Luke/Acts–Lesson10

Rembrandt_Return_smWeek of November 15

Text:

Luke 15

Summary:

Luke 15 is a unified chapter, with each story a similar treatment of what it means to seek the lost. What is significant are the differences between the stories, where we see the father address those who although perhaps are lost in some ways, were always a part of the father. This oneness with the father should therefore affect how they—and we—look to those who are lost.

Text Notes:

Our chapter opens with another situation where the Pharisees and teachers of the law are closely watching Jesus. At this point in the gospel, we should come to expect such a response. What is interesting is the fact that the people the Pharisees considered “sinners” were people who did not act in the way they expected them to rather than sinners in the sense of having moral failings. We might not even list them as “sinners,” per se. We, like the Pharisees, might consider people who did not act like us or hold similar beliefs to us as being on the “outside” of our circle. This is an important distinction as we prepare to look at these three stories. Who is an outsider to you?

All three of the stories need to be compared to one another. I believe the impact and meaning of the stories is found in the difference we see in the third story, so I will not spend much time of the first two.

In summary, the first two stories have a similar pattern: someone loses something, there is a frantic search for that something, the object is found, friends and neighbors are called, and there is great rejoicing.

This pattern is repeated in the story of the lost son, but there is an additional element not found in the previous two: the older son—one who is “not lost”—complains about the treatment of those lost but now found. The question for us becomes: why is this individual included in this story?

It does not take much for us to recognize the comparison of the Pharisees and teachers of the law in the first of the chapter with the older brother concluding the chapter. This inclusio helps us realize that the issue here are those who reject “sinners,” or as we have established above, those who are outside our circle. We have to ask ourselves: how do we exclude and seek only those on the inside like, well, us? Is our focus, like the three examples given here, on seeking out those who are lost?

Something the father tells the older son is also enlightening. The father reminds the son that he was always with the father and “everything I have is yours.” It would seem that one of the challenges the Pharisees faced was an understanding of what it means to be a part of God’s family. There is no need to fret your inclusion into the kingdom when you are already in the kingdom. In the same way, the inclusion or seeking of those unlike you does not cheapen your status. You are included and your standing is good. It is the people who do not have this standing that are or should be our focus.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • If you were the Pharisees and teachers of the law, who do you think you would have expected to be around Jesus? Why do you think the Pharisees and teachers of the law expected these kinds of people? In what ways do we also show righteous indignation when people not like us come to hear Jesus? (Luke 15.1-2)
  • What sort of actions would you expect the man who lost the sheep to take? How does this compare to what actually happened in the story? Why was calling his neighbors such an integral part of the celebration for this man? In what ways do we rejoice over the sinner who repents? In what ways can we do a better job of rejoicing? (Luke 15.3-7)
  • How does this story about the woman who lost a coin compare to the previous one about a man who lost a sheep? How does it compare to the one that follows about the lost son? Why are the differences of these three stories important for us being able to understand the story? (Luke 15.8-10)
  • How do you think you would have reacted if you had been the father in the story of the lost son? As you heard stories of the actions of your son while he was away—assuming you heard some—what do you think you would have been thinking? How sorry do you think the younger son was for his actions? What clues do you see in the text that supports your opinion? (Luke 15.11-19)
  • Given all that the son had done, how accepting do you think you would have been to the son upon his return? Do you feel good about accepting back the son without any sort of punishment? What sort of clues do we have about God’s longing for us based on the example of the father in this story? (Luke 15.20-24)
  • We tend to look down upon the older son for his reaction, but in what ways have you found yourself acting in similar ways? Based on what we read about the older son, what sort of things do you sense drove him to act in the manner that he did? In what ways did his misunderstanding of being a “son” color his reactions? (Luke 15.25-30)
  • What does it mean for us to realize that everything God has is ours? How does this change the way you look at lost people and are motivated to be like God and seek them out? How can you do a better job of looking more toward those who are lost than those who have been “slaving for the father?” (Luke 15.31-32)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • What ways do we find Luke using the phrase “tax collectors and sinners” in his gospel? What people would have been included in this description? How do you think we would have reacted to these people, based on what you have seen in Luke’s gospel?
  • One of the things that makes the story of the lost son so shocking was the uncustomary manner in which the father reacted toward him. See if you can find any material on what might have been a “normal” response to a son in a similar situation.
  • Draw or create a picture that compares the pattern of these three stories. Be sure to include the differences in a way that they are magnified and obvious to all.
  • Rembrandt has painted a powerful painting of the story of the lost son entitled “The Return of the Prodigal Son.” Find a copy of this picture online and study it. How does this picture help you see this story better? [NOTE: Henri Nouwen has written a book based on this parable and the painting with the same title. You might get a copy of this work and read it, as well.]
  • Make a list of people whom the Pharisees and teachers of the law would consider “sinners” today. Also, make a list of those you might consider sinners. How do these two lists compare to one another?
  • Place yourself in a place where you have the opportunity to seek out someone who is lost.

Connect:

Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.

Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.

Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @southplainscofc

Tag your posts with #1hbs.

by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Luke/Acts–Lesson09

mealsmWeek of November 8

Text:

Luke 14

Summary:

Luke begins a section in his gospel addressing the cost of discipleship. This idea will span a couple of chapters. The banquet with the Pharisees in chapter 14, (describing who is and is not appropriate people to invite to such events) carries over to chapter 15, where Jesus describes people’s response to those who are lost.

Text Notes:

Our passage begins with Jesus being closely watched at a Pharisee’s house, where he has been invited for a meal on the Sabbath. We already have been made aware of the Pharisee’s desire to trap him in something he says or does (Luke 11.53-54). As so often seems to be the case, Jesus finds someone who is ill at the meal. Jesus heals this man, but not without asking the Pharisee’s as to the lawfulness of doing so. The proper answer would have been no, it was not lawful, but they refuse to answer. Although they were trying to trap him, they were at least smart enough to realize Jesus would turn the tables on them.

Jesus proceeds with asking the Pharisees about a son or an ox falling into the well on the Sabbath. Here the law was not quite as clear. Some rabbis would accept rescuing the ox, but there were others who claimed you could feed it, but not pull it out. It was generally accepted that if a child fell into a well, rescue was an appropriate response. Jesus challenges these teachers to compare the need for rescue of a son or ox and the need for rescue of this man. I think we would all agree with the importance of healing this man, yet I think we need to carefully inspect the ways we often find our “important” things to do getting in the way of showing love to others.

