Stuck at home with nothing to do? It’s never been better time to binge read about the life and teachings of Jesus. I’ve made it 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 13 – March 30-April 3:
Monday – John 5:19-29: Why did the Jews want to kill Jesus? Simply stated it was, “because not only was He breaking the Sabbath but He was even calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18). Did Jesus break the Sabbath? No, He only broke the Pharisees’ traditions regarding the Sabbath. Did Jesus really claim to be equal with God the Father? Yes, He did, and the audacious claims of Christ that we find in our text have colossal implications. Jesus prefaces His claims of equality with “Truly, truly” (v. 19) meaning, “I tell you the truth without the possibility of contradiction. Therefore, you must hear and accept what I have to say.” Jesus makes three great claims: He’s one with the Father in action (vv. 19-20), the power to give life just like the Father (vv. 21, 24-26), and like the Father Jesus has the authority to judge (vv. 22, 27-30). Even if we have already embraced this truth, we must repeatedly affirm it because the world wishes to deny this great truth.
In your own words, restate in what areas does Jesus claim to be equal with God the Father? What are the implications of this equality for you?
Tuesday – John 5:30-47: “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life” Jesus said, “and it is they that bear witnesses about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (vv. 39-40a). The Pharisees had three problems: One, they regarded the scriptures with such esteem that they linked study and memorization of holy text with salvation (vv. 39-40). They made knowing scripture an end in itself, instead of knowing the Savior of the scriptures. Second, they studied the scriptures with a wrong motive (41-44). They knew the word of God backwards and forwards, but they weren’t saved because they didn’t have the love of God within them. They loved their own opinions of the word of God which brought them the glory and notoriety. Self-love kept them from loving the God of scripture. Finally, the Pharisees didn’t really believe the scriptures they studied (vv. 45-47). Yes they would have died for their scrolls but they didn’t really believe what was written on them. The purpose of the Law of Moses was to expose their sinfulness and drive them to the Messiah. Instead, they hypocritically covered up their sins and rejected Christ. For believers today, there’s a great temptation to get caught up in the minutiae of scripture, which if left unchecked can trivialize our faith. There’s no doubt that as believers it is imperative that we immerse ourselves in the Bible, but it’s vastly more important that we respond to its teachings.
What “witnesses” does Jesus call forward to testify on His behalf and how does their testimony validate His clams? What factors influence your verdict for or against Jesus as being equal with God the Father?
Wednesday – Matt. 12:1-8 (cf. Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5): The disciples were hungry, so “they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat” (v. 1). The controversy that ensues centers not on whether the Sabbath should be observed but on what that observance entailed in practical terms. The Old Testament commandment was clear, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work” (Exodus 20:8-9). But what constituted “work”? Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus doesn’t attempt to define work. Rather, His reply consists of two related Old Testament analogies (vv. 3-4, 5-6), together with a prophetic quotation which exposes the underlying issue (v. 7), followed by a pronouncement which summarizes the thrust of the earlier analogies, “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (v. 8). In other words, Jesus possesses the right to interpret proper Sabbath keeping. According to the Pharisees, a person should go hungry rather than glean on the Sabbath.
How did this view of God’s Sabbath miss its true significance? (cf. Mark 2:27) In what way(s) did Jesus’ answer dodge His opponent’s preoccupations and get to the heart of the matter?
Thursday – Mark 3:1-6 (cf. Matt. 12:9-14; Luke 6:6-11): Continuing on from the grain fields from our last reading, Jesus enters the synagogue (perhaps in Capernaum) “and a man was there with a withered hand” (v. 1). Like gathering grain on the Sabbath, medicine and healing on the day of rest were highly regulated. It was an accepted principle in most Jewish circles that saving a life on the Sabbath was permissible but it must be life-threatening. Healing a withered hand could wait until the next day. So, Jesus takes the initiative in asking what is permitted on the Sabbath, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” (v. 4a). His adversaries remain stubbornly silent (v. 4b). In their eagerness for legal detail they had forgotten the mercy and grace shown by God to man when He made provision for the Sabbath day (cf. Mark 2:27). In their zeal for piety they have become calloused to the purposes of God and to the sufferings of humanity. Restoring the man’s hand demonstrates what it means “to do good” and “to save life” on the Sabbath. As Lord of the Sabbath Jesus delivers both the Sabbath and humanity from oppression.
The irony in this second Sabbath assault by the Pharisees is that while Jesus is healing on the Sabbath, the Pharisees are making plans to kill Him. How does Jesus’ attitude toward people and Scripture differ from that of the Pharisees?
Friday – Matt. 12:15-21: Immediately after the two Sabbath day clashes, Jesus withdraws from those hostile to Him. Nevertheless, He heals those who flock to Him but is anxious to prevent the people from forcing the issue of His Messiahship by prohibiting inappropriate publicity (v. 16). Through a quote from Isaiah, Matthew paints a portrait of Jesus as God’s chosen servant; one who is not quarrelsome but gentle. Thus, the confrontations Jesus has encountered are not of His making. Matthew draws a sharp contrast to Jesus’ critical opponents, they seek to kill Him, but Jesus won’t even break a “bruised reed” or quench a “smoldering wick.” They live to condemn, however Jesus lives to encourage the damaged and vulnerable people and will do so until God’s purpose of “justice” has been achieved.
To describe the Messiah’s character, Matthew quotes Isaiah 42:1-4. What does this Old Testament passage confirm about Jesus? Based on this description, why is He worth following?