M’Cheyne Bible Reading Plan, March 23

Today’s readings are from Exodus 34, John 13, Proverbs 10 and Ephesians 3.

Exodus 34:6 is the first of many (Num. 14:18; Psa. 86:15; 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13) brief revelations of God’s character, what we might call the “softer side” of God.  The Lord “passed before him” as in 33:19, 22.  We don’t know what he saw, but he heard these wonderful words: “”The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6).

This revelation of the character of God to Moses forever puts away the idea that there is a bad God of the Old Testament which is in contrast to the good God of the New Testament.  God’s character of love and mercy and grace is present in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament. (David Guzik)

Moses’ immediate response was to bow low and worship (v. 8) and again appealed for God’s presence to go with them (v. 9).  So Yahweh renewed the covenant with Israel, promising to bring them victoriously into the land but commanding them neither to make covenants with the Canaanites nor worship their gods.  They were to keep the festivals (v. 18, 22-24) and sabbath (v. 21), dedicate the firstborn animal (vv. 19-20) and firstfruits (v. 26) to Yahweh.

Moses spent 40 days and nights (fasting!) with Yahweh (v. 28), and when he came down, his face was shining with God’s glory (v. 29).  Moses relayed God’s commands, then put a veil over his face (cf. 2 Cor. 3:7-18).

The blessing of God’s people rests on the faithful lovingkindness of God and the intercession of their leaders: Jesus Christ and human leaders. We cannot stress too much the importance of the kind of intercession that Moses modeled on this occasion. If God has given you a ministry of leadership, your intercession for those you lead, or your lack of it, will directly affect their welfare. (Thomas Constable)

John 13 begins the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17).  Jesus is alone with His disciples (without Judas, the betrayer most of the time).  He wants to prepare them for living and ministering without Him.

First, Jesus shares the “last supper” with His disciples.  At the “first supper,” the feeding of the 5,000, the Jews wanted to exalt Jesus as King; at this supper, He identifies Himself as sacrifice.

John’s description of the time of the Last Supper seems to conflict with that of the Synoptics.  They present it as happening on Thursday evening, but many students of the fourth Gospel have interpreted John as locating it on Wednesday evening (13:1, 27; 18:28; 19:14, 31, 36, 42).  The Last Supper was a Passover meal that took place on Thursday evening.

Jesus begins by washing their feet, something a servant, or one of the disciples, should have done.  Jesus didn’t serve them because He felt inferior to them.  He knew (1) “that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father” (v. 1); (2) “that the Father had given all things into his hands, and (3) that he had come from God and (4) was going back to God” (v. 3).

Although He was the supreme and exalted Son of God, he “rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist” and began to wash the disciples’ feet.

Of course, we see here two people that are hard to serve: (1) someone who doesn’t want to be served, like Peter, and (2) someone who has (or will) hurt us, like Judas.  If I would have had foreknowledge that someone was going to betray me, I would have twisted their ankle.  But Jesus did not.

Jesus did this because “he loved them to the end” (to the uttermost) and he wanted to teach them a lesson of serving.  “Do like I have done to you.”

Jesus’ Ministry in the Upper Room is a… Picture of Jesus’ Humiliation and Exaltation
Jesus rose from supper, a place of comfort and rest Jesus rose from his throne in heaven, a place of comfort and rest
Jesus laid aside his garments Jesus laid aside his glory
Jesus took a towel and girded himself, ready to work Jesus took the form of a servant, ready to work
Jesus poured water in the basin, ready to cleanse Jesus poured out his blood to cleanse us from guilt and the penalty of sin
Jesus sat down against after washing their feet Jesus sat down at the right hand of God the father after cleansing us

Jesus then sends Judas away (vv. 18-20) and Judas departed (vv. 27-30).  I would assume that Jesus celebrated the “Lord’s Supper” after Judas departed.

Jesus gives them a “new commandment” (vv. 31-35).  The old commandment had to do with love as well, but it was “love your neighbor as yourself.”  This one aims higher–“love one another as I have loved you.”  In particular, serve one another like I just served you.

This chapter ends with the prediction of Peter’s denial (vv. 36-38).  Peter intended to die for Christ and wanted to, but in the end his will failed him.

We might say that Judas’ denial of Jesus was deliberate and planned; Peter’s denial of Jesus was accidental and spontaneous.  Peter’s denial was terrible, but it wasn’t the same as what Judas did. (David Guzik)

Before Peter could die for Jesus, Jesus must die for Peter.

