Gospel Reading Guide – October 17-23, 2011

How do I use this guide?

Matthew 10:5-15

Upon first glance it seems a little odd that Jesus does not allow his disciples to minister among the Gentiles and Samaritans. Paul tells us in Romans 1:16 that Christ came first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles. God chose the Jewish people as his holy nation to tell the whole world about him.

Notice what Jesus commands his disciples to do. According to verses 7 and 8 what does Jesus command? Why? Notice he gives the power and the authority to do the same things he had been doing. There is a pattern of discipleship going on here. Can you see it? I do it, you watch me, now go do it is the pattern that Jesus gives to his disciples.

What does Jesus ask his disciples to upon entering a town or village? What does he tell his disciples to do if they are not well received? What will befall those who do not accept the disciples?

Matthew 10:16-23

As the disciples of Christ ministered what kind of opposition were they up against? What would be the outcome for those who stand against this persecution? Standing firm is is not the way to become saved, but the evidence of being saved. What does this passage tell us about God’s Spirit? Once again we see the Son of Man imagery in verse 23. This is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14 where Daniel describes the Son of Man as one who will be given everlasting dominion of the kingdom by the Ancient of Days. Here we notice that Jesus is telling his disciples to flee if persecuted. Why should they flee?

Matthew 10:24-33

Jesus has sent out his disciples. He explains to his followers the cost of discipleship and is explaining the persecutions that are to come. What does this passage say about God’s message to his disciples? What does this passage say about fear? Why shouldn’t we be afraid? What does this passage say about the Father? Look at verses 32-33. What does this say about Jesus?

Matthew 10:34-42

Why does Jesus say he “did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”? What does that mean? Who should our priority be according to Jesus? According to Jesus, what does it take to find one’s life? Jesus is flipping the traditional understanding of life upside down. What kind of commitment does it take to become a disciple?

Matthew 11:1-6

Doubt had crept into John the Baptist’s heart. If Jesus is the Messiah, why were they losing?  He had been imprisoned for publicly rebuking Herod for marrying Herod’s own sister in law. John’s doubt was answered by a simple response from Jesus. What does Jesus tell John’s disciples? What do these miracles point to? Notice that Jesus simply tells the followers of John the Baptist what has been happening. Verse 6 is a mild rebuke. John and his disciples must be open to God’s unfolding plan, even though Jesus’ ministry did not exactly match their messianic expectations.

Matthew 11:7-15

This is a continuation from yesterdays lesson. See Matthew 11:1-6 notes for background information. Here Jesus addresses the crowd about John. How does Jesus evaluate John even in John’s despair?

Jesus here declares John to be a prophet, the greatest prophet ever. But what does Jesus mean when he says “Yet the one who is least in the kingdom is greater than he.”? 

Luke 10:1-12; 17-20

After spending some significant time watching, 72 of Jesus’ disciples are now ready to be sent out to do what Jesus had been doing.

Notice verse 3 where Jesus states, “Go your way; behold I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Here lambs implies that the disciples should not attempt to gain converts by force. The spread of the gospel is to come through the preaching of the “good news” of Jesus Christ and inviting hearers to respond willingly (ESV Study Bible Notes).

Why do you think Jesus sent the disciples out this way? Why do you think Jesus commanded them to be dependent upon the kindness of strangers?

In verse 9 we see Jesus give the disciple charge to heal the sick. This assumes that Jesus has given the same authority he gave to the apostles in Matthew 9:1. Notice has Jesus then charges the disciples to preach the kingdom of God has come near. What is the kingdom of God in which Jesus is speaking of?

Who are the disciples representing? If the disciples are being rejected, who is ultimately being rejected?

Notice how the 72 come back to Jesus. Why are they so thrilled? What does Jesus ask them to rejoice over instead?

Where is Satan according to this passage? Considering Satan was the prosecutor in heaven accusing followers of God, how does this give the disciples hope? Does it give you hope knowing that Jesus has overcome Satan?


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Gospel Reading Guide – October 10-16, 2011

How do I use this guide?

Matthew 8:28-34

According to Jewish ceremonial law the men Jesus encountered were unclean in three ways: 1. They were Gentiles. 2. They were demon possessed. 3. They lived in a graveyard. (Life Application Study Bible Notes)

Even though the men were unclean we see Jesus engage them. What does Jesus do that is so amazing and terrifying to the townspeople? Why do you think they pleaded with Jesus to leave their region?

It is also important to note that Jesus had landed in a Gentile area. Jews did not herd pigs or hang out in tombs. Notice the demons recognize Jesus as Son of God. What do they ask of Jesus? What does this say about Jesus’ power over the devil and his demons? What does this passage say about Jesus’ willingness to save even the Gentiles?

