What if we're not who we think we are?
Last week's Transfiguration told the disciples something of who Jesus is. But who does that make them? And who are we? I kind of like the next passage where Jesus' followers find out they're not who they wish they were...
(50) So, who are we/they?
Peter has declared that Jesus is the Messiah. The Transfiguration has confirmed that declaration. But Jesus, Messiah, great hope of the nation, still insists on saying he’s going to die, which had to be confusing. And then there’s the question of who or what his disciples will be. Do followers of a Messiah become powerful by association? Do we think we are wiser, better able to support (compared, say, with “sending good thoughts”)… just because we know Jesus?
Read Matthew 17:14-16, Mark 9:14-18, Luke 9:37-40
1. How might the disciples have felt at their inability to help? How do we feel when public prayers for someone else don’t seem to be answered? Does that mean we should only pray privately, to avoid embarrassing God?
2. Mark says the crowds were “amazed” verse 15. What might have amazed them?
3. What illness do we think the child had? How do you feel about such illnesses being ascribed to demons?
4. Did God make the child ill? Did a demon? Is illness a consequence of living in a fallen world? All three?
Jesus doesn’t answer the question of what made the child ill. Instead he questions the people’s faith. Read Matthew 17:17, Mark 9:19, Luke 9:41
1. They’d brought the child as close to Jesus as they could. In what sense were the crowds faithless (or wrong in faith – remember how surprised they were to see Jesus)?
2. In what sense were the disciples faithless? (And when might we be faithless, or wrong, in the same way?)
3. Is faith an essential ingredient to healing? To answered prayer?
4. What’s the difference between bringing the child to Jesus, and bringing the argument to Jesus?
Matthew says Jesus rebuked the demon and the child was healed. But Mark tells a slightly longer story. Read Matthew 17:18, Mark 9:20-27, Luke 9:42
1. How well did you remember the longer story? Did you remember it was only told in one place?
2. Do fire and water have any significance – in the Bible? In other ancient (or modern) cultures?
3. The father asks for compassion. Jesus asks for faith. Is there a connection?
4. Are all things possible? Read Genesis 18:14, Jeremiah 32:17, Job 42:2, Matthew 19:26, Mark 11:24, Luke 1:37, Philippians 4:13… Do you have a favorite verse?
If we’re unsure of our answers that’s fine. The disciples were pretty puzzled too. Read Matthew 17:19-21, Mark 9:28-29
1. So… are all things possible if we have faith? Should we expect to move mountains? Or is Jesus using hyperbole?
2. Are all things possible if we pray and fast? (Some translations say “by prayer,” others “by prayer and fasting.”)
3. What takes longer, prayer or fasting? How quickly should we expect answers to prayer?
And now, just in case the disciples weren’t confused enough already, Jesus gives them a small reminder that Messiahs don’t just heal people – they also die. Read Matthew 17:22-23, Mark 9:30-32, Luke 9:43-45
1. Mark implies they’re traveling secretly. Might Jesus ever want quiet times with us? How do we achieve this?
2. Do you remember when Jesus first predicted his death? Does God always give us “nice stuff” in our quiet times?
3. The disciples were afraid to ask what Jesus meant. Are we ever afraid to ask God what he means?