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Thisbookletcontains:

Ada lum
How to begin an evangelistic Bible Study,
Inter Varsity Press, USA, Copyright 1971
bylnter Varsity Christian Fellowship ofUSA
Adalum
Your friends can meet Jesus in small groups (EBS) ,
Copyright FOCUS, Regional Office, P. O. Box 48789, Nairobi , Kenya
Werner Baderschneider
Hible study guide on the Cospel of Mark
Martin Haizmann
Bible study guide on the Cospel of John
J 2005 MartinHaizmannandWernerBaderschneider
Fr('l hcrr-vonStein-Str.10, 35041 Marburg,Germany
AII rlglll \ reserved.
fIr \ l publi!>hed2005.
verdt'\lgnby Sonnhter,GraphischeDienstleistungen,
www... ollllhueter.com
llinqhy HelgaWickenhbfer
thy ()rll<.kerei&Verlag Wenzel, Marburg
What is the aim of this booklet?
You would like your friends or course mates to discover how unique Jesus
is? You would like to rediscover your own excitement about Jesus? Then
this is exactly the right booklet for you. This booldet's aim is to get you
amazed aboutJesus all over again.
You will be shown how important it is to go through well-known Cospel
passages very thoroughly and how significant it is to prepare carefully
when it comes to leading others to get to know Jesus.
We have chosen Cospel passages beca use this is where everybody can see
Jesus act and get to know him.
The initial ideas for "Cetting excited about Jesus" come from IFES Bible
Study Secretary Ada Lum who has been motivating students all over the
world for more than a decade to start evangelistic Bible study groups. In
spite of this specific target, this booldet can also be used for personal
Bible studies as well as for all other kinds of Bible studies.
Ifyou want to use this booklet in order to prepare evangelistic Bible studies
or to study the Bible with a friend, you should familiarise yourself with
the ideas on pages 7-45.
It is best to train Ieaders for evangelistic BibIe studies by working through
the instructions in chapters A., B. and C. aIongside a BibIe passage. Then
you should practice Ieading discussions within such Bible study groups
whilst considering a BibIe passage.
We hope and pray that in this bookIet, many students in Europe and
Eurasia will get to know Jesus through His fascinating humaneness and
His unparalleled divinity. He compIeteIy renews peopIe, gives them a new
purpose and uses them to change families, reIationships and whoIe
societies. It is you Jesus wants to use in saving and blessing people -
CongratuIations! Maybe you wiU soon start to read the BibIe with a friend
who does not know Jesus. This is what we hope foro
We would like to thankeverybodywho has helped write this booklet,
especially the translators Kristina Vondran, Sandra Tews and Kathrin
Harrisonas wellas KeithAdeneyandCarolAdeneywhoplayed a major
roleinthefinal editing.Thanksalsogoes toHelgaWickenhferfor the
typesettingof"GettingExcitedaboutJesus".
MartinHaizmannandWernerBaderschneider
July2005
TableofContents
Whatistheaimofthisbooklet?..................................... 3
A. Gainingtheattentionofothers
1. Howcanweattractourfriends' interestinjointBible
studies?.. ............... ... ..... ... ... .. .... ... ............... ... ..... .... ........ ........ ..... ....... 8
2. Whatare"evangelistcBible studies"?........ ................. ... .. .. ....... 9
3. EvangelisticBiblestudiesas anintegralpartofmission.... 12
4. Puttingyourselfintosomebodyelse'sshoes- or:
Whywe donotmakeanimpressiononothers.............. ........ 13
5. PassingontheGood News - threeprerequisites..... ........ ...... 15
B. Preparation
1. Choiceofappropriatepassages 20
2. PersonalBiblestudy 21
2.1 Observation 22
2.2 lnterpretation 23
2.3 Application 23
2.4 Clarificatonofterms,facts andhistorical
background 24
2.5 Aims ,keymessages 24
2.6 Structure 24
3. Preparationofthegroupdiscussion 25
3.1 Prayer 25
3.2 Sornefacts aboutyourfriends 25
3.3 Comingupwithgoodquestions 26
3.4 Opening,introducingandconcludingthe
discussion 28
3.5 Finalversion 29
c. Thediscussion
1. Practicalhintsforthediscussion 36
2. Leadingthediscusson 37
2.1 Do we needsomebodytoleadthediscussionatall? 37
2.2 Therelationshipbetweentheleaderofthe
discussionand theparticipants 37
:,LJ Ilintsonhowtoleadthediscussion 38
:l.4 Reclllcingtension 41
:J. lhept'rsonalchatafterthegroupdiscussion
- aninvitationto trustChrist 43
D. Biblestudies
Gujdelinesforpersonalpreparationandgroupdiscussion..... 48
TheGospel accordingtoMark- Biblestudies..... ... .. .... ... ...... .. ..... 51
1. Mark4:35-41 Beingafraidofthestorm...... .. ..... ... .... .... .. ... .. 53
2. Mark 10:46-52 Fromhearsayto alifewithJesus... .. .. ... ...... .58
3. Marl< 2:1-12 Healthisn'teverything.. ...... .... ........ .. ........ .... 63
4. Mark9:14-29 Adesperatefather- adisappointedJesus.68
5. Mark 14:27-42 The sleepydisciples- astrugglingJesus ... 74
6. Mark16:1-20 Thesurprisedfollowers - therisenJesus .. 78
7. Mark10:17-27 Longingforeternallife ........ ......... .. ... ........ .... 84
8. Mark8:31-38 Savingorlosinglife.. .... .. ... .... ..... ..... .. .. ... .... ..... 88
9. Mark 14:3-9 A resolutewomanwillingto make
sacriflces ... ... ..... .... ... ...... ... ...... ..... .... .... .... .... ..... .93
TheGospelaccordingtoJohn- BibleStudies 97
1. John1:43-51 Cananythinggoodcomeoutof
Nazareth?... ........ ...... ... .... ... ..... ... .... .. ... .... ...... ... ..99
2. John3:1-21 He carnetoJesusduringthenight.. ... .. .. ... 103
3. Johl1 4:1-30 Shehadneverexperiencedlifebefore .. ... 108
4. Johl1 5:1-18 Ahopelesscase............... ........... ...... .. ... ..... .... .113
5. John6:66-71 YOll don'twantto leave too,doyou? .... .... 119
6. Johl1 9:1-38 Whosefaultis it?...... .. ....... .... ........ .. ... ... ..... ... 124
7. John10:1-30 Inwhomcanwe trust?... .. ..... ...... .. ...... .... .. .. .130
8. John13:1-17 Serving- notruling... ... .. .. ..... ............ .. ....... ..136
9. John19:1-30 ltis finished ....... ........ ... .... .... ..... ... ....... ... ... .... .142
10.Johl120:1-31 Theemptytomb.... .. .. ......... .. ......... ............. .... 147
E. Appendix
Checklist1: Personal preparation 154
CheckIist2: Preparingthegroupdiscusion 156
TipsforevaIuatingaBiblestudy 157
Prayer 160
Text 161
ExampIes 164
A.
Gaining the attention
oIothers
7
1.
How can we attract our friends' interest
in joint Bible studies?
Oneday,Rainer,abiologystudent,saidto hisfellowcoursemateswhohe
spendsaconsiderableamountoftimewithatuniversity."We talkabout
a lot ofquestions and problems, we have fun together, we know each
otherwell andyou knowthat1amaChristian.
But1feelyoudon'treallyunderstandwhattheChristianfaithis allabout.
We know each others' viewpoints and arguments. But we have never
expIicitlytalkedaboutwhatGodsaystousthroughHiswordintheBible.
Ifwe did do so, 1could show you much more clearly why faith is so
importantto me.
Whatdo you think about meeting up on a few evenings to talkabout
sorne passagesfrom theNewTestament?"
Monika,acoursemateandparticipantinthoseBiblestudieswrotelater:
"1 had never really met young Christians and have always had a very
criticalviewof anythingtodowithchurch.Faithseemedtobesornesort
of self-deception.ThiswaswhenRainerinvited metojoinaBiblegroup.
Firstof all,1wasgoingtorefuseas1didnotwanttodisturbtheharmony
inthegroup.But1didacceptintheend.
When1gotthere,1wasdeterminedtoleaveassoonas theywouldstartto
singhymns or to pray. But none ofthe like happened. 1was welcomed
withopenarms,feltateaseinafriendlyatmosphereandwaspartofthe
grouprightfrom the beginning.1also liked thefact that1was notthe
onlyoneto have reservations.
It was importantto me to feel 1was being taken seriouslywith al! the
questions 1had and all thebadexperience1have hadwithchurchand
Christians.Moreover,1noticedthattheyevencaredaboutme.Sometimes,
1was evenwonderingwhytheywere treatingeachotherwithso much
love.It wasvaluabletometoseethattherearepeoplewhotaketheBible
seriouslyas God'swordandyetarecompletelynormalandsensible,who
alsoknowdoubtsandinsecuritiesandcanstilltrustinJesusChrist;ina
nutshell:theyareconvincingChristiansandnotuntouchablesaints.
1ended up accepting an invitation to go to a camp where 1really felt
Jesuswas addressingmeverypersonally.This is how1becamea Christi-
an."
Thisis anexampleofhowwe canstartreadingtheBiblewithnon-Chris
tians.Therearefourmainissues:
a) beingconvinced ofthefact thatGod has intentionallyputus
intoa certainsituationinorderfor us tobewitnessesforHim.
b) being prepared for real friendship that shows God's way of
loving, a "lave in spite 01' which is prepared to be there for
somebodywithoutthemneedingto earnthislove.
c) developingafeel forjudgingwhentherightmomenthascome
foraconversationabouttheChristianfaith,withouttheother
personalreadyhavingtobelievecertainthings.
d) beingwiseaboutwhentotakeaninterestednon-Christianinto
awiderChristiancongregation.
Thenumberofthosewhowanttowin peoplefor God is thusmultiplied
- throughstudentswhoareexperiencedinleadingBiblediscussionsand
in evangelising on a one-on-one basis. In many Christian unions and
churches, evangelisticBiblestudiesarealreadybeingdone.Peoplewho
havegotthemessagepassitontoothers.Thebasicprincipieis asfollows:
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of
many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be
qualified to teach others.
2Tim2:2
2. What are "evangelistic Bible studies"?
Evangelistic Bible studies are not a new method ofdoing mission, but
one thathas been neglected!Theyareas old as Christian mission itself.
LukegivesusoneexamplefromthefirstcenturyinActs8:26-40whichis
theaccountofatreasurerfromEthiopia.Philipheard ... , asked ... ,nistened to
the answer!) ... ,then Philip began with that ver)' passage of Scripture (Isaiah 53)
and told him the good news about ]esus.
8 9
AlI 01"us hawafixcd cireleofpeopleweconstantlyhavearoundus o Itis
Oll1' rcsponsibility to get deeply involved, i.e. that we focus on two or
t.hree peoplewhoareseekingGod.Thereis nothingmoreeffectivethan
readingtheBible togetherand payingattentiontooneanother.We can
alsoinvitethoseof ourfriendswhoonlyhaveavagueorincompleteidea
ofthe Gospel orwhohave no idea at all ofwhat it is a11 about. These
meetings should be informal ,everybody is to deal with the person of
JesusChristinpeaceandwithoutanypressure.
Evangelistic Bible studies are different from Bible studieswithChristi-
ans.The latterservethepurposeofgrowingin faith.EvangelisticBible
studiesaredesignedfornon-Christians.Anevangelisticdiscussionabout
a Bible passage cantake placebetweentwo people, a Christianandhisl
her friend for instance, ora groupofaboutsix to eight people. In any
case, theChristiansshouldnotdominatethediscussion.
EvangelisticBiblestudiesaretheoppositeof andasupplementtomany
otherkindsofmissionarywork.Thebasisis Paul'sstance:
Welovedyousomuchthatweweredelightedtosharewith
younotonlythegospelofGodbutourlivesaswell,because
youhadbecomesodeartouso
1Thess2:8
EvangelisticBiblestudiesaredefinedas:: a)goingthroughaselectedBible
passage and b) having a discussion about that passage in which the
participants naturallygetto knowJesus Christ ratherthanfacts about
Christianity.The aim is to get non-Christians to thoroughly deal with
Jesus Christwhois entitledto ourdeepestlove andfaithfuIness.
How frequentlywe are to meetuptoread theBiblewithotherscannot
ultimatelybedefined.Thisdecisionis tobemadeaccordingtoeachindi-
vidualsituation.
Duringtheplanningstage,studentsneed tobeawareofthefactthatit
takessixtoeightsessionsto talkthroughthebasicsoffaith.Thisis why
youshouldstartearlyonintheterm,as soonasyouhavemetandmade
friends withnon-Christiansandfinishbeforea11 theexamsbeginatthe
endofterm.
lO
You can invite those showing interest e.g. at the end ofa discussion.
Students generally prefer not to commit themselves for too long in
advance. But there are others who are prepared to go to six to eight
meetingsrightfromthestart.
EvangelisticBiblestudies
arecharacterisedbythefollowing:
@
o
Q O @
QO

(jj
O O
Everybodypresentis I Theyareexactlythe
rightthingforpeople
atease.
whoaresearching!
o
/0,
o,yo
~
olo o-o
Theyareaboveall
Theyencourage
gearedtowardsJesus
activeparticipation.
andHisencounters
withpeople.
oBo
00
The Bibleisthe
foundation.
00
oMo
Theyrelyonthe power
oftheHolySpirittotalk
toandconvincepeople
throughtheBible
passage.
11
Biblestudiesas an integral
partofmission
11\1' nlhlt preciousenoughforustoreaditthoroughly.Non-Christians
IIIlghl criLicise it thoughtlessly01' disagree.And yet, the Bible is still a
wol'l dwidebeSlsellerandhassofarhadthelargestliteraryinfluenceout
of<111 lhebooks thereare in theworld. When readingthe Bible, we do
IlOl demandofourinterlocutorstoaccepttheBibleas Cod'sword.
a) TheBibletakesquestionsfromtheworldofacademia
seriously
Whereverwego intheworld,thereis anincreasingdissatisfactionwith
authoritative teaching methods whereby the facts laid down by the
teachercan no longer be questioned. Students practise to do research
whilstlearning,i.e.toexaminefacts, toseetheirmeaningandthendraw
conclusions.Theyincreasinglywanttolearnbyquestioninganddebating
anddonotwanttobefed withready-madeanswers.Thesameholdstrue
fordiscussionsabouttheChristianfaith.DuringevangelisticBiblestudies,
theindividualpersonis takenseriously.
Evangelistic Bible studies bear in mind that everybody is intelligent
enoughtodealwithJesusandhisclaimwhilereadingtheBible.Itisnot
aboutChristianstalkingabouttheirfaithinanintellectualmanner,but
aboutbeingintelligentandwisewhentalkingabouttheselectedpassage
andaboutthereasonsfortheirownfaith .
b) Evangelisticbiblestudiesneedtheinformal
atmosphereofasmal/group
We al! need that, especially first year students who have come into
completelynewsurroundings.Moreover,mostpeopleprefertotalkabout
matters offaith in an informal, private gathering. An atmosphere of
openness,honestyandimpartialitygives non-Christiansanideaofwhat
Christiancommunityis.
12
e) Readingthebibledoesnotdependontheleadership
offuI/-timestaff
StudentsareoftenbetterleadersofBiblestudiesthanfull-timestaftlOne
Philippinestudentwrotefor example:ever since our workshops about leader-
ship in Bible study groups, we have had our OW'1t discusson leaders and are fiot as
dependent on our vicar any more. And itworks well . The leaders themselves are
astonished about the work oI the Holy Spirit in them and are pleased when they
discover their abilities as discussion leaders.
d) Evangelisticbiblestudiesareequal/ybeneficialto
helpersandguests
Duringthediscussion,alltheparticipantsaretofeelfreetobethemselves.
Theydonotneedtobehavelikeahunterandhispreyinakindofpreserve.
Those who serve their Lord as helpers,will themselves get a lot outof
readingtheBiblewithothers.Theywilldiscovernewthings aboutCod
andaboutthemselves .Theywillgrowincharacter,andwillbegintound-
erstandandlove non-Christiansmore.Thiswill happenautomatically.
4. Puttingyourselfintosomebodyelse's
shoes- or:whywedonotmakean
impressiononothers
Stereotypes,prejudicesandhastyconclusionsaboutotherpeople,which
exist on both sides, with Christians and non-Christians, make real
encountersverydifficult.
But there are also other reasons for why we often do not make an
impressiononotherstudents .Onedifficulty,whichis possiblytypicalof
theWesternworld,consistsinthefactthatweareutterlyconvincedthat
we cangrasp realityexclusivelywithlogical thinking.We tend to think
thatifonlywe could explain thebasic truths oftheCospel in a logical
context,otherswould respond to them in a morepositivemanner.Fur-
thermore, we tend to insiston dogmatism in the sense ofone specific
theologywhichmeansthatwe sticktooneparticularwayofexpressing
13
\ ~ ~ Bihlll"ill 1I',HJi tion that we may be familiar with, but which may just
n!\ w( 1I !JI' ' 1I lTI pletely foreign to other students. This is not at a11 about
f;11I h, hUI .lmul a certain interpretation which is taken for the only correct
IIn
Fil1,dlv. Wl' are also prejudiced about what non-Christians are like, such
.11.. ,1 11 of them being harsh and relentless when it comes to bringing forth
.l l'gulllents. This is why we answer questions that have not even been
asked or we feel an almost compulsive impulse to put others right when
I hey utter something which is theologica11y not quite sound. Or we overo
explain. Or we beco me defensive and think of"them against us", especia11y
so when our own point-of-view is questioned rather than the Cospel.
OUF own incorrect self-assessment can also be a big obstacle for a real
testimony. Ada Lum once asked a group of students to write down which
ideas their friends had ofJesus Christ and Christians. She thus wanted to
find out what Christians thought of themselves . The evaluation of the
answers showed that two tbirds of the students in that group had very
low self-esteem. They had an inferiority complexoSo it was not surprising
that they had come to think ofthemselves as being excluded. But a Christi-
an ghetto is contrary to Jesus ' Creat Commission (Mt 28:18-20). We can
only start to go al1d make disciples ofal! natiOl1s , ifwe try to understand other
people and open our Iives to them. This, by the way, is love'
'4
5. PassingontheGoodNews-
threeprerequisites
When we prepare Evangelistic Bible studies and pray for our non-Christi-
an friends, we should ask Cod to make us aware ofwhat they rea11y think
and feel and how they react. In order for them to deal wi th Jesus Christ in
a serious manner, we need to make sure tbat reading the Bible is realistic,
personal, meaningful and thought-provoking.
a) Realistic
Ada Lum te11s us she once went to a Bible study on Lk 5:2-16, a story
about Jesus healing a lepero A Hindu student asked why Jesus was not
afraid to catch the awful disease himselfwhen touching the mano A Chris-
tian nurse responded triumphantly: Because he was God 's Son! Bang! The
Hindu did not saya word afterwards. I rea11y felt like crying out loud:
Jesus took the risk ofgetting leprosy for love's sake! While I was explaining a11 of
this - and probably looked like a heretic humanist to everybody- a Mus-
lim student interrupted. 1would never touch a leperoI would never even think of
it. At this point in the discussion, we almost missed an opportunity to
explain the truly GoodNews of Jesus. Luckily, one of the other Christi-
ans took the fIoor and said: 1 don't think it mattered to Jesus to contract leprosy
or 110t. What mattered to him was to help the mano This is when the others
showed a genuine interest in finding out who Jesus rea11y was (even the
nurse) .
The aim of these Bible studies is not to convey the entire Christian faith
in one go. It is indeed our final aim for our friend to become a committed
disciple of our Lord Jesus . But an evangelistic Bible study just wants to
get our friend to develop a posi tive atti tude towards J esus Christ, j ust Iike
the Hindu and the Muslim students in our discussion did. Such an
impression of Christ is the creative and dynamic work of the Holy Spirit
in the same way as being born again. So we need to consider the fo11owing
question: How can we first of all gain the interest of our fe110w human
beings in Jesus Christ?
How did Cod attract the attention ofthe people in Jesus' time? Through
things they were able to understand. This is exactly the reason for Cod
becoming human. It is an astonishing historie fact that Cod became one
'5
or (,IJHIOI be explained because we cannot distinguish one hundred
Ill'lween Christ as human being and Christ as deity.
:rst of all we need to record all the facts from the New Testament that
prove that Jesus was human, befo re we move on to dealing with His
holiness and deity. Even when we skim through the Gospels, we see that
even the disciples gained more and more experience with Jesus. His
becoming human not only served the purpose ofpeople getting to know
God better. The truly human side ofJesus is to give us an example ofhow
God intended us human beings to be (Heb 2:5-18). We take a close loo k at
Jesus in order for us to see what we are actually supposed to be and what
we can still become. Jesus Christ comes to us today as a living person and
not as a theological system.
In a nutshell: evangelistic Bible studies need to be realistic. They need to
aim at Jesus Christ becoming a living reality even for modern people.
They need to show which way we are heading as human beings, what we
are and how we are intended to be. They need to invite decisions that are
taken in the presence of our Creator and our Saviour Jesus Christ.
b) Personal and meaningful
Paul stayed with the Thessalonians for three weeks. This visit laid the
foundation for a church there. Our gospel came to you not simply with words,
but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction for your sale oO.
oO, But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her Uttle children. We
loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you 110t only the gospel of
Cod but our Uves as well, because you had become so dear to us (1 Thess 1:5 & 2:7-
8).
When it comes to evangelistic Bible studies, Christians are aboye all else
witnesses. It is possible that we need to explain something when we are
leading a discussion. But we are not trying to impress the others with
our Bible knowledge or experience. It is quite liberating that we do not
need to behave like little popes beca use we are still God's apprentices.
Nevertheless, we are witnesses and God entitled us - being beggars
ourselves - to invite beggars in order for them to celebrate together with
us at one tableo
16
True enthusiasm for Jesus is contagious. Just think of the Samaritan
woman after her conversation with Him: she became convinced that He
was telling the truth. At once she invited her fellow citizens (who, by the
way, had ostracised her because ofher lifestyle), to become convinced of
Jesus, too. Many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the woman's oO,
testimony Un 4:39). Somebody who is searching will not be convinced
through our words, however seriously we are able to persuade them.
Nonetheless, we need to ask God to help us point clearly to Jesus. The
Holy Spirit is the divine "convincer". Jesus Himself says that in Jn 14:26
and 16:8 & 13-15. We can be glad that this is the case. One of my more
pragmatic friends frequently reminds me: Prepare everything and work in
such a way as if everything depended on you, but pray in such a way as ifeverything
depended on Codo
The power in 1 Thess 1:5 (see aboye) seems to be the same one that Paul is
thinking about in Ro 1:16: The Gospel is the power of Cod for the salvation of
everyone who believes. The Gospel has got a power which, independently of
our best and logical arguments, gets men and women to accept Jesus.
If we do not really believe this, we will forever stick to being eloquent,
bringing forth logical arguments, to our personal charisma, to
threatening eternal damnation, to enticing with the reward in heaven
and modern PR tricks when we are trying to convince the non-believer. If
we doubt God 's power in the Gospel, we need to immediately stop
everything and pray for faith.
e) Thought-provoking
Here sorne practical hints:
Choose passages from the Gospels! This is where we see Jesus act,
we touch His unique life. Most non-Christians only have vague ideas
about Jesus just because they do not know the facts. We first need
to work through the passage thoroughly before we can apply
specific information to our own personallives.
