Matthew 3-4; 11
Introduction to the Reading:
Ok, so another Europe story...Dave and I were hiking along the coast just North of the city of Fishguard in Wales, which is part of the United Kingdom. Fishguard is the last stop on the train as you head West, and is quite a small town. We hiked up the coast to the city of Cardigan, which is nothing more than a small fishing village. Here is a map if you care to check it out. Anyways, as we were walking along the shore, a man with a fishing boat asked us if we wanted to go out with him to check his lobster pods. We were more than happy to get to know a local so we joined him. Unfortunately, there were no lobsters in his cages, but he did invite us to join him for a drink at a small pub in the village.
The pub was tiny. It only had one table. We got a drink and started to chat. We asked him about himself, and it turns out that he actually was an opera singer. This is the village where he grew up, but he lived in London most of the time. He spoke about how he had hung out with Leonard Bernstein and other great composers. He told us about the various halls around the world in which he had sung. And although I know nothing about opera, we could just tell by the way he was talking that he was more than just average. Sure enough, when we had a chance to look him up on the internet the next day, it turns out that he was a world renowned opera singer.
As we will read today, we get to witness people's reaction to Jesus. Many people didn't know what to think the first time they heard him. They could tell by the way he talked and the things that he did that he was definitely more than average. They knew that this was someone special, someone important. As you witness Jesus today through the pages of scripture, what impression do you have? How do you answer the question, "Who is this?"
Before You Read: Today we start by reading about one my favorite people: John the Baptist. John is quite the character: eating locusts and honey, wearing camel's hair, living out in the wilderness. Yet for all of his eccentricities, the last thing he wants is the focus on him. He isn't shouting out in the wilderness, "Hey! Hey! Look at me!" His message isn't about himself.
What a great reminder for us. People may think we are unique. They may even think we are "Jesus freaks." Our message shouldn't be, "Hey! Hey! Look at me!" It shouldn't even be, "Hey! Hey" Look at my church." Our message should be the same as that of John, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"
Stops Along the Way:
- Middle of page 322: What truth(s) does the Father's testimony teach us about Jesus?
- Top of page 323: How could Jesus resist the Devil's temptations? What does this teach us about him? Why was it necessary for our sakes that he resist the Devil's temptations?
- Middle of page 324: What does the title "Lamb of God" teach us about Jesus' work and purpose?
- Top of page 326: What do Jesus miracles reveal to us about who he is?
- Middle of page 327: How does Jesus himself summarize his purpose?
- Middle of page 329: Much like my introductory story, the woman at the well realized there was something special about Jesus. Jesus' miracles tipped her off. What brought them to believe in him as the Messiah though?
- Middle of page 331: Jesus miracles proved that he spoke with authority and gave evidence that he was truly God. But his authority went beyond just power over physical health. What greater authority did Jesus have as the Son of God?
- Bottom of page 334: We will explore this more over the next couple of weeks, but what various responses did people have to Jesus? How did different people answer the question, "Who is this?"
When You're Done Reading - Thoughts to Ponder:
So who do people say Jesus is? How do they answer the question, "Who is this?" We will continue to look at this question over the next few weeks. Even many unbelievers today will call him a great philosopher. Muslims respect him as the greatest messenger of God. What do your friends and family think of Jesus?
And who do you say Jesus is? It's a question that Jesus will ask Peter next week. It's a question that I'd like you to think about personally over the next week. How would you answer the question, "Who is this?'
King of Creation,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Truly I'd love Thee,
Truly I'd serve Thee,
Light of my soul, my Joy, my Crown.
Lord of the nations,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Glory and honor,
Now and forevermore be Thine!