Baptism: A Conversion in Loyalties
Lk 3:1-6, Lk 1:68-79, Mal 3:1-4, Phil 1:3-11
December 9, 2018
In Luke 1:5 – 2:52, we read the intertwined birth accounts of John the Baptist and Jesus. Their identities are different; John the Baptist will be “called the prophet of the Most High” (1:76) and Jesus will be “called Son of God” (1:35).
In Luke 3, we meet John the Baptist as an adult, in the wilderness, at the beginning of his public ministry.
Read Luke 3:1-6.
- The “word of God came to John son of Zechariah” in a distinct historical situation. What did you learn in the sermon about the people listed in these verses?
- Joel Green, in his commentary on Luke’s Gospel, states that Luke 3:1-2 describes a “tension-filled, top-heavy, sociohistorical milieu (p 169).” What is the significance of John the Baptist’s wilderness situation?
- Read Luke 1:3-6. What is John’s prophetic work? How does his ministry make way for Jesus?
- According to Green (p 164), “By coming out into the wilderness to meet John (the people) symbolized their separation from ordinary life, through baptism they embraced a conversion of loyalties” and “professed their renewed allegiance to (God’s) will.”
– John’s baptism is similar to and different from Christian baptism. What’s similar? What’s different?
- Have you publicly, through baptism, demonstrated your loyalty to Christ? Why? Why not?
- Share one joy and one fear you experience when you think about public allegiance to Christ. Pray for one another.
Holding On to Hope In Between Times
Luke 21:25-36, Jeremiah 33:14-16, Psalm 25:1-10, 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
December 2, 2018
In Jerusalem, his death imminent, Jesus exercised his authority and reclaimed the temple as the centre which revealed salvation (whole life rescue) for all people because of God’s grace. He opposed the religious distortion that one is “in” with God based on family, status, or performance. He said the distorted system was going down. In 70 AD the temple was destroyed.
Today’s Gospel text, centres on a second end in the same chapter: the end of time when the “Son of Man” (Christ) will return. (Lk. 21:27)
Read Luke 21:25-36. In the hostility and chaos before the end of time, we must:
- notice the signs (29-31).
- realize that the old does not easily die to give way to the new (32).
- hold to the conviction that Jesus’ words are permanent and reliable (33).
- What are some examples, in the world or in your personal life, of a wrestling match between the “old” and the “new”?
- Read vv. 34-36. What instructions are given to help you remain committed to and longing for the “new”?
- Read vv. 34-35. What interrupts our hope that Christ will return to restore all things?
- Read 1 Thess. 3:9-13. What is the role of the community of believers in between times?
- Read Ps. 25:1-10. What attitude or posture will you adopt to give staying power in between the times?
The Story of the Widow’s Two Coins: Jesus Highlights Humility
Mark 12:38-44; 1 Kings 17:8-16; Hebrews 9:24-28; Psalm 146:1-10
November 11, 2018
In the big picture of the Gospel of Mark, there have been three big emphases: first, in his home region, Galilee, Jesus taught and demonstrated the benefits of life with God; second, on the road to Jerusalem, he described the cost of life with God; finally, in Jerusalem, where his death is imminent, he emphasizes the resources which empower good, costly life with God.
- Read Mark 12:38-40. Scribes work as interpreters of religious law. They are supposed to speak for God. On what and on who do the scribes depend to empower their work? What is Jesus’ critique of them?
- Read Mark 12:41-44. What is the significance of Jesus’ position in the women’s court of the temple?
- What does Jesus want his disciples to learn from the widow? How might he be judging the scribes and honouring the widow at the same time?
- How might the story of the widow relate to the suffering and crucifixion of Jesus (two chapters later)?
- If giving “out of one’s poverty” has to do with humility, how is it that humility empowers you for the beneficial, costly life with God (v. 44)?
- What must shift in your life for you to be empowered by humility rather than by pride?