The banquet Jesus is attending creates the context for his next example: ways that seats are chosen at banquets. It would have been the practice of people to get the “best seats” at the table. I compare it to getting a table close to the speaker at a fundraising dinner. We all want the closest seat, but only those who donate the most money who get those seats, so if you pick that seat, you may be moved to the back of the room. Jesus’ instructions are to humble ourselves and pick the lesser seats.

Not only should we pick the less honorable seats, but we should also take care who we invite to our dinners. Do not, Jesus says, invite only those who can repay you with a similar invitation. Invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. (Notice this list appears again in verse 21.) Our focus should be on those on the fringe or the outside. This idea will be more fully fleshed out in chapter 15.

Jesus’ comment about the “resurrection of the righteous” leads someone at the banquet to comment on enjoying the feast in the kingdom of God. The implication is that this man would be at that great banquet. Jesus then tells a parable about a man preparing a great banquet, only to have all of his initially invited guests turn him down with various excuses. It was customary to invite people early (think a “Save the Date” type invitation), then to follow up with them when the banquet was ready. There could have been many days between the initial invitation and the actual banquet.

Some have tried to use Deuteronomy 20 as the basis for these excuses; others try to show the lack of validity of the excuses. I think Jesus’ point was that people did not come even though they initially said they would. In other words, the point is not why they did not come, but that they did not come. Jesus then goes on to say that the poor, crippled, lame, and blind should be invited. This parable serves to connect the story of who to invite to a banquet with the focus of chapter 15: those who are lost. The parable also serves warning to the man expressing joy for the upcoming banquet in the kingdom of God and others that those who assume they will get into the banquet may discover they do not actually make it.

The final story in this chapter is one describing the cost of discipleship. In short, the cost is everything, including your life. To take up one’s cross would be to embrace death. Remember that the cross would not have been the smooth, polished piece of gold we often think of, but would have been an instrument of death. While I am not sure we can always know everything that will come our way when we choose to follow Jesus, we can make a commitment to follow him no matter what does come our way. This is Jesus’ admonition to the crowds, but to us, as well.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • Is there anything that would prevent you from rescuing a child or a pet if they had fallen in a well or hole in the ground? Why do you think the Pharisees and experts in the law would have laws that prevent such rescues? In reality, they would have rescued their child, even on the Sabbath. What does this tell us about how they viewed the law and how they practiced those laws? (Luke 14.1-6)
  • Have you ever been in a position where you thought you were the guest of honor or at least an important guest, only to discover you were no where near the top of the list as far as importance? How did you feel in this situation? Give an example of a way you can be sure to not pick the place of honor at something you are involved in today. (Luke 14.7-11)
  • In what ways do you see people today “inviting” or perhaps befriending people who have status or prestige? How would our parties look if we spent our time and resources inviting and befriending the poor, crippled, lame, and blind? (Luke 14.12-14)
  • Have you ever had to back out of an event after you said you would attend? What reason did you have for backing out? In what ways do the reasons given by these people to not attend the banquet seem like reasonable excuses? In what ways do they seem like poor excuses? What excuses do we give for not following God today? How can we be sure we are not making those excuses? (Luke 14.15-20)
  • How different do you think the tone of this banquet would have been once the poor, crippled, blind, and lame were invited to the party? Is the point of Jesus’ parable for us to invite these people only after the original guests refused to attend? What is the point of the parable? (Luke 14.21-24)
  • How would the large crowds following Jesus have heard his comment to “take up your cross?” What does it mean for us to take up our cross today? What examples can you give of people following Jesus who have taken up their cross? How can we do a better job of taking up our own crosses? (Luke 14.25-33)
  • What purposes did salt have in Jesus’ day and age? What purposes do we have as “salt” today? How can we be sure to not be worthless salt? (Luke 14.34-35)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • The Pharisees had specific laws as to what was and was not allowed on the Sabbath. When Jesus asks them if it is lawful heal on the Sabbath and to pull out a son or ox that had fallen into a pit, what would the “right” answer have been, according to Jewish writings? Research what the laws were for these questions.
  • Inviting someone to a banquet and then inviting again seems like an odd system. Study the customs of Jesus’ day to determine the protocol people used for banquets and such.
  • Make a list of people you might invite to a dinner party or birthday party at you house. Then make another list of people you would never think to invite to this party. What would it take for you to invite people from the second list?
  • Draw or paint a picture showing the two examples Jesus gives about counting the cost.
  • Our struggles may not be healing others on the Sabbath, but rather showing love to people when we have something “good” we need to be doing. This week, be aware of people who need your love and let them mess up your schedule, allowing time to show them love even when you have something else you need to be doing.
  • Invite someone from your second list above over for a meal.

Connect:

Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.

Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.

Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @southplainscofc

Tag your posts with #1hbs.

by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Luke/Acts–Lesson08

flowersWeek of November 1

Text:

Luke 12-13

Summary:

As Jesus continues on his journey toward Jerusalem, he continues to instruct his followers as to the nature of what it means to follow him: to not worry, to be watchful, and to realize following him is not always without strife or struggles.

Text Notes:

Jesus continues to attract crowds, to the point they are trampling one another. While this happens, however, he instructs his disciples as to how following him means focusing on things beyond wealth, health, and safety. In our chapters today, he first wants the disciples (notice he is speaking to them, not the crowd) to beware of the Pharisees and their teachings. This warning moves from an admonition aimed at the Pharisees to instructions about God’s care and concern for those who follow Jesus in spite of hard circumstances. I tend to think that being brought before the rulers and authorities would not be taken as a delightful thing, but rather, something that would cause concern among the disciples. God’s care—illustrated by his concern for sparrows, small as they are—includes concern for the disciples, who will be guided by the Holy Spirit in these circumstances. Remember that the Holy Spirit is a (perhaps the) chief character in Luke’s two-part writing. When the Holy Spirit is mentioned, God is definitely at work in the events at hand.

Jesus uses a comment by a man who felt cheated by his brother’s willingness to share their inheritance to warn the people and his disciples about greed. He tells the crowd (perhaps he is still focused on the disciples, but the crowd certainly was within earshot) a parable about a man who continues to build bigger barns. The goal of the man is to get “enough” to one day be able to take it easy. The focus on that which is earthly is misguided, Jesus says. Focus rather on kingdom things that matter more and have life even beyond one’s earthly life.

