At the end of today’s Bible reading, we read about the religious leaders questioning of Jesus’ authority: Where does it come from? (Mark 11:27-33) Jesus offers to answer their question if they will answer His own question.
“Regarding John the Baptizer, where did his authority come from?” The religious leaders knew that Jesus had just trapped them. If they said that John’s authority was from God, they would be asked why they didn’t believe. But if they answered that John’s authority didn’t come from God, the people would revolt against them; the people believed that John was sent by God. So the cowards told Jesus they didn’t know where John’s authority came from.
Jesus’ question was one of those critical questions that, when considered with its ramifications, demands an answer. And in refusing to answer the question, one actually does answer the question.
Jesus says, “Neither will I tell you where my authority comes from.” (Mark 11:33)
“What will you do with Jesus?”
That is the key question you can — and should — pose to anyone you’re telling about Jesus. How they answer the question will reveal their answer, even if they try to avoid it, especially if they try to skirt the issue.
Why? Because one day soon — no one knows when — everyone will have to answer that question.
Someone can try to pass off Jesus as a prophet or a good moral teacher. But doing so reveals that they don’t know what Jesus really said. He said that He is the way to God; no one comes to God except by Him. (John 14:6) No other way leads to God. All other religions and philosophies are completely incompatible with Jesus’ claims to be the only way, the only truth, and the only life.
Either Jesus was Who He claimed to be … or He wasn’t. If He wasn’t Who He claimed to be, He isn’t worth following because He’s a liar. But…
But if Jesus was Who He claimed to be, each of us must come to terms with Who He claimed to be and adjust our lives accordingly. If He was Who He claimed to be, He is worthy of worship! He is worth laying down your life for. He is worth forsaking your own way for. He is worth turning away from everything else for.
So what will you do with Jesus?
We’re rounding third base in our Bible Reading Plan. Today we begin reading the last book in the Bible: Revelation. Not Revelations, but Revelation. John, the Beloved Disciple received one revelation of Jesus Christ and recorded it for us. John’s purpose was not to give a timetable for Jesus’ return. Neither was his purpose to hide the timing of Jesus’ return in a code for us to figure out.
Yes, some of the book is in a code of sorts. The nature of the book’s genre means that there will be a lot of picturesque language. There will be lots of symbolism. And when we read it, we need to be very careful to not force meanings onto what we read based on what we’ve previously heard they’re supposed to mean. Trust me, there’s plenty for us to see; we should just let the text speak for itself.
The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:1–3 (CSB)
John says the reason for this book is to give us a heads-up of what will happen “soon”. Note: God’s “soon” isn’t necessarily what we consider to be “soon”. (2 Peter 3:9) John adds that those who read and keep what’s written in it will be blessed. One commentator said, that the content of The Revelation isn’t merely prediction; moral counsel and religious instruction are the primary burdens of its pages.”
As you read through this book, don’t focus on trying to “figure it out”. Instead, ask God to show you what the chapter says about God. And what does it say about God’s people?
Take comfort as you read. Nothing should cause fear. Instead, as you read, ask God to give you a fresh sense of awe for Him, His ways, and His works.
In the past few weeks, we’ve seen Paul and Peter warn against false teachers. In today’s Bible reading, Jude takes his turn. Who was Jude? There are a couple of possibilities. Jude could have been the Apostle Judas who was sent to Antioch with Paul, Barnabas, and Silas in Acts 15:22. Another, and more likely was the brother of James and half-brother of Jesus; he refers to himself as James’ brother in Jude 1.
Like Paul and Peter, Jude is concerned about false teachers who are leading God’s people astray. Jude says, “Dear friends … I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” (Jude 3 CSB)
I think that most Believers in the Twenty-First Century don’t understand the struggles that First Century Christians were forced to deal with. In addition to the Romans and the Judaizers, Believers had rogue believers to deal with. These were people who may have claimed to have come to faith in Christ and departed, turning to false doctrine, or to extra-biblical myths. They were bad news to the young church. Thus, we find several New Testament writers addressing the problems of these false teachers and telling their readers to be on their guard. Jude says that Believers should fight for their faith. And that’s exactly what they had to do.
