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 As my mum likes to remind me, without Christmas there could be no Easter... (110) Exciting News! Like newspaper accounts of a startling event, the Gospel accounts of the resurrection aren’t identical—which suggests they’re not made up; nobody sat down and said, “Let’s get our stories straight.” They’re just “straight” from the participants’ varied memories. So, let’s follow each group: 1.        The guards: a.        Read Matthew 27:54, Matthew 27:62-28:4,11-15 Why might powerful Roman soldiers have been afraid? b.        Why might the soldiers be willing to lie? Do you suppose they convinced themselves the lie was true? c.        When is it easy to convince people to believe in a lie? When is it not easy? Would Matthew get away with adding that last sentence if it weren’t true? 2.        The women: a.        Read Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1-2 How might the women’s thoughts be similar to the authorities’ when they see the stone rolled away? b.        Do you su

Reflecting the Beginning in the End

  If life and death are inextricably entwined, then life should be conceived on the date of death, and Christmas should be nine month after Passover... which it is. Our Coffee Break Bible Study Group's still studying the end of our Gospel marathon as the season approaches its beginning. And it feels right. Join us! (109) Beyond the Cross We still have two more stations in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—two more places to pause and pray… But first, let’s revisit what happened in the moment of Jesus’ death: 12.    Read Matthew 27:50-56, Mark 15:37-41, Luke 23:44-49, John 19:31-37 What might be the significance of… a.        the sun being darkened ( Matthew, Mark and   Luke )? What does darkness mean to you? b.        the Temple curtain being torn? What was the purpose of the curtain?                                                                                        i.       What does physical separation mean to you? What about mental or spiritual separation?        

Is it Advent or Lent?

Advent started yesterday, and the color for Advent is not the white of rejoicing but rather the purple of penance. Christian tradition used to ask us to "fast," not just during Lent, but during Advent as well. Hunger would make us remember the season and pray. Prayer would remind us how much the world needs the coming of Jesus--not just the first coming, but His continuing presence until the second coming also. And the struggle would remind us to take Christmas seriously--it's hard work, preparing to meet our Savior.  So, after all, it's not so weird if our Bible study series feels like Lent in Advent.  And today, having  "walked" the Via Dolorosa last week.  we enter the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for the final "Stations of the Cross." (108) At the Foot of the Cross Th traditional route of the Via Dolorosa goes west from the Lions’ Gate in the Muslim Quarter, to the Old City, to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian Quarter. The fi

Would you walk the Via Dolorosa?

 After the trial comes crucifixion, and our Coffee Break group is following the road. In a world of present trials and tribulations, it seems a good road to follow - a good Savior to follow (107) The Road to the Cross We all know the next part of the story, but we know in pieces that we put together in our minds. Visitors to the Holy Land follow the Via Dolorosa to the church of the Holy Sepuchre – it’s equivalent to the first 9 stations in the “traditional” Catholic list (14 stations – we’ll look at a newer list later). So, let’s join that journey, the Via Dolorosa. 1.        Jesus’s trial by Pilate, and Jesus is scourged: We read this last week. What stands out most to you ? 2.        Ecce Homo: This is where Pilate says “Behold the man” – John 19:5 –again, from last week. How often do we stop to “behold” Him in everyday life ? 3.        Jesus falls the first time: Read John 19:16-17 The Gospels don’t tell us that Jesus fell, but we know Simon of Cyrene will end up carrying t

The Case Against Christ

  The world is heading to darkness, winter, and Covid chaos. Meanwhile our Bible studies head to the time of Christ's death and resurrection - darkness and chaos then too, but eternal hope, which is perhaps exactly what we need today as well. Join us! (106) Time to Choose When Jesus was brought to trial in front of Pilate, the world outside Judaism became involved. Pilate is neither convinced of who Jesus is, nor of the threat he poses—an independent observer, with power? Read John 18:28-38 1.        Verses 28-29. What does the leaders’ not going up the steps tell us about them? 2.        Verses 30-32 . How does their behavior relate to their interpretation of the law? (And could they kill people?) 3.        Would their actions still be wrong if Jesus were who they think he is, instead of who we know he is? 4.        Verse 33. Jesus follows Pilate into the Praetorium. Does that mean Jesus is defiled? How willing are we to go where we’re not “supposed” to go, in God’s na

No, not those courts

 Continuing our way toward Easter, as the world continues toward Christmas (105) Working our way through the Courts… Dragged away by armed policemen in the middle of the night: There must be many people alive today who can relate to that. Our Savior would know just how they feel, but: How do we relate to them? Jesus will be brought before Annas, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate, and Herod during the next few hours. What authority does each of them wield, and how might their authority relate to earthly authorities today? We start with Annas: Read John 18:12-24 1.        Read John 11:49-50 Caiaphas inherited power, authority & responsibility. What’s wrong with practical solutions? 2.        Annas still weilds a lot of power. What’s wrong with Annas asking Jesus about his doctrine? 3.        How can we tell if someone wants us to explain our faith, or if they just want to prove their own position? 4.        Read John 18:22-24 When might we complain we’re being spoken to i