Tuesday, November 24, 2020

John's Gospel

The Gospel of John is distinct from the other three synoptic gospels. Luke presents Jesus in His humanity as the Son of Man; John portrays Christ in His divinity as the Son of God. In fact, John is the most topical and theological of the four gospels, and his purpose for writing is made clear:

20:31 But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through His name.

To accomplish this, John selectively recorded seven miracles of Jesus to convince his readers that Jesus is indeed the very Son of God so 'that you might believe'. He included the upper room discourse and the greatest miracle—the resurrection—so 'that believing you might have life through His name.'

It is interesting to note that 'the disciple whom Jesus loved', or as others put it, 'the beloved disciple' who leaned in the bosom of the Master, exhibited two peculiarities in his writings. First, he uses 'the Word' (Logos in Greek) to address Jesus which no other New Testament writers do; and second, 'Love' is always his central theme and emphasis. For someone who had such an intimate and privileged relationship with the Son of God while on earth it is hardly surprising given his personal knowledge and appreciation of Jesus' divine nature, to say of creation: 'The world was made by him.' (1:10), and also of redemption: 'For God so loved the world…' (3:16).

Indeed, diligent students of this gospel can hardly miss the clue John gave when he contrasted Moses with Jesus in the opening chapter, only to affirm it again later by Jesus' very own words to the Jews:

8:58 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.


OUTLINE OF JOHN

1. Incarnation of the Son of God (1:1-18)
        a. Pre-incarnate Origin  (1:1-5)
        b. Prologue (1:6-18)
2. Presentation of the Son of God (1:19-4:54)
        a. John the Baptist (1:19-51)
        b. Miracle 1: Turning Water into Wine (2:1-12)
        c. Encounter with Nicodemus (2:13-3:36)
        d. Encounter with the Samaritan Woman (4:1-42)
        e. Miracle 2: Healing the Nobleman's Son (4:43-54)
3. Opposition to the Son of God (5:1-12:50)
        a. Miracle 3: Healing the Impotent Man (5:1-9)
        b. Rejected by the Jews (5:10-47)
        c. Miracle 4: Feeding the 5000 (6:1-14)
        d. Miracle 5: Walking on Water (6:15-21)
        e. Bread of Life (6:22-71)
        f . Feast of Tabernacles (7:1-8:11)
        g. Light of the World (8:12-59)
        h. Miracle 6: Healing the Man Born Blind (9:1-41)
        i . The Good Shepherd (10:1-21)
        j . Feast of Dedication (10:22-42)
        k. Miracle 7: Raising of Lazarus (11:1-44)
        l . Events at Bethany (11:45-12:11)
        m. Events at Jerusalem (12:12-50)
4. Final Hours of the Son of God (13:1-17:26)
        a. Washing the Disciples' Feet (13:1-20)
        b. The Upper Room Discourse (13:31-14:31)
        c. Gethsemane Discourse (15:1-16:33)
        d. The High Priestly Prayer (17:1-26)
5. Triumph of the Son of God (18:1-21:25)
        a. Arrest and Trials (18:1-19:16)
        b. Crucifixion and Death (19:17-37)
        c. Burial and Resurrection (19:38-20:10)
        d. Appearances (20:11-21:25) 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Review

I submitted my Daily Reading journal volumes 1-3 for review to a pastor-author-blogger by the name Randy Brown about two months ago. Today, I received his reply that the review has been posted on his blogsite.

His verdict?

Keng Tiong’s Bible Daily Reading Journals are well-written, well-structured, and easy to follow. They’re not dry and boring. I found them to be an interesting and fun read. They’re easy to recommend to anyone that wants a little guidance in reading through the Bible and understanding the main points of the text in its proper context, and getting some interesting facts along the way.

Read the full review here.


Randy A. Brown is a full-time pastor, an author, a WordPress writer by day and a Bible reviewer by night.