This leads to Jesus giving his disciples instructions about not worrying. Again, the purpose of these instructions is to help his disciples see that focusing on the kingdom (“seek his kingdom,” v. 31) is priority over the things we often worry about or spend much of our time focusing on. God’s love for us is enough to provide care for us, so our focus needs to be on Him who provides, not on attempts to create self-sustenance in our own lives.

That focus on the kingdom carries over into how watchful we are to be. It is easy for us, I think, to assume Jesus will not return in our lifetime. After all, it has been two thousand years or so since he left, why would now be the time? I think Jesus’ instructions may be less about the fact he may return in the next hour and more about having a lifestyle that is so focused on him that the time of his return is of little consequence to us. Jesus has given us the responsibility of living a kingdom life now, it only makes sense for us to continue to live that life, especially when we consider his return.

Following Jesus, however, does not always mean life will be “peaceful.” Jesus reminds his disciples that to follow him means to give up everything, including relationships, if needed. This story may have resonated with Jesus’ early followers more than with us since many of his followers would have been faced with the challenge of turning against the beliefs of their family in order to follow Jesus.

Jesus wants his disciples to understand following him means bearing fruit that is consistent with the calling they have received. If one is an orchard owner, to give up ground in order to raise a tree that produces no fruit is a waste of resources. The whole purpose of growing the tree is to gather the fruit, so if it does not, it needs to be removed. The same is true for us. As followers of Jesus, our lives need to look like his and bear the fruit of him. If we are not, we are “wasting resources,” in a sense, but certainly not living the life we were called to live.

Keeping the Sabbath laws seem to be one of the primary ways in which conflict between the Pharisees and Jesus arose. Perhaps these laws were the easiest to quantify, so also the easiest to observe being broken. Jesus points out to the Pharisees that their law keeping was inconsistent and they missed the important point of bringing health and life to people, not preventing it from happening.

Our chapters close with a reminder of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem and his impending death that would happen there. He is shown lamenting their rejection of him, a prophet set to die in Jerusalem for his people.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • When you go to church and hear warnings against behaving in the wrong way, whom do you expect those warnings to be spoken against? How do you think Jesus’ disciples—and the crowds surrounding them—reacted to hearing Jesus’ warnings against the Pharisees? Why is it comforting to know that God has concern for the sparrows and for you and even when you are arrested or brought before those against you, the Holy Spirit will be guiding you? (Luke 12.1-12)
  • Why is it easy for us to want to get bigger and better things? In what ways can we prevent ourselves from being like the rich fool in this passage? What do you think it means to be “rich towards God?” (Luke 12.13-21)
  • Why do we worry so much? In what ways have you found yourself concerned about what you will eat or what you will wear? What examples can you give from your own life (or from others you know) that show the power of seeking first the kingdom of God? How has God provided for you in these circumstances? What specific ways would you recommend to people to help them seek first the kingdom of God? (Luke 12.22-34)
  • Have you ever thought about when Jesus will return? Many people have claimed the end of the world on this date or that date. In what ways does doing so miss the point of Jesus’ parable here? How can you be ready and focused on the “return of the master” today? What sort of things would indicate you are not ready? What helps you focus on being prepared? (Luke 12.35-48)
  • How has your faith proven to be a division between you and others? Why is it so difficult for us to want to follow Jesus if we know doing so brings animosity or strife between others and us? (Luke 12.49-59)
  • In what ways do you feel like your life bears good fruit? How surprising is it for you to hear Jesus tell a parable about the need to bear good fruit and the punishment that will come upon those who do not? How can you better bear good fruit? (Luke 13.1-17)
  • How does Jesus’ description of the kingdom of God compare to what you might have expected him to say about the kingdom? In what ways do we assume the kingdom will be big and powerful, rather than starting small and growing? How have you seen “small” moments of kingdom living result in large changes of lives over time? (Luke 13.18-35)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • Jesus makes a comparison between followers of his and those waiting for a master to return from a wedding banquet. Study the customs of weddings in Jesus’ day in order to better understand the point Jesus is making here.
  • What laws did the Jews have about the Sabbath? Why would they have considered watering a donkey or ox appropriate, but not healing a woman?
  • In what ways does Jesus describe the kingdom of God in Luke’s gospel? Find all of the passages about the kingdom. What sort of description can you give of the kingdom from these passages?
  • Pick one of the stories Jesus tells in Luke 12-13 and draw or create a picture of the scene Jesus describes in that passage.
  • Think of specific ways you can be more watchful today as you try to follow Jesus better.
  • Find a mother hen and her chicks. Watch how she takes care of and guards her chicks. How does this help you understand better Jesus’ words in Luke 13.24?

Connect:

Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.

Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.

Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @southplainscofc

Tag your posts with #1hbs.

by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Luke/Acts–Lesson 07

prayersmWeek of October 25

Text:

Luke 11

Summary:

Jesus instructs his disciples about prayer, demonstrating the manner in which his followers should act, then goes on to describe those who failed to follow Jesus in showing justice and love to others.

Text Notes:

Jesus is asked by his disciples to teach them to pray, “just as John taught his disciples.” We do not have any record as to the specific prayer or prayers John taught his disciples, so trying to determine how Jesus’ prayer differed is purely speculative. We do know that the Jews had regular times of prayer during the day. We also know that there are some Jewish prayers that have some similarities to the prayer Jesus prays here.

We also know that Jesus’ prayer, which we call the Lord’s Prayer, focuses on our dependence on the Father, who is sovereign. He is the one who is holy, the one who provides daily sustenance, and forgives and protects us. If we include the “commentary” Jesus makes about prayer in verses 5-13, we also discover that God is one who gives, just like a good father gives. Although Jesus points out that it is because of the man asking for bread’s “shameless audacity” (NIV) that the man in the house gives him bread, the rest of Jesus’ comments point towards the goodness of God as the motivation for his giving good gifts. There is an emblematic relationship here: if earthly fathers can give good gifts, surely our heavenly Father can give gifts that are that much more valuable.

By the way, the culture in which Jesus and his followers lived was keenly aware of the importance of hospitality. A traveler would have been dependent upon someone to open their home for him to stay—there were no hotels. Three loaves of bread were the typical amount used during a meal and the bread would have been baked regularly, if not daily. The houses that were probably in the mind of Jesus in this passage were small one-room houses built very close to one another. Therefore, the man in the house would have to get up and make his way over his family who would have been asleep on mats on the floor, in order to get the man asking for bread his food. Everyone in the neighborhood would have probably heard this commotion and known the response—or lack there of—of the man being asked for food.