But fighting for one’s faith isn’t limited to First Century believers. Even now, we must fight for our faith which is constantly under attack from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Peter says that our faith is more precious than gold. (1 Peter 1:7) If that is so, it is worth fighting for.
If you’re going to fight for your faith, it’s not only important to know that your faith is worth fighting for, but you have to know your enemy. Again, your faith is under constant assault from the world, the flesh, and the devil. Attacks can — and will — come from all sides. And 1960s comedian Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine was wrong. The devil can’t make you do anything. You will fail the test of faith because you choose to fail the test. That’s why Paul told the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12) The more you work at it, the better you get!
How trustworthy do you think the Bible is? Is it simply a collection of oral tradition myths? Or is it the recorded dictation from God?
In today’s Bible reading, Peter gives us some key information about Scripture.
“For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased!” We ourselves heard this voice when it came from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. We also have the prophetic word strongly confirmed, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Peter 1:16–21 CSB)
Note that although the writers of the New Testament eyewitnesses of Jesus and His ministry, nowhere does Peter say that the writers of Scripture were told exactly which words to use. Instead, they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. That’s Peter’s version of Paul’s statement that all scripture is “God-breathed“.
How did this happen? I can’t tell you exactly how; God doesn’t tell us how. When Peter, Paul, James, John and others wrote their letters and Gospels, they probably didn’t know that they were writing the very words of God. They simply wrote what God breathed into them through their own words and personality. And God, the Bible’s General Editor, confirmed what they said as His Word.
The Bible (Old and New Testaments) is God’s Word. It doesn’t merely contain God’s Word. It is God’s Word. And God has preserved His Word for us. You don’t have to understand how God delivered His Word through His people in order to obey what God says in it.
Read God’s Word. Hear God’s Word. Trust God’s Word. Obey God’s Word. Love God’s Word.
In today’s Bible reading, the Resurrected Jesus appears to His Disciples. He invites Thomas to put his fingers in His pierced hands and side, knowing that he wasn’t so easily convinced as the others that He had been raised from the dead. Upon recognizing that this was indeed Jesus, Thomas exclaims, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
Thomas’ exclamation is a very clear statement of Jesus’ Divinity. The fact that Jesus praised Thomas for his faith is a very clear statement by Jesus Himself regarding His Divinity. In other words, in not correcting Thomas with, “No, really I’m not your Lord and God”, Jesus affirms Thomas’ statement, thus making the claim for Himself.
Jesus praises Thomas for believing that He had come back from the dead as a result of checking the evidence. And Jesus added a blessing on those who believe without asking for evidence. (John 20:29) Jesus doesn’t condemn Thomas; He praises him for believing. For Thomas, “seeing is believing”. But for the other Disciples, believing is seeing.
Jesus appeared to His Disciples for the next forty days “with many convincing proofs” (Acts 1:3) Jesus knew some of His Disciples would quickly and easily believe He had come back from the dead. And He knew that others would be like Thomas and need a little more convincing.
There is more than enough evidence to support the fact of Jesus’ Resurrection. But despite the overwhelming evidence, many today don’t believe. For that matter, many didn’t believe during those forty days of Jesus’ walking and talking with His Disciples.
The fact that God gives us evidence is remarkable. It goes to show that the New Testament story of Jesus is real. He was a real man who walked on real streets with other real people. Believing in Jesus’ Resurrection doesn’t require you to take a leap of blind faith. It simply requires you to believe in a historical fact as easily provable as any other historical fact.
And yet, there is more to believing in Jesus than accepting the historicity of His Resurrection. You must have faith. And that faith is required to save your soul. (Romans 10:9-10)