Blogsite: https://biblebuyingguide.com/


Monday, November 16, 2020

Luke's Gospel

Luke's account is the third of the trilogy of synoptic gospels, portraying Jesus' humanity to a Greek readership. A Gentile and physician by profession, Luke is regarded by Bible scholars as a first class historian by his meticulous record of details in his gospel narrative, as well as the book of Acts.

A constant companion of Paul throughout his second and third missionary journeys, Luke had ample opportunities to interact with and listen to firsthand accounts from surviving witnesses, including Jesus' very own disciples in Jerusalem, and also when Paul delivered the relief fund and presented his reports to the apostolic council.

Luke is the longest among the four gospel narratives and is considered the most thorough and complete. Together with Acts, Luke's writings make up one-third of the New Testament which, next to Paul's epistles (which also form a third of the NT), are remarkably powerful and influential coming from the pen of a non-Jew. As a Greek literate, he would no doubt be familiar with the Hellenistic philosophies and works of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle.

Ancient Greek culture and society espouse an ideal devoted to excellence and perfection—Utopia, and what a perfect human might be. This could be the reason why Luke uses the title 'Son of Man' on Jesus Christ, and wrote his gospel in a persuasive style not unlike many Greek literature to engage his readers. But instead of the legends and mysteries ascribed to the gods and heroes of Greek mythologies, Luke gives a very factual and verifiable account of the Son of God veiled in human flesh, in the most down-to-earth encounters of ordinary daily life, as One Who was seen, heard, touched, and even loved like no other human before or ever will.

19:10 For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.


OUTLINE OF LUKE

1. Introduction of the Son of Man (1:1-4:13)
        a. Events preceding His Birth (1:1-56)
        b. Events accompanying His Birth (1:57-2:38)
        c. Events in His Early Years (2:39-52)
        d. Events before His Public Ministry (3:1-4:13)
2. Ministry of the Son of Man (4:14-9:50)
        a. Acceptance and Rejection (4:14-30)
        b. Demonstration of Power (4:31-5:28)
        c. Public and Private Teachings (5:29-6:49)
        d. Miracles and Parables (7:1-8:56)
        e. Equipping the Disciples (9:1-50)
3. Rejection of the Son of Man (9:51-19:27)
        a. Mission and Prayer (9:51-11:13)
        b. Encounters with Religious Leaders (11:14-54)
        c. Warnings (12:1-59)
        Hypocrisy | Covetousness | Second Coming
        Cost of Discipleship | Discerning the Times
        d. Teachings (13:1-18:30)
        Kingdom of Heaven | Sabbath | Discipleship
        Repentance | Stewardship | Second Coming
        Prayer | Giving to the Poor
        e. Nearing the end of His Ministry (18:31-19:27)
4. Final Week of the Son of Man (19:28-23:56)
        a. Triumphal Entry (19:28-48)
        b. Public Ministry (20:1-21:4)
        c. Olivet Discourse (21:5-22:6)
        d. Passover and Arrest (22:7-53)
        e. Trials, Crucifixion and Burial (22:54-23:56)
5. Authentication of the Son of Man (24:1-53)
        a. Resurrection (24:1-12)
        b. Emmaus Road Encounter (24:13-32)
        c. Appearance, Commission, Ascension (24:33-53)


Monday, November 9, 2020

Mark's Gospel

The Romans can certainly appreciate this fast-paced, action-packed account of Jesus because they understood the duality of authority and servanthood, which was very much a part of their culture and lifestyles.

The author is deemed to be John Mark, a young co-worker who went with Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but bailed out early along the way. Paul had discounted him as a trustworthy companion in the work of the gospel, but Barnabas chose to give him a second chance. And history proved the latter to be right as the shaky and inexperienced evangelist went on to become an invaluable asset to the early Church, and developed such a strong bond with the apostle Peter that he was regarded as a son (1 Peter 5:13).

Mark's close association with Peter parallels that of Luke's with Paul, and possibly laid a solid foundation in his gospel account which Bible scholars readily agreed, can be rightly considered to be the gospel according to Peter. Peter might have been a conservative Jew at heart; he was certainly a notable figure among the Christian leaders in the Jerusalem council. However, his profound encounter with Cornelius, a Roman centurion (Acts 10), might have changed his attitude and perception towards the Gentiles and possibly influenced Mark to write with Roman readership in mind.

