Bible Narratives Devotional, Week 41: The Light of the World
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Week 41: The Light of the World
Weekly memory verse:
2 Corinthians 4:6 – “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. “
“O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright” (free download)
What are the ordinances of the church?
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper were specially instituted by Christ to represent the benefits of union with him by visible and outward signs.
Day 201: The Transfiguration
Reading: Mark 9:1–29; Psalm 133
Mark 9, Verse 1. See the kingdom of God. This refers to what comes next in the narrative of all three synoptic gospels, the Transfiguration, which provided a foretaste of the glory he will display at his second coming.
Verse 2. High mountain. This is most likely Mt. Hermon, the highest mountain in the region. Transfigured. This word means, “to transform.” Jesus displayed his divinity in a special way to the three disciples.
Verse 4. Elijah with Moses. Moses symbolized the Law, and Elijah symbolized the prophets, the two divisions of the Old Testament.
Verse 5. Three tents. Peter wanted to build three booths because he believed the Kingdom was coming at that moment, and he knew Zechariah’s prophecy that in the Kingdom all the nations would come to Jerusalem each year to celebrate the Feast of Booths (Zech 14:16).
Verse 13. Elijah has come. The disciples were confused, trying to reconcile Malachi’s prophecy that Elijah would come before the Day of the Lord (Mal 3:1, 4:5) with what they had just seen. Jesus declared that the prophecy had indeed been fulfilled in John the Baptist, who was representative of Elijah.
Jesus’s Transfiguration provided a preview of the Kingdom of Christ that would be fully established at a later time. It fully confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, affirmed verbally by God the Father. Jesus did this to reassure his disciples in the context of the increasing rejection of his Messiahship by the people of Israel and his own teaching concerning his impending suffering. None of what was about to happen, Jesus was showing them, will nullify the promises concerning the coming Kingdom. In fact, the events soon to follow would ensure the Kingdom.
- Why did the disciples need reassurance at this point in Jesus’s ministry?
- What did the Transfiguration confirm for the disciples?
- How can this story help give us confidence in promises for the future that have yet to come to pass?
Day 202: Teachings of Jesus
Reading: Matthew 17:24–27, Luke 9:43–50
Matthew 17, Verse 26. Sons are free. Kings customarily did not charge their own sons tax, and so as God’s Son, Jesus was technically exempt from the temple tax.
Luke 9, Verse 48. Child. Jesus used a child as a symbol of humble trust, which was a key characteristic of followers of Christ.
Greatness in the Kingdom of Christ is not attained by status or good works. Rather, Christ desires followers who will trust him completely and demonstrate the humility of a child. This is key to understand in light of the reality of the glory and majesty of the King just displayed on the Mount of Transfiguration. Yet even Jesus humbled himself and became a servant, which qualifies him to be the greatest in the Kingdom.
- Why was Jesus willing to pay the tax, even though he was technically exempt from paying it?
- What stimulated the debate among the disciples about who would be greatest in the Kingdom?
- In what ways did Jesus himself exemplify the kind of humility he requires of his followers?
Day 203: Temptation and Forgiveness
Reading: Matthew 18:7–35, Ps 134
Matthew 18, Verse 8. Cut it off. This is hyperbole, exaggeration to make an important point.
Verse 10. Their angels. The pronoun here is collective, which signifies that angels guard believers in general, not that each believer has a personal guardian angel.
Verse 15. Sins against you. This becomes the basis for discipline within the church.
Verse 21. Seven times. Jewish rabbis taught that God only required forgiveness three times, so Peter thought he was being generous.
Jesus’s teaching provided much important instruction regarding holy living that continues to apply to his followers. Christians today must flee temptation, removing anything that might cause them to sin. They must be careful not to cause others to sin through their actions. And they must be willing to forgive others who sin against them, just as they have been forgiven much.
- What are some areas in your life where you need to be careful about temptation to sin?
- What are some areas in your life where you might cause others to sin?
- How much should you be willing to forgive others who sin against you?
Day 204: Opposition to Jesus Increases
Reading: John 7, 8:12–30
Verse 2. Feast of Booths. This was the most popular of the three main Jewish feasts, meant to remind the people of their wilderness wanderings and used as a celebration of the ingathering of the harvest. It was often associated with both water and light, which Jesus uses as examples for his teaching (vv. 37–38, 8:12).
Verse 3. Brothers. Jesus’s brothers were James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matt 13:35). James later became the pastor of the Jerusalem church and wrote the NT epistle that bears his name, and Judas wrote Jude. His brothers did not believe in him until after his resurrection (Acts 1:14; 1 Cor 15:7).
Jesus always knew that he would need to suffer and die in order to accomplish forgiveness for sins, but at this point in his ministry, he began teaching this subject more fully as the people’s rejection of him increased. Many marveled at his teaching and believed in him, but many did not, including his own brothers, because they expected that the Messiah would come in glory and revolution
- Why did Jesus enter Jerusalem secretly?
- In what ways did Jesus use the occasion of the Feast of Booths to teach about who he was?
- Why did Jesus’s teaching cause some to believe and some to reject him?
Day 205: Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
Reading: John 9
Verse 2. Who sinned. Is was commonly assumed at the time that physical ailments were always caused by personal acts of sin.
Verse 7. Pool of Siloam. This pool was southeast of Jerusalem. Water used in the Feast of Booths was drawn from this pool.
Jesus’s healing of the man born blind provides both one of the most picturesque examples of what happens when someone believes in Christ and an important exacerbation of the opposition to Jesus by the religious leaders of Jerusalem. Those who believe in Christ, who is the light of the world, receive spiritual sight; those who reject him and condemned in their spiritual blindness.
- Why were the religious leaders upset about Jesus healing the blind man?
- In what ways did Jesus use this healing to teach important spiritual truths?
- How is blindness an accurate picture of unbelief?
About Scott Aniol
Scott Aniol is the founder and Executive Director of Religious Affections Ministries. He is director of doctoral worship studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he teaches courses in ministry, worship, hymnology, aesthetics, culture, and philosophy. He is the author of Worship in Song: A Biblical Approach to Music and Worship, Sound Worship: A Guide to Making Musical Choices in a Noisy World, and By the Waters of Babylon: Worship in a Post-Christian Culture, and speaks around the country in churches and conferences. He is an elder in his church in Fort Worth, TX where he resides with his wife and four children. Views posted here are his own and not necessarily those of his employer.