Truth Triumphing Over Traps

This Sunday we’ll be reading Mark 12:13-34 as we continue our study through that gospel.

We don’t know if this is the next day, or exactly when this fits into the time-line…but after Jesus has had his initial confrontation with the leaders of the temple, we then have this section where the religious elite try to corner Jesus again, seeking to trap him with questions.  We’re going to look at all two of those traps…and we’re going to think about how Jesus evades them…and we’re going to consider some important truths that get revealed as he dodges those snares.

The first section deals with their question about paying taxes, and if God fearing Jewish people are betraying God by paying taxes to a heathen authority.  Jesus’ answer is brilliant, and it makes a very important point about loyalty and commitment.  What does his answer say to you?  What is the most important thing, from Jesus’ perspective (based on his answer)?

In the second section, the religious “scholars” pose an elaborate “theological” question, trying to get him to side with one camp or another, hoping to stir up division based on his answer.  What is the first thing Jesus points out to these guys?  What is it that the so called scholars of his day were mistaken about in their question?  What does v27 reveal to us about God’s mission priority?

The third encounter Jesus has doesn’t appear to be a trap…rather, it’s a moment of agreement. This is a famous passage, where Jesus employs some real reductionism in his response.  Does anything jump out about what Jesus provides as an answer to this possibly complex question?  What do you take away from his response? What does it say to you, if anything, that we have this moment of agreement between Jesus one one whose company have been identified as Jesus’ enemies all through this gospel? Who in your life might be someone who “isn’t far from the Kingdom of Heaven”?

We also have a baby dedication this Sunday – and I get to pray over my newest Grandson! Hope to see you Sunday!

A Change of Priorities

Hey everyone! Hope your week is going well.  This Sunday we’re going to be looking at Luke 6:12-26.

The narrative transitions from the conflicts Jesus had with the Pharisees to the choosing of the 12 apostles and the establishing of the Kingdom ethic.  As we explore this passage this week, I’m going to try and focus on the change in priorities that Jesus introduces us to.  A change from the standard priorities of this broken world to the values and priorities of Jesus’ kingdom project (to use a phrase coined by N.T. Wright).

v 12-16 we have the account of Jesus selecting his 12 apostles.  This occurs after an all night prayer session that Jesus has.  As I look at that list of names, something occurred to me as I considered Matthew the tax collector and Simon the Zealot both being included on the team.  Considering the differences between the values these two men may have embraced, what, if anything, does it speak to you about our priorities and purposes in the community of Christ’s followers?

v 17-19 describes Jesus ministering to the multitudes.  If you were to try and summarize with one word the priorities revealed in these verses, what would it be?

v 20-26 begin what is referred to as “the sermon on the plain“, where Jesus teaches many of the same things, with a few variations, as he taught in the “sermon on the mount”.  With this opening salvo of “beatitudes”, or blessings, and the contrasting “woes”…what kind of picture do we see emerging about the values of the kingdom project?  Where does personal comfort place in these values?  Do these verses comfort or disturb you (or both)?

This should be a very interesting study…you never know, it may even get me into trouble.

See yer’ Sunday!