We need to try and understand the human situation that comes
up in the Bible passage. We should proceed like a reporter who is
covering this event, as our fellow student probably does not have
such a vivid imagination of Biblical scenes.
17
ThequestionsaboutthediscussionshouldgetthegrouptoidentifY
withthecharactersintherespectiveBible passages:withadespe-
ratepersonwhois seekingJesus'help;withthediscipleswho know
itall; evenwiththecompassionateJesus Himself,withthosewho
fightHim,withthosewholove Him,butdonotunderstandHim.
This is how readingthe Bible becomes relevantfor ourlives and
we feel wirh rhe characters. This helps us meetJesus und quite
naturallyleadsus ro accepttheclaimofHis love and power.
Jeslls always has to be depicted the way He was (and is):warm-
hearted, perceptive, totally understanding, accepting people,
controlled,controllingthesituarion.Heconstantlycaptivatedthe
peopleuntiltheyhadarealrelationshipwithHim.Suchacharacter
isalwaysattractivetoanon-believer,especiallyinthesedayswhich
arecharacterisedby anonymityandhopelessness .

B.
Preparation
'9
,8
1. Choiceofappropriatepassages
lesus is our Cood News! Many non-Christians know little about Him.
Incoherentfactsaboutafriendlyandharmless miracle-makerisoftena11
they know.Ifnon-Christians are to get to know Him as a living person
whoisimportanttothem,thenyouneedtofirst chooseCospelpassages
inwhichpeoplehave afar-reachingencounterwithlesus:
in which non-Christians discern the probl ems with which these
peoplecometolesus;
inwhich theycan identifywith the people(includinglesus). their
reactionsandtheirdesires;
in which they recognize lesus more and more as an interesting,
attractive,importantcharacter
inwhich the encounterdescribed challenges them to make a per-
sonalstand;
whichdonotrequire too muchpriorexperienceandexplanations.
Donotchoosepassageswhich,evenatanearlystage,leadtounnecessary
debates. Choose passages that can be fully dealt with in the arranged
time.In six to eightBible studies, thevital points oftheCospel canbe
treated.
Later,when your friends start to understand the importance of lesus'
trueandfascinatinghumaneness,theycanbenefitfrommoretheological
explanations about His eternal meaningfor a11.This is when theywi11
askjustlike His firstdisciples:Whois this? Even the wind and the waves obey
him! (cf. Mk 4:41).
Thedeathandresurrectionoflesusneedtobeatthecentre.lesushimself
pointedtothiscoreveryearlyoninHispreachingUn 2:19).Thepreaching
ofthe discipleswas based on thecrucifixion and resurrection.We can
examinetheaccountsofthepassionandresurrection,butwe also need
to read passages Isaiah 53, Romans 5, 2 Corinthians 5 or 1 Peter 2, in
orderto understandtheimportanceofdeathandresurrection.
20
ExamplesforsummariesoftheCospel:
Isaiah52:13-53:12
Philippians2:5-11
Romans 5:6-11
Titus3:3-7
2 Corinthians5:17-21
Hebrews2:10-18
Ephesians2:1-10
1Peter2:22-25
The passageswhichwe find in theEpistles oftheNewTestamentwere
written to believers.Theyassumea basic understandingofthe specific
historicfacts ofthelife and missionof lesus. Ifyou use them too early,
you mightend up having to explain a lot(preachingorbringing forth
arguments?),insteadofinspiringthenon-Christianstogettoknowlesus
themselves.Butbepreparedinordertohavethepassagesatyourdisposal
attherightmomento
2. PersonalBiblestudy
Beforeyouthinkabouthowyouwill introducethepassagetothegroup,
youshouldsystematica11yworkthroughthetextinprivate.
Workwiththetextuntilyoufeel completelyfamiliarwithit.Indoingso,
fo11ow thethreebasicstepsofworkingwithaBible passage.
a) Examinethefacts andtryto thinkyourwayintothe
situation(observation)untiJyou
b) have discovered themainthoughtsoftheauthor
(interpretation)and thencan
c) drawappropriateandpracticalconsequences(application).
AccordingtoAdolfSchlatter,
Bibleinterpretationconsistsof:
1. looking
2. Thinking
3.living
21
Obsl'rvatlon
II,III IIII,II" I\\.' Yll urselfwith the passage as thoughyou wanted to makea
'"111 .111/1 111 il. What are the main facts in this personal encounter?
I*pc(iallydigforfacts thatdonotappearonthesurface.
TheauthorsoftheGospelswereevangeliststhemselves.Whentheytalk
aboutencounterswithlesus, theywant thereaders to be partofthem.
Thelistbelowwill helpyou understandthisintention.
1. Externalcircumstances:
Who? Where?When?Why? Why thereand atthatmomentin
time?
2. Peopleandtheirproblems:
Whatis unique aboutthese people? What is said abouttheir
backgrounds?WhydotheycometoJesus?Howdotheyapproach
Him?
3 JesusandHis reaction:
WhatdoesHeseeinthemandtheirproblems(somethingothers
donotsee)?15 thereanythingunusualinthewayHereacts?Why
does He reactin exactlythatway? Dowenoticeanything el se
thatis interestingorcurious?
4 ResultsI Highlights:
Whatimpactdid theencounterhaveonthe different people?
Whatdoestheauthorwanttostressormakeclear?
Make sureyou do not move on to the interpretation stage too quickly.
Keep asking:Whatdoes itreallysay inthepassage?Otherwise,you will
runtheriskof
missingmanyinterestingobservationsandre-interpretingthepassage
alonglinesthatyouarealreadyfamiliarwith,
readingmoreintothepassagethanyou getoutofit.
22
Pay attention to verbs, different speech acts (plea, order), address,
relationshipsbetweenwords(e.g.Mk10:46ff:blind- sight,bytheroadside
- alongtheroad,wassitting- followed), textstructures.
2.2 Interpretation
Gettoknowthepassage.Askquestions .Becuriousanddonotbecontent
with obvious and superficial observations. But avoid irrelevant ,
speculative or application-related questions. Make a clear distinction
between the passage, opinions, speculations etc. Really tryto relate to
the passage:What else is hidden in there
7
J wonder whether .. . Maybe... Jf this is
right, could itbe that ... ? Which internal evellts are hidden behind external evellts?
The list in 2.1 holds true for the interpretation stage as well. The
interpretation results from observing the passage and the ensuing
questions:
Which thoughtsform thebasisofthepassage?Look for a common
backgroundwhichputstheobservationsintoaninterrelationwith
one another :people's attitudes,fears, desires, motives, intentions,
thecharacteroflesus, His persono His goals.
Developafeel for theatmosphere,theemotionalandpsychological
stateofthedifferentpeople.Howdotheyreacttooneanother,how
do theytreatoneanother?
Observe deeper relationships in the passage, emphases, struggles,
growth in understanding, continuinglack offaith and resistance.
Payattentionto relationsbetweenpeople, thoughts,actions.Tryto
assesswhytheauthoremphasisescertainfacts.
Pay attention to how the context increases your understanding of
thepassage.
Examine whether you truly understand key words and technical
terms,especiallywhenyoufeel veryfamiliarwiththem.
2.3 Application
Whatdoes thepassagemeantous personallyandfrom apracticalpoint
ofview?
23
Pay attention to points of contact with life today. In what ways are
we similar to the people described? To what extent are their problems
the same as ours? In what way does God' s working in the lives of
those people mean something for our lives? In what way does their
encounter with Jesus, their resistance, their dedication affect us?
Think of practical steps in order to put the passage into action by
applying it to us both as individuals and as group.
Give all the glory to God. Ask for His help in order for you to live the truth
that you have seen.
2.4 Clarificationofterrns.factsandhistorical
background
Take down terms and facts that need clarifying, even ifyou are familiar
with them. Others might be unclear about them. Look them up in a Bible
lexicon or a commentary. You should be able to explain them briefly and
they should be easily understandable.
2.5 Airns.keyrnessages
Be clear about the key messages ofthe passage. You should be guided by
the writer ' s intention. Remain faithful to the texto Interpret, but do not
over-interpret!
2.6 Structure
Give the text an appropriate heading and break it down into three or
four main sections (the basic structure on page 22 might be helpful). Pay
attention to the internal context and to the chronology (the thread).
Follow the structure ofthe passage beca use the writer intended the order
to be as it is. According to their literary genre, you can usually find the
following pa tterns:
Story tale: background - problem - solution - outcome
Speech Iecture: context - problem(s) - advice - different choices
24
3. Preparationofthegroupdiscussion
After finishing the personal study ofthe passage, we move on to preparing
the grou p discussion. It is necessary to prepare the discussion in writing
with questions and answers. This can either be a rough outline or scripted
word by word. This lowers the risk of the discussion going off in one
direction or missing the key message. There are ready-made scripts, but
is is better to draw one up yourself. The following paragraph should help.
3.1 Prayer
Pray regularly for the participants ofthe cliscussion and foryour meetings
with them. This will directly influence your preparation. Trust in the
guidance of the Holy Spirit whilst praying, preparing and during the
discussion. God wants to use you. Is this not reason to rejoice?
3.2 Sornefactsaboutyourfriends
(potentialparticipantsin thediscussion)
They are individual human bcings. What is important to them?
What family backgrounds do they have?What questions do they
have? What are their aims and desires? Where are their
frustrations? What religious backgrounds do they come from?
Your course mate wants to be completely accepted as a persono
They should feel free to be just as they are. Just like our Lord
who invited sinners, we should never have any reservations
against them.
Where are they vulnerable? Where are their needs? Identifywith
them and their needs, but do not try to be their psychiatrist.
Remember that God is there with all of His love and healing
power.
They do not want to be lulled or dominated by Christians. Make
sure that at least half the participants in the Bible study are
non-Christians . Otherwise, the discussion can easily become
unnatural ; non-Christians might feel uncomfortable and adopt
a defensive a ttitude.
25
3.3 (.omlngupwithgoodquestions
hlll,Meyourbestassetifyouwanttohelpagroupgofurtherinto
1111' andthinkmoreintensivelyaboutitsmeaning.Thisiswhyit
'j:> Wll l' t h takingalotoftimewhendrawingupthosequestions.
lf'yOll takequestionsfromanexistingscript(cf.Biblestudyguidesonthe
Gospels ofMarkandJohninchapterD) ,you need to adaptthem to the
needsofthegroup. You mayneedtochangetheemphasesofindividual
questions,rephrasequestionsinorderfor themtosoundmorelikeyou,
omit some ofthem or add new ones. Please see the criteria on good
questionsbelow.
lfyoucompileyourownsetofquestions, tryto comeupwithgroupsof
questionswhichareinlinewiththemainsectionsofyourstructure.Add
brief,clarityingremarl<sthatarenecessaryinordertointroducedifficult
questions. Putyourgood ideas down on paper no matterhow roughly
theyare phrased.ltis easierto putyourideas inorderandto decideon
theexactwordingwhenyou have gottheminfrontofyou.
Therearethreebasictypesofquestions:
1 Questions ofobservation motivatethe participants toexamine
thepassagewithregardtoimportantfactsandtoidentifywiththe
situation. They are to help discoverwhat is emphasized by the
author.
2 Questionsofinterpretation(meaning)inspire us tojointlythink
aboutthedeepermeaningofthefacts.Theyhelpusfind outwhat
themainintentionofthewriteris.
3 Questionsof applicationinviteustothinkaboutwaysinwhichwe
canapplythethingswelearntin ourlives.
Most ofthe questions we ask the group are to be questions of
interpretation. These questions lead to a discussion because different
points ofview and feelings can be compiled (e.g. in Lk 7:36ff: whatis
Jesusshowingthewomanbylettinghercarryondoingwhatsheis doing
to Him?).
26
Whenitcomestoquestionsofapplication(e.g.Howwould1havereacted
inJesus' place?),youneedto makesurethatyou gobackto thepassage.
These questions are not usually asked ifthe text has not been fully
explored.
Goodquestions
Goodquestionsshould:
becomprehensive,butnottoobroad;
beclearandtothepoint,butnottoosimplistic;
bemultifaceted,and notsoundtoomuch asthoughtheyarejust
beingreeledoff;
pointtosomeimportantfactsandnotjusttosomecorrectdetails;
motivatepeopletostudythetextandnottesttheirliteracy;
be open for more than one possible point ofview oranswer
(questionsthataretooobviousorthatcanbeansweredwithyesor
nocankili aconversation);
encouragecriticalthinkingandnotjustagreement;
beconnectedtothequestionsbeforeandafterin termsofcontent
ortopic;
helpmotivatepeopletotakepracticalsteps.
Make it clear by the way you put the question exactly what you are
expectingfrom theparticipantsinorderfor themto:
examinethe passagewithregardtofacts;
(What does the textsay on .. .7)
thinkthoroughlyaboutmeanings;
(Whatwasthe intentionofthatparticularaction ...7)
ineludegeneralknowledge;
(How do we think aboutthisissue today?)
personallyidentitywiththecharactersortheevents;
(Howwouldwe reactin theirplace?)
shareapersonalexperience;
(Hasanybody come across somethingsimilar?)
give anexample;
drawaconelusionetc.
27
Checkyourquestions- thebestwayis
to talk them throughwith somebody.

'
What is the group supposed to disco-
ver with the help ofeach and every
.
/
question? Does the verbiage motivate
/)
searchingandthinking?Answerthem
\1III '\)O'I!


__
"CV':/
yourself. How manydifferent answers
e '\
I
canyou thinkof?Onlyone?!?

Do adressrehearsalinyourhead.How

could people react to particular
questions? Will they accept your
assumptions? Which emotions couldbe triggered: boredom? lively
interest? confusion? lfparticular situations occur, how would you
continueineachspecificcase?TowritedowngoodBiblestudyquestions
is notonlytherightthingtodo.You alsoneedtobeinspired(Ps 45:2).Do
youreallyfeellike theauthorofPs119:162?
3.4 Opening, introducing and concluding the discussion
The beginningand the first question aredecisive for a successful Bible
study.
Theintroduction is to makeclearwhyitcould be worthwhileto deal
withsuchanoldtexttoday(establishaconnectiontotoday!).Thisis how
you arouse interest in the participants.Briefintroductoryremarks on
thecontextorreferences to passagestalkedaboutsofarcanbehelpful.
To begin, you can also take shortsketches, Iyrics, poems , newspaper
clippings,partsoffilms, pictures,cartoonsoradvertisementslogans.
Theftrst questionneedstobringaboutlivelyparticipation.Aninteresting
question contributes a lot to an open, lively atmosphere during the
discussion.
Questionsarenotjustasked withouta context ,butfollow onfrom the
discussion. They can be introduced through briefpreliminary
remarla, explanations or bridging summaries. Think about how
newinsights can be summarisedatthe end ofthediscussion.These of
coursedependonthecourseofthediscussion.
28
Thinkaboutthetimeframe. Howlongis thediscussionsupposed togo
onfor?(Afixedendis betterthananopenend).Howlongareyouto talk
aboutindividualquestions?1s theplanrealisticintermsoftime?
3.5 Final version
After thesepreparatorysteps, aguide for the group discussion can
beputas follows:
Text and heading
Aims I key messages
Theseensuefromtheintentionsofthewriterofthepassageandfrom
wha t is importantto thegroup. (This is justto helptheleaderofthe
discussionand to pointhimI herintherightdirection).
Annotations on the passage
Use terms, facts andanexplanation.
Introduction
Arouseinterest,clarifytherelevanceofthepassage,contexto
Questions on the Bible study
The questions refer to the main sections ofthestructure.This then
makesupthreeorfourgroupsofquestions.Give eachgroupashort,
imaginativetitleso thatthekey ideasandthedevelopmentthrough
to thefinalgoalcanberecognised.
Application
Questions ofapplication usually come up duringorafter the study
session. Select the ones that are appropriate. Present them to the
group.Rememberthatfar-reaching questions ofapplicationcannot
really be discussed before you have understood the entire passage.
Too many questions ofapplication to begin with can distract from
workingwiththepassage.
29

I
I
WORKING WITH A PASSAGE
Worksheet on B. Preparation 2.1-2.3 (pp. 22/23). Part A
Apply the steps described in B2.1-2.3 to Mark 4:35-41:
A. Observation
1. External circumstances

B. Interpretation
1.
2. People and their problems
I
2.
3. Jesus and His reaction 3
4. Result I Highlight of the event 4
C. Application
Cf. example on pp. 164/165
I
3
1
30
WORKINGWITHAPASSAGE
WorksheetonB.Preparation2.4-2.6 (p. 24). PartB
Text: Mk 4:35-41
Annotations on the text
Write down difficult terms, key words etc. Explain them briefly.
Aims I key messages
What are the key messages of the passage?
Structure
Work out a structure to the passage
Heading, 3-4 main sections with subsections
Cf. example on page 166
3
2
WorksheetonFinalversionB3.5(p.29)
Guideforthegroupdiscussion
Apply the steps described in B 3.1-3.5 to Mk 4:35-41:
Text
Heading
Aims I key messages
Annotations on the passage
Introduction
Questions on the Bible study
Application
Cf. the example on page 167
33

In
U
,..,
~
a
~
V)
V)
;j
~
V)
~
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<:u
~
1. Practical hints for the discussion
Try to create an open, informal atmosphere. Feelings have a direct impact
on the learning process. A lot of people easily beco me self-conscious or
feel uncomfortable when it comes to discussing religious topics . Sorne
feel questioned in their long-established views and threa tened in their
confidence. Sometimes abad conscience makes things even more
complicated. Affection and the feeling ofbeing accepted, ofbeing loved,
help them deal with new things.
Sit down in an informal, personal circle so that everybody can see
everybody else comfortably. Make sure you know each other by name. At
the beginning of each Bible study session, you should take sorne time to
tal k about joint interests and problems. It is worth it.
It is better not to sing unless the song is something everybody is familiar
with or knows . In the same way, a prayer at the beginning or end might
be inappropriate. You have to develop a feel for what is suitable and what
is noto
In order to avoid confusion, it is best to only use one Bible translation. (If
the group is international, you should think about who should have the
text in front of them in their mother tongue). It should be a modern
translation. People who are not familiar with the Bible find it easier to
get used to pages and paragraphs than to books, chapters and verses . A
modern Bible translation can also help to get rid of the view that the
Christian faith is part of a bygone era.
Start on time. Introduce new arrivals. Have a few spare Bibles handy.
Start offwith an interesting introduction. Make sure the passage is being
read well. Decide in advance whether or not you want to offer food or
drink afterwards.
2. Leading the discussion
2.1 Do we need somebody to lead the discussion at all?
Many people recoil from having one particular person lead the discussion.
We recommend thinking about the strucrure of the church in which
every member has to work towards the good of the whole body (1 Cor
11 :4-26). The main task as the leader ofthe discussion is ro lead the group
to discover what the Bible says and means.
2.2 The relationship between the leader of the
discussion and the participants
Evangelistic Bible studies are to arouse curiosity, especially in terms of
the character ofJesus. The questions asked by the non-Christians may be
more decisive than sorne ofyours. They show what is important to them,
what they understand and what they do not understand. If we listen
closely, we may hear not only words and thoughts, but also doubts , fears
and desires.
Never lose track of the non-Christian's point of view. Evangelistic Bible
studies are to be an informal dialogue between equal partners with
spontaneous give and take. In spite of our leading role, we are learning at
the same time. Non-Christians often have new insights into the text that
are missed by Christians. Our own willingness to learn can be contagious!
Sometimes a passage raises questions that need an explanation more than
a debate. Always be brief and do not deliver a sennon!
A Christi an must not think sfhe is spiritually aboye the others. A Christi-
an is a sinner who knows that Cod has forgiven and accepted him f her.
The non-Christian is a sinner who does not know that yet. Martin Lu ther
encouraged us: Dare to be a sinner! If we understand this invitation
correctly, we are set free in a wonderful way!
Being honest when giving a personal testimony is vital. We testity to Jesus
Christ and to what He has done and not to our problem-free lives. When
we tal k about the joy we have through living with Him, we need to make
clear that He is Lord over our human problems which - in all honesty -
36 37
everybody has. Throw off your masks! Sometimes it can do wonders if a
Christian says in a discussion: "I do not know an answer to this question.
I will think about it and try to find an answer for the next time we meet ."
Be as authentic and as real as possible.
Try to co-operate: when other Christians are present, they should have a
feel for helping the leader at the right moment by including participants
who sfhe obviously overlooks, by clarifying things that might be unclear,
by rephrasing a difficult question, by refocusing on the passage or the
intention when sfhe digresses and by trying to reduce tensions within
the group (see p. 41).
2.3 Hints on how to lead the discussion
Trust that Cod can speak for Himself through His own word. Your
authority lies in the Bible, not in personal experiences or subjective
opinions and feelings. Your own experiences and theological comments
can serve as clarification, but they should never be aboye the Bible. This,
however, does not mean that a non-Christian needs to accept the Bible as
Cod's word as a prerequisite for a serious discussion with you. The truth
has its own hidden ways of entering into people.
It can be helpful toexplainattbebeginninghowyou want
to tackle the passage, why in exactly that way and not in any
other way.
Don'tbetense. Keep your sense of humour. Be prepared to
laugh about yourself. Our Lord is in your midst. Be passionately
involved without being disrespectful or catching others out.
Lead the debate in such a way that openness and trust can
develop.
It is not enough to just listen to people. We al so need to be able
to discemwhattbeyaretrying to sayo That is love! The
more thoroughly you have prepared, the freer you are to be all
ears for the others. You are part of the group and as such you
should comment on contributions or ask counter-questions or
questions to move on just like you would normally do in a
discussion.
Expressyuurselfclearly.Listen to what you are saying in a
critical way. Pay attention to the facial expressions and gestures
of the others which should indicate if you are not being
understood. Avoid language that is too religious . Explain
theological terms in a simple manner.
Everybodyshouldbefree ro saywhatever comes to their
mind, but try and stick to the topic and the passage. You might
want to dig deeper into a superficial view by asking the others
if they want to add something.
Keeptbediscussiongoingby asking more than one person
to present their points ofview on one and the same issue. This
is especially important when interpreting decisive Bible passages
or when talking about the practical application of a passage.
Resisttbetemptationro answer yuurquestionyourself
even if there is no spontaneous answer. Try to rephrase it.
Encourage the otbers to ask questions, but pass the
question back to the group. Don't let yourself be made the
constant point of reference.
Don't be immediately happywitb the first correct
response,encourage further contributions. Don't be afraid of
differing opinions! They sharpen the group's thinking!
Look out for opportunities to summarisetbediscussionin
order to move on to the next point.
Remind the participants to checktbelropinionsagainst
the Bible passage.Be prepared to help them distinguish
between the passage, general knowledge, opinions and
speculations. If a contribution has little to do with the text, the
question of "Where did you find this in our passage? How did
you come to this conclusion?" can help. Or you could ask for
other contributions to correct that view.
AvoiddogmatismoYour strong beliefs have more effect when
you present them in a factual manner and with good reasons.
Introduce statements offaith by referring to the respective Bible
passages, for example: "According to verses 10 and 12, it seems
3
8
39
to be the case that..." . Nevertheless , a clear message from you,
said good-humouredly, can have a very disarming effect.
~ Avoid cross-references , except when they are really
necessary. lfwe jump through the whole Bible, sorne may be
impressed with our knowledge, but others could get confused.
