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skeptical man October 8 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 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 he really as genuine as he makes himself out to be? What is his angle or motivation? 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.

In today's Bible reading this is the skepticism which Jesus faces. He is good to people and heals all their diseases and infirmities. Jesus is a great teacher who teaches the truth with authority. Yet, for whatever reason, people still doubt what they see and hear. It is too good to be true. We have often trusted others only later to be disappointed. Is this Jesus any different? Is He too good to be true?

Even those who are strong in the faith, especially when experiencing difficult trials, can falter in their faith. At the time of all these miracles, John the Baptist is imprisoned for his ministry, and during his confinement he has some doubts. John sends some of his disciples to question Jesus, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” He is talking about the Messiah, the Savior the prophets wrote about. In response, Jesus sends a message back to John, telling him 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.

“The people of this generation,” which Jesus refers to are those who are mistrustful and will not change their minds, particularly the religious leaders. They do not like the messages of Jesus and John. Like children, they want the crowds to dance to their music, their teaching. God had a purpose for them - to teach the Old Testament Scriptures, which reveal the mission of God fulfilled in John the Baptist and Jesus, but they reject it. They are jealous of their position and popularity, and so they try to discredit John and Jesus (Luke 7:29-35). They are not satisfied with their behavior.

John was too much of an ascetic [one who denies himself, a Spartan], and Jesus was too much of a libertine (in the Pharisees’ definition of the term [a free thinker, not accepting their religious opinions])…. 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, although the truth may be parading in front of us. Children often believe quicker than adults. What should we do when we are doubtful? 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 are real and trustworthy. They bring messages of repentance and forgiveness of sins, which we all need. The lives of their followers are genuinely changed for good. Have we trusted in those messages? (more...)

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law denounce Jesus and His power. They claim His power to heal is from the devil (Beelzebub). Their jealousy and suspicion cause them to insult and defame His character. What a slap in the face! How does Jesus answer them? He answers 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 argues that if He is doing it by the power of Satan then Satan is destroying his own work.
  • He challenges the religious leaders to examine by what power their own people drive out demons (apparently, there were Jewish exorcists at that time which claimed to drive demons out by the power of God. The Pharisees are applying a double standard to Christ).
  • Jesus implies that it is because He has power stronger than Satan that He is able to remove demons.
  • He warns them about the dire eternal consequences of attributing the power of God to the power of Satan. *
  • Jesus warns them that their own attempts to exorcise demons without the power of God will leave them open to worse demonic attacks.

About this time, Jesus is invited to a house of a Pharisee named Simon, and He accepts. While He is reclining there, a sinful woman comes to Jesus. Giving no heed to propriety or social class, she kneels at His feet, washes His feet with her tears, and wipes them dry with her hair. She then kisses His feet and pours 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, genuine sorrow over sins, and faith does. This woman believes that no matter how sinful she is, Jesus can save her. He is the genuine Son of God. Do you believe? (more...)

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 us through our 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, genuine sorrow over sins, 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 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 (NIV) “He [the LORD] mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.”

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