There is sort of a two-fold amazement of people’s response to Jesus casting out demons. First, if good was being done, why stop the good that was happening? It certainly points to the jealousy people at times feel for the success of others. It also may point to the people’s desire for Jesus to do the things he did—including healing—in the “right” sort of way. It is also interesting that someone would accuse Jesus of casting our demons in the name of the prince of demons. It makes no sense for someone on the side of the demons to defeat … the demons. Notice also Jesus attributes the presence of the kingdom of God as the reason for these demons being cast out.

As we read through the accounts of Jesus’ life, it seems surprising to us that the people were not more receptive to the power of Jesus. That is certainly the case in verses 29-32, where Jesus tells the people that Nineveh and the Queen of Sheba understand what is at hand. Why do the people not get it?

Jesus tells his followers that light is meant to illuminate, not to be hidden. Light that cannot be seen is of no use to anyone. If we allow ourselves to be filled with light, then we will also be able to demonstrate and share that light, as well.

Jesus concludes this chapter with a list of woes against the Pharisees and teachers of the law. The precipitating event here is Jesus not washing himself prior to a meal at the Pharisees house. Jesus explains that the concern of the Pharisees for their ceremonial washings outweighed their concern to show justice and love to others. In other words, one could wash and be as clean as clean could be, yet still not demonstrate the love they should have to others. Needless to say, Jesus’ response to these Pharisees and teachers did not engender himself to them and they began to try to find a way to catch him doing something wrong.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • Why do you think Luke points out that Jesus was praying in a “certain” place? How does Jesus’ prayer compare to many of the prayers that you pray? What is the same? What is different? Given the nature of this prayer, what do you think Jesus is trying to teach his disciples about prayer? (Luke 11.1-4)
  • In what ways have you seen someone be like the person being asked for the bread in this story, or perhaps a time you have been like this person yourself? What do you think was going through the mind of the person who was asking for the bread? In what ways have you been in his shoes during times of prayer? What examples can you give of the good gifts that are given by earthly fathers and your heavenly Father? (Luke 11.5-13)
  • Why do you think people would criticize Jesus even as he is doing good things, such as driving out demons? Why do we often try to negate the good of others around us? In what ways can we bless them, even if they are ministering in ways we are not? (Luke 11.14-28)
  • Do you think it would have been hard or easy to accept Jesus and his teaching if you had lived in his day? Why do you think this is the case for you? Why do you think people reject Jesus today even when they know better? (Luke 11.29-32)
  • How healthy are your eyes (spiritually – in the way Jesus is speaking of them here)? What sort of things would you point to in order to show the health of your or someone else’s eyes? What reasons does Jesus give that show the people he is talking to are healthy? (Luke 11.33-36)
  • Does it surprise you that Jesus would eat with a Pharisee given all that he has spoken about them up to this point? Why or why not? In what ways do you find yourself worrying about the little minutia of following Jesus, but perhaps missing some of the bigger picture of what it means to show justice and love? Why is it at times easier to do the former rather than the latter? (Luke 11.37-44)
  • If Jesus were to return today, who are the people he might treat like he did these teachers of the law? What sort of warnings do you take from his description to these teachers? (Luke 11.45-54)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • Compare the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11 with other Jewish prayers you can find. What is the same? What is different? Why do you think there is a difference?
  • Research the idea of hospitality in Jesus’ day. How does a better understanding of hospitality help you understand Jesus words about prayer and asking for bread?
  • Jesus is criticized for not washing before his meal with the Pharisee. According to Jewish laws and customs, what should Jesus have done prior to this meal?
  • Make a list of ways you have been blessed by earthly parents in your life. Now, make a list of the ways you have been blessed by your heavenly Father. How do these lists compare? How do they spur you on to give good gifts in your own life?
  • Spend some time every day (perhaps morning, noon, and night) praying the prayer Jesus gives his disciples in Luke 11. Do not pray anything other than what he says. After a week of this, journal the impact this exercise had on your prayer life and your understanding of what it means to follow Jesus.
  • Consider what gifts you might give someone because of your love for them through Christ. Go and actually give them this gift.

Connect:

Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.

Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.

Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @southplainscofc

Tag your posts with #1hbs.

by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Luke/Acts–Lesson 06

CC Image courtesy of Michael Zanussi on Flickr.

Week of October 18

Text:

Luke 9.51-10.42

Summary:

Luke’s gospel takes a turn—literally—for Jerusalem, where Jesus will make his final sacrifice. We begin to read about moments that build toward the crucifixion of Jesus, including seventy-two followers of Jesus going before him to proclaim the kingdom of God. As Jesus continues toward Jerusalem, the role of Messiah becomes increasingly clear based on the stories Luke includes in his gospel.

Text Notes:

When Jesus makes his turn toward Jerusalem (literally: “turns his face toward Jerusalem”) in 9.51, Luke begins to use what is commonly referred to as “travel indicators” throughout his gospel until Jesus actually arrives in Jerusalem in chapter 19. For instance, we read in 13.22: “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem.” This example is obvious, but there are other markers as well, things like: “As they were walking along the road” (9.57). All of these markers make up a travel narrative, which through these literary devices help move Jesus toward his destination in Jerusalem. We need to understand that this journey is one where Jesus will give himself up to be sacrificed on the cross. It is more than just a summary of his travels. It has everything to do with his purpose here on earth.

The Jews and the Samaritans did not like one another and often went out of their way to avoid contact with each other. (This is what makes the story of the Good Samaritan so shocking.) When we see the Samaritans reject Jesus in 9.52-53, we should not be surprised. This rejection may have simply been due to the animosity between the two groups, but it also may have been the result of Jesus making his way to the temple in Jerusalem. Part of the conflict between these two groups was the result of the Jewish people destroying the temple of the Samaritans and rejecting their right to worship there. The Samaritans may have taken offense that Jesus was on his way to the temple. Jesus, they would have surmised, would have had the opportunity to worship in Samaria, but would have been seen as rejecting that opportunity by his journey to Jerusalem.