Indeed, this short account is devoid of genealogical emphasis and theological exposition, focusing mainly on what Jesus did more than what He taught, just as Peter affirmed to the Roman centurion:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him. (Acts 10:38)


OUTLINE OF MARK

1. Preparation of the Servant (1:1-13)
        a. His Forerunner (1:1-8)
        b. His Baptism (1:9-11)
        c. His Temptation (1:12-13)
2. Ministry of the Servant (1:14-2:12)
        a. The Beginning of His Work (1:14-15)
        b. First Disciples (1:16-20)
        c. First Miracles (1:21-2:12)
3. Rejection of the Servant (2:13-8:26)
        a. Controversies and Challenges (2:13-3:35)
        b. Parables (4:1-34)
        c. Miracles (4:35-5:43)
        d. Growing Opposition (6:1-8:26)
4. Revelation of the Servant (8:27-10:52)
        a. Peter's Confession (8:27-33)
        b. Cost of Discipleship (8:34-38)
        c. Transfiguration and Authority (9:1-29)
        d. Preparing the Disciples (9:30-10:52) 
5. Suffering of the Servant (11:1-15:47)
        a. Confronting the People and Leaders (11:1-19)
        b. Faith and Forgiveness (11:20-26)
        c. Hostility from Religious Leaders (11:27-12:44)
        d. Prophetic Discourse (13:1-37)
        e. Passion, Suffering and Death (14:1-15:47)
6. Triumph of the Servant (16:1-20)
        a. Resurrection from the Dead (16:1-8)
        b. Commissioning the Disciples (16:9-18)
        c. Ascension (16:19-20) 

 

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Day 8

Reading: MATTHEW 26-28


Journal

After Jesus' fourth declaration on His coming suffering, death, and resurrection (26:1-5), the events began to unfold quickly beginning with Judas' betrayal (v14-16), the last supper (v17-29), predicting His disciples' desertion (v30-35), prayer at the Gethsemane garden (v36-46), His arrest (v47-56), Caiaphas' interrogation (v57-68), and Peter's denial (v69-75), all of which occurred within the Passover week.

Due to the nearness of the Passover feast, the religious court was illegally conducted in haste to condemn Jesus solely on the ground of blasphemy, because no wrong could otherwise be found despite having false witnesses taken to the stand. Under Roman law, the power of capital punishment could only be carried out by the Roman authorities, so Jesus was delivered to the governor of Judea who was then pressured to task by the incited mob. Matthew's account is the only one that recorded Judas' suicide (27:3-5).

The humiliation Jesus suffered at the hands of the Roman soldiers before His crucifixion is understandable, because they only recognized Caesar as king and no other—the idea of a messiah could never be tolerated. In the midst of jeers and frivolity from the refined religious leaders and rough rowdy solders alike, the Son of God poured out His life in love as the only Sacrifice that could satisfy Divine justice, tearing the Temple veil that separated sinful men from a holy God, while the earth beneath trembled under the awful weight of its Creator's sorrow over sin.

If Judas had understood, even in the final moment of betraying Jesus, how the Lord still called him 'Friend' (26:50), he would not have taken his own life in deep remorse. And if we understand the gravity of sin and what Christ went through to secure our ransom, we will not take sin so lightly in our lives, or carelessly neglect our walk and service to Him.

Hear the parting words and command of the resurrected Lord before His ascension to the Father's right hand to be our everlasting Advocate:

All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Therefore go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)


Ponder & Meditate

There are many who cast doubts on the veracity of Jesus' resurrection, citing the possibilities of the disciples stealing His body, that Jesus did not really die but self-resuscitated and made His way out of the tomb, or the disciples all hallucinated and imagined that Jesus had resurrected. What about you? Do you believe in the resurrection? How does that impact your life and relationship with your Savior?

