Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week 3 - Condemned by the Righteous

Refer to Mark 14: 53-72

After prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane and betrayal by Judas, Jesus is led away to stand trial in front of the Sanhedrin.
60: Then the high priest stood up before the others and asked Jesus, "Well, aren't you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?" 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" 62 Jesus said, "I AM. And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God's right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven."

Later in Mark's account, we see Peter denying that he knows Jesus, and the famous moment when the cock crows a second time and Peter remembers Jesus predicting every action.

On the website www.biblewalk.com you can see many images from the Holy Land, including this statue of Peter:Imagine if you betrayed a friend, and it was immortalized in this way! But, if there is hope for Peter to be reconciled after falling away from his faith in Jesus Christ, then there is hope for all of us...a very comforting thought. As Adam Hamilton notes, "While we focus on Peter denying Christ during his appearance before the Sanhedrin, we should remember that Peter was the only disciple to come to the place Jesus was to be tried."

Some questions for discussion...
-- The Sanhedrin was a group of the most pious and religious people on earth. The God they preached about was right in front of them, and yet they did not recognize him. Why would they want to condemn him? In what ways would you say Jesus is still a threat to people's way of life today? To what extent do you think people's resistance to Jesus and his message is motivated by fear?
-- Peter's denial of Jesus is mentioned in all four Gospels, not to villify one of the disciples, but as an example of grace and redemption. When have you experienced the shame of realizing that you had denied Christ and have you felt the assurance of his forgiveness?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Week 2 - The Garden of Gethsemane

I have been thinking about this study every day, but I let my daily chores and routines take precedence. And isn't that the ultimate battle? "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things..." My prayer is that I become more Christ-like, putting God at the forefront.

An opening activity for this week is to look at the Psalms: 113 and 114 are sung before the Passover meal, and 115-118 afterwards. Imagine what Jesus might have been thinking as He sang during the Last Supper.

Now imagine the Garden of Gethsemane, filled with olive trees and rocks. Put yourself in the shoes of the disciples, trying to stay awake while sitting or kneeling on that rocky ground.

Scripture reference - Mark 14:26, 32-42
Key insight - in both the Gardens of Eden and Gethsemane, the crucial question was "God's will, or not?"

Questions for discussion...
1) When have you been unable to "stay awake," pay attention, or follow through when you felt Jesus most needed you?
2) What significance do you see in the fact that two of the Bible's most profound temptation stories take place in a garden?
3) When in your experience of faith have you heard the whispered temptation, "Just Run!" How did you respond?

Please add your comments. Thanks to Karen for her responses last week.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Session 1 - The Last Supper

We begin our study of Jesus' last hours with the Last Supper. The Passover Seder, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, recalls Israel's escape from Egypt, the flight from slavery to freedom. This is the meal that Jesus and the twelve disciples shared on that final evening. In the days since Jesus arrived in Jerusalem to shouts of "Hosanna," He was teaching and challenging the rulers. His actions probably made for a tense atmosphere around the table as the disciples wondered what was in store for them.

Mark 14:22-25 "He took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take; this is my body." Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God."

How does our observance of Holy Communion mirror the Jewish celebration of Passover, with the central theme of deliverance from slavery to freedom?

How would you say the observance of Holy Communion defines or shapes who you are? Is it the central message of your faith?

Author Adam Hamilton writes, "In the hours before Jesus would be arrested, tried and held for crucifixion, he was with twelve men who were his companions and intimates, men with whom he had prayed, worshiped and shared life. When he went to pray, knowing he would die, he asked those who were closest to him to pray with him.
Remember, these close companions were not perfect. They had let him down and would do so again. One would even betray him. Still, they were the best friends he had; and they were with him as he approached his darkest hour."

If you were sitting down to your last meal, who would you want at the table with you?

Please respond to the images, Scripture and/or questions in the comments.

You can reach me privately at andimc13@yahoo.com

(Disclosure for copyright purposes, I googled "DaVinci Last Supper" and "Seder Meal" to find these images.)