It is interesting to me that we are not told of the specifics of Jesus’ rebuke of the disciples attempt to “call fire down” on the Samaritans. We are simply told he rebuked them and then went on about his way. Notice that Jesus “turned” to rebuke them. The disciples desire for revenge actually served as a distraction to Jesus’ travel toward Jerusalem. Whatever his rebuke, we understand that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ role in offering salvation for all.

Luke records several occasions when crowds surround Jesus or when crowds seek him out. Jesus is obviously doing something to attract people, but following him is not as easy as one might presume. The cost of following Jesus is extremely high, as the examples Luke provides here point out. We might assume the burial of a father might be an excuse considered worthy of postponing following Jesus. In reality, the man here may have been going to help an aging father transition into “retirement” per se and then death. Because Jewish law held that people were to be buried that day, it seems unlikely that this man would have even been around Jesus had his father just passed away. He probably is asking to be able to continue to be a part of his family during his dad’s last days (Weeks? Months? Years, perhaps?) Put in that context, this text does not seem as harsh.

We should also note that Jesus does not say people should not plow. It is the turning back (being distracted about the task at hand) that is the issue. I think for us, we should assume that our occupations are not to be dismissed, but rather brought under the umbrella of proclaiming the kingdom. In what ways, we could ask, does your occupation (banker, student, teacher, etc.) support your vocation (follower of Jesus and proclaimer of God’s kingdom?)

We have already seen Jesus send out the Twelve (9.1-9) and there are similarities between the commission there and the one here for the seventy-two. (You may find Bible translations that have this number as seventy. Early manuscripts are split almost evenly between the two numbers. The meaning of the passage is not changed based on which number is chosen.) Two of the differences with this account include no indication that the seventy-two have been given power to drive out demons. They are, however, forerunners of Jesus and his travels. Notice they are sent to every town and place where he was about to go.

There have been times when I have heard of (and participated in) churches gathering the names of everyone in the neighborhood and praying for them by name as part of an evangelistic campaign to gather the harvest. What people seem to miss during those campaigns, however, is that is not the harvest that we are to pray for, but the harvesters. (Although, I would say there is nothing wrong with praying for individuals to come to know Jesus. It is just not the prayer that is prayed in this passage.)

I am not sure the seventy-two went away with a great feeling about what was to happen, given they were being sent out like “lambs among wolves.” I think I would have liked better odds. We do read, however, that the seventy-two are to find “people of peace,” that is, people receptive to the message of Christ. This is where they are to focus their efforts and they are told to stay at these houses, not move from place to place (similar to the instructions given the Twelve.) Some of the modern missional thinkers have appropriately latched on to this idea and encourage people going into areas where they are trying to win a hearing of the gospel to seek out those most receptive. Start with these people and allow their influence over the people they know to help the harvester proclaim the message of God.

As has been consistently the case throughout the entire gospel of Luke, proclamation of the kingdom of God is the primary message for the seventy-two, just like it was for the Twelve, and just like it was for Jesus.

Verses 21-22 show the relationship between Jesus and his Father. One does not know one of them without knowing the other and vice versa. This will be important in the next chapter when Jesus begins to teach on prayer. We understand the Father—and his goodness—in part because of the life of Jesus.

We may be familiar with the story of the Good Samaritan. It is one of our favorite stories to tell our children during Sunday School. It is a shocking story, as most parables are, because of the actions of the characters involved. None of their actions are consistent with our expectations.

The story is set up by a question from an expert in the law and is designed to test Jesus. As he will do throughout this encounter, Jesus turns the question back on the man, who answers correctly according to Jesus. Inheriting eternal life, based on this man’s understanding of the Jewish law, is found in the summary of the greatest command (which is actually two commands): Love God and love your neighbor. Loving God would have been found in the shema of Deuteronomy 6, which all good Jews would have known and understood as foundational to their understanding of faithful living before Yahweh. The second command was not always as clearly defined. Some would have said it had to do with keeping the Sabbath, but loving your neighbor is not without precedent in the writings of the rabbis. The command itself was from Leviticus 19.8, which instructs the people not to hold grudges, but to love your neighbor.

We are told that the man seeks to justify himself, so tries to narrow down the true definition of a neighbor. This is not as unheard of as we might like to make it out to be. We tend to gravitate toward people most like us. For instance, if we were having a day to invite our neighbors to church, we probably would think of the people we were closest to or whom looked most like our church brethren and us. The biker next door might be overlooked in order to invite the person the next house down who has just been away from church for several years.

Jesus turns the question back on the expert by telling him a story about a traveler who was beat up and left for dead. A priest (perhaps on his way to Jerusalem to perform his priestly duties in the temple) passes by without helping him and a Levite (think: righteous man, forbidden to touch dead bodies) does the same. We would think these would be the most likely to help a brother out, but instead, they may have felt they had reasons to ignore him. If this man had passed away—really, wouldn’t it have been hard to tell if a half-dead man might not be all the way dead?—then these two travelers would have defiled themselves by offering aid.

A Samaritan, remember the conflict that had already been alluded to by Luke, did not have the same qualms and stopped to render aid. This is shocking to most Jews, probably because they would have assumed someone as backwater as a Samaritan didn’t have it in his heart to help anyone out, especially not a Jew. This man does help and offers unlimited resources to help get this man back on his feet.

Which one of these men, Jesus asks, was a neighbor? The question is not who deserved to be treated as a neighbor, but who acted like a neighbor. Here is the key to understanding what it means to inherit eternal life. It is not do you perform the bare minimum, but do you act from the heart to show the love of God and love for your neighbor. Show mercy on those who need the most mercy, Jesus tells this expert … and us.

