in the three present tense verbs: coming, hearing, and doing (v. 47). These three qualities lay the foundation for genuine discipleship. The parable that follows illustrates the importance of acting on what one knows and hears from Jesus. Matthew’s version of the parable is about where one builds – on rock vs. sand. Luke’s version is about how one builds – with or without a foundation. Whoever builds their house (or life) on Jesus Christ and His words will not be shaken. Think about people you’ve known throughout the years.
Write about someone you know who built their life on the foundation of doing the Lord’s will. How did that firm foundation sustain them through life’s trials? Conversely, write about someone you know who didn’t build on the foundation of Jesus’ words they had heard taught. How did their world fall apart?
Wednesday – Matt. 8:5-13 (Luke 7:1-10): “When [Jesus] entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to Him, appealing to Him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home suffering terribly’” (v. 5-6). In this time period, the Jewish lands of Israel were occupied by the hated Roman legion. While it was not unusual for someone to request a healing, this request came from a most unusual source. The centurion would have been a Gentile, the commander of a division of the occupying imperial force. Yet, with such authority backing him, the centurion approaches Jesus with remarkable respect. He submissively calls Him, “Lord.” He demonstrates a deep concern for the great suffering of one who was merely a “servant.” Jesus affirms His willingness to help, “I will come and heal him” (v. 7). But recognizing his own unworthiness for the Lord to come to his home, he amazingly believes in the Savior’s ability to cure his servant from a distance, merely by a word of command, “Only say the word and my servant will be healed” (v. 8). The centurion bases his belief not on Old Testament scripture or witnessing such a healing, but on his own experience with the military (v. 9). God has such authority, He can give the order for illness to be cured instantaneously and it will be done. “When Jesus heard this, He was amazed” (v. 10) at the depth of the man’s faith. “Truly, I tell you with no one in Israel have I found such faith.” Sadly, those closest to the truth faithlessly take it for granted whereas those who have had the least exposure to it more often readily recognize its power.
It wasn’t often that Jesus was “amazed” (cf. v. 10; Mark 6:6; Luke 7:9), or complimented someone’s faith (v. 10; Matthew 15:28). Looking at your spiritual life, would Jesus compliment your faith? Would He be amazed at your lack of faith or your faithfulness? Explain.
Thursday – Luke 7:11-17: The death of a child is certainly one of the greatest agonies possible in this life – a burying of a part of oneself. It’s a burden that all parents dread to consider. Such untimely pain was the emotional context of Jesus’ next healing. Of the all gospel writers, Luke alone captures this intensely poignant scene of a mother burying her only child. He clearly narrates this miracle as a sequel to the healing of the Centurion’s servant. At a distance of twenty-five miles, Nain lay a full day’s journey from Capernaum. As Jesus and His retinue approach the gate of the city, they meet a funeral procession coming out of the town. At this decisive point in community life, a grief-stricken widow and Jesus meet. “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep” (v. 13). All of our Lord’s actions center on the plight of the mother rather than the son, much as in the preceding story where Jesus focused on the Centurion rather than the servant. With a touch and a word, Jesus gives life back to the young man and gave the young man “to his mother” (v. 15). The two crowds, first mentioned at the beginning of the scene, are present to witness, to interpret (v. 16) and to report this great miracle of resurrection (v. 17). And what a great miracle it was!
There is no request for help, no outward sign of faith from the widow. (Quite different from the centurion.) What do you learn about Jesus from how He responds to the widow’s plight?
Friday – Luke 7:18-35 (Matt. 11:2-19): As Jesus’ ministry expanded, that of John the Baptist suffered literal confinement (cf. Matthew 11:2). As John languished in prison, he became increasingly perplexed by the reports he heard of Jesus’ ministry. “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (v. 19, 20). Exactly why John questioned Jesus’ Messiahship is not revealed to us. Nevertheless, Jesus was not put off by John’s doubts. He responded with an eye-popping display of spiritual power (vv. 21). The Lord informed the messengers that His actions were fulfilling Messianic prophecies given to Isaiah (cf. 26:19; 29:18ff; 35:5ff; 61:1). The only hint of encouragement comes with the beatitude, “And blessed is the one who is not offended by me” (v. 23). The sense is, don’t be disappointed in the way I choose to work, just believe I am He who is to come. More than ever, we need to live out this beatitude. Then, lest anyone wrongly begins to depreciate John’s ministry, a situation the Savior would not let go unchecked, He issues this praise, “I tell you, among those born of women none is greater than John” (v. 28a). Even the greatest, most faithful man ever, could doubt.
Reflect on Jesus’ response to John’s doubt. How does it reveal His sympathy for John’s spiritual crisis? Have you ever experienced a spiritual crisis? If so, when? How did Jesus help you through that experience?