Or what is worse, it might discourage them. They could think
that being a Christian requires knowing the Bible cover to cover.
~ Go through the entire passage you wanted to talk about
even if you sometimes end up summarising a passage. If you
only ever treat a few verses in each of the meetings, it can kill
the discussion. It is helpful to always be led by the question:
Which constant impression of Jesus is to stay with the people
after the discussion?
~ Pay attention lo timings. Inexperienced groups often go
straight to the application before closely observing. More
academic groups sometimes stick with the theory for too long,
so that the application remains superficial and hence becomes
unrealistic.
~ Summarise the discussion clearly in one or two sections.
~ Finish the meeting on time even if the personal debate
continues afterwards (and so it should). People who are very
busy will definitely be reluctant to come back if the meetings
go on for too long. Apart from that, we can only learn one thing
per meeting and that needs to sink in first.
~ You might want to chat to individual participants
afterwards and refer to their contributions and questions
during the group discussion. These chats are often the most
fruitful part of our meeting.
Leading Bible studies is not an
innate talent, just like the You know that your labour
evangelistic chat with individuals in the Lord is not in vain.
and there is no easy solution. But
as in all work for the Lord, His grace
1 Cor1S:s8
helps us get through it . \
4
2.4 Reducing tension
Every participant and not only the leader can contribute to reducing
tension that might arise in the group.
There is a sUence: Your question may have been too easy or too
complicated. Try to rephrase it. Maybe the question had not been prepared
enough. lf the question is particularly challenging, you could add: "Let
us first think about it silently." Then nobody will feel uncomfortable
during the silence.
The shy type: Include them with a smile or in passing.
Be careful with everything they could see as a threat.
Ask them for their opinion in something they are
familiar with. Do not put them on the spot by asking
them to take part in the discussion. Their silence could
mean tha t they are thinking more thoroughly than
more talkative participants.
The windbag: Do not look in their direction.
Intentionally speak to others by their names or just
~ ~
say: "What do the others think?" Talk to them when >-
6
-
there is just the two ofyou. They probably are not even
aware ofthe fact that they are a problem case. Ask them
G ~ \ d
to encourage others to participate, for instance by
rephrasing their contributions into questions.
Dogmatic views, superficiality, misunderstandings: ~
The group is supposed to get rid of those as far as
possible : "What do the others think about this
~
solution?" Or refer the group to passages that make it
clear. A correction said in a decisive, but polite way
~ \
and in passing can sometimes be disarming.
Pious vocabulary: Religious terminology, stereoty-
pes and insider jargon can be a barrier to others. Ask
those who talk like that to rephrase their thoughts and
express them more clearly. You could be a good
example and use a modern language that is lively and
yet does justice to the Biblical contento
4
1
The digressing type: Are they causing confusion
with a lot of cross-references? Or are they
wt
continuously jumping into new topics? Try this:
"This is quite interesting, but we want to stick to
our passage and first work out its deeper meaning."
If somebody has a lot of personal problems and
wants to exhibit them, then you could suggest
talking to yourself or somebody else later on. (And
then hold true to your word!)
Questlons you cannot answer: Even though you are well prepared,
you cannot be expected to know an answer to all the questions that you
are asked on the spot. Ifthere is nobody to provide an answer, be honest
and say: 1have never thought about this . This can work wonders in terms of
the atmosphere and can get others to work even harder. The questions
may also be irrelevant at that point. But ifit is important, ask somebody
to do some research and present the results the next time.
Avoid a discussion which compares religions. especially if there
are Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists or members of other religions present.
That does not lead anywhere and sends the discussion off on a tangent.
What is worse, it could cause arguments and hard feelings. On the other
hand be prepared for a constructive discussion if this is the wish of the
whole group. But suggest a later point in time in order for everybody to
be better prepared. Iris generally better not to use words such as Christianity
01' Christians as they only mean something formal to most people. You
should rather use it says in the Bible .. . or Cod says in the Bible or according to
tlle Gospels ... , when referring to the Christian faith. When you talk about
yourself, you can say 1have come to the conclusion.. . . Instead of saying 1have
become a Christian, you could say 1have become a child ofCod or 1have started
a new life with Christ etc.

3. The personal chat after the group
discussion - an invitation to trust Christ
Those who have read aboutJesus Christ in the Gospels will soon realise: I
need to respond to God one way or another.
So you need to make sure you discern which ofthe participants has been
addressed by God. Finish the group session early enough and take sorne
time to have a one-on-one chat with the person concerned.
Some Christians may find such chats intimidating. Reasons for this
include:
You have gradually grown into your faith and subconsciously
think that this is how it happens for everybody. As you yourself
did not make a sudden decision for Jesus, you find it difficult to
encourage others to make up their minds right here and now.
Stay open for how and when God wants to act and that He wants
to use you for it!
You have never led anybody to faith in Jesus and are hence
feeling insecure. You may even be afraid of messing it up. Do
not be afraid because it is Jesus who attracts people and He
likes using you for His work.
You are limiting yourself and God if you say that you are not
the evangelistic type, that you can more easily socialise with
people than encourage them to make a decision. Trust God to
do new and amazing things - even with you!
You do not want to risk your friendship with your non-Christian
friend by inviting them to make a decision. But let's face it ,
which is more important to your friend: their relationship with
you or with Jesus?
You have had sorne bad experience before when you were talking
about the necessiry to give one's life to Christ . As sad as that
experience may have been. do not let it dominate your future.
but expect new surprises with God!
-
Ifwe are attentive to questions and the way your interlocutor's mindset
is changing, ifwe listen closely and silently pray for them, God will give
us the ability to discern when we can invite somebody to give his 1her life
to ]esus.
And then we only need to help the process along, be prepared to jump in
and be available, butwe do not need to do everything in our own strength.
Ifwe want to lead somebody to ]esus, we are not alone. Ihere are not only
the two of you (you and the other person), nor are there three of you
(with the other person and Jesus), but there are always four people
involved: the enemy is there, too. Ihis is why the beginning of the chat
can be fought overo We do not need to mention it, but we do need to be
aware ofthe fact that God's victory is hidden behind this sort ofresistance.
You can either refer to the text you were talking about, e.g. "1 think you
are still not quite clear about what Jesus' stance is on sin. It differs greatly
from what people usually think. .. " or ask e.g. "How do you feel when you
hear Jesus' invitation 'Come and follow me'?"
Or you can use one of the following questions:
What is actually preventing you from becoming a Christian?
What would there be to gain ifyou became a Christian?
What do you think you would have to give up ifyou gave your
life to Jesus?
Questions like these lead to a role reversa!. Ihe person who was asking
questions or was monitoring the situation becomes the person being
asked. The interlocutor is challenged to make a personal stance. What is
more, with these questions, you are showing the other person that you
are confident in them becoming a Christian which is an important
encouragement.
Ifsomebody is open to acceptJesus, it can often be helpful to talk about
the sinner's prayer (but do not pray yet!). Ihis is to show them what
becoming a Christian is aH about and the spiritual viewpoint ofthe other
person can again be double-checked (cf. sinner's prayer in Appendix p.
160). If he or she agrees, you can ask him or her to pray the prayer or to
pray to Jesus in their very own words. It might be helpful to have another
Christian with you who can accompany you in this step.
Important steps
There are a few important steps that are part of becoming a Christian:
A Christian is somebody who can say in all honesty: jesus, my Saviour
and Lord.
jesus: it is about Him, not about a vague idea about God;
My: it involves a personal decision and a personal relation-
ship;
Saviour: it is about leaving your past behind you. This may entail
naming certain sins that separate me from God and to ask
for forgiveness.
lord: it is about a new life in which jesus is my Lord, Lord over
my plans, my feelings, my will. He also wants to be Lord
over all the areas that we consciously or unconsciously
have opened up to Satan through occult practices. Finally
He wants to be Lord over evil curses other people have
wished down on uso jesus can and wants to set us free
from all of this and reign instead in all His goodness.
Afterwards:
We can encourage Christians in a similar way to Paul, e.g.
with the promise ofbeing God's children Un 1 :12) ;
with the promise of a new citizenship (Eph 2:15; - you cannot
lose your citizenship. So we can say that we have got a new
passport - we belong to heaven);
with the promise of security (Rom 8:31-8:33);
with the promise of salvation and eternallife Un 3:16);
with the promise ofbeing a new creation (2 Cor 5:171 Eph 5:8)
44
45
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Guidelines for personal preparation
and group discussion
The approach
These st udies relating to the Gospel according to Mark were written to
answer the questions of those who are still seeking God or who are
sceptical of God's existence. The main purpose of the studies is to allow
those who do not know Jesus to learn about Jesus and the salvation
available through Him. Appropriate questions help participants in these
studies to discover and understand the main meaning of the texts and
thus be encouraged to start reading the Bible for themselves . There are
also instructions to help new Christians who are not familiar with the
Bible and want to read it together with friends .
All Bible quotations are taken from the New International Version
Ifyou want to pray with a group member who has decided to give his I
her life to Jesus , you can use the prayer on page 160 (Appendix).
The layout
TI1ese Bible studies are a tool and resource for leaders to help them prepare
and run evangelistic Bible studies. The individual sections have the
following layout :
l. Personal preparation
A. Main message
The main message of each study is summarised in one or two sentences.
Each text has several important ideas; therefore, it is helpful to always
remember the central idea. The group leader should help the group
members to understand at least this main idea and to reflect on it.
4
8
B. Structure
It is recommended that the group leader memorise the structure ofthe
text. The structure of the text can help order the ideas during the
conversation and allow everyone to follow the progress through the texto
In general, there is limited time for a Bible study, so it is helpful to set an
appropriate time limit for each paragraph of the text (as a guideline).
This ensures that the whole text is studied.
C. Observations and interpretation
The leader of the Bible study is su pposed to have prepared him I herself
thoroughly beforehand in order to become familiar with all the diffe-
rent aspects ofthe text oHe or she should be inspired by Jesus before talking
with others aboutJesus. To help the leader come to a solid understanding
ofeach text, a context and some ideas tracing the main message are offered
here. The observations help reflect and give insight into the many ways
that the word of God speaks to USo They are in no way meant to be
exhaustive, and it it recommended that these observations be read after
the group leader has devoted time to a personal study of the text.
D. Additional comments
For those who are not familiar with reading the Bible, some expressions
may be difficult to understand. These comments try to clarif)r the meaning
ofunfamiliar biblical words and customs.lt is best to explain important
words at the beginning ofthe Bible study; other words can be explained
during the course of the study.
11. Group discussion
A. Introduction
A short introduction aims to help start the group discussion. The
introduction can be modified according to the group's particular
situation. It prepares the participants for the study and motivates them
without revealing too much of the message. Pie ase take the suggested
introduction as one of many options to lead into the texto Try to find
49
your own introduction that connects the text with the lives of those in
the group. We suggest that after the introduction, one ofthe participants
or each participant in turn reads the text out loud. Each person should
be able to read along in a Bible. Having read the text, you can start with
the questions, if the meaning of the words in the text is clear.
B. Questions, and C. Applieation
The group leader should have studied and answered the questions for
himself I herself and should perhaps think of additional questions. The
list ofquestions is split into 'General Questions' that explore the meaning
ofthe text, and questions of'Personal Application' that seek to apply the
text to the lives of the participants. The list of questions does not
necessarily have to be studied completely; the group leader is free to make
a selection. The group leader's manner ofleading the discussion should
encourage others to express their own opinions. The leader should not
judge "improper" answers as wrong, but should have the courage to leave
them as they were given or comment on them in the following manner:
"What you say is interesting. Looking at the text, how have you come to
this conclusion?" Or: "What do the others think?" Both questions express
a confidence that the group leader should have that God can and will
reveal Himself to each individual participant through His Word. The
leader is not looking for the "right" answers, but instead is praying for a
personal encounter with Jesus in His Word.
We suggest that the group leader not only ask questions but participate
in the discussion as well. After having sufficiently studied a paragraph of
the text, the leader moves on to the next idea by asking a new question or
making an appropriate statement. She I he should always try to have the
participants follow the text during the discussion.
D. Closing remarks
The closing remarks are a suggestion ofhow to end the study and awake
interest in the next study. They are also designed to form a melodic line
between the studies.
The time after the Bible study is also very important. Then personal
questions and statements can be discussed in private. Often people wait
for this opportunity. For some people such a private conversation can
even lead to the beginning a relationship with Jesus.
5
The Gospel according to Mark -
Bible Studies
Texts and Topies
Mark4:35-41
Mark10:46-52
Mark2:1-12
Mark9:14-29
Mark14:32-42
Mark16:1-20
Mark10:17-27
Mark8:31-38
Mark14:3-9
Beingafraidofthestorm
(FearI Whois He?)
FromhearsaytoalifewithJesus
(FaithI WhatdoyouwantMetodoforyou?)
Healthisn'teverything
(ForgivenessI Whydoesthisfellowtalklike
that?)
Adesperatefather- adisappointedJesus
(PriorityI Betweenbeliefandunbelief)
Thesleepydisciples- astrugglingJesus
(PrayerI Jesus'resolveinGethsemane)
Thesurprisedfollowers- therisenJesus
(PowerI TheresurrectionofJesus- theevent
anditsimportance)
longingforeternallife
(Impossible?I Beingcalledtofo11 owJesus)
Savingorlosinglife
(loss?I Theinvitationtofo11 owJesus)
Aresolutewomanwillingtomakesacrifices
(love!I FollowingbyservingJesus)
51
The selection of texts we have chosen from Mark's Gospel does not
follow the usual order. The chosen arrangement makes it possible to
presentandtogettoknowJesusbeforewepayattentiontotheinvitation
tofollowJesus.
QuestionssuchasWho is He? (Mark4) orWhat doyou want Me to dofor you?
(Mark10)helpreaderstoreconsidertheirimageof]esusandofthemselves.
Inthethirdtext,we readhow]esushealsthebodyandsoulofamanand
attachesgreatimportanceto theforgiveness of sins.
Inthefourthtext,we lookatadesperatefatherwho,ontheonehand,is
scepticaland,ontheotherhand,faithful.
Thefifthtextshows us how]esusprays.
And thefollowing textdeals withHis resurrection.
Then,we areaskedtemakeadecisionandareinvited to follow]esus.
Inthelasttext,we thinkabouthowwe canserve]esus.
Fear, faith andforgiveness as themesofthefirst three textsgive abrief
butroundedfoundationofwhoJesusis,beforegoingontothenextthree
textsthatstartexplainingtheconsequencesofwhatthismeantfor]esus.
Thefinal threetextsthenoutlinetheconsequencesfor uso
1. Being afraid ofthe storm
(Fear I Who is He?)
Mark 4:35-41
l. Personal Preparation
A. Main message
Even the wind and the waves obey]esus. He cares for us when we are
afraidorworried.
B. Structure
1. Onthesea(v. 35-36)
2. Astormarises(v. 37)
3. Thedisciples arefrightened;]esusis asleep(v. 38)
4. Jesus takesaction(v. 39-40)
5. Whois thisman?(v. 41)
C. Observation, interpretation
Context:Agreatmultitudehadgatheredaround]esus.FromHisboaton
thesea,He taughtthemandspokeinparablestothem.Thediscipleshad
beenaccompanying]esusfor quiteawhile.Theyhadalreadywitnessed
His mirac1es, healingsandlistenedto His teachings.
v.35-36 At theendofthislongday,]esusis tired.Heretiresandasksthe
disciples to dismiss the people. He wantsto be alonewithHis
disciplesandto teachthem(cf. 33-34).
37-38 The experienced fishermen fear that they mightdie. They do
notknowwhattodofacingtheseforces ofnature.Inthiscrisis
they openly show their true feelings.They are annoyed with
52
53
Jesus,whodoes notseemto payanyattentionto theirworries.
TheytellHimthattheyfeartheymightperishandcomplainto
Himaskinga reproachfulquestion.They respectHim as their
masterand seekHis help, howeveronlyas a last resort, when
they are in utter despairand fear that they might perish do
theyaskJesus to helpthem.
39-40 Jesus has poweroverdestructive forces, over natureand over
people'sworries(e.g. fear).
Thedestructiveforces obeyJesus andareforced toyield.Jesus
speakspowerfully,andtheelementsarebroughtundercontrol
because He is theCreator.
Jesus does not bale water out ofthe boat together with the
disciples.Jesus is notangry, hedoes notcalm themdown but
changesthesituation.Codis incontrolevenwhenwethinkHe
doesn'tcareo
Jesus asks them about their fear. He does not want to know
whattheyareafraidof(storm)butwhytheyareafraid(lackof
faith).
Jesus asks them about theirfaith; theydo have some faith in
generalbutfail toapplytheirfaithinHiminthissituation.
41 Thedisciplesarefrightenedagain.Thistimetheyarenotafraid
ofwhattheyhave to cope withoutside the boat, buttheyare
frightenedoftheOnewhositswiththemintheboatoTheyare
frightened to see Jesus' power. He is more than a teacher, a
healer;He is ...
ThispassagedealswithJesus'powerandthetrustofthosewhobelievein
Him.
D. Additionalcornrnents
37 a furious squalL Strongwindscancomedownfromthemountains
surroundingtheSeaofCalileeandoftencausesuddenstorms.
In thosedays noonedoubted thatsome kindofsupernatural
force caused a storm. In the Old Testament, itwas Cod who
calmedthestorm;intheNewTestament, it isJesus.
54
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option a) Fear- thereis hardlyanyotherword thatdescribesthelivesof
peopleinourworldbetterthanfear.Fearofterrorism,fearofexams,fear
ofthefuture,fearoflife,fearofhunger,fearof evilpowers,fearof death,
fearof sorrow,fearofillness.Butarewealonewhenweareafraid?Today
wearereadinga passagefrom theBible thatshowspeoplewhoarevery
afraid and at the same time in this fear have a challengingencounter
withJesus.
Option b) short play - Person Awatches the news onTV or reads news
headlinesinanewspaper.The newsseemsquiteshocking(someoneacts
as thenewsreader).PersonAbecomesmoreandmorefrightened, turns
offtheTVj putsawaythenewspaperandtriestocopewithhisj herfears
byconsultingdifferentpersons:
1. someonewhoislyingcomfortablyonthecouchdrinkingaglass
ofwineandwhoinvites personAto sitdownandrelax;("Just
relaxandshrugoffyourfears.")
2. apharmacistwhooffers personAanewremedyforfear, butit
has noeffectonpersonA;
3. a psychologist who asks personA several questions butwho,
withoutgivinghelpfulanswers,justendsupinvitingherj him
to anewsession;
4. a sportspersonwho invites personAto do somejoggingwith
himjherbecause itreducesfearandstress;
5. aglobetrotterwhosuggests travelingto aforeign continent;
6. ascientistwhotriestoexplaintheconditionoffearinscientific
terms;
At theend, personAis stillfrightened andwondersWhat do I do now?
55
B. Questions
1. RememberthatJesus hadbeenteachinga lotthis day. Whydo
youthinkthatJesus proposescrossingovertotheothersideof
theSeaofGalilee?
2. What do the disciples feel and think when they askJesus:
"Teacher, don'tyou care ifwe drown?" Why is their reaction
understandable?Howdotheydealwiththeirfear?
3. How would we have expectedJesus to react? Which reaction
couldhavebeenexpected?
4. TheforcesofnatureobeyJesus.WhatdoesthisrevealaboutHis
person?
5. In response to the disciples' fearJesus asks them a question.
Whydoes Heaskthisquestion?
6. The last question is one ofthe most importantcuestions the
disciples have ever asked. What are they thinkingwhen they
askthisquestion?Howdoes theirviewofJesus change?What
dotheylearnaboutHis identity?
7. WhydoesJesus expect them to challenge and confront their
fear?
C. Application
1. Like the disciples we face various difficulties and some-times
feel powerless.Whatcausesus to beafraidorpanic?
2. Howdowehandleourfears?
3. ThisstoryshowsanencounterbetweenJesusandHis disciples .
Whatcanwe learnfrom thisencounterandapplyto ourown
encounterwithJesus?
4. And itwas completely calm. WheredoIneedacalmnessinmylife?
5. The disciples' viewofJesus obviouslychanges inthis passage.
HowdidmyviewofJesuschangewhen1firstheardaboutHim?
6. HowwouldIrespondtothedisciples'lastquestion?Whatdoes
Jesusmeantome?
56
7. Have weeverexperiencedGodinterveningininourlives?Did
itmakeusmoreafraidofGodordiditdrawusclosertoHim?
D. Closing remarks
InthisstudywesawhowJesuschallengedthedisciplestochangefroma
lifeoffear,toalifeoffaithinHim.Inthenextstudywewillmeetaman
willingtogivehimselfintoalifeoffaithinJesus.
57
2. FromhearsaytoalifewithJesus
(FaithI WhatdoyouwantMetodoforyou7)
Mark10:46-S2
1. Personal preparation
A. Mainmessage
1canputal! mytrustI faith inJesus .
B. Structure
1. Ablindmancallsfor help(v. 46-48).
2. Jesus receives al! peoplewithanopenheart(v.49-51).
a. Jesusandthecrowd(v. 49)
b. Theblindman'sanswerto theinvitation(v. 50)
c. Jesusandtheblindmantalkingto eachother(v. 51)
3. Healinganddiscipleship(v. 52).
C. Observation,interpretation
Context: Here Mark writes about the last healing thatJesus performs
before His death. Hereafter, the entry intoJerusalem, the Feast ofthe
Passover, thecrucifixionandtheresurrectionfollow.
46/52 Verses46and52 presentuswiththemainexternalcontrasting
elementsofthestudy.
sat[stationary](v. 46)- fol!owed him[moving] (v. 52)
a blind man [darkness] (v. 46) - he received his sight [light]
(v. 52)
by the roadside [in isolation] (v. 46) - along the road [in
fel!owship] (v. 52)
46-48 Bartimaeus must have heard ofJesus before. Sitting by the
roadside,hehadprobablyoverheardotherstalldngaboutJesus .
MaybeothershadeventalkedtohimaboutJesus.His k.nowledge
of Jesus is enough to give him hope and expectations, and so
Bartimaeus cries persistently for merey- he does not let the
otherpeoplestophim.
49 JesustakespeoplewhocallouttoHimseriously- inthiscaseit
wasBartimaeus.
Jesusstops- He allowsotherstointerruptHim.
He involves otherpeople inhelpingtheblind man- indoing
so, He helps thecrowd to be merciful, andexperiencewhatit
meansto bemerciful.
The crowd and the blind man stop shouting- it is suddenly
peacefulwhenJesusstartstospeak.
Whenever Jesus'wordsarepassedon,healingis madepossible.
50 Bartimaeus takes a riskwhen he throws aside his garment-
howwillhefind itagainas a blindman?
Bartimaeusis total!ytrustingandconfident- herose.
51 Jesus helps Bartimaeus express his innermost desire - Jesus
valueshimbeyondmeasure.
A blind person was regarded a sinner and held the lowest
positioninsociety.
JesusliftsBartimaeusuptothehighestposition.infrontofthe
wholecrowd.
By His questionJesus , his creator. makes himselfa servant to
thisdespisedblindman.
Jesuswantsus to honestlyexpressourwishes.
52 Jesus helpsthosewhobelieveinHim.
Jesus sets Bartimaeus free (go your way). Having received this
freedom. Bartimaeusdecides to followJesus.