Our section closes with a story of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus in their home. We all know the amount of preparations required to host someone in our home: cleaning, food being purchased and prepared, and hospitality being shown. To Martha, Mary was not holding up her end of the bargain because she spent her time listening to their guest, rather than showing hospitality to him. The busyness of following Jesus can at times overwhelm our ability to actually follow him. In this way, we certainly relate to Martha’s concerns. Focus on Jesus is what should concern us most, not the anxieties of the other things.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • Why do you think Jesus was so “resolute” to head to Jerusalem? Based on what you have read in the gospel of Luke up to this point, what do you expect to happen once Jesus gets there? Do you think the disciples understood what was to happen? Give examples as to why you think this is the case. (Luke 9.51-56)
  • In what ways would you assume burying your father would be a legitimate request to delay going with Jesus? What do Jesus’ instructions here tell us about the importance of how we follow Jesus? In what ways does proclaiming the kingdom of God supersede everything else we do? How can you proclaim the kingdom of God at your work, your school, or at play today? (Luke 9.57-62)
  • How does Jesus sending out the seventy-two compare to his sending out the Twelve? Why is it so important for us to pray for workers to be sent out into the harvest? In what ways have you found “people of peace” as you have moved to a new town or a new job? How comforting is it to know that when people reject you, they reject Jesus? (Luke 10.1-16)
  • Why does Jesus rejoice in verses 21-22? As you read through these two verses, what stands out to you? How important is our understanding of Jesus for our understanding of the Father? In what ways have you personally sensed a better understanding of the Father through your study of Jesus? (Luke 10.17-24)
  • Why would this expert of the law have wanted to test Jesus? What do you think this expert was trying to prove or discover? How do you think your life would be different if before doing anything you decided to do everything you did based on the following criteria: Does it show love to God? Does it show love to my neighbor? (Luke 10.25-28)
  • Have you ever been in a situation where you acted like the priest or the Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan? What about a situation where you acted like the Samaritan? Why would this story have been so shocking to Jesus’ hearers and to Luke’s readers? Do you think this expert expected Jesus to turn the question of neighbor back on him? Why is it much easier for us to determine who qualifies as a neighbor than it is to actually go out and be a neighbor? (Luke 10.29-37)
  • Are you a Mary or a Martha? Why do you think this is the case? In what ways do you see individuals being Martha’s when they should be Mary’s? Why do you think it is so easy to be focused on all of the preparations of following Jesus to the point of missing out on the important parts of actually following him? (Luke 10.38-42)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • From the time Jesus “turns his face” toward Jerusalem until the time he actually arrives in Jerusalem (chapter 19), Luke will give literary markers that indicate the progression of Jesus along his journey to Jerusalem. Go through these chapters and record all of these markers or “travel indicators,” as they are sometimes called.
  • Using a printed Bible map, go through these chapters again, along with your list of travel indicators, and draw a map showing the progression of Jesus toward Jerusalem.
  • Create a word art picture using the two-part greatest command given by the expert of the law: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”
  • Instead of looking for people who qualify as your neighbor, find someone on your block or that you run into on a regular basis that you can be a neighbor to. What sorts of things best show this person your love and the love of God? Go do it.
  • List the things in your life that you spend time giving much of your attention and energy to that in reality, are worries that should be replaced with trust in God. Be sure to spend time this week in devotion to God as you do worrying about those things.

Connect:

Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.

Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.

Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @southplainscofc

Tag your posts with #1hbs.

 

by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Luke/Acts–Lesson 04

Week of October 4

CC Image courtesy of Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. on Flickr.

CC Image courtesy of Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. on Flickr.

Text:

Luke 7-8

Summary:

Jesus continues to demonstrate his role as the Son of God through demonstrations of his power over death, demons and the elements. Jesus is a prophet, even when the circumstances might seem to indicate otherwise.

Text Notes:

We begin our look at the texts for this week with a story of Jesus healing the servant of a centurion. There are several remarkable moments in this story. First is the fact that Jesus would be inclined to heal someone from the household of a centurion. This would have been a Roman soldier (with a large regiment under him) although to his credit, he was known as someone sympathetic to the Jews, even building their synagogue for them. This centurion demonstrates a great amount of faith in Jesus, knowing he does not even have to come to the house of the centurion to heal the servant. Jesus tells the people that even in Israel he has not found such faith. Although we have seen some hints of the tension that would develop between the Jewish leaders and Jesus, this is the first time that the contrast has been between a Gentile and the nation of Israel.

Jesus moves on from Capernaum, where he encounters a widow who lost her only son. This would have been a significant moment of crisis in Jesus’ day, for widow women typically did not go get jobs to make ends meet. So on the one hand this story demonstrates Jesus’ compassion for a woman who lost her son, but even more crucial to this compassion is the fact that this woman was left without anyone to take care of her. Jesus’ healing provides her with her safety net, if you will, that would have been lost with the passing of her son.

The two stories above also are important to Luke’s narrative because of their similarities to the story of the healing of Naaman in 1 Kings 5 and the widow for whom Elijah heals her son in 1 Kings 17. Jesus (in Luke 4.14-30) had used both of these examples when he tells the people the prophecy of Isaiah had been fulfilled in their hearing. So not only was Jesus seen as a prophet, he acted like one through his ability to heal in similar ways.

Although we as Luke’s readers understand Jesus as the one to come as Messiah, his actions did not always match up with the expectations people had of a Messiah. John, I think, would have been one of those people. In Luke 7.18-35, John sends his followers to Jesus in order to determine if Jesus really is the one to come. Notice that Jesus does not give an emphatic “Yes” or “Of course,” which we might expect. He instead gives John’s disciples a list of things happening that actually show the fulfillment of the Isaiah prophecy of Luke 4. It is not just Jesus’s words that demonstrate his role as the Son of God, but his actions reinforce traditionally held prophecies for the Messiah. In other words: “Yes, my life shows I am the one to come.”

Luke again brings up the idea of Jesus as a prophet by telling the story of Jesus being anointed by a sinful woman. The setting is a dinner party hosted by Simon, a Pharisee. This might be where we expect Jesus to hang out, except that a woman who was a known sinner shows up and begins to anoint Jesus’ feet. We are not told her sin or even how she got into the dinner, but everyone in attendance knows this woman is a sinner. Simon in many ways asks a similar question John’s disciples ask: Is this man really a prophet, for prophets would not allow sinful people to touch them.

What follows is a contrast between the actions of this woman and Simon the host. In three different ways, Simon falls short of giving Jesus the hospitality that would have been normal yet is shown by this woman: she washes Jesus’ feet, she kisses him, and she anoints his feet. Simon’s lack of attention to hospitality is not excused in spite of his “righteous standing” any more that the woman’s actions are ignored for her lack of standing. In fact, Jesus commends her for her faith and forgives her sins.

Chapter 8 opens with the parable of the sower, indicating the different reactions to people’s hearing of the word of God. Matthew places this parable in the context of others describing the fact that some people will not accept the word of God and it serves as almost a word of encouragement to the people hearing Jesus’ words. Here the parable is set next to the story of allowing ones light shine instead of hiding it. It would seem that Luke’s purpose for both of these stories is more along the lines of hear and react in ways appropriate to that hearing. Let your light shine.