The last words of a person are often very important and to be taken in all earnest seriously. Let us be faithful to the Great Commission until Jesus returns in glory. The door of service and opportunity is fast closing as we approach the eleventh hour; let us make full use of it while we still can.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Day 7

Reading: MATTHEW 21-25


Journal

Jesus begun His passion week with the triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a colt, fulfilling Zechariah 9:9, followed by the cleansing of the Temple the next day, challenging the Jewish authorities, and indirectly pronouncing judgment on the Jewish nation by cursing the barren fig tree.

The tempo and temperature of Jesus' conflict with the religious leaders grew in intensity, with the priests, elders, Pharisees, Herodians and Sadducees taking turn to confront Jesus, questioning His authority, trapping Him on sensitive issues like paying tax to Caesar (political), the doctrine of resurrection (theological), and the most important Law (religion), hoping to quell the popularity and support of the multitude, and turning the mob against Him.

In response, Jesus challenged their stand on John the baptist, condemned their hypocrisy, corrected their doctrinal error, confirmed the Law in its entirety, and interjected parables (two sons, landlord and wicked tenants, marriage feast) to illustrate the spiritual state of His enemies and the fate that awaits them. Jesus' probing question to the Pharisees on the identity of the Son of David revealed their ignorance on the divinity of Messiah and a lopsided emphasis on His human ancestry for their own political expediency.

Consequently, Jesus rejected the Jewish leaders by pointing out their true character and pronouncing eight woes on them, while at the same time weeping over the city for being so blind to the time of Messiah's visit, and predicted the destruction of the Temple they so dearly and religiously adhered to.

The Olivet Discourse is perhaps the most important prophetic teaching of Jesus concerning the end times and His second coming, giving us clues and glimpses of what will take place in that last generation, which could very well be in our time. The 'when' is answered by the parable of the fig tree and referenced to the days of Noah, while the certainty of judgment is given in the parables of the ten virgins and talents. Are we ready for His return?

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes. (Matthew 25:13)


Ponder & Meditate

In Jesus' prophetic insights regarding the last generation and the accompanying end-time signs, how many can we clearly see are coming true at the turn of this century in terms of:

  1. Religious sentiments (24:5-11)
  2. Political and military landscapes (24:6-7a)
  3. Economic upheavals and natural catastrophes (24:7b)
  4. Social and civic unrest (24:9-10)
  5. Moral decline (24:12)
  6. Spread of the gospel (24:14)
  7. Nation of Israel reinstated and restored (24:31)

Do you believe that you will see Jesus return with your own eyes? Why?


Friday, November 6, 2020

Day 6

Reading: MATTHEW 17-20


Journal

In the face of growing opposition from the Jewish leaders and volatility of the multitude, who could not make up their minds about Jesus and the cost of following Him, the Transfiguration is an intended yet private revelation of the glory of Messiah and His mission, substantiated by the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah). 

This was followed by a series of instructions to the disciples where situations arose or warranted, as Jesus began to openly talk about His suffering, death and resurrection (17:22-23; 20:17-19).

Faith can move mountains (17:14-21), if it is placed in Jesus who is the embodiment of what the Temple represented, and therefore free from its regulations and obligations (17:24-27).

Humility (18:1-5) should be the hallmark of a follower of Christ, unlike the prevailing attitude of the world which looks out for its self-interest at the expense of others (18:6-10); Jesus cares for the lost sheep (18:11-14) but He will not condone anyone who refuses correction in the Church which is His family (18:15-20). Forgiveness is the balm that heals a broken relationship and finds its basis in God's forgiveness of our greater debts (18:21-35).

The Pharisees' question on divorce (19:1-15) is an insidious trap to get Jesus into trouble and possibly killed like John the baptist, by inciting Him to speak out against this common practice that's prevalent in the decadent society of His time.

