Week 43 Devotion
This week we are going to focus most of our time reading from the gospels of Luke and John. This will give us an opportunity to focus in on the structure of these books and hopefully, that will help us gain a better understanding of what we are reading.
Now, over the last two weeks, we have been looking at one of the main themes found in all of the gospels and it relates to the identity of Jesus. Everyone wants to know who He is and everyone has an opinion about who He is. Everyone, from peasants to kings is asking this question and last week we finally received our answer. In a conversation with the disciples, it comes out that Jesus is “the Messiah and the Son of the living God.”
Most of us already knew this but in that day and at that time this was incredible news. The Jews had been waiting for Messiah to come for hundreds of years and now He was finally here. So the next question is what will He do? When would He establish His Kingdom? How long before He takes the throne? All these questions are now swirling in the minds of the people, but Jesus’ plan isn’t going to follow theirs.
In fact, Matthew and Luke both show us that right after it comes out in conversation that Jesus is the Messiah, He also revealed this to them:
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
This is a huge twist in the expectations of the people, but it is going to begin to make sense as the story continues. So, let’s keep reading and thinking and praying about what God is showing us in His Word.
Something to meditate on…
John’s gospel is laid out differently than the other gospels. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called the Synoptic Gospels because they include the same stories, in the same sequence, and with the same wording. But John is different. It is organized differently; the wording is quite different and the stories that John uses aren’t always found in the other gospels.
John also tells us the purpose of his book but he puts it at the end. In John 20:31 we read,
These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.
The book begins much the same way that the other gospels begin in that the big question has to do with who is Jesus, but in typical John fashion the wording is unique. John introduces the story of the Word, the divine Word, who has been with God from the beginning and Who became a man in order to reveal the glory of God to us. In the first chapter of John, we see 7 different titles given to Jesus: He is called the Lamb of God, the Son of God, the son of man, rabbi, Messiah, King of Israel and Jesus of Nazareth.
Then in chapters 2-11, we see Jesus perform signs, there will be 7 in total, and all of these signs point to the fact that Jesus is who He claims to be. Speaking of who Jesus claims to be, there are also 7 statements that Jesus makes during His life and we call them the “I AM” statements because each of them starts with the phrase “I AM” which is a reference to the covenant name of God. In other words, Jesus is claiming to be God.
So, the basic pattern of John’s gospel is that a man has come from the very presence of God to tabernacle among the people. He performs 7 signs that all draw attention to His power and He makes 7 claims that point out His unique relationship to God as Father. Now when the book opened, the people were really excited about Jesus and they were hopeful that He would become a great man and great leader for them. But along the way the people got discouraged, they misunderstand Jesus’ claims and by chapter 11 the religious leaders want Him dead.
We saw this begin to happen last week when we looked at John 6, but let’s see that trend continue this week by looking at John 7. The chapter opens with the celebration of the feast of booths or tabernacles and this festival retold the story of Israel’s wilderness wanderings when God led the people as a pillar of cloud and fire and provided them with water in the desert.
Then as that celebration was coming to a close in verse 37, Jesus stood in the temple and said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Then in chapter 8:12 Jesus said, “I AM the light of the world.” The people had just finished celebrating the fact that God gave them water in the wilderness and guided them by the light of His presence and here is Jesus making the claim that He is able to give water to the thirsty and is God’s illuminating presence to the entire world.
Some believed but others are offended and they seek to kill Him for making these claims. But what about you? Deep inside each of us, there is an emptiness, a hunger or thirst, that nothing in this world can truly satisfy and Jesus is claiming that He can satisfy that hunger once and for all. Each of us wants to find our way in this world, the right way so that we can live with joy and make a difference. Jesus doesn’t say that He is a light in the world but that He is the light of the world.
Meditate on the claims that Jesus is making as you read. Think about what He is saying and what it means for you today.
Something to discuss…
In Luke 10 we see that Jesus wants more of His followers than for them to simply come to Him, He also wants them to go out into the world. In this chapter, we see Jesus send out 72 of His disciples and they are to prepare the people for Jesus’ coming. From Luke 9 to 19 there is a journey taking place where Jesus is making His way to Jerusalem, and along the way, He is going to stop at all the little towns and villages to preach the good news. But these group of 72 disciples is supposed to go into those towns ahead of Jesus to prepare the people for His coming.
But what are they being sent out to do? Their mission is outlined in verses 9-11 and it is the same instruction that Jesus gave to the 12 in chapter 9 when He sent them out. This new batch of guys is to go out and…
1. They are to heal the sick (10:9 & 9:2)
2. They are to proclaim the Kingdom of God (10:9 & 9:2)
3. They are to warn the people of the Judgment that is to come (10:10-11 & 9:5)
As these guys go they see some amazing things and they even come back to Jesus and celebrate all that they’ve been able to do. But the reason I want us to discuss this passage is so that we can be reminded that this is a crucial pattern within the life of the church, even for us today.
This is the pattern of discipleship and mission that is to mark the church all the time. This pattern of going into the world, preaching the gospel, discipling new believers and sending them out is our firmly established calling as well.
Jesus is a sending savior. He doesn’t simply call us in to receive His blessings/grace; He also sends us out to dispense that grace to others. We preach Christ in the world as ambassadors who have been reconciled to God by faith and we long to see others come to His love and forgiveness as well (2 Cor 5:17-21).
So here are some questions to discuss this week: Are you involved in the work of proclaiming the gospel? Are you involved in the work of training laborers for the world? Are you engaged in evangelism personally? Are you praying for more laborers to be raised up and sent out?
Something to pray about…
Let’s stick with that same theme in our prayers this week.
Luke 10:2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
The harvest work will not be accomplished by human effort alone; God must raise up more laborers in order to bring His purpose to completion. A major part of our responsibility is to plead earnestly with God to expand His labor force.
Are you praying for God to bring salvation to those who hear the gospel? Are you pleading with God to usher in a harvest of souls? Are you like the persistent widow, nagging God to save your friends, neighbors, children, co-workers?
Let’s spend some time this week praying for God to raise up more laborers. Let’s also spend time praying for people we know who don’t know the gospel or trust in Christ. Finally, let’s pray for God to use us in His great work of gathering in a harvest of souls.