Matthew 9:1-8

What does Jesus say to the paralytic? Why does he do this? Both the man’s body and spirit were paralyzed—he could not walk and he did not know Jesus. Is Jesus only concerned with the healing of the body or is there more to healing than that?

We will all be completely healed in Christ’s coming kingdom; but first we have to come to know Jesus. (Life Application Study Bible Notes)

In light of this what is most important to Jesus our physical state or our spiritual state? What was Jesus’ motive with the physical healing? What is Jesus getting at in verse 6?

Once again we see Jesus refer to himself as the Son of Man. This is a reference to Daniel 7:13-14 where Daniel describes the son of man as one who will be given everlasting dominion of the kingdom by the Ancient of Days.

Matthew 9:9-17

Matthew and his friends were some of the most hated men in all of Israel. They not only worked for the oppressive Roman government, but they were cheats as well. It was well known that the tax collectors took more than their fair share. You can imagine the utter dismay of the Pharisees when they hear that Jesus was dining with them. Thus they ask the disciples why Jesus is eating with tax collectors and sinners. What is Jesus’ response to the Pharisees? In what way should the church follow that example? What does it mean when Jesus says, “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”? How can we as followers of Christ follow that example?

In Bible times, wine was not kept in glass bottles, but in goat skins sewn around the edges to form watertight bags. New wine expanded as it fermented, stretching the wineskin. After the wine had aged, the stretched skin would burst if more new wine was poured into it. New wine, therefore, was always put into new wineskins (Life Application Study Bible Notes).

Here John’s disciples ask a legitimate question. “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” What is Jesus’ answer to John’s disciples? Who is the bridegroom? Who is is the bride?

Matthew 9:18-26

Notice what happens here. A ruler in charge of the synagogue comes to Jesus. His daughter has died and in an act of humility and faith he got down on his knees and asked Jesus to raise his daughter. What does Jesus do when the ruler asks him to raise his daughter?

Next we see a woman who had a bleeding disorder for twelve years come on the scene. This woman was considered by Jewish law to be unclean. Imagine, for twelve years being an outcast living in isolation. Christ changes all of that and where does it begin? According to Jesus what healed the woman? Notice how she reaches out to Jesus. It wasn’t the “correct” way, but it was sufficient for her healing.

Once again we turn to the ruler and his daughter. The scene was what would be traditional to the Jews in that time. Many times professional mourners were hired to mourn for the diseased. Jesus tells them to go away. Why does Jesus send the crowds away? What does this miracle say about Jesus’ power over life and death? Things looked terrible for the ruler in this situation, but Jesus turned everything around. If Jesus has the power over life and death shouldn’t we trust him with all our problems?

Matthew 9:27-34

Notice here how the blind men recognize Jesus. Son of David was a term used by the Jewish to address the messiah. It was known that the messiah would be a descendant of David (Isaiah 9:7) (Life Application Study Bible Notes). What is interesting to note here is that it is prophesied in Isaiah 29:18; 35:5; and 42:7 that the messiah would restore the sight to the blind.

Notice the question Jesus ask the two blind men. “Do you believe I am able to do this?” What does Jesus say that heals the men? Why does Jesus warn them not to tell people? What do the men contribute to their healing?

What happens next is interesting. What does this say about Jesus’ power to cast out demons? What does the crowd’s reaction say about Jesus? Why do the Pharisees react this way? Something to note here is that Jesus performs miracles to confirm people’s faith never to create it.

Matthew 9:35-10:4

Notice what Jesus does here. He teaches, preaches, and heals. What did the miracles of Jesus say about his preaching and teaching? See what happens here when Jesus sees the crowds. How does he react?

What does Jesus give his disciples that is so revolutionary? What is the connection between the healings and his message? We also live in a world with huge needs. Where do we start according to Jesus?

Luke 7:36-50

A Pharisee invites Jesus to have dinner with him. Notice here what happens: The Pharisee offers no water for the feet of Jesus.He does not anoint Jesus’ head with oil. He doesn’t offer Jesus the kiss of greeting.

What does the woman do here? She wet Jesus’ feet with her tears. She dried his feet with her hair. She poured out the perfume at his feet.

The posture of the Pharisee and the woman could not have been more different. Who was it that found favor in Christ’s eyes? What does Jesus say to the woman? How does the crowd of guests react? What is Jesus teaching us here about faith?

Remember that the Pharisees were meticulous law-keepers. What was the heart of the law? It was to love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. Did the Pharisee do that here? What is the source of loving God? Does it have anything to do with knowing your sins?

New Testament Reading Guide – October 10-16, 2011

How do I use this reading guide?

1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1

The “cup of thanksgiving” and the “bread” are the bread and cup of communion. What is the significance of communion according to Paul? How does Communion bind us to God and to each other? Why couldn’t the Corinthians participate in communion (the Lord’s Table) and pagan sacrifices at the same time? If the idols are nothing, what is the harm?

