The Authority of Christ

This Sunday we’ll be looking at Luke 4:21-44.

Right on the heels of Jesus declaring that the prophecy of Isa 61:1-2a were fulfilled, he goes out and demonstrates just how it is He will be fulfilling His messianic calling.  While the people of Nazareth rejected Jesus, the people to the North-West in Capernaum have a very different reaction.  They are filled with wonder…because of Jesus’ “authority“.

What things does Jesus demonstrate His authority over in this passage?  What can it tell us about our own life specifically?  How often do we ever think about the forces that operate behind what’s seen with the natural eye?  What do we learn from Jesus’ interaction with those forces?

For all of His authority, Jesus also demonstrates submission as well.  What does Jesus submit to, and what does He NOT submit to in the last few verses of this passage?

Good stuff to consider, we’ll unpack it more on Sunday!

Temptation: Settling for Less

Hey, hey!  I’m finally back to somewhat normal patterns, which leads me back to Wonderwhat!   I’ll do my best to keep updating with thoughts about our upcoming studies, but I will warn you that for the next month or so, I’ve got a lot on my plate.  For the last year, Ken Raney of Clash Creative has been negotiating with Voice of the Martyrs to do a series of graphic novel adaptations of some of the stories of triumph that have come from Christians who have endured persecution in closed nations.  I was asked to participate in this project, and a few weeks ago, they finally gave the go-ahead.  Needless to say, I have a lot of work ahead of me in laying out, penciling, inking and hopefully coloring said project.  Ben Avery wrote a compelling script…which has had me in tears multiple times as I’ve tried to convey this story through pictures.  Pray for me if you think of it…I need to learn how to draw and fast….I want, with all my heart, to do this story justice.

This Sunday we’ll be looking at Luke 4:1-13.

It’s a fascinating passage about the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.  It provides us food for thought concerning our own struggles with temptation…but it also gives us an amazing insight into just what kind of Messiah Jesus intended to be (and IS).  Jesus had to break with many of the expectations concerning the messiah in His day, and we see that the break from accepted patterns wasn’t just a public thing…it was initiated in the most private of times, alone and unobserved.

Here’s something interesting: if you get the chance, read Deuteronomy 8 and then read Luke 4:1-13 right after it.  What connections do you see?  Do you think there was a point being made in the nature of the temptations recounted in Jesus’ story?  Beyond that, what do we learn about the nature of temptation in general?  If we describe it as settling for less…less than what?  What do we learn about how to resist temptation from Jesus’ story?

This should be an interesting study…hope to see you this Sunday!

A View From the Cross

We will be studying Mark 15:21-(possibly)47 in our exploration of the gospel of Mark this Sunday.

Jesus has been tried, condemned and brought before the powers of Rome, who have determined to crucify Him for political reasons.  All of this was predicted by Jesus before hand.

Mark’s gospel is unique in all the accounts because Mark provides so few details about Jesus during this time.  There is no description of Jesus’ other words spoken just before and during His time on the cross, other than what he says in v34.  It has been suggested that Mark’s viewpoint then, is not at the foot of the cross looking up…but rather a view from the cross looking around. 

From this vantage point we see Simone the Cyrenian press-ganged into carrying Jesus’ cross.  He and his sons are mentioned in such a way that we would think they are well known to the readers who originally recieved this gospel.  Tradition says that they became leaders in the early church.

We see from Mark’s view the solders who try to offer Jesus pain killers, and then once their grizzly task is completed, begin dividing up Jesus’ clothing as the spoils of their job.

Looking to the right and left, we see two other men on crosses.  Robbers, it says in the text, though that could have been a generic term used to describe people who stirring trouble and breaking laws.  They may have been the very men Barabbas was chained up with when Jesus took his place.

From the cross, we see the passers by…the ones who probably have heard about this teacher from up north who thinks He’s the Messiah.  Now they see Him on a cross, and begin jeering and taunting Him, because in their minds, this proves Jesus isn’t the Messiah they’ve been waiting for.

The religious leaders are there too.  When the mocking begins, they don’t urge people to mercy.  There is no kindness demonstrated in spite of their disagreement with Him.    They don’t say “listen, this guy’s suffering already, lets not add to it, lets pray for Him.”  No.  They join in the mockery.

Darkness descends, the atmosphere becomes strangely ominous.  Jesus gives one final cry, and dies.  One final character stands at the foot of that cross, and we see him looking up at Jesus.  He says “Truly, this man was the Son of God.”

What are your thoughts on the cross, at least from Mark’s description of it?  Mark’s gospel was the earliest one written, and if all we had was Mark’s account of this….what would we make of it?  What do you think Mark’s view from the cross tells us?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace

Who is the King?

Pilate offers Jesus to the crowd

We’re going to continue in Mark this Sunday…we’ll be looking at Mark 15:1-20.

The Jewish leaders have concluded their judgement of Jesus, and believe Him deserving of death.  They, however, don’t have the authority to put someone to death because they are under Roman rule.  Their difficulty is now to convince the Roman governor, Pilate,  who has jurisdiction over Jerusalem to condemn Jesus to the death sentence.

They have condemned Jesus as deserving of death because of blasphemy, but they know that will never wash with a Roman ruler.  So, they focus on the one thing sure to get Pilate’s attention, and that is the claim to be the King of the Jewish people.  Why would that get Pilate’s attention?

When Pilate asks Jesus about this claim, Jesus, in the original language, says essentially: “That’s what you say.”  Why does Jesus seem so non-committal in His answer?  Maybe John’s version of this encounter sheds some light on it: John 18:36-37.

Things get exposed in glaring detail the nearer we get to the cross.  Pilate sees why the religious leaders want Jesus killed (v10).  What were their motives?  Why THOSE motives?  What does this tell us about their thought of Jesus as king?

What does Pilate marvel at (v5)?  Why do you think this causes him to wonder in admiration?  What was he looking for in a king?

Why did the crowd choose the way they did?  What made the difference between Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and this moment?  What were they looking for in a king?

Why do the soldiers treat Jesus the way they do?  What has them so riled up?  What possible motive can they have for this level of cruelty?  What do they reveal about their view of Jesus as king?

What is the center of this trial?  What is the crucial question asked?  Have we asked that question when it comes to our lives? 

See you Sunday!