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Witnesses

It's still the Feast of Tabernacles in our Coffee Break, and the "time has not yet come." I'm intrigued by how I'd always imagined all these spiritual discussions to have occurred in the final weeks of Jesus' life. How good I am at failing to read! (Great confession for a writer, right?) Anyway, Jesus has just failed to throw any stones, and now he's back inside the Temple, being questions in the Court of the Women...


(56) Light of the World As the Feast of Tabernacles draws to a close, Jesus continues to debate with the Pharisees and officers of the church. Tabernacles reminds people of wandering in the wilderness, a time when light might have been important, and when the light of a pillar of fire had so recently guided them. Read John 8:12-20 1.Read John 7:28-30, 8:20 The treasury was probably where the chests were placed for collection of money, in the “public” women’s court. It’s just outside where the Sanhedrin would have met. Who do you think was the…

Casting Stones

We only got through half the study in our group last week, so here's the second half - that famous passage where Jesus invites whoever is without sin to cast the first stone. A favorite passage? A debatable passage? An unfavorite...? Personally I really like the passage because my grandfather used it in a church meeting to stop the endless debate over whether a youth leader could retain his position. The youth leader went on to be a powerful church leader; just as well no stones were cast.


(55) Casting Stones John’s gospel continues with a well-known example of love vs. law. The passage, about a woman caught in adultery, is not found in the oldest copies of John’s gospel. 1.Do you think it harms or benefits Christians to look at the history of how the Bible came to us?
2.The opening of John’s gospel is not in all copies either. Textual analysts suggest the opening and this story might not have been in John’s original book: the opening because it’s written in more polished, poetic la…

Does Living Water wash or wash away?

We left Jesus preaching at the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles last week. This week's study continues from there, with the authorities beginning to get annoyed, as one might expect. (After all, how annoyed do we get when someone appears to contradict authority in our churches?)


(54) Streams of Living Water The Feast of Tabernacles is a 7-day event in September/October at the end of the grape harvest. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus reaches Jerusalem in the second half of the feast (John 7:2,14), and starts teaching, apparently unopposed (John 7:26). But the authorities won’t let this go one forever. Read John 7:32-36
1.Read John 7:32-34. Do you think the officers captured Jesus, or did they just threaten him? Read John 7:45 So who is Jesus’ audience at this point?
2.The authorities found Jesus again at Passover. When did they seek him and not find him?
3.Read John 7:35-36 Why might the people think Jesus is going to preach to the Greeks? Is it a logical guess? How do we reac…

What Day is it?

It seems like a good time of year for our Coffee Break group to be reading about the Feast of Tabernacles. I wonder if it will take us till spring to get to the Easter part of the tale? Anyway, it's fall in the Bible story, and Jesus' "time" has not yet come... again. So here's another study for the third year of ministry.


(53) The Hour That Hasn’t Yet Come After Jesus’ “whoever is not against you is for you” remark, Luke’s Gospel goes on to describe Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem, where many will stand against him. Meanwhile John describes a sequence of visits in the final year, following the pattern of Jewish feasts and pilgrimage. Read Luke 9:51, John 7:1. 1.Who wanted to kill Jesus at this point, and why? 2.Are there people today who want to kill faith in Jesus? Are they easily recognized, or might they be just as “faithful” as those enemies in Jesus’ day? 3.Read John 7:2-5 Has Jesus been acting in secret? Why might people who want to see him “succeed” accuse him…

Welcome - to a new year of Bible Studies

It's September. The schools have restarted, and our Coffee Break group is restarting its weekly Bible Studies. We've been looking at a chronological account of Jesus' life through the Gospels, and now we're entering the final year - it seems appropriate that the whole study will have taken us 3 years when we finish. So here's our first "welcome" study - a little shorter, so we'll have time to catch up on news from the summer. We hope you'll join us.


(52) Welcome Jesus is in the final year of his ministry, approaching his final journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. He is going to die for us, for sinners, for people who get it wrong… for the people who will kill him. And now, two thousand years later, our separate churches and denominations are sure we have it right. We can recognize cults. We can reject false beliefs. We can reject false believers…? Or should we welcome them instead?
The disciples are about to show how we can be tempted to be unwelcom…

Heavenly Taxes?

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It's our final Coffee Break of the season, so what will you do with your "summer break." I know what we'll be doing after the break - continuing with the final six months of Jesus' life, from Tabernacles to Passover; and I'm very much looking forward to it. During the break I hope to finish my 13th Five-Minute Bible-Story book - John's Joy. It's growing nicely now, and I'm looking forward to its release with IFS books.

But back to this week's study. It starts with a "small" miracle - a fish for the Temple tax - and ends with cooking and maiming - quite a leap. But perhaps we all have to pay some kind of taxes... And a new kingdom is coming...


(51) No Taxation without …? Jesus is bringing in the kingdom, and it’s not at all the kingdom the disciples expect. The time is just a little before the Feast of Tabernacles (final harvest), and by Passover (first fruits) Jesus will be risen from the dead. This lends an urgency to Jesus’ teaching…

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 …