59
58
D. Additionalcornrnents
Jcricho is locatedonthewayfromtheJordanvalleytoJerusalem.Itis the
lastcityonthewayupthemountains.Jerichois 250 m belowsea level
andwas arichcity.
Son 01 David. Davidwasoneofthegreatestkings inIsrael.God promised
him thathis future descendantwould reign forever and be God's son
(2.Sam 7:12-16). Itis thehonourarytitlefor thepredictedSaviour.
Rabbi meansMaster, Teacher andis a particularlyhonourabletitle.
Timaeus means appreciated, honoured. Bartimaeus =Son ofthe honoured
man
Carment. Ithasa specialmeaningintheBiblebecause itwassomething
whichwas used to protectoneselffrom the cold and usedas a blanket
duringthenight.Therefore thegarmentwas notto be takenovernight
as asecurity(Exodus 22:25; Dtnm.24:10-13).
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option a) 1cannotbelieveinGodbecause1cannotseeHim- thisis what
sorne people say, butis this true?Todaywe meetsomeonewho, so far,
had only heard aboutJesus from hearsayI rumours. Then he has an
encounterwithJesus.We canalso have anencounterwithJesus even if
wecannotseeHim.
Option b) Agame oftrustwith three people:Two people standopposite
eachother.Onestandsinthemiddlefacingoneofthetwo.WithhisI her
eyesshut,theoneinthemiddleletshimself I herselffallbackwards.The
person behind catches the one "fa11ing" and pushes himI her towards
theotherpersonoThentheoneinthemiddlefa11s forwardandtheother
person catches them and pushes him I her back. Talk aboutwhat the
peoplefelt playingthis game.Thengo backto the text: Total trustwas
requiredinthetexto Todaywe hearabouta blindpersonwho provoked
anencounterwithJesus.
60
B. Questions
1. WhatkindoflifedoyouthinkBartimaeuslead?Whatwould1
havefeltifIhadbeenblindandsittingbytheroadsidealongside
Bartimaeus?
2. MeetingJesus was not easy. Which internal and external
obstaclesdidBartimaeushave toovercome?
3. Havingheardtheblindman'scry,Jesus stops.WhydoesJesus
notgototheblindmanHimself?Whydoesn'tJesusjustignore
thecrowd?
4. Which attitude becomes evident through Bartimaeus'
behaviourinV. 50?
5. Jesusdoesnothealtheblindmanimmediatelybutinsteadasks
a seeminglypointlessquestion.Whatcouldbe the purposeof
Himaskingthisquestion?Whatdoesthisquestionrevealabout
howJesus relatesto people?
6. Jesus speaksaboutfaith, althoughit has notbeenmentioned
before.WhatattitudesandactionsdoesJesusconsiderasfaith?
Whichofthesesma11 steps mightwebeableto takeas well?
7. Whydoes thehealedmannotsimplysay"Thank you" andthen
"goodbye'?
C. Application
1. Whatis drawingmeclosertoJesus?Whatis pushingmeaway
orhinderingme?
2. Whatwould 1 answer to Jesus' question (v. 51) ifHe aked me
thatquestiontoday?
3. Are therepeoplewhostandinthewaybetweenmeandJesus?
Howcan1copewiththis?
4. Am1standingbesidetheroadorwalkingontheroadwithJesus
(analysisofmyownsi tuation)?
5. Does this text somehow encourage us to think that God is
capable ofchangingthings inourlife thatwe cannotchange
ourselves?
61
D. Closingremarks
InthisstudywesawhowJesustotallychangedthelifeof amanwhoput
his trust in Him. In the next studywe wiU seeJesus perform a healing
thatagaingoesdeeperthanjustmakingasickpersonhealthyagain.
3. Healthisn'teverything
(ForgivenessI Whydoesthisfellow
talklikethat?)
Mark2:1-12
l. Personal preparation
A. Mainmessage
Jesus has thepowertoforgive sinsandto heal.
B. Structure
1. Jesus inCapernaum(v. 1-2)
2. Theparalyticandhis friends (v.3-4)
3. Forgivenessof sinsandthescribes' indignation(v. 5-7)
4. Jesus' answer to the scribes and the healing ofthe paralytic
(v. 8-11)
5. Reactionoftheparalyticandthepeople(v. 12)
C. Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesus had been to Capernaum before and had healed, among
others, Peter' s mother-in-Iaw. He had taughtin thesynagogue and had
castoutdemons.
1-2 Jesus becomes more and more known in Capernaum. His
teachingsarecaptivating.ManypeoplecometoseeHimbecause
theyareattractedbyHis teachingsandbyHis persono
3-4 TheirfaithinJesusandlovefortheirfriendhelpthemovercome
obstacles.Theyriskmakingafool ofthemselvesandbecoming
unpopular.Theydisruptameetingandprovokeareactionfrom
Jesus.
62
63
5-7 JesusallowsthemtointerruptHimandreactspositivelytothe
"trouble-makers."He doesnottell themtowaitinlineuntilit
is theirturnoJesussees theirfaith.
Jesus forgives the man's sins before He heals.Jesus comes to
forgive us our sins. Thus, Jesus claims God's right and puts
Himselfon thesame level as God.Jesus forgives oursins, not
onlysornekindoffeelingofsin.
Son (v. 5) illustratesthatJesusgives thesickperson protection
andincludeshiminGod'sfamily.
Jesus is able to grantforgiveness ofsins. No otherperson has
theright todothis .
8-11 Jesusseesinsideourheart.Heseesourfaith(v. 5)andourhidden
thoughts(v. 7).Jesuscanseeeverything.
Jesus notonlyhas the power to do these things buthas been
giventheauthority(fromGod) todoallthis .
Jesushasthepowertoforgivesinsandtoheal.Heshowsthisby
healingthesickmanafterthe"invisible"forgiveness ofsins.
Jesussaves completely- He savesbodyandsoul.
12 JesuswantstobeclosetoussothatHecanevenseethedarkest
sides in our life. This is sometimes shocking for us but also
bringsforth grateful praise.
D. Additional cornrnents
1 Jesus'disputeswithHisopponentsinGalileestartinthesecond
chapter (2:1-3.6). Jesus now seeks to directly confront his
opponents.Here,wearelookingatthefirsttextinwhichJesus
directlygrantsforgivenessofsins;anothertextcanbefoundin
Luke7:48.
Capernaum. AtownonthenorthwestshoreoftheSeaofGalilee.
Jesuslivedtherewhenhestartedtoteach, preachandheal.
4 Constructionofthe house. Thehouselookedlikeasquareboxand
had a terraced roof(fIat root). Branches and reeds were laid
64
overthecross-beams.A30cmthicklayerofclayandchaffwas
putontopofit.An outsidestaircaseled to thefIatroof.
5-11 Relation between guiltand illness.Jesusexplicitlyrejectsthatillness
is automaticallytheresultofsinOoh 9:3; Lk 1:,2t).Onlyinthis
casedoesJesusmentionsinbeforehealingsomeone;inanother
caseHementionsitafterwardsOoh5:14). ltistruethatsuffering
is connectedwith guilt in manyways, butitdoes notalways
resultintheguiltofthesickpersonoBackthen,theJewsthought
thatillnesswastheresultof asickperson'sguilt .Forgivingthe
sins atthebeginning,Jesus addresses thebasicevil.
Sins. All acts and attitudes thatdo notresult in faith are sin.
5
Hamartia(sin) means tomiss one'saim.Someonewholeadsa
lifewithoutJesus misses his I hertrueaiminlife, inthesame
way that an archer misses the target. Someone who is living
autonomously without God is a sinner. Sin stands for the
negationthat1belongtoGod.
6
Scribes. Experts and teachers ofthe OldTestament.Theywere
respectedpeople.
10
Son ofMan. ThisishowJesuslikestoidentifyHimself.Heis using
atitlefromDaniel7.ThepeopleinHistimedidnotundertstand
thedeepermeaningofthisname;theydidnotunderstanditas
a title ofthe Messiah. He uses this title instead ofMessiah
(Saviour)whomthepeopleareexpecting.
65
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option a) Youcanstartthediscussionbythinkingaboutthebasicquestion:
Whatdoyouthinkis mostimportantintheChristianfaith?Afterhaving
discussed thisquestion(5-10min.), go ontostudyMark2:Todayweare
studyinga passage inwhichJesus showswhatis importantto Himand
WhoHe is .
Option b) Aso-called discussionwithoutwords .You need pens and a big
pieceofpaperonthetable.Atthetopofthepage,thefollowingquestion
iswritten:What doyou thnk ismostimportant inthe Christianjaith? Thegroup
members write down their opinions and comment in writing on the
others ' opinion.Thus,youcanhaveaconversationwithouttalking.The
group leader reads sorne oftheopinions and commentsoutloud,and
thengoesonto studyMark2.
B. Questions
1. What do we thinkofthe sick man's friends? What are their
motives?Whatdotheyriskandprovokebylettingtheparalytic
downthroughtheroo?
2. Jesus is notirritatedbythisinterruption.Whynot?
3. Jesuscallstheparalytic"son"("child").WhatdoesJesuswantto
show by saying this? What kind ofrelationship does Jesus
establishbetweenHimselfandtheparalytic?
4. Jesusforgives sins.Whatdoes this mean?Whatis sin?
5. Whydo thescribes protest?
6. WhatmakesitobviousthatJesustriestowinoverthesceptics?
Howdoes He treatthem?
7. Thehealingenablesthesickmantowalkagain.Whatelsedoes
thishealingshow?
8. The paralytic receives forgiveness ofsins and is healed.What
does hecontributetowardsbeinghealed?
C. Application
1. Thefriends oftheparalyticdonotcarewhat thepeoplemight
think ofthem. Where are we challenged to stand by our
convictions?Whoandwhatinfluencesouropinions?
2. Howdowe trytodealwithguilt?
3. Howcanwe have a personal relationshipwithCod (as a child
to afather) andreceive forgiveness?
4. What circumstances does Jesus need for me to receive his
forgivness?
5. Whyis itso importantfor us to have oursinsforgiven?
6. Whatdoesfollowing His cal! to startanewlifelooklikeinour
case?
D. Closingremarks
In the last three studies we have seen howJesus challenges our fears,
rewards faith ,and grants forgiveness.In the nextthreestudieswe will
see sorneofthedisappointmentsJesushadtoface,Hisstrugglesandhow
CodvindicatedHiminHis resurrection.
66 MI 67
4. Adesperatefather-
adisappointed Jesus
(PriorityI betweenbeliefandunbelief)
Mark9:14-29
1. Personalpreparation
A. Mainmessage
All thingsare possible for thepersonwhomakes ita priorityto believe.
This passageshows us howwecanbelieve.
B. Structure
1. Jesus interruptsa dispute(v. 14-16).
l'.
2. Adesperatefather(v. 17-24)
a. Thefather's lament(v. 17-18)
b. Jesus'responsetodisbelief(v. 19)
c. Thesufferingofthesonanddesperationofthe
father(v. 20-22)
d. Jesusencouragesthefathertobelieve(v. 23-24)
3. Jesus heals theson(v. 25-27)
4. Jesus'explanationto thedisciples(v. 28-29)
-
C. Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesus, Peter.James andJohnhavereturnedfrom themountain
whereJesus was transfigured.There the three disciples witnessed the
gloryofJesus.Nowtheyreturntotheotherdisciplesandalargecrowdof
people.
14 Theotherdisciplesaredisputingwiththeleadingscribes.The
lackofauthority(viz.thelackoffaith) provoked this dispute.
ThesituationarosebecauseJesuswasnotpresentatthetime.
15 ThepeopleareinaweandtreatJesusrespectfully.Jesusreturns
atjusttherightmoment.He disolves thedisputeandgathers
thecrowdexpectantlyaroundhimself.
16 Jesuswantstoknowwhatthedisciplesaredoing.He also pays
attentiontothefatherandhisson.
17-18 This text shows how limited we humans are. Jesus asks his
disciplesastraight-forwardquestion(v. 16).Thefatherinterrupts
them;hedoes notanswerina matter-of-factwaybutletsJesus
know howdistressed and disappointed he is. This shows how
muchthefatheris suffering.
The father must have suffered a lot standing beside his
tormentedson.Seeingthedisciplesnotbeingableto helpthe
boy musthave increased his suffering.But they could not help -
thefather ' sutterdisappointmentis shownhere.
19 Jesus expresses disappointment in the father's unbelief. Our
unbeliefis notsorneprivate matterthatwealonehavetocope
with;ourunbeliefpainsJesus.
Jesusfaces thedifficulties.He takestheinitiative(as is alsoevi-
dentintherestofthepassageandhastheboybroughttoHim.
Jesus does notgive a speech about how to believe butinstead
faces theboy'ssufferingandhelps.
20-22 Theboy'ssufferingshowsthedevil'sdestructiveintention.The
devilwantsto bringaboutdeathanddestruction.
The boy's sufferingalso illustrates the humancondition.The
boy cannotcontrol himselfanymore, He can be compared to
someonewho is movingwith the masses ,who has not found
themeaningofhistife, whois tornandself-centered.
Jesusenquiresabouttheboy'scondition(v.21).Jesustakesthe
boy and his father aside (because, later on (v.25). the people
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68
comerunning).Jesusis interestedintheboy'ssufferingsandis
willingto maketimefor him.
1J you can do anything... scepticisl11, impatience, helplessness
characterise the father in his desperation.Jesus helps people
likehim.
23 Jesus'wordsexpose theunbelief.
Jesus' wordscreatebelief(v. 24:1believe).
S0ren Kierkegaard writes in "The Sickness untoDeath"(trans-
latedbyAlastairHannay. Penguin Books. London: 1989):"Jaith
is possibility". Believingthat"]01' Cod everything is possible". Every
truebeliever, "possesses the ever-sure antidote to despa': possibility;
sinceJor Cad everything ispossible at every momento Thisis the health oJ
Jaith whichresolves aH contradictions."
24 Thefatheris inneed.He hasinterceded(askedforhelp)for his
son.Nowheintercedesforhimself.Help me overcome myunbeliej:
Jesus wants not only to heal the boy but also to change the
father's innerturmoil(i .e. his unbelief).
Jesus hearstherequestfor belief.
Jesus does not care that the father still has sorne doubts.
Therefore,Jesuswil!alwayshearourprayers,evenifweinitially
donotbelievethattheywillbeanswered.
Theconfession1believe isnotjustlip-service:Thefather'swhole
beingis broughtbeforeJesus; thisis alsoshowninhis request
help me overcome myunbelieJ.
25-27 Jesus'wordsbringhealing.Jesusis notusing'magic' .Hiswords
andHis personalityovercomeal!evilpowersthatcanbindmeno
(1,1 command you; 1is especially underlined in theGreekby its
repetition.)
Jesus not only heals but also lifts the boy up. HoldingJesus'
hand,hecanstanduptoa newlife.
28-29 Thedisciplesarenotsatisfied;theywanttofindoutthesecret
ofHisauthority.Theycontinuelearningandwanttogodeeper.
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Jesusunderlinesthatprayer(i.e. anintimaterelationshipwith
God)is thesecretofhavingauthority.(Fasting isonlymentioned
inlatermanuscripts.Fastingcanaccompanyprayerbutis only
valuable ifit helps makeourprayertimes more intimate.)He
particularly underlines Prayer. Maybe the disciples were
expectingsornenewmethodtobeabletocastoutdemons .Jesus'
answeris intimacywi thGod throughprayer,andprayeralone.
ltis notprayerandacertainmethod.Prayerandfaithgo hand
in hand.
D. Additional comments
The disciples are not able to heal the boyo However, aJewish
14-15
sayingwent:An ambassador is considered the same as the one who
sent him.Thescribesdonotseethedisciplesasprivateindividuals
butas Jesus' messengers. Therefore, the credibilityof Jesus is
questioned by the failings ofHis disciples. This mightbe the
reason for thescribesanddisciples'dispute.
Aspiritthat has robbed himspeech. Theevilisnotanabstractthing
17
butapowerfulforcehavinganinfluenceonpeopleandsociety.
Satanstandsbehindal!evil;hewantstotakecontrolanddestroy.
Anyone who is notsaved is therefore underSatan's control -
oftenwithoutknowingit.
Be awareoftalkingtoo muchabouttheevil spirit.ltis far too
easy to be attracted by the fascination ofevil. It is crucial to
keepclearlyin mindthatJesuswonthevictoryoverevil.
Note: Think carefully about how to explain to someone the
natureofevil.
7
1
11. Groupdiscussions
A. Introduction
Option a) Therearedifferentwaysof approaching'howwebelieve'.Sorne
think:
I am not a religious person, therefore I cannot believe in
God.
I had no Christian education, that is why I do not know
anythingabouttheChristianfaith.
I amtooscepticalandcannotrelatetomybelievinganything.
Todaywe wanttolookataninterestingencounterbetweenJesus anda
manwhocanbe regardedas asceptic.
Option b) Hand out a copy ofEdvard Munch's The Scream. Discuss the
folIowing questions: What impression does this painting have on me?
What does Munch express in his painting? Can we find an anwer or
solutioninthepaintingitself?Go backto theBiblestudy:Todaywehear
aboutapersonwhois inasimilarlydesperatesituationandcomestosee
Jesus.
B. Questions
1. Jesusarrivesrightinthemiddleofadispute.Whatdothepeople
whohavegatheredtherethinkofHim?
2. Thedisciples have notimeto answer thequestionJesus asked
them(v. 16)becauseafatherinterruptstheirconversation.What
does thefather's appearanceshowabouthis innercondition?
Whatis hehavingtocopewith?
3. To what extent can we compare the boy's life to the lives of
manyinoursociety?
4. DoesJesusonlycareabouttheboy'ssuffering?Whatelsemoves
Him(v. 19)?
5. The peopledid believe, so whydoesJesus say that the people
arefaithless?
6. HowdoesJesus reactto thefather's request?(He callstheson,
heasks for detailedinformation,He takes himaside, He talks
to himseriously... )
7. What kind of'hope' is revealed in the father's words (v. 22)?
WhatwouldIhavesaidtoJesusifIwereinthefather'sposition?
Whichcomparisoncanyoudrawbetweenus andthefather?
8. What does Jesus' answer mean to the father (v. 23)? To what
extentis theanswerhelpful,evenifitseemsalittlerude?
9. What change occurs in the father afterJesus' question and
comment?
10. Whendoesthehealingoccur?Whatdoesthehealingrevealof
Jesus' identity?
C. Application
1. HowcanIcomparemyselfwiththeboy?WhatdoIdesiretobe
setfree from?
2. The father goes through a process: disappointment (v. 12) -
resigned, sceptical request (v. 22) - confession and asking for
help(v. 24). WhereamIinthisprocess?
3. WhatdoIlikeaboutJesusduringthisencounter?
4. Whatencouragesmeinthisstoryto believeinJesus?
D. Closing remarks
Intoday'sstudywesawhowJesuswasdeeplydisappointedwiththelack
ofbeliefaround him. In the next studyJesus' loneliness is even more
pronounced,as we readaboutHislastnightwithHis disciplesbeforeHe
is captured.
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2
73
(Mark 9:2-10) are with Him now. During the transfiguration
5 The sleepy disciples -
Jesus'bodywasshiningandHis Father'svoicecameoutofthe
cloudtellingthedisciplestobelieveJesus'words.OntheMount
a struggling Jesus
of Olives however,Jesus is prayingand trembling;He is crying
outofthe deepest depths ofHis heart ro His Father.Jesus is
(Prayer IJesus' resolve in Gethsemane)
absolutelyhonestinHis prayer.
Jesus was God and human at the same time. He experienced
sufferingsas manyofusdo. Mark 14:32-42
In the difficult hours,Jesus needs friends and witnesses who
can,lateron,teIl whathappened.
l. Personal preparation
Jesus is tremblingbecause He, theholyone, is made ro be sin
and handed over to the hands ofthe sinners (2. Corinthians
5:21).
A. Main message
35 Jesus'bodylanguageshowsagreathumblenessbeforeGod ora
Wrestlinginprayer,Jesusgainsstrengthand receivesencouragementto
submitto God'swill.
deepdespair.
36 Abba, Father. NoJew beforeJesuswould have addressed God in
B. Structure
thisintimateway.JesussaysAbba, Father inallthe19 prayersin
theNewTestament.He feels athomewithGod. He uses anon-
1.
Jesus is shocked knowingwhatawaits Him(v. 32-34)
liturgical family-language .He trusts God.Jesus' prayer shows
2.
us howwe maypray.
3.
Thedisciplesare sleeping(v. 37-40)
4.
Jesusfaces His betrayal(v. 41-42) After these familiar words,Jesus' attention is drawn to God' s
unlimitedpossibilities. 1t is God Whomightknowanotherway
ofredemption.PrayermeanscountingonGod'spossibilities.
C. Observation, interpretation
Jesus'prayingis totallygenuine.HeallowsHimselftoaskifGod
Context:JesusspentHisIasthourswithHis disciples.Theycelebratedthe
mighthaveanotherwayofsavinghumanity.
Passover together. Duringthisevening,Jesus blessed thebread and the
Jesus' prayeris clearandstraightforward.
wineand thusinstitutedtheLord's Supper.ThenJesusandHis disciples
wentoutto theMountofOlives; thedisciples promisedJesus thatthey
Jesus' prayerhasagoal: thewilland honourofGod.
would remainwthHimalways.
Jesusisnotforced ro takeupthecross,Hetakesitupvoluntarily.
32
Jesus makessurethatHe has a placeandenoughtimeto pray.
37-40 The onewhodeclaredhimselfwillingto acceptmartyrdomis
Morning(Mark1:35)orevening(here),Hegoestoasolitaryplace
fallingasleep.- Thisis howweareas humanbeings.
inorderto prayandspendtimewithHis Father.
ConfidentPeterfailsbecauseheis notawareofhisdependence
33-34
JesusvalueshavingfriendsthatsupportHiminprayer.Thesame
- inprayer- uponGod.
disciples thatwentwithHim to theMountofTransfiguration
74
75
Someone defined prayer as Returning from a land of illusions to
reality. Prayer isthe higltest form of vigilance; one becomes aware of the
things that really matter.
Jesus does not ignore the sleepiness ofthe disciples but
vigorously draws their attention to overcoming it for prayer.
Howeverwhentheyfail, Hedoes notturnawayfrom them.
41-42 DuringthetimeofprayerJesus is changed.He is theoneWho
is activeandchoosestogotothecross.Hegoesfromtrembling
beforetheFathertoconfidentlyapproachingHisenemies.And
todayHestiHcontinuestoapproachusinlove;Heis theLordof
aH humanity.
This scene can be compared to the temptation from Satan in
thedesert(Mark1:12-13)becausethereGod'splanofsalvation
wasalsoatstake.
D. Additionalcornrnents
Gethsemane. Agarden with olive trees near the Kidron Valley, east of
Jerusalem.
The textwas deliberatelystudiedwithafocus onprayer,evenifthetext
dealswithotherthemesaswell.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option: In an important passage ofthe Gospel according to MarkJesus
says aboutHimself: For even tite Son of Man did not come to be served, but to
serve, and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Hardlyanyofthe
disciples understood thenwhatJesus meantwhenHe said this. On the
evening before his death, Jesus eats together with His disciples and
preparesthemforHisdeathandresurrection.ForthelastthreeyearsHe
hadbeensharingHis lifewiththemandhadtaughtthemmanythings.