Finally, Jesus cautioned His disciples on the bondage of riches (19:16-26) and assured that anyone who gives preference to God's Kingdom over their own interests (19:27-30) and even spiritual ambitions (20:20-28) will be amply rewarded.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have shown towards his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and continue to minister. (Hebrews 6:10)


Ponder & Meditate

Hurt is inevitable in any relationship, whether intentional or not. The deeper the trust, the greater the hurt. What if there is someone who continually hurt us through words and actions? How often should we forgive? Jesus says seventy times seven—as often as it happens. Is it possible?

  1. Consider how the Lord has often forgiven us for our sins, failings and unfaithfulness to Him.
  2. Is there any way to restore and reconcile by way of speaking the truth in love? (Ephesians 4:15)
  3. Can we think of any reason why God may be using this trial to refine our faith or teach us valuable spiritual lessons?

Is there someone in our lives that we have still not forgiven—perhaps a fellow believer? How can we possibly live in eternity with someone we hold a grudge against?

But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:15)

Let's get it settled this side of eternity, and the sooner the better!


 

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Day 5

Reading: MATTHEW 14-16


Journal

The death of John the baptist must've had dealt a hard blow to Jesus. The feeding of the five thousand and walking on water once again demonstrated the provision and power of the King, and differentiated Jesus from the rest of the religious founders and teachers in human history as One with absolute authority and authenticity.

While the multitudes continued to seek Jesus for their own needs and benefits, the religious leaders were trying to tempt and trap Jesus to discredit Him. When the traditions of men, which are so dearly held and honored above God's Word, are being confronted and challenged, it invariably leads to antagonism and hostility. The shadow of the cross now looms over the head of the Son of God.

In the midst of all these unpleasant encounters and heavy burdens, a little light shone in the most unexpected place where Jesus had retired for a much needed rest in solitude. The faith of a Gentile woman, in fact a Canaanite, brought warmth to the Savior's heart and won His approval. The Lord is still looking for such display of persistent faith as He work tirelessly among His people in this world that rejects His love and truth. Will we be the ones that bring delight to His heart?
Who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:15)
This is the most important question that must be answered, not by giving mere verbal conformity, but by wholehearted commitment. Anything less will receive the same reprove that Jesus reserved for the religious leaders:
This people draws near to me with their mouth, and honors me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. (Matthew 15:8)


Ponder & Meditate

There are things in this life which will be lost even after we obtain them, some of which once lost will never be gotten back. However, there are certain things which have lasting values and can never be lost. What is it that the people of the world seek after, and what will they lose as a result of gaining it? What do we seek after? What is it that we really want? Are we prepared to pay the price?
For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what does it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:25-26)


Interesting Fact

Fish is commonly mentioned in the four gospels, as in the case of the five loaves and two fishes. The early disciples also used the fish and other symbols (bread, grapes, dove) to illustrate elements of their belief.

The Greek word for fish is ΙΧΘΥΣ (ichthus) and is cleverly used as a short form for "Ίησοῦς Χριστός, Θεοῦ Υἱός, Σωτήρ", (Iēsous Christos, Theou Yios, Sōtēr) which, when translated into English means "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior". Iota (i) is the first letter of Ἰησοῦς (Iēsous), which is Greek for "Jesus".

 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Day 4

Reading: MATTHEW 11-13


Journal

Today's reading is very rich in content lessons it is impossible to share thoroughly within the confines of this journal. Readers are urged to spend time in careful contemplation over these familiar passages. For example:

Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

'Labor' is an active tense while 'laden' is passive, and both verbs signify actions that are in the active continuous sense. In effect, Jesus' invitation is extended to all who languish under the heavy burdens of this world, whether voluntarily (self-inflicted) or by compulsion (without choice).

A progressive rejection of the King is taking shape, as Jesus performed His public ministry among the Jews. In the midst of His divine miracles and loving yet weary shadow of His human frailty, we see the cold and cruel gazes of the religious leaders, and the blind-sighted crowd who vacillated between being fans and foes of His messianic identity, crisscrossing and climaxing towards His sufferings, death and resurrection.

