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What are you doing?

(82) What are you doing?We left last week with Jesus at the house of Zacchaeus, restoring physical sight to a blind man and moral sight to a tax-collector. So now everyone’s sure he’ll restore spiritual sight to Jerusalem. Which sort of sight are we most lacking in our modern society? And how do they relate to each other? How do they relate to the old adage—out of sight, out of mind?1.Read Luke 19:11-14. If Jesus’ listeners are Passover pilgrims, thinking the kingdom of God is about to appear, who do they think the nobleman is, and what “far country” has he just been visiting?a.Who were the servants, what was the money, and what were they meant to do with it?b.What citizens hated the king, and who were in the delegations? (What delegations came to Jesus?)2.Read Matthew 25:14-15. What’s the most important difference at this point? Could it be a different story?3.Read Luke 19:15. What were the servants in the story supposed to have gained, and for whom?a.What were the religious leaders …

Memorial Day, remembering 2,000 years ago...

(81) How Clearly do we See?Jesus is heading from Ephraim to Jerusalem, approaching his final Festival there. He’s just reminded his disciples that he will die, though they probably haven’t understood (Read Luke 18:31-34), and now he reaches the city of Jericho. Read Luke 18:35-43, Mark 10:46-52, Matthew 20:29-34.1.What is the same in these three versions, and what is different?2.What proves the blind man (or men) knew (and believed) who Jesus was?3.Why might people have wanted them to keep quiet?a.Is it ever right to keep quiet?b.How can we tell when we should keep quiet about who Jesus is, and when we should speak out? What made it clear the blind man was meant to speak?4.Why would Jesus ask what the blind man wants?a.What else might be the blind man’s reason for shouting, besides getting healed?b.What else might the blind man want, besides healing?c.What does the blind man prove when he asks for healing?5.In Mark and Luke, Jesus says “Your faith has made you well.” Was anyone ever h…

So... what are your priorities in these locked-down days?

I'd thought it was kind of odd that we're studying Jesus' final approach to Jerusalem after Easter instead of before. But on second thoughts, it seems to work quite well as a lock-down study. Here we are, facing an uncertain and not always hopeful future, and there the disciples were, trying to imagine a glorious future while their leader death... and resurrection of course. And it's the resurrection that reminds us we can always be hopeful.
(80) A Question of PrioritiesJesus has returned to Jerusalem, or at least to Bethany, just outside the town. Passover is approaching. Pilgrims (and tourists) fill the streets. And a dead man has just been brought back to life. 1.Read John 11:45-48 Do you suppose the Jews who went to talk with the Pharisees didn’t believe, or just didn’t know what to believe? a.Read Matthew 12:30, Luke 9:50; Mark 9:40 Does questioning always mean not believing?2.Were the Pharisees, chief priests and Sanhedrin natural allies, or natural enemies?a.What…

It might be nice to hear "Come Forth" these days...

Our Bible studies are still trailing the liturgical year. While churches wait in the Easter Season between Passover and Pentecost, we're still following Jesus as he takes that last trip to Jerusalem... and arrives too late. Arriving too late, and not arriving at all, might be a familiar theme at the moment. But we'll find there is no too late with Jesus after all. It will be a Bring Your Own Coffee, Coffee Break meeting of course. But enjoy!
(79) Lazarus BoundJesus’ wanderings between Jerusalem and the edge of Galilee, between Hanukkah and Passover, are finally coming to an end. He’s told his disciples that he’s going to die. Do you think they believe it? Read Mark 8:31-35, 9:30-32 How easily do we believe that bad things are under God’s control?1.Read John 11:1-4 Does “not unto death” mean Lazarus won’t die, won’t die of this sickness, or that death isn’t the final consequence of this sickness? What do you think the disciples believed?2.Do you remember the story of the woman w…

Want to be a Migrant Worker in Heaven?

In the present day world, we've just celebrated a somewhat strange Easter, and we're looking forward to Pentecost when the mystery all comes clear. But in our Bible study group, we're finally coming up to Jesus' last visit to Jerusalem, admitting we often need to be numbered among the dazed and confused. Did the disciples understand? Did the rich landowners; the migrant laborers; the church leaders? And how well do we understand it all today?(78) Do you want to be a Migrant Worker in Heaven?Jerusalem is preparing for the Feast, and Jesus is preparing to die. One of the most immediate results of Jesus’ death, for those about to celebrate the feast, will be the welcome of Gentiles into the Jewish promise of salvation. Matthew, writing for the Jews, retells a parable where Jesus illustrates this. Read Matthew 20:1-161.Did you remember that Matthew’s the only one who writes this parable?a.Is it okay to tailor the stories we tell about Jesus so they’re more relevant to the …

Is Faith Over-Rated?

(77) Some things that might be over-rated…We often assume all the lawyers questioning Jesus were “bad,” but blanket assumptions are frequently wrong. So now a rich young ruler brings his question to the poor young Galilean preacher. Read Matthew 19:16, Mark 10:17, Luke 18:18 1.Have we ever asked this question? What sort of answers come to mind? 2.Read Matthew 19:17a, Mark 10:18, Luke 18:19 Why would Jesus start his answer this way? a.Would it be normal to say “Good teacher”? Or to say “good thing”?b.If not, what might the young man’s saying “good” have meant (in either case)?3.When we’re looking for advice, where do we look? a.How many of us have shelves full of good self-help books? b.And what does Jesus’ reply tell us about the importance of looking to God for answers?4.Then Jesus tells the young man what’s needed. Before reading (if possible) what do you think his answer is? Then Read Matthew 19:17b-19, Mark 10:19, Luke 18:20. a.Did you remember that these answers weren’t identical…

How do you make the Law simpler?

(76) Relationships, Simplicity and LawSo here’s Jesus, a prophet from Galilee, wandering Judea, the land of the Law. And of course, the Law is what the lawmakers want to test him on: Read Matthew 19:1-3, Mark 10:1-2 (also Luke 16:17-19, but we read that earlier).1.Why are the crowds following Jesus? And why are the Pharisees following him?2.Read Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6-8, Genesis 2:22-24. Is marriage a law or a gift?3.Read Matthew 19:6, Mark 10:9. Is divorce in the hands of man or in the hands of God? Or – Read Mark 10:12 Could divorce be in the hands of a woman? (And what about marriage—is that in our hands or His?)4.Read Matthew 19:7-9, Mark 10:3-5. Is divorce a law or a gift?5.Read Mark 10:10-12 (Luke 16:17-19, Matthew 5:32) Is divorce simple or complicated? a.How should we react when society makes divorce simpler?b.How should we react when churches agree that some marriages must be dissolved? For example, should Matthew 5:32 be the only reason a marriage can be dissolved? Should…