Two more major stories in chapter 8 serve to demonstrate the power of Jesus. First, he heals a man who was possessed by demons. As is often the case, the demons recognize Jesus for who he is (even when those who probably should most recognize him do not). The man is healed, the people are amazed, and Jesus—similar to the stories of letting your light shine—instructs the man to tell others what God has done for him. In a sense, he too is told to shine his light, he just has a much more dramatic understanding of God’s actions than others might.

Finally, Jesus is on his way to heal the daughter of a synagogue leader who was dying. As he is making his way to her house, a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touches him. He immediately stops to inquire as to whom touched him. As you read this story, you get a picture of a mass crowd pushing and shoving around Jesus. In the chaos, it would be impossible for a normal man to realize the edge of his cloak had been touched. Jesus’ recognition of this fact is just one of the amazing aspects of this story.

The Greek text indicates that the bleeding this woman was dealing with was related to her menstrual cycle, which would have, according to Jewish laws, made Jesus unclean the moment he was touched by her. Perhaps this is part of the reason she sought to just touch the edge of his garment in private, so as to not make a big deal about her condition. Rather than condemn the woman for making him unclean (notice there is nothing said about being clean or unclean in Luke’s text), Jesus heals this woman because of, he says, her faith.

Jesus goes on to the house of Jairus, where Jesus learns his daughter has passed away, although someone obviously forgets to tell Jesus. He goes into the little girl and commands her to get up, which she does.

It is interesting the number of times a woman has figured into the stories of chapters 7 and 8. A widow’s son is raised, a sinful woman anoints Jesus, there are a large number of woman traveling and supporting Jesus (Luke 8.1-3), and a dead girl and a sick woman are both healed by Jesus. Luke takes great care to mention these interactions with Jesus, which would have been unusual in that day and age. Be sure to take note, both here and in chapters to come of the inclusion of women.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • What reasons would Jesus have to help the widow woman from Nain? What individuals or groups of people can you think of whom might find themselves in a situation where they are unable to help themselves? What sort of things can you do to help them in their circumstances? In what ways is it important for Luke to us to read that the people identified Jesus as a great prophet? (Luke 7.1-17)
  • Why might John the Baptist question whether Jesus was “the one who is to come?” Do you think his question is a question of doubt or simply a desire to gather information? Prior to reading this passage, how might you have expected Jesus to answer John’s question? Are you surprised at the things Jesus mentions in answering John’s question? Why or why not? (Luke 7.18-35)
  • In what ways is the Pharisee Simon’s reaction to a sinful woman approaching and touching Jesus a normal response? How do we avoid being touched by “sinners” today? In what ways does Jesus’ response address our desire to avoid sinners? Simon assumes Jesus is not a prophet. How do we know—from this passage and others—that he is? (Luke 7.36-50)
  • In what ways have you seen people receive the word of God like Jesus describes in the parable of the sower, only to have the result also match what we read? What do you think Jesus’ point was in telling this parable? In what ways do you see yourself in this story? (Luke 8.1-15)
  • We understand Jesus’ instruction about being a lamp to refer to how we hear and react to the word of God. In what ways have you seen people hear the word and hide it under a jar or the bed? In what ways have you seen people shine their lights, to use the lyrics from the song? How can we do a better job of shining our lights? (Luke 8.16-25)
  • How do you think it would have felt to be the demon-possessed man living in the tombs? What was his response after Jesus had driven out the demons? How do you respond when you hear the good news of Jesus and your life is changed? In what ways are you diligent in telling others what God has done for you? (Luke 8.26-39)
  • What examples of Jesus’ power do we see in the story of the dead girl and the sick woman? How do you think you would have responded to these examples had you been in the crowd with Jesus that day? How much faith do you sense in both the leader of the synagogue and the woman who had been bleeding? (Luke 8.40-56)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • Luke is very intentional about showing us the ways that Jesus was a prophet or at the very least, the fulfillment of prophesies. Using some Bible study software or a concordance, find all of the occasions Luke uses the term prophet or the like. Based on his usages, what sort of picture do we get of Jesus as a prophet?
  • Jesus is seen including and interacting with women throughout the gospel of Luke. Go through the gospel, listing all of the women with whom Jesus has interactions. Compare Luke’s gospel with the other three. How do these lists compare? Why do you think Luke spends as much time as he does including women in his narrative?
  • Draw a before and after picture of the demon-possessed man from Gerasenes.
  • Make a list of all of the things God has done for you. In what ways does listing these things help you see them better? How can we do a better job of seeing things that happen in our lives as a result of God’s working?
  • Take the list you made above and tell people about some of the things on your list, much like the demon-possessed man was instructed to tell what God had done for him.
  • In what ways do you show your light? In what ways do you hide it? Spend time this week working on doing a better job showing your light to others.

Connect:

Find lessons, posts about the passages we are studying, and more information at 1homebiblestudy.org.

Find more information about our 1 Groups at 1groups.com.

Find out more information about South Plains at southplains.org.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @southplainscofc

Tag your posts with #1hbs.

by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

Luke/Acts – Lesson 03

CC Image courtesy of Walwyn on Flickr.

Week of September 27

Text:

Luke 5-6

Summary:

Luke begins his account of Jesus’ earthly ministry with examples of action Jesus did that were contradictory to the expectations of the Pharisees and teachers of the law. These actions lead into Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain, which echoes the ideas found in Matthew’s version of the Sermon on the Mount.

Text Notes:

Out text opens with Jesus preaching to a crowd from a boat. It appears that the logistics of being able to row out a bit from shore allowed Jesus a better vantage point from which to preach. It may be interesting to note that we are not told what Jesus taught this day—just that he did teach the people. The point of Luke’s inclusion of the story was not the content, but rather, the fact that Jesus demonstrates his power to Peter and then calls him to follow. Peter recognizes the power in Jesus’ actions (Notice that he goes from calling him “Master” to “Lord.”) and leaves everything behind to follow Jesus.

The next five stories contain Jesus doing things I would call “all wrong,” that is, he does things contrary to what the Jewish people would expect from a good Jew, especially a good Jewish rabbi or teacher. Certainly Luke includes these stories to demonstrate the fact that Jesus’ actions do not always align with that of the Jews, yet they still demonstrate the power of God.