Though the Jews looked forward to Messiah's coming, they were oblivious to the nature of His person and work, or even the extent of His salvific endeavor. Conversely, the religious leaders contorted messianic expectations to suit their own selfish agendas, embodied in their growing hostility towards Jesus Who refused to subject Himself to their game rules. Nonetheless, God's Kingdom will go on expanding, however man may choose to ignore or misunderstand it.

The parables of the kingdom of heaven (chapter 13), the third of Jesus' five major discourses, further amplified this point. The seven parables cover the characteristics of the Kingdom from its present reality to future fulfillment, that is, from its arrival with the birth of Christ until the new heaven and earth, in various stages:

The sower and the seed (v3-9) alludes to the spread of the gospel, resulting in the Church and believers living together with the world and unbelievers, further explained by the parable of the tares and wheat (v24-30). The mustard seed (v31-32) and the leaven (v32) indicate the growth of the Kingdom (Church) externally and internally, while the hidden treasure (v44) and pearl of great price (v45-46) describe the joy of those who hold this Kingdom dear to their hearts. Finally, the net (v47-50) hinted on the distinctive ends of the believers and unbelievers at the end of the world.


Ponder & Meditate

What is our attitude and response to the teachings of Jesus? Have we grown tired and think it's not worth our time and energy to listen and learn from our Savior, or do we still eagerly receive them as when we first believed, going deeper into that Fountain of living truth?

But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. (Matthew 13:16-17)

For in truth I'm telling you, that many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which you see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which you hear, and have not heard them.

Without a humble spirit before God, any objective proof can be refused, rejected or rationalized away. In the end, it reveals the true condition of our hearts—be it outright rejection of truth, superficial acceptance, half-hearted commitment, or complete surrender. What kind of heart-soil do we have?



Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Day 3

Reading: MATTHEW 8-10


Journal

After presenting the King (Messiah) and proclaiming His Kingdom, Matthew goes on to describe His power through a series of ten miracles, revealing His authority over every realm (diseases, demons, death and nature). The words of the King are thus supported by His works, and His claims are verified by His credentials.

There are three major periods in which miracles are prominent in the bible, and these are usually accompanied by divine revelations. Two are found in the OT during the times of Moses and the prophets Elijah and Elisha; the time of Christ and the early Church in the NT ushered in a new era in which the dynamics of faith and the power of God are clearly and visibly demonstrated.

Matthew intentionally grouped Jesus' miracles into three accounts, the first being miracles of healing (the leper, the Centurion's servant, Peter's mother-in-law), next the miracles of authority (calming the sea storm, casting out the demons, forgiving the paralytic), and lastly the miracles of restoration (life to the dead, sight to the blind, speech to the mute).

In between these accounts, the demands of discipleship (8:18-22) the distinction of the disciples (9:9-17), and the delegation of authority to His followers (9:35-10:42) are interjected. This brings out a number of lessons:

  1. We serve and follow a King who has real authority and power.
  2. Faith in Jesus and following Him go hand in hand and are not optional.
  3. Jesus is not looking for spectators but soldiers to do the work of expanding His Kingdom.
  4. We are empowered to the extent we are willing to do His bidding.
  5. We must be prepared to pay the price if we are to experience firsthand the reality of Kingdom power in our lives.

The clarion call of the King is clear. What is our response?


Ponder & Meditate

The conversion of Matthew (also known as Levi, cf. Luke 5:27-29) shows a man that was so changed by his encounter with Jesus, he not only left his disreputable profession immediately, but went so far as to invite his friends and acquaintances to his home to hear Jesus. As a result, many of them believed and were saved.

What about us? If we too have tasted Jesus' love, experienced His life-transforming grace, should we not do likewise for our families and friends?

Matthew 10:29 says that two sparrows were sold for a penny but Luke 12:6 says that five were sold for two pennies instead. Why five and not four? Actually, the Jews also practiced giving freebies for buying more. Even so, that 'free' sparrow in God's eye is just as precious and will not fall to the ground without His knowing. In comparison, we are made in His image and definitely more valuable than many sparrows.

Think about it!