Theysawgreat thingswith Him. Now, on theeveningbeforehis death
7
6
they, and alsowe, see a differentside ofHim.We learnsomethingnew
aboutHis personandhowHe prayed.
B. Questions
1. WeseeatotallydifferentsideofJesushere(v. 32-34).Whatisso
strikingaboutHim?WhatdoesthetimeinGethsemanemean
to Him?
2. HowdoesJesus pray?
3. WhateffectdoesJesus' prayerhave(v.41-42)7Thedisciplesdo
notpray;whateffectdoes thishave?
4. HowdoesJesus'carefor His disciplesshow?
5. Whatis revealed aboutJesus' personality(v. 42)?
C. Application
1. WhatdowelearnfromthewayJesusprays?Whatdoesitreally
meanto prayto God?
2. Whichexperiencedowe havewithprayer?
3. DoweaskGodforHiswillrobedoneinourlife?Howimportant
is thisto us?Howdowe goaboutmakingdecisions?
4. Have we been in situations where we wished that someone
wouldhavestayedwithus towatchandpray?
D.Closingrernarks
Intoday'sstudywesawhowJesuswasstrugglingto submittothewillof
God.In the next study we will see how God honoured Him for being
faithful.
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6. Thesurprisedfollowers-
therisenJesus
(PowerI Theresurrectionof Jesus-
the eventanditsimportance)
Mark 16:1-20
l. Personal preparation
A. Mainmessage
EveryoneshouldheartheGood News (theGospel)of]esus'resurrection.
B. Structure
1. Thelastrespects to adead person(v. 1-5)
2. Good News andcall intomission:]esusis risen(v. 6-7)
3. No Easterjoy, insteadshockandtrembling(v. 8)
4. TheinfluenceoftheGood News onthedisciples(v. 9-13)
5. ]esus'universalsalvationclaimandmissionarycall(v. 14-19)
6. ThereactionofthefrighteneddisciplestotherisenLord (v.20)
C. Observation,interpretation
Context:Ontheeveningafterthecrucifixion,]esusis takendownfrom
thecrossandlaid inthetombof a richmano
1 The women come to pay theirlastrespects.The anointing is
notperformedas inEgypt for thepurposeofmummification
butcanbecomparedtotoday' slayingof awreathonthegrave.
Theentirereportis writtenina matter-of-factstyle.
3-4 Theirentiremoodis governedbymourning.Theyareshocked
by therealityof]esus'death.
7
8
5 As always ,theencounterwitha messengerof God causesfear.
Theshiningclothesreveal theheavenlyorigino
6 Adetail ed description of]esus is given to show that they are
notlookingfor Himinthewrongtomb.
See. Thesudarium(aclothforwipingsweat)andthelinencloths
arenotmentionedexplicitly,butwecanpresumethattheyare
present. And thus they serve as indication and proofofthe
angel'smessage.
See . They are asked to see for themselves.Even today it is the
responsibility of]esus' disciples to invite people to see for
themselvesandexaminetheevidence.
]esuscannotbefound.]esusrosephysically.Heisnotonlyliving
onintheimaginationofHisdisciplesorinHis ownwordsand
ideas.
7 Thedirection has changed.Before,]esuswent from Galilee to
]erusalem;nowthedisciplesaresentawayfromtheplacewhere
thesalvationhistorystarted.
]esuscontinuestogoaheadofthedisciples.Hecontinuestobe
theGood Shepherdwhogoes ahead.
8 They trembled and were amazed. Nownothingis certainanymore;
evendeathisnotcertainanymore.We,andalsoourneighbour,
will not remain dead. Everything thatwe are and do wiII be
revealedbeforeGod. God breaksintothelawofdeathwiththe
ressurectionof]esusandHe haspromisedto raisethedeadon
thelastday.
Thereis noEasterjoyoNo oneexpectedthisto happen,neither
enemy nor fri end of]esus, nor the people who were indiffe-
rent.
9-13 Various encounters between the risen]esus and His disciples
showthattheywereby nomeans morecredulousthanwe are
today.The first witnesses were women. The testimony ofa
womanwasnotacceptedincourtatthattime.Ifsomeonehad
madeup the ideaofresurrection,this personwould have had
79
to provide more reliablewitnesses tosupportthetruthofhis
words.
14-19 TheGood NewsofthecrossandtheresurrectionwiIlbetoldto
every personoJesus has a universalclaimto His salvation.The
salvation,however, dependsonbelieforunbeliefofmeno
In V. 16 beliefand salvation, unbeliefand condemnation are
linked. Baptism relates to belief. But notbeingbaptised does
not lead per se to condemnation.The first believerwhowas
saved was therobberwhowas also crucified nexttoJesus and
whowas notbaptised.
Signs (v. 17- 18)onlypointtosomethingelse.Duringastatevisit,
thesignscorrespondtotheescortsandthestatecoachbutare
notthepoliticianhimself.Wecanreceivehealingandhelpfrom
God even here.TheyaresignsofHis comprehensivesalvation
planand reaffirm themessageoftheGospel, buttheydo not
have to occur. The complete salvation (no pain, no death, no
sin,communitywithGod)canonlybegrantedinthenewworld
aftertheSecond ComingofChrist .
The resurrection radically changes the frightened and
mourningdisciples.Theonewholives his lifewithJesus lives
outof a newstrength.The livingLord livesandreignsinhimI
her.
Jesus has conquered death and thus aIl His miracles mustbe
true.
D. Additional cornrnents
Thetomb ofJesuswasacavecutoutofrock.Aheavybig stone(similarto
a miIlstone)was rolled in front ofthe tomb in orderto protect itfrom
wildanimalsandthieves.Severalmenwereneededtorolethestonefrom
in front ofthe grave.This stone was sealed with a seal by the Roman
authoritiesto preventanytampering.
Galilee.Region aroundtheSea ofGalileeandthemountainsbetweenthe
Mediterranean Sea and the Sea ofGalilee (partly non-Jewish I heathen
area).
80
Tips for the group leader
The passage V. 9-20 is not present in the oldest and best preserved
manuscripts,butitwas known to the FathersoftheChurchas earlyas
the3
rd
and4
rh
century.From the5
th
centuryonwards,it is presentmore
ofteninthemanuscripts(informationonlyfor theleader!).
It is importantfor thegroupleaderto preparehimI herselfweIlfor this
subjectandknowtheargumentsthatarestatedagainsttheresurrection.
Therearetwo main aspects of this ten:
1. To helppeoplewhofind itdifficulttounderstandtheresurrection.It
wiIlbehelpfulto iIlustrate thatthedisciples hadsimilardifficulties
withtheresurrection,verysimilarto thosesomepeople have today.
Argumentsfortheresurrectionbeingrealandhistoricalareas foIlow:
a) Womenwere notacceptedas witnessesinthosedays .
b) The empty tomb (the opponents could have shown the body as
evidenceto thecontrary,iftheyhadtakenitto anotherplace).
c) The resignation, hopelessness and unbeliefofthedisciples show
thattheythemselvesdidnotexpectthispossibility("Eastershock
and 1l0t Easter joy"). In no other religion do the important
representatives ofthe religion come offso badly as in the New
Testament.
d) The reports ofthe resurrection are not identical concerning the
orderoftheindividualevents.Iftheresurrectionhadbeen made
up, these reportswould havebeenstandardisedinorderto make
itas convincingas possible.
e) The totaIly changed appearance ofthe once frightened disciples
whoarenowwillingtodieforthecauseoftheGoodNews.(Whois
wiIlingto diefor astorythatis madeup?)
f) TheconversionofSaul.
g) Many people testified that they sawJesus after His resurrection
(1 Cor15:3-8).
2. To show people the meaning ofthe resurrection for us today. The
resurrection is God's certification ofeverything thatJesus said and
did.Thus ,itis clearthatJesus is God'sSon,Jesus is theSaviourof aIl
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whobelieveinHim.JesuswiJljudgethisworld.Ourlifedoesnotend
with death.The melody ofdeath ofthis world is changed. We are
calledtoalifeineternity.InthesamewayasJesusrosefromthedead,
we will rise as well.The onewho does notbelievewiU notbe saved.
ResurrectionalsomeansthatJesusisdoingsomething.Heisworking
in ourlife and throughourJife, ifweletHim intoourlife and trust
Him(v.20).
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option: Oneofthepeoplewhomostvehementlydeniedtheresurrection
ofJesus Christand themost persistentenemyofChristianswrotelater
on in a letterto a youngChristiancommunity:And if Christ has not been
raised, your faith isfutile; you are stillinyour sins.. .If only for this life we have hope
inChrist, we are to be pitied more than al! meno But Christhas indeed been raised
from the dead.... (1 Cor15:17-20).Paulhad totallychangedhisopinionof
JesusChrist.Whyhadthishappened?He himselfhadmetJesus ,andthis
encountertotallychangedhisJife (Acts 9).Todaywewanttostudya text
thatdealswiththeeventoftheresurrection.
B. Questions
1. Whydo the women go to the tomb?Whatis their mood and
whatexpectationdotheyhavewhentheysetoff?
2. Shockedand trembling, thewomenrunaway from the tomb.
Whyaretheysoconfused?Whatchangedtheirmourninginto
shock?
3. Why should not the disciples keep the news for thernselves?
WhatdidtheresurrectionofJesuschange?
4. We can often read the following thesis: Back then, the disciples
were more nai"ve and credulous than we are today. Canthisstatement
stillbehelduponthebasisofthistext?
C. Application
1. ThedisciplesbelieveonlywhentheyseeJesus.Todaywecannot
meetJesusinpersono Howcanwebelievethen?
2. ThemessagetheyaretopreachiscalledCoodNews.Whatabout
itis 'good'for us?
3. Whatdoesthehopeoftheresurrectionmeaninrelationtomy
life anddeath?
D. Closingremarks
Afterdisappointmentsand struggles, intoday' sstudywe saw howCod
raisedJesusfrom thedead andhowthedisciples reacted to thatfact .In
thenextthreestudies,we willdiscoverwhatpersonallyfollowingJesus
means,andhowCodextendsHis offerofeternallifero us.
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83
7 Longingforeternallife
(Impossible?I Beingcalledtofollow
Jesus)
Mark10:17-2 7
1. Personal preparation
A. Mainmessage
Cod makesour'impossible'possible.
B. Structure
1.
Ayoungmanturnsawayfrom eternallife.(v. 17-22)
2.
Shockeddisciples andagreatpossibilityfor Cod (v. 23-27)
C. Observation.interpretation
Basic ideasofthetext:
a) No onecanearneternallifebecausenooneis good.
b) Eternallifecanonlybe received byenteringintoarelationshipwith
theCreatorWholovesuso It is giventousas agiftofthisrelationship.
Outoflove, Jesus invites us to leave everything else behind and let
Himhave firstplace inourlife(=1" commandment)and follow Him.
c) The rich man tries to secure his life on earth through his great
possessions andeternallifebydoinggood things.
17
The question is important to the young man; the way he
approachesJesus emphasisesthis.
Thebasicproblemofhumanthinkingcanberecognisedinhis
fi rstwords:Ma n isgood; he can earn eternalliJe by doing good works.
84
Despite following the commandments (v. 20), he realises that
heis missingsomething.
18 Jesus' harsh question in return shows: Only Cod is good.
Apparently,theyoungmanhasnotunderstoodwhoheis talking
too HecallsJesus"good",butmoreimportantlyhehastorealise
thatheis notgoingtogeta"good"answer, butadivineone.
19 Jesus mentions commandmentsthatdeal withbrotherlylove
andthusis referingto thedecalogue(thetencommandments)
Jesusfollows theman'slineofthinkingin ordertodeepenhis
thinkinginthisarea.
20 Jesusaccepts theman'sstatementas true.
21 Atthestartoftheconversation,theyoungman'srelationship
with Jesusis thatofastudenttoateacher(jesusiscalledteacher
twice). HoweverJesus calls the young man to follow Him, to
becomeoneofHis beloved disciples .ThisshowsJesus' love for
thisman.JesusasksthemantotrustinHim.Jesusdoesnotadd
an 11
th
commandmentbut confronts the man with the first
commandment- theman'sloveforCod.Thepurposeofselling
hispossessionsis notthelossofthesepossessionsbutratherto
gainwhatthemandesiresmostbyfollowingJesus .Jesuswants
tohelpthemantofollowHim,andsoanswerstheman'sinitial
question with the invitation to follow Him. To follow Jesus
meanstoinheriteternallife.
His wealth required theman to continuelivinganemptylife.
He leaves: sad, nameless,withoutbeingmentionedagain.
His possessions are so important to him thathe is unable to
devote himselftoJesus.
23 ff Jesus nowtalkstoHis disciples andteaches them.Thedoorto
eternal life that the young man believed to be open for him
closes infive stages.
1. You know the commandments (v. 19).
2. Sell everythingyou have ... JollO\tI Me (v. 21).
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3. Howhard...Jesuscomparesthisspecificcasetothe"therich"
ingeneral(v.23).
4. It is easierfor acarnel ... (v. 25). Now itbecomesimpossiblefor
therichtoenterthekingdomofCod.This comparisoncan
persuasively be understood literally. Interpretations that
explainthistextbyreferingtothe'narroweye'oftheneedle-
gateinJerusalemarenotentirelyconvincing.
5. Withrnen thisisimpossible... (v. 27).Nowthedooriscompletely
closedfor everyone.Jesus opposes theimpossible (v. 27) with
theWhatmust1do (v. 17)inashocking(seethedisciples)and
liberating way (Romans 3,28). The whole encounter ends
surprisinglyin agreatpossibility.This possibility is found
inCodandnotinmanoJesusopens upthis newpossibility
for us onthecrosS.
D. Additionalcomments
Eternallife(v. 17) andKingdorn ofCod (v. 23-25)areterms thatreferhereto
thesameidea.
Master(v. 17) standsfor teacher.
Be prepared to explain thepossibility thatCod has (v.27)! It mightbe
goodtoreadRomans3:9-28togetherwiththeparticipants.JesusHimself
tookonthecrossourplace to takeoursinonHimselfandtogive usHis
righteousness inanactof grace.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option: Before announcing today's Bible text, start the study with a
discussion answeringthefollowing questions:Whatdo Iassociate with
eternallife?Howdolunderstandeterna/life?WhendoIthinkabouteternal
life? Aftersorneminutesofdiscussing, we goonto studythetexto
B. Questions
l. Whatconceptoflifedoes theyoungmanhavewhenhecomes
toJesus?Whatdoes he thinkofeternallife?
2. WhatdoesJesus'harshquestiondotothisconversation?What
purposeisJesus pursuing?
3. HowdoesJesustrytochangetheman'sconceptoflifebyasking
himtosellallhispossessionsandfollowHim(v. 21)?Jesuswants
to winhimover to something.Whatis it?
4. HowdoesJesustalkto thedisciples?vVhatis thepurposeofHis
discussionwith them?Whatshocks them? In whichway is it
possiblefor everyone to enterthekingdomofCod?
C. Application
l. Maybewe donothavemanypossessions;whathindersusthen
infollowingJesus?WhatdoIthinkaboutJesus'invitation:Come
andfolIow Me; whatdoIfeel?
2. Whathas to happenbeforeIcanfolIowJesusas He asks meto
(v. 21)? How canItake thefirst steptowardsHim?
3. To whatextentdowe considerCod'spossibilitiesinourJife?
4. WhoorwhatdefinesthepictureIhaveofmyself?
D. Closingremarks
In today'sstudywesawhowimpossibleitis forhumanstoreceiveeternal
life unless Codopens adivinepossibility. In thenextstudy, we wilI see
what the implications are for those who want to folIow this divine
possibility.
86 87
8. Savingorlosinglife
(Loss? I TheinvitationtofollowJesus)
Mark8:31-38
1. Personal preparation
A. Mainmessage
Whoever loses his I her life for Jesus and fo11ows Him will save his I her
life.
B. Structure
1. Divine or human (v. 31-33)
2. Ihe ca11 to fo11ow (v. 34-38)
3. Saying yes to Jesus wholeheartedly (v. 34)
4. Io what do 1 devote myself? (v. 35)
5. A great price (v. 36-37)
6. A great division (v. 38)
C. Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesus announces His death and resurrection for the first time. A
new epoch begins. Ihe journey to Jerusalem - and also to the cross - has
thus begun.
31-34 Ihe perspective widens from v. 31 to v. 34. First, there is Jesus
(v. 31), then Jesus and Peter (v. 32), then Jesus and the disciples
(v. 33), and later on Jesus and the people (v. 34). Ihis is
chararcteristic of Jesus. He begins with the individual, then
teaches the disiciples and later wants to reach the entire people.
88
31 Jesus predicts His suffering. He deliberately I consciously goes
to His death. He is not a mere victim of a miscarriage ofjustice
but takes up the cross in obedience to God's will. His death is
no coincidence; His death is necessary.
32 Jesus speaks openly about God's wi11 and God's plans. Peter's
advice is meant we11 but is wrong from God's point ofview (it is
human and not divine).
33 Jesus turns to His disciples and speaks to Peter. Ihus, He makes
it clear that a11 ofthem are tempted to argue like Peter.
Jesus reacts so harshly because the devil is tempting Him
maliciously here. In the desert, the devil tempted Him using
God's Word (Mark 4); now he uses the word of a friend to tempt
Him.
With unwavering determination Jesus goes to Jerusalem. Ihe
roughness is more for His own benefit than directed at the
disciples. Jesus knows that His entire mission is at stake here.
35 We always devote ourselves to something, we always lose our
life for something. We have to ask, however, if something is
important enough so that it is worth our attention.
38 God wants to lead us into glory. However, in the end there will
be no wedding between heaven and he11 but "a great divorce"
(e. S. Lewis). Which side of the division we wi11 be on is forever
decided during our lifetime.
D. Additionalcomments
31 He must suffer a lot. In the New Iestament this Greek word dei
hints at adivine necessity. God's salvation plan has to be
fulfilled. Although we do not want to take our sins seriously,
God takes them seriously and lays them uponJesus.
rejected. Before Jesus was physica11y destroyed, he was mora11y
destroyed. He wi11 be despised. He will be thrown aside like a
useless building stone (rejected) (Psalms 118:22).
89
elders. Theyaretheleadersofthelaynobilitywhodonotbelong
to thefamiliesofthepriests.
chiefpnests. TheyruletheSanhedrin= HighCouncil.
Teachers of the Law. Theyareexpertsinlawandtheology.
These three groups belong to the Sanhedrin. They represent
thereligiousandintellectualrulingauthorityinIsrael.
32 Peterfailed- as hispeople- becauseofIsaiah53, amysterious
chapteroftheOldTestamentdealingwithsomethingthathad
neitherbeen told nor heard ofbefore:The Messiah will be a
servant, dispised and rejected by men, He wiU take up our
infirmities, He will be pierced for our transgressions, the
punishmentfor sinwillbe onHim.Even ifhumanthinkingis
humaneanddevout,itdoesnotautomaticallyhavetobedivine.
34 deny meanssaying no, give something up, break off a relationship. The
contrarywouldbe to receive.
Sayingnoresults insayingyes to myCreatorandSaviourand
does notstandfor a battleagainstoneselfora kindofascetic
way oflife; it means following Jesus whatever happens and
sayingnoro everythingthathindersJesus'workinmylifeand
negatesHis glory.
taking up the cross. This does not mean physical or emotional
painassuch. 1tmeansacceptanceofthepainthatcannotreally
beunderstoodbyanyone- exceptJesus.Jesusspeaksofdisciples
who are seeking nothingbutGod's will. The cross stands for
suffering for Jesus' sake, being despised for Jesus' sake. The
expressiontake up hiscross wasacommonexpressiondescribing
theZealots'(= moreradicalJewishrebels)fightagainsttheRo-
manso The Zealots led a dangerous life because the Roman
punishmentfor theserebelswas crucifixion.
35 Whoeverclings to his I herlife and is notwilling to give his I
herlifetotheCreatorandRedeemerwillloseit.
36-37 These verses warnofthe deceitfulness of wealth (4:19; cf. 10:34),
and thus, they warn as well ofstriving for power, respect,
success, etc.
9
Whoever concentrates on him I herselfis, despite a seeming
freedom, slave to his I her own desires. No one will be good
enoughontheLastDayofJudgementtobeabletobuyhisI her
freedomorenterintofellowshipandfamilywithGod.
38
ashamed oflesus, thismeanstodenyJesus(Matthew10:33;Luke
12:9), to separate from Jesus. To be ashamed relates to our
feelingsthatcauseustodenyHim;wearenotbraveenoughto
openlyprofessourfaithinJesus.
Son of Man. This isJesusHimself.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Before announcingtheBibletext,discussthefollowingquestions:What
aremygoalsinlife?Whataremydreamsanddesires?WhatamIwilling
to give in order to reach these goals, fulfil these dreams, satisfy these
desires?After 5to 10 minutes, go on to studythetexto Todaywe read a
textthatquestions thedisciplesandourowngoals.We willdiscuss the
question:Whatdoes it to followJesus.
B. Questions
1. JesussaysthatHemustsuffer(v. 31).Whatmotivesdoyouthink
He hadfor this?WhydidHe speakaboutthis?
2. Whatwas Peter's incontradictingJesus?
3. What does following Jesus mean to the disciples? What do
followers ofJesuswinandI orlose?
4. Whatdoes itmeantodenyoneself?DoesJesuscallus toleada
lifeofasceticismandself-denial?
9
1
C. Application
1. Peter tooklesos aside (v.32). Which people or arguments and
thoughtshinderuswhenwe areasked toacceptGod'sways?
2. You do nothave inmindthe thingsofGod (v. 33).Whydowe often
find ithardtowantandto dowhatGodwantsus todo?
3. Gain or lose. The Bible says thatwe will eitherbe winners or
losers.
a. Remembertheinitialquestion:Whatdo1 wishtoaccomplish
inmyJife?Whataremyperspectivesandgoals?
b. Whatdo1lose,whatdo1gainwhen1follow]esus?
4. Whatdoes itmeantodaytofollowlesos?Whatencouragesme
tofollow]esus,whatdo1fear?
Imponant:lfneedbe,youcanmentiontheprayeronpage160(Appendix).
D. Closingremarks
In today's study, we saw howlesos challenged His disciples to deny
themselves(letgoof self-centredness)andto followlesos.As anexample
ofthiskindof attitude,inthenextBiblestudywewillseeawomanwho
gave "herbest" to]esus.
9
2
9. Aresolutewomanwillingto
makesacrifices
(Love! I Following by servingJesus)
Mark14:3-9
l. Personal preparation
A. Main message
Givinglesosone'sbest- evenwhenitinvolves asacrifice!
B. Structure
1. Abundantlove (v. 3)
2. Theotherscriticisethewoman(v. 5)
3. lesosdefendsandacknowledges thewoman'sdeed(v.6-9)
C. Observation,interpretation
3 The woman honours lesos. She is willing to do something
"extravagent"becauseoflove;othersareunabletounderstand
whysheis doingthis. She does notcounttheexpensesofher
gift; she does not offer her gift from selfish motives. lesos
accepts theanointingwithoutargumento
4-5 The critics calculatewhatcouldhave been donewith this ex-
pensive gift, but they do not think ofwhat they lhemselves
couldhave done.
Their harsh reaction to the woman shows that they are
embarrassed by the respect the woman shows Jesus because
theythemselvesdid notofferthis respecttojesus.