First is a story of Jesus healing a man with leprosy. Leprosy was not necessarily Hansen’s disease, but rather any skin ailment. The issue for the Jewish people was laws that prohibited someone with leprosy to be included in everyday societal life, since doing so might result in a possibility of being declared unclean. (It seems the issue was not so much catching some disease as being declared unclean and therefore unable yourself to participate in the worship practices of the day.) Jesus does more than allow this man to approach him, he touches the man. This would result in Jesus himself being considered unclean, but the issue never comes up in Luke’s narrative. What is noted is that news of Jesus spreads far and wide, resulting in the need for Jesus to take regular time to withdraw to solitary places and pray.

The second story is one of a paralyzed man who is brought to Jesus on a mat carried by friends. Jesus not only heals the man, but uses this healing as a demonstration of Jesus power over illnesses, as well as sin. Again, to declare forgiveness for sins would have been against the Jewish law: it was blasphemy to claim a power that only God held. Of course, we understand that Jesus was God, but the Pharisees obviously did not.

Jesus was not only willing to forgive others of sin, he was also willing to spend time with sinners. The reason this even comes up is the frustration of the Pharisees and teachers of the law that Jesus is doing this “all wrong.” While we may think it is not strange for Jesus to be seeking those who were “sick,” as he describes them, we too tend to find people who look more church-like than sin-like. Jesus’ actions serve to point out a need for our focus to be beyond just those who follow Christ to perfection.

Jesus’ examples of acting in ways contrary to Jewish faith continues with a story of Jesus questioned about fasting (Jesus says to celebrate while the bridegroom is with you) and one about him healing on the Sabbath (It is better to good and save life than to do nothing, which Jesus equates to evil, and destroy a life.)

Jesus spends a night praying to God. While Luke never explicitly says his time in prayer was to prepare for the choosing of the twelve apostles, there can be little doubt that was the purpose. When morning came, he selects twelve, for whom we are given their names. It is important for us to be recognize the need of prayer in decisions we make, if only for the ability it gives us to be more centered on God and his purposes.

Luke’s version of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” is known as the “Sermon on the Plain” in Luke’s gospel. Luke’s sermon is shorter than the one in Matthew, although it does contain the same material.

Jesus has four “Blessed…” statements, along with four “Woe…” statement. Matthew does not include any woes, but Luke’s woes do echo some of the statements we see in Matthew’s version. Both sermons conclude with a statement about builders, pointing to the truth that disciples are those who do what Jesus says to do. This too is found in both sermons.

Discussion Questions:

Every week our lessons will include seven questions (really question sets) that you may either pick and choose those questions that best suit your family unit, or you may use one question set for each day.

  • In what ways do you think it would have been difficult for the man with leprosy to approach Jesus and ask for healing? In what ways do we find ourselves excluded or outcast because of things in our life? How does Jesus offer us healing? Why do you think Luke includes the fact that Jesus often sought lonely places to pray? How should this be an instruction for us to do the same? (Luke 5.1-16)
  • What were the friends of the paralytic men seeking for their friend? In what ways did they receive much, much more? There are three stories here where Jesus does things that are unexpected. Why were Jesus’ actions so surprising? In what ways do you find Jesus doing things today that many would consider unusual? In what ways have you done things that would be considered unusual in the name of Jesus? (Luke 5.17-39)
  • One of the things that surprised people was Jesus’ actions on the Sabbath, which went against the Jewish regulations of the day. In what ways have you seen people attempt to ensure they are following Jesus only to discover they have created rules and regulations that force people to follow the rules rather than Jesus? In what ways have you done good, even when it seemed to go against the grain of the norms of the day? (Luke 6.1-11)
  • What do Jesus’ actions prior to selecting his 12 apostles instruct us about how to go about making decisions in our own life? In what ways do you think spending time in prayer helps prepare you to make important decisions? Why is this the case? (Luke 6.12-16)
  • This passage is know as the Sermon on the Plain (in contrast to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount), but it contains much of the same teaching. When you read the blessings that are listed in this passage, how do you think the people listening to Jesus heard these comments? In what ways are these words prescriptive (that is, telling the people how they are to act) versus being descriptive (telling people who they are and how they are blessed even in spite of their standing)? What blessing or woe stands out the most to you from this passage and why? (Luke 6.17-26)
  • Why is it so difficult for us to love our enemy? How do you think society got to the point where fairness and equality in every situation became more important than love and care for one another? What is the worst thing that can happen to you if life is not fair? In what ways can you do something for others in such a way as to avoid being repaid for your kindness toward them? (Luke 6.27-36)
  • Do you find Jesus words in this section comforting or anxiety inducing? Why might it be easy to see these instructions as a warning to us? How often do you reflect on the ways your life shows your love for God? In what ways do you think you would see things you need to change, were you to spend time reflecting on the fruit your life produces? (Luke 6.37-49)

Activities:

Every week this section will list possible activities you and your family unit can do. You may pick one or perhaps do several during the course of a week. All are intended to be suitable for any age.

  • Research the rules and regulations the Jewish people had for the Sabbath. How does Jesus’ actions compare to these regulations? Based on this, do you think those opposed to Jesus had a valid point to oppose Jesus’ treatment of the Sabbath?
  • Compare the “Blessings” and “Woes” listed in Luke 6.20-26. How do they compare with one another? Do you find them congruent or unrelated? Why do you think Jesus selected these blessings and woes to list here? Now, how does this sermon (The Sermon on the Plain) compare to Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).
  • Make a list of the groups of people you might consider today’s version of “lepers.” You might even go so far as to use the standards of your own group of friends as part of the criteria to determine who is “in” and who is to be sent to the outside of the “city,” so that they do not contaminate your circle of people or the people around you. What specific thing can you so to help touch and heal those who find themselves in this predicament?
  • To help understand the efforts the friends of the paralytic went through to bring him to see Jesus, create a mat or cot that can be carried using handles or ropes and carry someone around for a few minutes. [NOTE: Please do this in such a way that you exercise care and caution!] After having done this, reflect on how you read the story of the paralytic in a different way.
  • Who are the sinners Jesus is calling you to go to. Go to them.
  • Before any decision you make this week, spend some time in prayer before you actually make the decision. Some decisions may matter little as far as having Kingdom implications (I am not sure whether God has an opinion as to your food choice for tonight.), but the practice of praying before all decisions allows us to be better equipped and focused on listening to a word from the Lord.

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by-nc-nd copyThis work by South Plains Church of Christ and Robert A. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attributions-NonCommerical-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission. All rights reserved.