Paul argues that we have a considerable amount of freedom as followers of Jesus. Why would we not do everything that is permissible for us? For what reasons should we set aside our freedoms? How should we exercise our freedoms in light of Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as ourselves?”

Paul teaches a Christian way of life through words, but also by_______ (see 11:1).

1 Corinthians 11:2, 17-22

What drives Paul to conclude that the Corinthian churches meetings (church services) do more harm than good? What exists among them that should not exist?

It appears that the Corinthian church celebrated communion, the Lord’s Supper, as part of a meal that was shared by the whole community.

What is wrong with the way they celebrate the Lord’s Supper? (obviously getting drunk during communion is a big problem, but what else?)

1 Corinthians 11:23-34

Paul received the tradition of communion from __________ and passed it on to ___________.

Communion, sometimes called the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus as he celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples on the night he was betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. See Matthew 26:17-30. Just as the first Passover was celebrated on the night before Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, so also the first Communion was celebrated on the night before Jesus liberated us from slavery to sin by going to the cross and rising from the dead. Just as the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine were part of the celebration of Passover, the cup and the bread are shared in communion.

What is the significance of the bread and the cup? For what purpose do we drink the cup and eat the bread? What should we do before we eat the bread and drink the cup?

Paul has a warning for those who participate in communion in an unworthy manner. Celebrating communion unworthily is connected to not “recognizing the body of the LORD”. While some have argued convincingly that failure to recognize the body of the LORD, is taking the bread and cup without recognizing Jesus’ body and blood in the elements, I believe that Paul has a different form of Christ’s body in mind. The church community is the body of Christ that has gone unrecognized.  Look at verse 33 and verses 20-22 to see what Paul means by celebrating communion unworthily. What have the Corinthian Christians experienced because they made a mockery of the Lord’s Supper?

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

What is true of everyone who has the Holy Spirit living within them?

“Jesus is Lord” was no idle statement. In Paul’s day, “Caesar is Lord” was the pledge of allegiance of the Roman Empire. To declare “Jesus is Lord” was considered to be an act of treason.

Even though all Christians possess the same Holy Spirit, how do we each of us experience Him uniquely? For what purpose is every Christian given “spiritual gifts” by the Holy Spirit? What examples of spiritual gifts does Paul give us? For a fuller list of spiritual gifts see 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; and 1 Peter 4:10-11. How would you define spiritual gifts? Which gifts do you think you have?

We live in a society where gifts and talents are a means to enriching the self. Who is to benefit from our personal spiritual gifts?

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

What metaphor does Paul use to describe the church? In what way is every member of the church equally valuable? In what way is each of us different and unique? In Paul’s understanding of the church and the Christian faith is it possible to be a Christian all by yourself? What responsibility do each of us have to the church community?

American society values people based on what they do. Therefore a CEO is valued more than the night janitor. Different roles exist in the church. Some are leaders and some are more behind the scenes. In what way is the church different from our world? How are the ‘lesser roles’ to be valued by the church?

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3

The first ‘you’ in verse 27 is plural. We in New England don’t differentiate between the singular and plural you, but if we were among our brothers and sisters in the south, this passage could be translated: “y’all are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” What is our collective identity as a Christian community? How do each of us fit into the larger community? What roles and gifts do you see?

As great as the spiritual gifts are, what is the greatest ‘gift’ of them all as we transition to chapter 13? What must accompany our gifts, talents, and accomplishments if they are to have any meaning?

Acts 14:8-18

Paul and Barnabas traveled together through the cities of Asia Minor (Turkey today), preaching the gospel through words and by performing miracles, and gathering those who believed their message into churches.

What is the unexpected response to the crippled man’s healing? How do the people of Lystra misidentify Paul and Barnabas? How do Paul and Barnabas respond to the prospect of being worshiped? The crowds that Paul and Barnabas are Gentiles, people who were unfamiliar with Jewish customs, Scripture and traditions. What do you notice about the way Paul communicates the message of Jesus to the crowds?

Old Testament Reading Guide – October 10-16, 2011

How do I use this reading guide?

Check out our own homegrown commentary on 2 Kings.  Click here.

2 Kings 21:1-18

How do we go from one of the more righteous kings of Judah to by far the most reprobate?  Manasseh succeeds Hezekiah as king of Judah and he reigns for fifty-five years.  All of the religious reforms and cleansings done by Hezekiah will be undone by his own son Manasseh. He is described as a king who “did evil in the eyes of the LORD; following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.” How far did Manasseh’s wickedness go? How did Israel compare to the Canaanite nations that God had destroyed?

What will God’s judgment look like?