93
Theyspeakinthesubjunctive:it couIdhavebeensold... ,butthey
themselvesremainpassiveanddo notdo anythingatall.
WhoeverhonoursCodwillnotalwaysmeetwithapproval,but
wi11 be honouredbyCod Himselfinreturn.
6 Jesus supports the woman by a) giving an order, b) asking a
probingquestionande) evaluatingherdeed positively.
Knowingwhoapprovesofourdeedsandlifeis important.Other
peoplemightdespiseourdeedsandlife,butthedecidingfactor
is whetherornotCodapprovesof ourdeedsandlife.
Thebestis ourIife,time,money...
7 Wecanalwaysdogood.Doinggoodisnotlimitedtoaparticular
timeorplace.
You can heIp.Jesuschangesthecritics'suspicious"itcould"toan
encouraging "you can". He wants to help them leave their
theoretical thinking and take concrete steps; to replace the
subjunctivebytheindicativeandtheorybyaction.
8 Jesushonoursthegivingof everything.Theentiretyofherlove
andofherdevotionis whatcounts(She did whatshe could).
Jesusattachesagreatpurposetothewoman'sdeed.Thewoman
herselfdid noteven knowofthis purpose.The woman is also
surprised.
9 Even if Jesus ' death is hinted atinv. 8,His victory also shines
through.Thegospelwi11 be preachedinthewholeworld.Jesus
cannotsimplybeburiedandforgotten.
D. Comments on the text
3 Bethany.Asma11village,3kmawayfromJerusalem.Jesusoften
wentthere.
Simon. Acommon name in those days. Who Simon really is
remainsunclear;we alsodo notknowif Jesus healed him.
Since the people were lyingby the table, we can assumethat
theywerehavingabanquet.Duringanormalsupper,theJews
94
satupatthe tableo Duringa banquet, however, people would
leonpillowsontheirleftside;withtheirrighthandtheytook
thefood whichwas cutupinsma11 portions.
alabasterjaro Ajarout ofdelicate, transparent plaster (semi-
preciousstone).
The fragrant oil was meant for luxury. The amount thatthe
woman poured on Jesus' head was equal to a field worker's
annualincome.
The anointing ofthe head was considered a sign ofspecial
respecttoguests.Usuallyonlyafew dropsof oilwereused.
5 Especiallyduringafeast,accordingtopioustraditionandduty,
thepoorwerecommemorated.
6 Beautiful thing. Jesus uses aJewish term (literally: good work)
for anethicallygooddeed.
8 TheJewsdidnotanointsomeonestilllivingforone' supcoming
death.Therefore, thewomancouldnothave beenthinkingof
Jesus' death. ButJesus attached this purpose to herdeed. An
anointing meant payingone's last respects to a dead person;
thiscanbecomparedto today's layingof awreathonagrave.
In thisstudy,itis notluxuryfortherichandalmsfor thepoor
thatareopposingeachother.Insteadweseeanactofreallove.
11. Group discussion
A. Introduction
Option:Jesusdoes notliveHis lifeforHimself.Hisworkshadalwaysbeen
characterisedbydeeploveofHisFatherandall people.He laiddownHis
life outoflove for thisworldanddid notinsistonHis privileges.He did
more good than was requested for He loved uso Today we read about a
womanwhoseloveandwillingnessto sacrificecanbeanexampletouso
95
B. Questions
1. Whatdothewoman'sactionandthequalityofhergiftreveal
aboutherattitude?Whatis herpurposeindoingthis?
2. Thewholehousesmellsoftheoil.Was thisthereasonfor the
indignation ofsorne ofthe other people? How do they try to
copewith the anointingandwhyare theyso concernedwith
it?
3. Jesustakesastand. WhatisimportanttoHim?(Inthebeginning
He does notspeakaboutthefinancialmatter.First,He defends
thewoman!ThepersonismoreimportanttoHimthanthecase.
OnlyafterwardsdoesHe answerthequestionofalms.)
4. Jesuscomesbacktotheargumentofhelpingthepoor(v. 7) but
deals with it in a new way. How does he want to change the
critics'thinking?(Hewantstodirecttheirthoughtsawayfrom
moneytowardslove.) Do we takeonobligationsevenwhenwe
cannotreallyfulfil themwholeheartedly?
5. Inwhatinnerconditionwasthewomanabletoleavetheroom?
C. Applieation
1. HowcanwehonourJesus today?
2. Whatis themostcostIythingthatwe cangive toJesus?
3. Do1knowthesacrificialabundantlove ofCod?Howcan1find
thislove?
4. It is easy to judge how other people serve Cod and their
neighbours .Howdoes Codwanttochallengeuswiththis text
today?Whatgood canwe do to the poorpeople in our time?
Howcouldwestartdoingit?
D. Closingremarks
Thewoman showed thatshelovedJesus with all herheartandwithall
her soul and with all her strength (cf. Deuteronomy 6,5). With her
behaviourandlove,shechallengesbothhercontemporariesandustoday.
9
6
TheGospelaccordingtoJohn-
BibleStudies
TextsandTopies
John1:43-51
John3:1-21
John4:1-30
John5:1-18
John 6:66-71
John9:1-38
John10:1-30
John13:1-17
John19:1-30
John 20:1-31
CananythinggoodcomeoutofNazareth?
Uesustalkingwithasceptic)
HecametoJesusduringthenight.
UesustalkingwitharuleroftheJews)
Shehadneverexperiencedlifebefore.
Uesustalkingwithashunnedwoman)
Ahopelesscase.
Uesustalkingwithasickandlonelyman)
Youdon'twanttoleavetoo,doyou?
UesustalkingtoHisdisciples)
Whosefaultisit?
Uesustalkingtoablindbeggar)
Inwhomcanwetrust?
UesustheGoodShepherd)
Serving- notruling
Uesustheservant)
Itisfinished.
(Jesusonthecross)
Theemptytomb
Uesus'resurrection)
97
ThesetenBiblestudiescomeundertwo headings:
1.Jesus talking with the people around Him (John 1-9)
AcentralpartofJesus'lifeis Hisencounterswithotherpeople.Hecomes
alongside the people around him, meeting them where they are at -
withalltheirfears andquestions.In theseencountersweareableto see:
Thisis Codatwork.Jesus is Cod touchinghumankind- theWord made
flesh Gohn 1:1-18).This is howimportanteachand everyone is to Him.
Jesus knows how these people feel. He knows theirdeepestwishes and
fears.LookingatthepeopleHemeets,wecanseesimilaritiestoourselves
andourlives.And thisis howourownencounterwithJesuscanstart;it
is howwecanstartlisteningtoHimandtalkingwithHimourselvesand
lettingHimworkinourownlife.
2.Jesus on His way to Calvary (John 10-20)
ThecrosswasnotamistakeinJesus'life;itwaspartoftheoriginalplan.
He cameintoourworld todiefor us onthecross.Johnmakesthisclear
right from the outset ofhis Cospel. It is John the Baptist who shouts:
Look, the Lamb ofGod,who takes away the sin ofthewor/d Gohn 1:29).Jesus is
thesacrificiallambthroughwhomCodreconcilesuswithHimself,grants
us forgiveness ofoursinsanda renewedlife.
PortheBible studyof John's Gospelwe have chosena similar
structuretoMark.Seepage48-501
9
8
1. Can anything good come out of
Nazareth1
Uesus talking to a sceptic)
John : 4 3 ~ 5
l. Personal preparation
Observation, interpretation
Historicalbackground:At thebeginningofHispublicappearance,Jesus
wasbaptisedbyJohntheBaptistintheriverJordan.AmongJohn'sfriends
wereJesus' first disciples (verse 35).In ourtext,Jesus is on His way ro
Calileeinorderto "reveal" Himselfthere(2:11).
43 FindingPhilip:theinitiativeis takenbyJesus
Followme:Jesusdoesn'tpreachorsay"believeinMe". He invites
peopletojoinHim:"FollowMe andgettoknowMe".
44 Bethsaida:villageattheSeaofCalilee
45 found Nathanae/: AfterbeingfoundbyJesus,Philipmeetsoneof
hisfriendswhois waitingfor thecomingoftheMessiah.And
so we see howtheCospelstartsspreading(v. 35-37,40-42).
Nathanae!:John21:2
Moses and the prophets: stands for the Old Testament (cf. John
5:39,46)
awaitingtheMessiah (v. 41,45)
Messiah: (literally) the Anointed; Creek: Christ. Different
expectations had been formed inJewish thought concerning
thecomingoftheMessiah(in fulfilmentoftheOldTestarnent
prophecies). Some expected the Messiah ro be an ideal king,
99
theanointedSavioursentbyGod,comingfromthelineofKing
David(2 Samuel7:12-15).HewassupposedtorescueIsraelfrom
itspoliticalandreligiousafflictionsandtoreignoveraH peoples
injusticeand peace.Othersexpecteda priestfrom thelineof
Moses, a religious ruler who would study and interpret the
JewishTorah(Deuteronomy18:15).
Jesus ofNazareth,thesonofJoseph:Jesusis presentedasanordinary
persono He is thesonofJosephfrom Nazareth.Butitis Philip
whoseesJesus ofNazarethas theMessiah, theKingWhowill
fulfil thepropheciesoftheOldTestament.
46 Nazareth: Nathanaelis right; theOldTestamentpropheciesdo
notmentionNazareth(cf.John7:41f). See alsoActs 5:37!
comeandsee:Scepticismcannotbeovercomebydiscussionalone.
Atsorne pointone'sownexperiencemustalsobechaHenged.
47 Here isatrueIsraeliteinwhomthereisnothingfalse:Jesusrecognises
and respects Nathanael's honesty which is ret1ected in his
questionsanddoubts.
48 underthe fig tree: a place where rabbis oftenused to studythe
Torah.Thus,atrueIsraelitecouldalsomean:someonewhostudies
thelawortheScriptures.
JesusmakesitcleartoNathanaelthatHeisnotafake.Hewants
toshowhimthatHe knowseverythingabouthim:hisstriving,
hislonging,hisquestionsandhis personality.
49 TheIsraelite recognisesJesus as theKingofIsrael.
SonofCodandKingofIsraelaresupposedtomeanthesamething
here.According to Psalm 2:6f., the King ofIsrael is 'born' the
SonofGodonthedayofHisaccessionto thethrone.Bothtitles
belongto theMessiahcomingfrom thelineofKingDavid.
50-51 CreaterthingsisexplainedbyusingthebiblicalpictureofJacob's
ladder (cf. Genesis 28:10-22). The sky (= symbol ofGod's
existence)opensupaboyeJacob: Bethel(= Houseof God).Now,
thereis a newplace(or rather:a person)which/whoopensup
God'sexistencetous:Jesus!AH questionsaboutrecognisingGod,
100
revealing God, experiencing God are answered in ti singl
person:Jesus.FoHowingJesusmeansthatNathanaelrccogniscs
God's existence inJesus. He does not see angels, but rather
recognisestheHeavenlyFatherthroughHis Son(cf. 14:9ff.).
Son ofMan: Jesus often talks about Himselfas the Son ofman,
because:
a) This titlecomes across as beingveryordinary.This allows
Jesus to protect Himself from false expectations and
misconceptionsregardingHis persono
b) This title is given to God's ambassador and judge over
humankindas mentionedinDaniel7:14.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Jesus did manyothermiraculoussigns in the presence ofHis disciples, whi chare
notrecorded in this book. Butthese are writtenthatyou maybelieve thatJesus is
tite 01riSt, tite Son ofCod; and thatby believingyou may have life in His name.
Uohn 20:30-31)
ThisishowJohndescribeshispurposeinwritingaboutJesusandHislife.
Jesus- theSonofGod:formanypeoplewithaChristianbackgroundthis
phrase may become aH too familiar, but for others it is something
incredible. ltiseasytoacceptthat2000yearsagotherewasamannamed
Jesus, son ofa carpenter, who travelled through Galilee and Judea
preachinganddoingmiracles.Butitis somethingquitedifferentfor us
to accept thatHe was theSon ofGod. In this areaa healthyamountof
scepticismis legitimate.Butscepticismshouldn'tblockusfromfinding
outthetruthaboutJesus.Thatis whyJohnrelates thisencounterright
atthebeginningofhisgospel.Johntells thestoryofJesus talkingwith
thescepticNathanael.
B. Questions
Philip- aseekermeetsJesus(v. 43-45)
1. Jesus' instructionfollowMe was probablyabitofasurprisefor
Philip, but not necessarily totally unexpected. How does the
101
textshowthatPhilipwas prepared to actonthis instruction?
Tryto describePhilip'sexpectations(see alsov. 41)
(Alternatively, explaintheJewish expectations oftheMessiah
and read 2 Samuel 7;12ff. and Deuteronomy 18;15 in the Old
Testament)
2. WhatemotionsandjorthoughtsdoestheinstructionFollm-v Me
provokeinyou j inus j inme?
Nathanael- awaryseeker(v. 46)
3. Nathanael is sceptical towards Philip's initial invitation.
Nazareth did not featme in the Old Testament prophecies
concerningthecomingMessiah.NeverthelessPhilipurgeshim
tocome and see.WhatdoesPhilipwanthisinvitationtoachieve?
JeSllS ofNazareth(v. 41-48)
4. JesllsgreetsNathanaelwithHere isa true Israelite, inwhom there is
nothingfalseo WhatdoesJesus' assessmentofNathanael imply?
WhatisJesusimplyingwhenHesays,"1 sawyouwhileyOll were
stillunderthe figtree'?
Nathanael- a scepticstartstrusting(v. 49-51)
5. OutlinethechangeinNathanael'sattitudetowardJesus.Where
doesourtextshowthatNathanaelstartstrustinginJeslls?
6. Whatdoesyou shall see heaven open meanto you?(First, discuss
thequestion,andthensecond, readtogetherGenesis28:10-22)
TakingGenesis28intoaccount,whatdoestheopen heaven mean?
C. Application
NathanaelandPhilipwereseekingthetruth.Theycarriedahopeinside
themselves thatwas beyond theirpersonalwishes andyearnings. Have
we ever felt such a hope? What influencesjgoverns our wishes and
yearnings? How do we react toJesus' claim that He is the personified
answerof everyhuman'sseeking?
102
2. HecametoJesusduringthenight
(JesustalkingwitharuleroftheJews)
John3,1-21
l. Personalpreparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesushasalreadymademanypublicappearances.Hehaschosen
hisfirstfol!owers(1:35-51).Hehaschangedwaterintowineatawedding
in Canaan. He has chased merchants out ofthe temple (2:1-17). From
John 2:23 onecanassumethatJesus has also performedothermiracles.
As aresult,sornepeoplebelievedinHim(2:23)whileothersdidnotknow
what to think about Him. Nicodemlls was probably among the latter
group.Andonenighthesought Jesusoutbecausehewantedtotalkwi th
Him.
2 Rabbi :respectfulform ofaddressfor religiousteachers
Jesus knowswhatis onNicodemus' mind(2;25);Jesus' answer
3
goes straight to the point. Being a Pharisee, Nicodemus was
probablywondering:
Whatdo1havetodotopleasetoGod, toobtainafavourable
judgment,tohave aclaimtoGod' seternalkingdom?
AlI the talkabout the "Kingdom ofGod",Whatdoes that
mean?Whenwil!Jesussetitup?Whatwillitbelike?When
willwesee it?
to be born over again (= from aboye): doublemeaning
Kingdom ofGod: God' skingship,God's presence
4-8
Nicodemus:Hm-v? - (Foranoldmantostartlifeal! overagain...
that's a (too) radical transformation - that's a human
impossibility!)
10
3
At first Jesus doesn't answer the How? question; instead He
explainswhat hastohappen:thenecessityofbeingbornagain
(v.5) ;re-birthis humanlyimpossible(v. 6); re-birthis amust(v.
7); re-birthis aworkoftheSpiritofCod(v. 8. cf. Mark10:27)
5 ofwater and ofthe Spirit: bothexpressionsareimagesoftheHoly
Spirit (cf. John 7:38-39; Isaiah 44:3): purification (water) and
new life (Spirit; cf. Ezekiel 36:25-27). The ritual ofexternal
purificationcannotproducenewlife.OnlytheSpiritis able to
give newlife.Re-birth is Cod'sworkandgift.
6 Therearetwo modes(orstates)ofbeing:
flesh: transitory,boundtoourlifehereonEarth,endingindeath
s pirit:permanent,lifeincommunionwithCod,culminatingin
eternallife
Codandnewlife cannotbeattainedby startingatthebottom
andreachingupward.New life mustbe impartedfrom aboye,
from Codo
8 Wind (= Spirit):doublemeaning.AnimageofhowtheSpiritof
Codworks.Itisunpredictable,intangible,invisible,butwecan
stillexperienceitinitseffects.Itis real.
So:Justas mysteriousandunobtainable.butatthesame time
definitelydiscernible
9-17 NicodemusasksHow? once again.Ncodemus hadstartedthis
discussionwiththewordswe know; Jesus has nowexposed his
ignorance(v.10).Nicodemusdoesn'tknowthemostimportant
things!Jesus is the only One Who can authentically and
authoritativelytalkaboutheaven (= Cod's reality), because in
Jesus Cod has come into this world. New life is not the only
phenomenonwhichcomesaboutsolelythroughCod'saction
(fromaboye); Codalsotakestheinitiativeinrevealingtheway
ofsalvation: through the One Who has come into our world
from aboye- Jesus.
The Israelite teachers needed a legitimisation for their
interpretations.Jesus simply legitimises His own words by a
radical claim:1am the Son ofMan (= theJudge onJudgment
14
Day;cf.Daniel7:13)andhavecomefromhcavcn.lll'h,IS all'l:.'ady
seen what He is talkngabout.Jesus is nol a tt'.ll'hl'r IIkl'11ll'
others, simply telling us how; He is the how!. How ('In Wc be
bornagainandhavenewlife?Jesusanswers:throughMl'!
12 earthly things:Jesususesanalogies(everydayexamplesandterms)
toexplainspiritualthings .
heaven ly things: stand for Cod's plan ofsalvaron. Jesus'
incarnation.crucifixionandresurrection
believe: re-birthis linkedwithbelievinginJesus(cf.V. 16).
14-16 must be lifted up:Jesus'crucifixion(cf.John12:32-33);savingthe
lostfromdeath
JesusrefersbacktoaneventinthehistoryoftheJewishpeople
(Numbers 21:4-9) : for the Israelites who were condemned to
death,lookingattheserpentwastheonlywayro obtainmercy
and receive new life. In the same way. our trust inJesus (=
believing in His death on the cross as the only means of
salvation)gives us newlife.a re-birthintoeverlastinglife.
eternallife: livingincommunionwithCod; inavitalandperso-
nal relationshipwithJesus
For Cod so loved the world: cf. Romans 5:6-8
18-21 Summaryandconclusion
18 is condemned already: We arenotlivinginaneutralzone;weare
alreadydistantfromCod.Cod-Iess.
19 cf.John1:9-10;John7:7
Verses 18-21 aresetupsymmetrically.SincetheSonofCodhas
come into this world. there are alternatives to be chosen and
rejected.Verse 19 explainswhyJesusis rejected:
18 a
21
18 b
20
19
Whoeverbelieves
Whoeverdoes notbelieve
Theylove darknessmorethanlight
Whoeverpractisesevil
Whoeverdoes thetruth
15
JohnmentionsNicodemustwomoretimes.Nicodemusspeaks
Weknow- buthowdoweknow?(v. 9-13)
upforJesusinthe JewishCourt(7:50-53).Andafter Jesus'death,
5. NicodemusstartshisdiscussionwithJesuswith 1m
hepubliclyprofesses his faith inJesus byattendingHis burial
doesn't know the answer to the decisive qUl!slion
(19:39).
someonecan find away to be incommunionwith God.H
doesJesus explain theauthorityHe has, his legitimisatiun. lo
answerthisquestion?
11. Groupdiscussion
Salvation- buthow?(v. 1421)
6. Nicodemus seems to gradualIy understand that something
A. Introduction
radicalIynewhasro happen- buthow?(v. 9)
Whowas Nicodemus?
Inverses 14-21,lesusanswers thisquestion.He refersbacktoa
aPharisee:literalIy'separated' .Agroupoflaymencomingfromdiffe-
story told in the Old Testament .(Cive a shortexplanation of
rent professions; strict observance ofreligious laws and purity
thesituationthattheIsraelitesfacedinthewildernessandread
regulations.Theirpurposeinlife: topleaseCodbyobservingthelaw:
togetherNumbers 21:4-9.)
Whatmustldo thatlmayenterthe Kingdom of Cod?
HowdoesthisstoryfromtheOldTestamenthelpusunderstand
andjudicalcourt)
MemberoftheJewishCourt(Sanhedrin- thehighestJewishpoltical
themeaningofJesus'deathonthecross?
Jewishscholar:themostpreciseresearchingandinterpretingofJewish
Whatdoeslesusmeanbybelieve?Whathasthewordbelievemeant
laws inordertoobservethemcorrectly
for us so far?Whatdoesbelievejtrustmeaninverses 14-18?
B. Questions
C. Application
AtnighthecomestoJesus(v. 1-2)
1. Theshortstory''justice orlove" ilIustratesthemeaningoflesus'
1. WhydoesNicodemusgotoJesusatnight?Whatis hisintention?
deathonthecross{see page161l
Whatdoes hewantfromJesus?Whatmightheexpectfrom a
discussionwithJesus?
2. How can an individual, society, the world be re-newed? This
questionhasalwaysbeenonpeople's minds,betheyreligious
people, Marxists, humanists or esoterics. People everywhere Notsimplyfeellng asgoodasnew(v. 3-8)
have tried to change themselves, others or the existing
do with Nicodemus' introductorycomment. What unspoken
2. At firstglanceJesus'answerdoesn'tseemto haveanythingto
conditions.
questionsdoesJesusassumeorperceiveinNicodemus'remark?
Whatwould1like ro change in mylife orinoursociety?How
HowdoesJesusbegintoanswerthem?
couldthesechangesbeeffected?Howdo1trytodevelopmyself
andchangemylife for thebetter?
andexperiencesofbeingborn?
3. Jesususestheimageofchildbirth.Whatarethecharacteristics
3. EveryonewhobelievesinHim mayhaveeternallife.Whatwouldsuch
4. Inthefurtherdiscussion(v. 5-13),howdoesJesusdescribebeing
asteptowardsfai thlooklike?WearealIlookingforanenhanced
re-born?
qualityoflife.Whatqualityoflifeiscontainedinthetermeternal
life?
106
107
3. She had never experienced life
before.
Oesus talking with a shunned woman)
John 4:
1
-3
l. Personal preparation
Observation. interpretation
Context:BothJesusandJohntheBaptistwereteachingandbaptisingin
Judea(John 3:22-30). Someonereported to thePhariseesthatJesus was
baptisingmoredisciplesthanJohn.WhenJesusheardaboutthisreport,
He decidedtoleaveJudeaandgo toGalilee.
3-4 TheshortestroutefromJudeatoGalileewentthroughSamaria.
ButmostJewstookthemorestrenuousdetourthroughtheJor-
danva11ey because any contactwith Samaritans was thought
tobeacontamination.ThiswasbecausetheSamaritanswerea
partlyheathenmixedrace,descendantsofbothIsraelites,who
had remained in the region after the Kingdom ofIsrael was
destroyed in 722 BC, andAssyrian colonists.Theirfaith inthe
God ofIsraelwasintermingledwithpaganidolatry.
