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skeptical man October 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Luke 7:18-35; Matthew 11:1-19; Luke 7:36-8:3; Mark 3:20-30; Matthew 12:22-45; Luke 11:14-26

Faith or Skepticism?

Who is this person really? This person appears to be nice and does a lot of great things for people, but who is he? Is this person really as genuine as he makes himself out to be? What is his motivation or angle? Who is supporting this person? These are thoughts and words that grieve the hearts of those who do good deeds and are faithful in their character. This is the skepticism that Jesus faced. Jesus was good to people. Jesus healed all manner of people. Jesus was a great teacher who taught the truth with authority. Yet, for whatever reason, people still doubted what they saw and heard. It was too good to be true. We have often trusted in people only later to be disappointed. Was Jesus any different? Was he too good to be true?

Even those who are strong in the faith, especially when experiencing difficult trials, can falter in their faith. John the Baptist was imprisoned for his ministry, and during his confinement he had some doubts. John sent some of his disciples to question Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus told John to believe Him for His actions: “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor,” (Matthew 11:5-6, NIV). We should believe people and give them the benefit of the doubt unless they violate that trust or give us cause to doubt. Jesus will never violate our trust.

In today's Bible reading, Jesus referred to “The people of this generation.” These were people who were skeptical and would not repent, particularly religious leaders. They did not like the messages of Jesus and John. Like children, they wanted the crowds to dance to their music, their teaching. God had a purpose for them - to teach the Old Testament Scriptures, which would reveal the plans and purposes of God fulfilled in John the Baptist and Jesus, but they rejected it. They were jealous of their popularity and voiced their skepticism (Luke 7:29-35). They were not satisfied with the behavior of either John or Jesus. John was too much of an ascetic, and Jesus was too much of a libertine (in the Pharisees’ definition of the term)…. Jesus applied the parable by stating “wisdom is proved right by all her children.” The ones who were following Jesus and John were proof enough of the correctness of their teaching, (The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, p.223).

Many of us are the same way as the Pharisees; we are skeptical and slow to believe even though the truth may be parading in front of us. In fact, children often believe quicker than we do. What should we do when we are skeptical? Besides believing the words and works of those who appear to be true, we should pay heed to the ones following them. Are they deceived people or genuine? Jesus and John the Baptist were real and trustworthy. They brought messages of repentance and forgiveness of sins, which we all need. The lives of their followers were genuinely changed for good. Have we trusted in those messages?

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law denounced Jesus and his power. They said his power to heal was of the devil (Beelzebub). Their jealousy and suspicion caused them to insult and defame his character. What a slap in the face! How did Jesus answer them? He answered them in five ways (Insights in part are from The Bible Knowledge Commentary of the N.T., by Walvoord and Zuck, ©1985, pp. 46, 117, 235-236):

  • He said that if he were doing it by the power of Satan then Satan would be destroying his own work.
  • He challenged the religious leaders to examine by what power their own people drove demons out (apparently there were Jewish exorcists at that time that claimed to drive demons out by the power of God. The Pharisees were applying a double standard to Christ).
  • Jesus implied that it was because he had power stronger than Satan that he was able to remove demons.
  • He warned them about the dire eternal consequences of attributing the power of God to the power of Satan. *
  • Jesus warned them that their own attempts to exorcise demons without the power of God would leave them open to worse demonic attacks.

About this time, Jesus was invited to a house of a Pharisee named Simon, and he accepted. While he was reclining there, a sinful woman came to Jesus. Giving no heed to propriety or social class, she knelt at the feet of Jesus, washed his feet with her tears, and wiped them dry with her hair. She then kissed his feet and poured expensive perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him [Jesus] saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is-- that she is a sinner,” (Luke 7:39, NIV).

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace,” (Luke 7:50, NIV).

Jesus compassion for the sinful woman teaches us that self-righteousness does not bring us favor with God, but humility, contrition and faith does. This woman believed that no matter how sinful she was, Jesus could save her. He was the genuine Son of God. Do you believe?

Lessons to live by:

  • Even those who are strong in the faith, especially when experiencing difficult trials, can falter in their faith. God is real, however, and will help you through your trials.
  • We should believe people and give them the benefit of the doubt unless they violate that trust or give us cause to doubt. Jesus will never violate our trust.
  • Be skeptical of those who are only interested in drawing crowds to themselves.
  • Self- righteousness does not bring us favor with God, but humility, contrition and faith does.
  • Humble yourself before God. Believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came to give you new life. Believe his words and his actions and the people who have been changed by him for the good (more...).

*The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (attributing the power of Jesus to work to the power of Satan) occurred while Jesus was on this earth working miracles, so it is doubtful that people could be guilty of this today.

Today’s Memory verse: Proverbs 3:34 “He [the LORD] mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)

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