2 Kings 22:1-13

Because Manasseh and Amon eschewed (i.e. go around or avoid) the way of the LORD, it happened that the temple fell into disrepair.  Josiah commissioned Hilkiah the high priest to take the money collected for the temple and give it to the workmen to get the temple repaired.  Then something wonderful happened: Hilkiah found a book in the temple.  Hilkiah handed the book (the Book of the Law) to Shaphan his secretary and told him to bring it to the king and read it to him.  Josiah’s response is encouraging.

What is it that makes Josiah a righteous king? What do Josiah’s restoration projects tell you about how far Israel (the kingdom of Judah) had drifted from the LORD? What does the discovery and the reading of the book of the Law, the first five books of the Bible, Genesis to Deuteronomy, tell you about how much Israel had forgotten? What does this tell you about the patience of God?

2 Kings 22:14-23:3

[ESV Study Bible Notes p. 689] “22:8 I have found the Book of the Law. The phrase “Book of the Law” is used in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament) only in reference to Deuteronomy (e.g., Deut 28:61; 29:21), which was read to the king and provided the basis for his actions. Available to the kings of Israel and Judah in previous years (cf. 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 10:31; 14:6; 18:6), it was evidently lost or concealed during the long reign of the apostate Manasseh, who systematically infringed its laws.

The book of the Law was rediscovered after being lost for decades. To King Josiah’s horror, he discovers that Israel was bound by a covenant to God, to love and worship Him exclusively and love their neighbor as themselves. They have failed miserably and now live in fear that the threatened curses will fall on them because of their sin. Desperate for a word from God, a delegation is sent to the prophetess Huldah.

What is Huldah’s message to Josiah? What grace will God extend Josiah because of his humility and sorrow for the sins of Israel?

The kindness God extends is not unlike the mercy shown to the despicable Ahab! (See 1 Kings 21:25-29.)

What does Josiah do once he hears from Huldah? Why do you think he calls the people to repent and rededicate themselves to their covenant with God when judgment has been pronounced to be inevitable? Do you think God’s justice can be turned by true repentance and faith?

2 Kings 23:4-25

How far did Josiah’s campaign to remove idol worship and the corrupted forms of the worship from the Israel?

Josiah had what might best be described as a “scorched earth” policy regarding the high places and the altars and shrines dedicated to any god other than the LORD.  There would be no other place of worship except in Jerusalem.  Once in Bethel, Josiah destroyed the high place, burned the Asherah (the consort goddess for the LORD provided to Him by Manasseh).  Not happy with that, Josiah unearthed the bones of those buried in Bethel in the high place and burned them on the altar and defiled it “according to the word of the LORD that the man of God proclaimed who had predicted these things.” (2 Kings 23:16 ESV. See also 1 Kings 13:2 where the prophesy is proclaimed.)

What did the celebration of the Passover look like? What is the author’s assessment of Josiah? Why?

2 Kings 23:26-24:17

Although Josiah’s reforms were impressive, God’s wrath for the sins of Judah under King Manasseh remained. God promised that judgment would not come until after Josiah’s death (2 Kings 22:15-20). With Josiah now dead, idolatry returns to Judah and along with it the looming threat of God’s judgment.

How has Judah become re-enslaved to the Pharaoh of Egypt? What new threat appears in Israel that is more terrifying than Egypt? Can Israel find a king with the power to save them?

Jeremiah 35:1-19

Jeremiah, as a prophet, used more than words to communicate the messages they received from the LORD. They used actions, street theater, anything that would shock the people and grab their attention.

The Recabites were an non-Jewish clan, who for generations had carried on the traditions of their ancestor Recab and revered the God of Israel. What is ironic about the Recabites commitment to their forefathers’ commands when it comes to Israel? What must Israel do to remain in the land God had given them? What reward will the Recabites receive for their faithfulness?

Jeremiah 36:1-10

As so often happens in the lives of prophets, they fall out of favor with the king and religious leaders.  Such was the case of Jeremiah.  Jeremiah found himself banned from going into the house of the LORD.  It also happened that the LORD had a message for Jeremiah to deliver to the people of Judah.  That figures.  How to work around this?  I am supposing that all of this happened before the Babylonian Captivity.  Undaunted, Jeremiah dictates to his scribe Baruch all the words he needs to announce to the people of Judah.  Jeremiah’s heart is breaking because of the apostasy of Judah!  “I am banned from going to the house of the LORD, so you are to go on a day of fasting in the hearing of all the people in the LORD’s house you shall read the words of the LORD from the scroll that you have written at my dictation.” (Jeremiah 36:5-6 ESV)

When the book of the Law was read to Jehoiakim’s father, Josiah, he and all Judah with him repented and returned to the LORD in humility. How does Jehoiakim begin to respond as his father did?