The Samaritans had theirown temple with theirown priests
ontheGarizim mountain.This sanctuaryhadbeendestroyed
in128BC byaJewishhighpriest,butitremainedaholyplace
ofworshipfor theSamaritans(cf. v.20).
6 Jacob's well: acontainedspring,notacistern
About the sixth /tour (midday):Onedidnotgotogetwaterduring
thehottesttimeof day.Is thewomanavoidingcontactwiththe
othervillagers?Is shebeingexcludedfromorostracisedbythe
localcommunitybecauseofherlifestyle(v.18)?
108
7-8
Jesus' request is not a rhetorical trick but arises from a real
need.ThefactthatJesusasks awoman,especiallyaSamaritan
woman, for adrinkis completelyunusual,utterlyimpossible.
Heisdisregardinga11 kindsoftraditionalconventions(cultural:
contact and conversation with a woman, cf. v. 27; historical :
conflict, hatred ofSamaritans because they betrayed their
'Jewish bloodline'; religious: contact with Samaritans was
contaminating).
9-10
Thewomanis amazed.Jesus attributes heramazementto her
encounterwithHim(if only you knew who... ). Thepurposeofthe
entireconversationis for herto recogniseWhoHe is (cf. v. 26)!
Living water:
a) Springwater, fresh water is not like stagnantwater taken
fromacistern;Jesusdoesn'tuseabstractdefinitionsbutlinks
His imagesto thewoman'sexperience.
b) God is thesourceofalllife(cf.Jeremiah2:13).
Thewomanis stillnotabletograspanythingbeyondhervisib-
11
le realityatthewell.
to drink =tobelieveandtrustinJesus(cf.John6:35b).Thewater
14
(salvaton) given by Jesus s inexhaustble and everlasting; t
results inthegiftofeternallife.
14-18
to (never) be thirsty again: thewomanunderstandsthis mage to
mean "magc water" that would save her the daily chore of
gettingwater, freeingherfrom oneunpleasanttask.WithHis
question about her husband, however, Jesus digs deeper to
uncover her thirst for life. The woman had used sexualityto
satisfyherhungerforlifeandyearningforpersonalfulfilment.
Thenumberofmenshehadhad(six)showsthatshehadfound
neither peace nor fulfilment and that her longing for love
remainedunsatisfied.Jesustoucheshersorespot.HoweverHis
intentionis not to be hard-hearted ortojudgmenta11yexpose
herfaults. Instead He wants to help hersee thatherultimate
thirst, the deepest longing ofher life cannot be gratified by
otherpeople.He says, ineffect:Godwantstoandcangiveyou
thefulfilmentyouhavebeenseekinginvain.
10
9
19-20 lnsteadofshowingevidenceofdismayorremorse(cf. Luke7:37-
38), thewomanstartsa theological discussionwith]esus.Her
onlyreactiontotherevelationofherunsuccessfullifeis tocall
]esusa prophet(in thesenseofafortune-teller).
21 the time is coming: the time ofsalvation (v. 22) that has come
with ]esus (v. 23). Every place ofworship (be it Carizim or
]erusalem)isdisentitled.. ltistheendofacultboundtoaspecial
place. Codis nolongerpresentinoneparticularplace(e.g. in
theTemple)butin a person:]esus!
22 You Samaritans worshipwhatyou do not know:theSamaritansare
putintothesamecategoryas heathenswhodo notknowCod
(cf. Acts 17:23).
forsalvationisfrom theJews: theSaviour(theredeemer)isof]ewish
origino
23- 24 Prayeris no longerconfinedtooneplace.Thosewhoareborn
againthroughCod'sSpirit(cf. ]ohn3:6-7)areableto talkwith
Cod anytime, anywhere. Through His Spirit Cod is present
everywhere.
inspiritandintruth:ThetruthofCodexposesthedepthsofour
lives,includingourimperfections(cf.v.18).Thosewhowithdraw
fromthisrevelationalsowithdrawfromcommunionwithCod.
25 The]ewswereawaitingthearrivalof aMessiahwhowouldfree
Israelfromitspoliticalandspiritualhardshipsandwhowould
reign justIy over all people. He was supposed to be the
apocaIypticresearcherandinterpreteroftheTorah.
26 ]esus reveals Himselfas the Messiah to the woman. She now
starts to understand His previous comments:]esus Himselfis
Cod'sgift(v. 10).He is thelivingwater(v. 14).He is wheretrue
worshipofCodtakes place(v.24) .
28 Leavingherwaterjar: For thewoman,]esus,thelivingwater,has
becomemoreimportantthanthewaterfrom thewell.
110
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introdudion
To live would be amarvellousalternative. (MaxiWandl' r)
You see, one cannot live any longer on refrigerators, politics.
sheetsorcrossword puzzles.Jtjustdoesn't work anymore! (Ant
Saint-Exupry)
""/111111'
oincdl'
Have you lived today?
Threequotations- thesame feeling threetimes over:We live and take
whatwe canget(and thatis nota smallamount).And stillwe have the
impression thatwe have never experienced life. We have never really lived.
Perhapswe liveaccordingto"lf ... then" ;perhapswe feel themelancholy
offulfilment(we haveeverything,butnothingreallytodiefor); perhaps
everythinghasjustmadeus "hungrier" .Ourlongingforlifelingers.The
conversationbetween]esusandtheSamaritanwomanis preciselyabout
thesequestions .
B. Questions
An encounter witha prejudiced history behind it(v. 4-9)
1. First ,let'shavealookattheSamaritanwoman.Whatdoesthe
textsayabouther, herlife history, herreputationwithinthe
localcommunity,herpastexperiencewith]ews,etc.?
2. Whatsocial boundaries and biases did]esus overcome in His
encounter with the woman (read through the entire text;
perhaps give sorne information about Samaritans and their
relationshipwith]ews)?Whatthoughtscouldbegoingthrough
thiswoman'shead- thiswomanwhois shunnedandavoided
inherownvillage?
Living water instead of unsatisfied yearnings (v. 10-18)
3. Thewomanissurprisedby]esus:Howcomeyouaskmeforadrink?
]esus : Jf you knew who J am,you too would forget al! the social
conventions and,instead, ask Me for livingwater! What does]esus
111
by (1\';"1; I\',, ' d?What mind-blowing qualities does He
4.
mean
ItisMe(v. 19-26)
5.
ascrilJl' lo t hi.. living water?
JesusilhruptIysteerstheconversationtowardthewoman'sper-
sOl1 <l I lifeandherserialrelationshipswithseveralmen. ls there
a link between the "living water" thatJesus is talking abollt
andthesituationthatsheis livingin?
HowdoesthewomanreacttoJesus'disclosureofheryearning
for life? What isJesus' answer (v. 21-24)?Try to rephrase the
main statements ofHis answer in your own words. What is
Jesus'aiminthisdiscussion(v. 25-26)?Lookingback,whatdo
you thinkJesusmeantinverse10 byifyou knew the gift ofCod?
ThewomanthenleftherWaterjug(v. 27-30)
6. Whathashappenedto thewoman?Whathassheunderstood?
C. Application
1. 1. Thirstforlife, longingfora fulfiIled life(see Introduction):
Why didJesus suddenly become the answer for the woman?
Howabolltus?CouldJesus alsobeananswerto ourlongings?
2.
Prayer- canwe relatetoit inanyway? Howdoes thetexthelp
and encourage us to pray? Has Our praying been limited to
special places or occasions (in church or saying grace)? How
conversant are we with the "Lord's Prayer" (in verse 24 it is
literallyto worship Cod)? Can 1relate to God as Father?Whatis
hindering me from beginning to converse withJesus? Do 1
believethatHe knowswhat1amyearningfor?
11Z
4
Ahopelesscase
Uesustalkingwithasickand lonely
man)
John 5:1- 18
l. Personalpreparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesus was on His way to one ofthe most significant religious
festivitiesinJerusalem.ItwasthedayoftheweeklySabbath(= Saturday;
ChristianscelebrateSunday), thedaywhenallJewswentto thetemple.
On His wayto thetemple, He passed thecolonnadeserectedaroundthe
pool ofBethesda.Jesus did not pass them by, but instead went inside.
Thisis thereason:He meetsamanwhois amongtheiII there.Insteadof
festivities, the temple, worship and joy, He encounters misery and
hopelessness.
1 feast oftheJews: Sabbath(v. 9) - temple- worship- joy
2 Bethesda = houseofmercy
Apictureof areconstructionofthecolonnadesaroundthepool
is printed in a German encyclopaedia on the Bible, edited by
Brockhaus. Similar reconstructions and archaeological images
canbefoundontheInternet.
3b-4 Additional text; not part ofthe oldest manuscripts.This was
probablycommonknowledgewhenthegospelwaswritten;later
anadditionalexplanationwas regardedas necessary.Thepool
was fed by a subterranean spring which was intermittently
active.
Cod's angel: This expression shows that the healing described
hereis regardedas beingfrom God.
113
Thankstoarchaeologicalexcavationwork,itis nowpossibleto
reconstructwhatthe pool must have looked like. This shows
thehistoricaccuracyofJohn'sGospel.
5 had been an invalid for thirty-eight years: the name ofthe man
remains unknown; however this phrase sums up his ill-fated
situation.
6 OnHiswaytothefeast,Jesusstopsinfrontofthemanwhosays
ofhimself: I have no one (v.7). Jesus saw him lying there. Jesus'
reactionshowsHisinterestinandcompassionforthesickmano
Insteadoftakingpartinthefestivities,Jesusvisitstheinfirmary
andthemarginalisedpeopIetherewhoareexcludedfromthe
feast, vegetatingaway.
Doyou want toget well?: Thisisasensible,sensitiveandimportant
questionfor peopleresignedto theirfate.Jesus does notenter
theman'slifewithoutbeinginvited.
7 Theman's answerreveals
a) how these ill people viewed life: no solidarity, no mutual
help;notevenawaitinglist, butabitterfightforsurvival.
b) thewretchednessandprofoundIonelinessofthisoneman
worndownbyacontinualbackandforthbetweenhopeand
disappointment.
8-9 Get up - pick up your mat - and walk: Jesuswantsthemantomake
adecision:Areyou goingtotakeMe atMywordandtrustMe -
or areyou going to keep clinging to thevague hope ofbeing
healed atthis pool?Jesus doesn'tofferhimhumansolidarity,
e.g., to helphimgetintothe pool. Instead,He chaHenges him
to focus his hope on Him and His word. His invitation is an
authoritative command: it grants what it demands and
accomplisheswhatitcalIs for.
9b-11 Sabbath observance (cf. Exodus 31:12-17; Numbers 15:32-36;
Jeremiah17:21-22):TheSabbathisaspecialsignofthecovenant
betweenGod and His peopleIsrael. By observing theSabbath,
thepeoplecommitthemselvestotheGodWhocreatedheaven
and earthin six days andWhorested onthe seventhday. For
instance, carryingheavy loads ontheSabbathwas forbidden,
114
anddisobeyingthisSabbathregulationwasconsidcrt'dau"rlou
sin. For more information onJesus' understandin)l uf Ihe
Sabbath,readMark2:27-28:healingontheSabbath is. rdlher.
thetrue fulfilmentofobservingtheSabbath- freeing p ~ l p l
fromtheweightoftheirheavy(internal)burdens,alIowinglhcl1l
tofinalIybreatheagain(Mark3:4; Luke 13:16).
However,theJewshadnounderstandingforthisinterpretation
oftheSabbathandnosympathyfor thehealedmano lnsteadof
joining with him to celebrate his healing, they see only the
disregardfor theSabbathrules.
DuringHis secondencounterwiththeman,Jesusagaintakes
14
theinitiative.Hiswordstothehealedmansoundlikeathreat:
Stop sinning, or something worse may happen toyou.
o JesusdoesnotdirectlylinkilInesswithsin,butwarnsabout
theconsequencesofhabitualsinning(cf.John9:2-3).
o Sin is notregarded as a moraloffencebutas a rejectionof
Jesus(cf. John1:11;John16:9).
o something worse: not a worse ilIness, but eternal death.
beinglostforaH eternity.Bethesdawasthesceneofphysical
healing; the temple is the scene ofthe cure for body and
soul.InBethesdathemanwasalienatedbyothers;butsinis
alienationfromGod.
o Healingandforgivenessofsinsarecloselylinkedwitheach
other(cf. Psalm 103:3).
o ltis notJesus' intentionto threatenwithhellbutto warn
against sin (= missing the mark) and to secure eternal life
(cf. V. 24!).
Open hostilityagainstJesus.The reasonis notmerelynarrow-
15-16
minded interpretationof Jewish laws.There is much more at
stake here.Whowould daresethimselfover and aboye God's
commandments?NoonelessthanGodHimself(cf.Mark2:28!).
Jesus formulates His claim even more clearly. more
17-18
provocatively.The entirenationofIsrael couldbe regarded as
Son. with God as Father; butone individual claimingGod as
His Father was an outrageous presumption by which Jesus
declaredHimselfnearlyequalwithGod.
115
11. Groupdi'scussion
A. Introduction
See "Context"above.
B. Questions
The House of Merey (v. 1-7)
1. How have we ourselves experienced times ofillness? What
sensationsdoweassociate withbeing ill?
2. Inthetext,Jesusmeetsthesickmantwice.Thefirstencounter
isatthepoolofBethesda,thesecondis inthetemple.Bethesda
means"houseofmercy".From thetext, howcanweaccurately
characterisethis placeandwhathappenshere?Whatis going
on?Whatis themoodamongtheill people?
3. Try to "step into the shoes" ofthis ill mano What is goingon
inside?Whathasbeenenduredduringthoselonginvalidyears?
Jesus' merey (v. 6-9)
4. Whatspecificsteps doesJeslts take inHis approach to thisill
man(see ... know ... ask ... answer)?Whatimpresses us about
Jesus'conduct?Whatappearsstrange?
5. Whatistheman'sactualneed?WhatkindoffeelingsdoesJesus'
question Do you want toget well? provokeintheman?
The merdlessness ofthe leading Jews (v. 10-13: v. 15-18)
6. Instead ofjoy, the man's healing prompts annoyance among
theJews. What causes this caustic reaction? What are the
differences betweenJesus' view ofthe Sabbath and theJews'
view? (Possibly explain verses 9b-ll and read the respective
rexts inMark andLuke together.)
116
Sometbing worse - and the greater (v. 14- U oM,
7. Goingbacktothei11 man:Jesusagaillmel'l1> hl mI
andspeakswithhim.WhatdoesHe meanby Hi ll l'
verse 14? What does Jesus want him to gain (d. v
healthy is the mast impartant thing - howdoyouthinkJl'!Il1
commenton this morto?Whatis Jesus' objectiwin In
andtalkingwiththisman?
8. In verse 12, theJews askWho is this fellow v"'ha tald yau ... ? Whal
answerdoesJeslts Himselfgive attheendofthestory?
C. Application
1. 1have no one: Do1knowanyonewhomightsaythesamething?
Have l ever experienced loneliness, being disappointed by
others?Whatthoughtsgo through my mindwhen1imagine
Jesusstandinginfrontofmeandasking:Doyouwantto ...?Do
1believethatJesus cancome to meinmylonelinessandlead
meoutofmyresignation?OrisJesusmoreofastrangertome?
2. Bethesda and what happened there is also an image ofour
world.Oneworld,inwhichinthebattleforexistence everyone
is one's own neighbour. Afamous theologian once gave this
story the fo11owing caption: "The world in crisis needs God's
revelaton-butthenittakesittocourt".Towhatextentdoyou
think this caption fits the original story? Couid it aiso be a
descriptionofwhatis happeninginourtime?
3. Whereareweresigned?Wherehavewegiven uphope?Where
have theupsanddownsofhopeanddisappointmentwornus
out?Am 1 prepared ro ietgo ofeverything1clingto and trust
Jesus'words:Stand up, rol! up yaur mat, and get gaing?
117
5. Voudon'twanttoleavetoo,do
you1
(JesustalkingtoHisdisciples)
John 6:66-71
1. Personalpreparation
Observation,interpretation
Context: Many people turned away fromJesus (v. 66) - But why? What
hadhappened?John6:1-14:Jesusfed 5000people;thiswastheclimaxof
his popularity.Theywantedto makeHimJ(jng(v. 14-15).However,Jesus
didnotmeettheirexpectations:You are lookingfor me... because you ate ofthe
loaves and had your fill (v.26). Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that
endures to eternallife (v. 27). I am the bread of life (v. 35)! The listenerswere
shockedbecausetheydidn'tsee this spiritualsideinthe'man'infront
ofthem(v. 41-42).Jesus repeatedHis claim(v.52). The conflictbecame
moreaggravated.ThenJesuswenttoo far(v. 53) - T/1is is a hard teachil1g (v.
60)!
Justashorttimebefore,thousandsofpeoplehadcheeredforJesus.Now,
moreandmorepeoplestopfollowingHim:Thecrowds,evensomeofHis
disciples.
66 Manydisciples(orfollowers)startturningawayfromJesus.For
themJesus' preachingisjusttooextreme.Butwhatissues are
reallyatstake here?
a) God's incarnationinJesus(v. 38-42).
b) Jesus has to dieinorderthatwe canlive(v. 51); insteadofa
gloriousKingandSaviour, He becomestheonewhosuffers
for us(cf. Matthew16:21f).
118
c) OnlythroughJesusdowe haveeternall iH.' (v.53).
d) Faith is God's gift. It is notoursby rigil!. Wl' l,m', l'.lrll It
can'tbuyit,can'tbargainforit.1tisnotson1l'thillg t hdl Wt'
somehowdeserve.Itis somethingthatGod gives.Iv. 65i
Jesus made itquite clear: "Whatyou need is neithcrglt'ts nor
miracles; what you need is Me". In His person we will find
salvation. Many people were only followers ,who returnccl ( o
theirold way oflivingagain.Jesus wasjusta shortdetourin
theirlife.
67 Jesus doesn'ttry to convince themto stay. He doesn' t beg. For
Him,gloryis notfound inhavinglots offollowers.
You don't want to leave too, do you?: This is not an imploring
invitation butrathera directquestion. Faith can onlyexist if
there is freedom.Jesus' disciples freely decide to come along
withHim.Theyhadseenmanythings.Butnowtheyhavecome
toacrucialpoint,wheretheyhavetoaskthemselves:Whatis it
thatkeeps meboundto Him?
68 Peteroftenspeaksonbehalfofthedisciples .
to whom:Thereis noalternative.
You have the words of eternal life: "The things you have said have
madeus wake up, theyhave shocked us, theyhave healed us
and have givenus new tife." That'swhatthosesaywhostayed
withJesus.Jesus'wordshadmadetheothersangry(v.60).Peter
doesn'tbasehisfaith uponsignsormiracles(cfv.30), norma-
terialbenefits(cfv. 26b), butratheruponJesusandHis words
ofeternallife.
69 We believe and know: ThedisciplesbelievedinJesus.Theyputtheir
trustinHim.LivingwithHimmadethemseeHimmoreclearly:
"You areChrist. theMessiah, theSonofGod."
Although many people turned away from Jesus, the twelve
disciples didn't.Their faith and what they had learned from
being with Jesus kept them bound and obedient to Him.
Knowledgebecameafruitoftheirfaithandobedience(cf.John
7:17!).
119
You are: SeveraltimesJesushadsaid"1 am" .HerePeterrepliesto
Jesus' claimwitha: "Yes, you are!"
The Holy One ofGod (literally:theHolySpirit):Jesusdoesn'tbelong
to our earthly world but to God. He carne to us from God's
presence(from heaven,v. 41) intoourworld.
70-71 Peterwasthespokesmanforthetwelvedisciples.As spokesman,
he was convinced that they would remain faithful. ButJesus
already knewa dreadfulsecret: even amongthe twelve, there
was a traitor.
Devil (diabolos) :inthesenseoftraitor,slanderer.
Especially these verses raise numerous questions: How is it
possible for one ofthe twelve to be a traitor? DidJesus know
this right from the beginning? Was Judas' course in life
predestined?We see thatJohn is not trying to answer these
questionshereandso thesequestionsremainunanswered.
chosell: We arechosenbyJesus to live withHim.It is His giftin
thefirst place.
Potentialreasonsforverses 70-71:JesushintsatHisgreattest:
His suffering and death.He warns about having a feeling of
false security:Forone'sfaith, thereis nohuman security.1stick
to Him because He sticks to me.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Option (a) Explanation oftextual background:This is a hard teaching! (v.
60); manyturnawayfromJesus (v. 66) - butwhy?Whathadhappened?
ShortaccountofJohn6.
Option(b) "What do you do when you love someone?" MrK. was asked. U make a
sketch ofthem", answered MrK. "al1d then try to make them match". "What? TIte
sketch?" "No", said MrK., "the person" (takenfrom: BertBrecht,StoriesofMr
Keuner). The Jews had made their sketch ofthe Messiah. A Messiah
according to theimaginationofmano ButJesuswas different- and the
120
Jews were disappointed.Whattheygave upwas nottheirsketch01't he
Messiah,butJesus(6:66) .
Option (c) Who is Jesus?That is the question thatforces the people to
think. How would Nicodemus Uohn 3), the Samaritanwoman Uohn 4)
andtheill maninBethesdaUohn 5) haveansweredthisquestionbefore
andaftertheirencounterswithJesus?
B. Questions
Jesus - a one-man band7 (v. 66-67)
1 Many of His disciples tumed back, and no longer fol1awed Him (v. 66).
Jesus had let down theJews. He had failed to live up to their
expectations ofHim. What kind ofdisappointments have we
suffered with the Church, religion, Christians, God, Jesus?
Whichconclusionshavewedrawnfromourdisappointments?
2 Let'stakealookatJesus:Whatkindofreactionwouldweexpect
from Him being cheered for one day and being deserted the
next?Whatis remarkableabouthowJesus reacts?
On tbe way witb Jesus (v. 68-69)
3 Peterdescribes the process ofhis changeas follows: We believe
and know. Whataboutthedisciples?
4 InordertounderstandPeter'sdescription,firstlet'sthinkabout
theelementsthatare importantforadeepeningrelationship.
HowdoesfriendshipIarelationshipdevelop?Howdowe know
that the other one really loves and cares for us? So how can
Peter'scommentbeunderstood?WhatisitthatmadePeterstay
withJesus?Whatdoes hemeanby sayingYou have the words 01
eternallife?
On tbe way toCalvary (v. 70-71)
5 Whatkindof reactiondidweexpectfromJesuswhenPetersaid
thesewords?Whatis Jesus ' intentionwithHis answer?(Many
questioneswill have to beleftunansweredhere!)
121
C. Application
IfyouwerePeter,whatwouldyouhaveanswered?Howwouldweexplain
ourstayingwithorturningawayfromJesus?Orwouldwetryto dodge
making a deeision? (Let everyone have 10 minutes to thinkabout their
answer. Eneourage the group to take notes. Maybe some or all eould
volunteerto read theirnotesoutaloudafterwards.)
lfwewanttoreeognisewhoJesusreallyis,weareinvitedtoeonsiderand
taketoheartwhatis said inJohn 7:17.
When itbecomes clear that you cannot find out by reasoning whether the cat is in
the linen-cupboard, itis Rcason herself who whispers, "Co and look. TI1is is not my
Job: itis a matter for the senses." So here. The materials for correcting our abstract
conception of Cod cannot be supplied by Reason: she will be the first to tell you togo
and try experience - "Oh, taste and see'" (taken from: C. S. Lewis, Miracles,
CollierBooks, 1978, p. 90)
One ofourbasic questions in life is: How do we handIe experienees of
God?