Most of us don’t understand the weakness, the darkness, that resides within us.  Mark Sayer’s book on leadership, Facing Leviathan shows how neither the hero model of leadership nor the bohemian model of leadership really works, but rather this servant leadership expressed by Jesus.

Proverbs 10

The purpose of Proverbs 10:1-5 is to encourage the pursuit of one’s labors in righteousness, which excludes acquiring gain by unjust means (v. 2a) or squandering it by sloth (vv. 4-5).  At the center of these verses is the reason: The LORD does not let the righteous go hungry.  It is the Lord who provides (v. 3), and through righteousness he delivers not only from hunger but also from death(v. 2b).  The encouragement of the whole section to walk in righteousness is framed by the appeal to be a son who is wise (v. 1a) or prudent (v. 5a) rather than foolish (v. 1b) or shameful (v. 5b).

Although set in clusters, vv. 6-32 as a whole act to contrast the righteous and the wicked in order to illustrate that “righteousness” (v. 2) is the path for a wise son.

Proverbs 10:4 says “the hand of the diligent makes rich.”  While Proverbs 10:22 says “the blessing of the LORD makes rich.”  “The one notes the primary source of wealth; the other points to the instrumental source of wealth.  Neither can be effective without the other.  The sluggard looks for prosperity without diligence; the atheist looks for prosperity only from being diligent.” (Charles Bridges)

If you want to explore the Proverbs in more depth, you can receive Daily Proverb in your inbox each day.

Anybody up for a good mystery?  The New Testament has plenty.  This chart is from Thomas Constable…

NEW TESTAMENT REFERENCES TO “MYSTERIES”

(THINGS PREVIOUSLY UNKNOWN BUT NOW REVEALED)

Matt. 13:11 The secrets of the kingdom of heaven
Luke 8:10 The secrets (mysteries) of the kingdom of God
Rom. 11:25 Israel experiencing a hardening of heart
Rom. 16:25-26 The plan of salvation through Jesus Christ.
1 Cor. 4:1 New Testament revelation
1 Cor. 15:51 The Rapture
Eph. 1:9 God’s will
Eph. 3:2-3 The administration of God’s grace
Eph. 3:4 Christ
Eph. 3:9 The church
Eph. 5:32 Christ and the church
Col. 1:26 Christ in us, the hope of glory
Col. 1:27 Christ in us
Col. 2:2 Christ
Col. 4:3 Christ
2 Thess. 2:7 The secret power of lawlessness already at work
1 Tim. 3:9 The deep truths of the faith
1 Tim. 3:16 Godliness
Rev. 1:20 The seven stars (angels)
Rev. 10:7 The details of the Tribulation
Rev. 17:5 Babylon the great

Ephesians 3 is about the mystery which is the church.  Paul had introduced this subject in 2:11-22, talking about the “one new man” which God had created out of believing Jews and believing Gentiles.  A biblical “mystery” is something made known which had been unknown in the past (v. 5).

6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

This had not been revealed in the Old Testament.  Jesus referred to the church in Matthew 16:18, “I will build my church” and Matthew 18:17 “tell it to the church” but does not explain what He is referring to.  It was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) when the Holy Spirit baptized believers into Jesus.

This mystery is not only significant for the church itself, but was an amazing spectacle to the “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (v. 10).

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is that their inner man, their spirit, might be strengthened to be able to comprehend the incomprehensible–the height, depth, length and breadth of Christ’s love for us.

These verses and other verses about God’s passionate love for us are vitally important for God to reveal to our hearts so that we “know and rely upon the love of God” (1 John 4:16) each moment.  When we are grabbed by God’s love, when we truly know it and feel it and rely upon it, then our love for Him will grow deeper and stronger, enabling us to say “no” to temptations and “yes” to God’s will.

And God is able to do this, if we ask

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.

Take that by faith and pray for it.  Ask others to pray Paul’s prayer for you as well.

 

Published by

Lamar Austin

I've graduated from Citadel Bible College in Ozark, Arkansas, with a B. A. Then got my M. Div. and Th. M. at Capital Bible Seminary in Lanham, MD. I finished with a D. Min. degree from Dallas Theological Seminary, but keep on learning. I pastored at Chinese Christian Church of Greater Washington, D. C., was on staff at East Evangelical Free Church in Wichita, KS, tried to plant an EFC in Little Rock, before moving back home to Mena, where I now pastor my home church, Grace Bible Church

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