Whiehanswers are given in the presenttext fromJohn 6 and inJesus'
words inJohn7:17?
122
6. Whosefaultisit1
Uesustalki ngtoablind beggar)
John 9:1-38
l. Personal preparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:Inehapter8:12Jesusclaimed:I am the light ofthe world.Thehealing
oftheblind manwas symbolieofJesus'words and revealed theessenee
ofHisassignment.The eyes ofthe blind shall be opened - thatis afundamen-
taleharaeteristieoftheMessiah(Isaiah35:5; Isaiah61:1; Luke 4:18).
Jesushadanargumentwiththeseribesinthetemple(8:48f.)whiehended
inJesusbeingalmoststonedtodeath(8:59). He gotawayfromthemand
meetsablind manbeggingonthestreets(9:1,8; ef.Aets 3:2).
1 blind from birth: threewords thatsolemnlymarked this man's
"fate"
2 "Glory to theJudgeofthe World" - that is what devoutJews
exclaimedwhen theysawa disabled personinthosedays. For
them, there was a close link between physieal disability and
sin.Thefaetthatthemanwegettoknowinthisehapterdidn't
beeomeblindbeeause hehad sinned- butwas blind from his
birth- becamea theological problemfor thedisciples(cf. Exo-
dus20:5;bookofJob).Thequestionthediseipleswereaskingis
still familiar to us nowadays: "Whyme?Whydid it happento
me?"
3 Ourown aetionscanlead to destruction(ef. Romans 1:18-32),
butJesusrejeetsthefaetthatmanisinexorablylinkedto"fate".
He doesn't eonsider the theological problem but rather
12
3
addressestheman'ssufferingandbringsGod'ssalvationtohim.
FromtheJewish pointofview, theblindmanwas regardedas
someonewhohadsinnedandwas thereforedestinedtosuffer.
But Jesus rejects this standpoint: God's glory is much more
central to His point ofview. God can be glorified through
suffering (cf. 11:4), because suffering opens a doorfor God to
reveal His power in the blind man's life. So the blind man
sufferedloss, to have itreplacedbyafargreatergain.
4-5 Jesus'timeonearthislimited.Buthavingcomeintoourworld,
Jesus wantsto reveal God's power.HewantstoshowthatHe is
the light of the world.
6 Makingclaywasforbidden ontheSabbath.Jesus provokesthe
Phariseesbypreparingtheclayfor theblindman(9:16).
7 Goingto thepoolis asymboloftheman'sobedienceandtrust
in Jesus' words. It is a trip mixed with hope and fear of
disappointment. The pool is named Shilo-ah (literally: sent)
becauseitis fed byanotherpool.Therefore,thepoolbecomesa
symbolfor "God-sent"- theMessiah.ThroughHim themanis
abletoseeagain.Andatthesametime,weseethetruthofthe
wordfromIsaiah8:6:Because this people has rejected the gently flO'vving
waters of Shiloah [' ..J.cf. John1:11.
8-9 Instead ofrejoicing that the man has been healed, the
neighboursaredisturbedatthechangeoftheformerblindman
andhimbeinghealed.
13-19 In those times, lepers had to go to the priest in order to be
examinedbythem(Matthew8:4). Similarly, thePharisees had
to examine miracles. Some ofthem acted according to the
principIe: "Ifsomeonewhois able to do signs respects Moses'
laws, his signsaresignsofGod;ifhedoesn'tobeyMoses' laws,
hissignsaresignsofthedevil"(cf.Deuteronomy13:1-6).Others
were,nevertheless,ratherinsecureinthefaceofsigns.Theonly
solution, therefore, was to doubt the identity ofthe healed
personandas aresultalso thesigno
12
4
17 Prophet: apersonwhoisespeciallysentbyGodandacts
to God's power. The title was regarded higher than that uf. 1
Rabbi.
18-23 Theparentsoftheform.erblindmanconfirmhisidentity.Still,
theykeepoutofthecontroversyas muchas possible.
22 Beingsentoutofthesynagoguewasadreadfulpunishmentas
people were not allowed to communicatewith or help these
persons.Here,thePhariseesusethisthreat,toputpeopleunder
pressure.
24-25 This was a traditionalJewishvow to ensurethatpeoplespoke
thetruth,butinthiscaseitwas anattempttointimidate.The
Pharisees' knowledge (the result oftheir prejudices and
theological beliefsystem) clashes with the knowledge ofthe
healed man (the result ofan experience ofexistential
importance). Academic thought is confronted with personal
experience.
26-27 The Pharisees ask a second time, which provokes the healed
manto irritationandfinallyirony.
28-29 ThePhariseesreactwithangeranddisdain.Theyreferto their
religious tradition. We don't even knO'vv where he comes from :cf.
John 7:25-31.
30-33 Thehealedmanstringstogetheralistoflogicconclusions:"The
onewho healed me is sentfrom God and works through His
power."HerecognisesthetruenatureofGodatworkinhealing
him.
34 Experienceovercomes tradition.Butstill,themanis branded.
The Pharisees string together a list ofopposing conclusions:
Sin remains the reason for his original blindness, and is
underlined by his resistance to theRabbis and his confession
towardJesus.
Steeped insinat birth: ForthePhariseestherearetworeasonsfor
hisbeingasinner:a) disobedienceoftheSabbathlaws(9:16,24),
b) illness (9:34).
12
5
35 Thehealedmanis excludedfromthesynagogueandtherefore
atthesametimefromthe Jewishcommunity.ThenJesuscomes
to see him and invites the man ro follow Him. Neighbours,
parentsandthePhariseeshave discussedthematterandcome
upwithdifferentconclusions.Nowitis uptothemantomake
adecision:Doyou believe inthe Son ofMan?
35-37 Son ofMan: TheJudge oftheWorld thatwas expected by the
Jews (cf. Daniel 7:13-14).Jesus regards Himselfas the Messiah
Whois prophesiedinthebookofDaniel.
38 Theblindman'seyesareopenedbothphysicallyandspirituaBy:
He recognisesthelivingGod inJesus toWhomwe shouldgive
praise.WhilehisneighboursandthePhariseeswerediscussing
thematter,themanhasbecomemoreand morecertainofhis
own conclusion. He realises thatthis man caBedJesus (v. 11)
possesses divine power(v. 17), and more importantly,thatthe
living God Himselfis visible in Him (v.38). Like a puzzle, the
picturewasbuiltpiecebypiecefor all tosee.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Optiona)JesushadoncecalledHimselfthelightoftheworld.Consequently,
thePhariseeshadaskedHimtoproveit(cf.John8:12-13).Inthefollowing
story, Jesus proves that He doesn't make idle promises and thatGod's
divinepowerworksthroughHim.
Optionb)There is thisbeggaronthestreet- blindby birth.Jesus passeshim with
His disciples. "Clory to theJudge ofthe World" - tltat'swhatadevoutJew would
Itave saidwhenseeingtheblindo Ifheislivinginbadconditionshemustbeasinner.
He deserves his blindness as Cod's judgementfor his deeds. That's most probably
what Jesus'disciples thoughtwhen they sawthe mano Buttite manwasblindfrom
birth.Sowecometo thetrickytheologicalquestion: "Whosefaultis it?Isithisfault
orhisparents?"Thequestionrhedisciplesmayhaveaskedis stillveryrele-
vant today.Whether ir is voiced out loud, or harboured as a personal
doubt. "Whyme?- Whythem?- Whatdidwedotodeservethis?"These
questions have anuncomfortablefamiliarity.(Example:Hinduism)
126
B. Questions
As thetextis quitelong, itwouldbehelpfultodrawupastructure
ofthetexttogether.
A blind man sees (v. 1-7)
Let's try to imagine whar it would have been like beingthe blind
man in this texto Use the given information in the text (v. 1+8) .
ablindness,begging,beingbrandedas a sinner.
l. Seeingtheblindman- whatthoughtsgothroughthedisciples
minds?WhatisJesusthinkingabout?(disciples:thepast ;Jesus :
thefuture)
2. How does theblind manexperienceJesus healinghim?What
thoughtsmighthavecrossed his mindonhiswayto thepool?
Whatwas hethinkingwhenhecameback?
A healed man in a (v. 8-23)
Thehealedmanmeetshisneighbours.Theytakehimtobeexamined
bythePharisees.There,hestatesinsimplewordshowhewashealed.
3. HowdothePhariseeshandlethesituation?Whichconclusions
do they draw? How do theyjustity them?What preliminary
standpointaretheybuiltupon?
4. In their helplessness, they take the man's parents to the
Pharisees.Whatdowe thinkoftheirreaction?
Branded as a sinner (v. 24-34)
5. ThePhariseessummonthemanforasecondcross-examination.
Compare the two cross-examinations. What is the difference
betweenthetwo?
Being called to be a disciple (v. 35-41)
6. Instead ofrejoicing in the man' s healing, the people around
him exclude him from the synagogue and therefore more or
lessfrom society. HowdoesJesus reactwhenHe is toldthis?
12
7
7 ThePhariseeshave alreadypassedjudgementuponJesus: "We
know this man is a sinner" (v. 24). But the healed man falls
down onhis lmees in front of Jesus (v. 38). While he hadgone
throughallthehassle,thecross-examinationsandencounters
withJesus, theJewsandhis neighbours, themanhadcometo
certain conclusions about the Man they cal!Jesus (v. 11). Try to
piece together and understand how the man's faith has
developed.
C. Application
l. Like thepeopleinourpassage,dowealsohaveapictureofGod
that is characterised by fault and retribution, sin and
punishment?
All good and bad deeds have the' consequences (Karma).Suffering is a
consequence oJKarma (the balance oJgood and bad). Man can only
thereJore blame himfherself. Karma decides the state that we are re-born
in. We are prisoners oJthe reincarnation cycl e. Death doesn 'tmean the
end but mther the transition to a new liJe. Still, this doesn 'tmean joy
because we are still prisoners inthe cycle oJliJeand death. Onlysalvation
is the liberation Jrom Kar-ma; Jrom the cycle oJ reincarnation.
(Hinduism)
Looking at this picture ofGod, whatdoes forgiveness mean?
WhatisJesus' answerin9:3?
2. In this text, the different attitudes toward Jesus vary a great
deal. Which attitude would I consider most like mine?What
kind ofpicture ofJesus does the textevoke in me?Whatdo 1
have difficultyunderstanding?
3. V. 7:JesusaskstheblindmantoputhistrustinHimandfollow
His ordersandgo to thepool.Itis theman'sdecisiontoeither
stay where he is or go his first steps on the path offaith.
According to this verse, whatdoes having faith inJesus look
like (listen to Jesus, trust in His words, start going in a new
direction, cerne closer to the truth ofHis words only on the
newpath,etc.)?
128
7. Inwhomcanwetrust?
UesustheGoodShepherd)
John10:1-30
l. Personalpreparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesus'speechabouttheGoodShepherdwasfarfrombeingidyllic
for the Jews. In actual fact, it was an incredible presumption and
provocationwhichis alsoapparentinthepeople'sreaction(v.31).
l. Historicalbacl<ground (OldTestament)
The pictureofa shepherd andtheflockwas familiar to theJews. In
theBibleitrepresents
a) therelationshipbetweenGod andIsrael(cf. Psalm 23),
b) therelationshipoftheJewishrulersandIsrael (cf. Ezekiel34).
In Ezekiel 34:1-24, God accuses the responsible rulers ofIsrael of
neglect,andtakesthe'flockofIsraeJ'awayfromthem.Godpromises
Israel one shepherd whowill reign over the people and be their king
(Ezekiel 34:23-24).
With regard ro this information, itis nowJesus who enters center-
stageandsays:1 AMthe good shepherd - I amtheoneEzekielwasspeaking
about.
2. Textualcontext
Chapter9: Jesus healed a blind manon the Sabbath day (v. 14).The
Phariseesdidn'tknow how tojudgethe situation(v. 16). When they
neverthelesscame to a conclusion (v. 24), theywerecontradictedby
thehealedmanwhoconfessedthatJesuswasworkingbyGod'spower
(v. 33) .Consequently,themanisexcludedfromthecommunityofthe
synagogue(v.34) .lnchapter10,Jesusbluntlyaddressesthedespotism
andheresyofthereligiousrulers .
12
9
1-2 At night,sheepof differentownerswereputintoasheepcotor
fold. The folds consisted ofa wall ofstones and thornbushes
erected in order to protect the sheep from robbers and wild
animals. The entrance was usually shut by stones and
additionallyguardedbytheshepherdorawatehman.Therefore,
JesuscanliterallybecaBedthe door (c.f. v. 7).
3-5 Theshepherds(ownersorsimplelabourers)wereknownbythe
watchman. In the morning, theflocks were separatedby the
respective shepherds calling theirsheep to lead them to the
rightpastures.
5 Sheepdon'ttruststrangerslike theytrusttheirshepherd.
6 Whois addressed?Maybe itis a groupofPharisees (9:40) who
arethereonbehalf oftherulers.Theseeonsideredthemselves
thelegitimateshepherdsofIsrael.Jesusisusingtheimageryof
God'sjudgementinEzekiel,andappliesitagainstthesepeople:
Theyhadfailed(cf.Matthew9:36);theyhadruledIsraelbytheir
ownauthorityandthereforewerenothinglessthanthievesand
robbers. Acase in point was the exclusion ofthe blind man
from thereligiouseommunity(cf. chapter9).
7-8 The flock was eounted every morning and evening. The
shepherdstoodattheentraneeofthefoldandusinghiserook
eountedas thesheepentered,makingsuretheywerealright.
1am the door ofthe sheep inthiseontextthereforemeans:
a) Iamtheonewhotakes eareofthesheep.
b) Iamthelegitimatewatehmantoguardthesheepandthey
trustinme.
e) Iamtheentrancetoseeurityandtheexittogoodpastures.
9-10 he willbe saved: Jesusgoesevenfurther-Salvationandredemption
- fulllifecanonlybe accessed throughandgivenbyHim!
At first, theimageryrevolvesaroundthievesandrobbers,who
sawthemselves as 'validalternativeowners' ofthesheep,and
true shepherds. who had a direet, genuine relationship with
thewatchmenandsheep(v. 1-6).Butnow,thefoeus movesonto
'3
JesusbeingthetrueshepherdandHis personal un:lInbljllloU
ealltoencounterfulllifeinHim.
steal, kil!, destroy: fake prophets (gurus, despots Iikl' l li llt' r or
Stalin,drugs, etc.) who makefalse promises; theypronlisl' lili,'
butareonlyabletodestroyit.
11 Here Jesus' death is announeed, disereetly and almost as an
aside. By His deathwe aregivena newlife(cf. v. 15;John1:29;
John3:14-15).
12-13 The others are onlyoutto guard theirownlife. lfa situation
arises where they have to decidebetween themselves and the
sheep,theysacrifieethesheep.
1415 know: knowingtheshepherd'svoice(v. 4), calledbyname(v. 3);
he steps forward, they follow him (v. 4) - terms oftrust and
closenessjintimacy.
16 sheep not of this fold : including non-Jews; they will also follow
Him(andthereforebepartofGod's people).
17-18 Here is another hintatJesus' death: He voluntarilygives His
lifeforall men
19-21 Again (cf. 9:16) theJews are divided; however the division is
morepronouneed.SornesayHe is badandjormad,othersbeg
theanswerthatHe is God.The latterallude to the healingof
the man who was blind by birth (see ehapter 9), and most
probably are beginning to eonnect this with the "joy ofthe
redeemed"asexpressedinIsaiah35:5- .....Thenwilltheeyesof
theblindbeopenedandtheearsofthedeafunstopped... "(v.5)
22 Thefollowingverses takeplaceafew daysorweekslatero From
thecontext,itis directlylinl<edwithJesus'speech(seechapter
10:1-21).
24 Jf you are the Christ? - theJews couldn'tstand this uncertainty
any longer.EitherJesus was a crazymanwho nobodyshould
listentoanymore(v. 20)orthepromisedSaviourWhohealsthe
'3'
sickbyGod's power(Y. 21 ).Theywantedtobeabletoforce the
issueinonedirectionortheother.
25-26 yau da natbelie-ve: cf.John9:35-38. Thehealedmansoughtaword
to belieye, and belieyed. Others sought a word tojudge, and
didn'tbelieyed.
27-30 Jesus explains once again the image ofthe shepherd and his
sheep,whatit meansto belieye inandbelongto Him.
29 Cf. Romans8:35-39
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
ExplainthedisputewiththereligiousrulersinJohn9.
Explain the historie background (Old Testament); it may be helpful to
read Ezekiel 34:1-24together.
B. Questions
1. Politicians,rulers,politicalparties- whatdowethinkofthem?
Whatwouldtheyhayetobelikeinorderforustoputourtrust
inthem?Whatkindofpeopledowetrust?Whatmakessomeone
belieyable?
Robbers, thieves (v. 1-18)
2. Whoare thelegitimaterulersoftheIsraelites?Who possesses
God'sauthorityroreign?Whopresumesauthoritytorule?These
arethequestionsthatJesusilluminatesinHis parables.lnthis
chapter,itistheparableoftheshepherdandhissheep.
WhichcontrastsdoesJesususe?Whatis Hisaim?Howdoes He
characterise the different ways oftreating sheep? (e.g. hired
hand(Y. 12) - owner(v!l);Whatis thedifferencebetweenthe
two?)
132
The Good Shepherd (v. 1-18)
3. How is the relationship between the shepherdand thes h ~ p
described (from the shepherd's point ofyiew and from l h ~
sheep'spointofview)?
4. Jesus calls Himselfthe Good Shepherd. What makes Him a
Shepherd? Whatmakes HimaGood Shepherd?
He is crazyl (v. 19-21)
5. The people's reactions are mixed. On tbe one hand, they
considerJesus an almost demonic-like, crazy and arrogant
person;ontheotherhand,peoplethinkthatJesusjustcannot
simplysaywhatHe does without therebeingsometruthto it
al!. What kinds ofreactions and emotions doesJesus' speech
eyoke inourselves?
Reveal yourselfl (v. 22-25)
6. Thescenethatis presentedheretakesplaceafewdaysorweeks
afterJesus's speech about the Good Shepherd; still, both
situationsareconnectedwitheachother.111eJewscouldn'tbear
the uncertaintyany longer: "We want to know whoyou are!"
Jesus'answer:"You knowenoughaboutMe. Butstill,youdon't
believeinMe."
Beliefin Jesus - Wha t would that mean for these people?
CompareY. 25withthereactionofthehealedmaninJohn9:35-
37.
ThepoweroftheFather(Y. 26-30)
7. Jesus onceagain uses theimageoftheshepherdandsheepin
ordertodescribeHisrelationshiptowardsthosewhobelievein
Him. How doesJesus expand uponthe imageoftheshepherd
here?Howcanweapplythisto ourownlives?
133
C. Application
Questions4,6and7couldalreadyberegardedasApplication.Inallthree
cases, it is importantto come backto the textaftera certain period of
discussion.At theend,thefollowingquestionscouldbe reiterated:
1. 1have come that they may have life, and have itto the ful!.
What does "life" mean to us? Which peapie (e.g. authors),
doctrines, concepts ofliving, etc. do we cling to (positive
thinking,self-fulfilment,etc.)?Whyaretheseimportantinmy
"life"?Whathave1experiencedinthisarea?
2. Inthistext,Jesusinvitesusto trustinHimandtoputourlifein
His hands.Whatdoes this mean to me and my life? (Hear His
voice and recognise it, beingcaBed by my name, being led to
thepastures,followHim,etc.)
3. Whatdo1find mostattractivein thepictureofa sheepliving
withJesusas its shepherd?
134
8. Serving- notruling
Uesustheservant)
John13:1-17
l.Personalpreparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:Theeventswereacceleratingmoreandmoretowardstheendof
Jesus'life:TheJewishrulerswereconcoctingplanstogetridofJesus.One
ofthedisciplesevenbetrayedHimfor money.Thepresentchaptertakes
placeshortlybefareJesus is arrested;itis shortlybefareHe hastosuffer
anddiefor uso He hasless than24hourstolive.
Butthisisn'tsomethingthatthediscipleshaveunderstood.Theyhaven't
beenpayingattentiontoJesus'hintsaboutHisdeath.Insteadthedisciples
werepreoccupiedwithother"problems".TheCospelofLuke(Luke22:24-
26) gives us an accountofthelastsupperwhichJesus andHis disciples
hadtogether.Therethedisciples argueaboutpositionsof andclaimsto
powerandwhois thefirst amongthem.
The foot-washing is therefore, on the one hand,Jesus' answer to the
argumentofthedomineeringdisciplesand,ontheotherhand,itshows
Jesus' relationshipwithHis disciples.
1
Passover Feast: theJewish religious festival in memory ofthe
freeingoftheIsraelipeapiefromslaveryinEgyptthroughCod's
powerful intervention (cf. Exodus 12) .The New Testament
regardsJesus' death as the fulfilment ofthis story: He is the
reallambofPassover(1 Corinthians5:7). In thenightwhenall
first-bornbabieswerekilled,theJewspaintedthelamb'sblood
on theirdoorpostand, thus,werepreservedfrom thejudging
ange!.Thissalvationis aforeshadowingofhowweare rescued
fromGod'sjudgementwhenweacceptJesus'deathasasacrifice
foroursins.
135
having !aved his ownwhowere inthe wor!d, he nowshowed them the fu!!
extent of his lave: Love - theessenceof Jesus' life. He came into
ourworld throughGod's love Oohn 3:16). His encounterswith
peoplewere characterisedby His love. And itis this love that
madeHimdiefor usonthecrossOohn15:13).His love reached
outtoJudas,Histraitor,PeterwhodeniedHim,andalltheothers
wholetHimdown.
1-3 ]esus knew: He knewwhatlayahead.His lasthoursofsuffering
and deathbutalso thefulfilmentofHis mission. He knewhe
hadtodieforall,mankind'ssalvationwaswithinHis reach(cf.
John1:29). He l<newwhowasgoingtobetrayHim, butHe also
knewthatHewastherebyneithergivingHimselfintothehands
ofthedevil, northetraitor, northeJewish rulers, northeRo-
manauthorities.His lifewasinHis Father'shands.
4-5 Jesus theoneWhois endowed withGod's power (v.3) takes a
towel, wraps it round Himselfand pours water into a basin.
Although He is aware ofHis power Uesus knew), He takes the
lowlypositionofaslavebywashingtheeetofHis disciples .
Foot-washing: lt is a service thatwas usually performed by a
servant.Themaster'sfeet, dirtyaftercollectingdustfrom the
street, would thereby become clean again. On the one hand,
thiswas a dailynecessity; ontheotherhand, ithonouredthe
guest.Everythingis putunder the feet ofthosewhorule;tolift up
one's hee!s against someone (v. 18!) is a symbolofgreatcontel11pt.
Jesus turns our image ofthe world and its hierarchy upside
down.
6-8 Petercannotwatchthefoot-washing insilencelike theothers.
Itis simplyincredibleforhimtoseewhatJesusis doing:Lord,
are yougolDg towash myfeet7-1 gave up everythingfor you,
fo!lowed you, 1am ready to do everything for you. 1fyou want me to die
for you, 1wou!d do it(cf.John13:37)!But you washing my feet
7
Never!
- That'swhatPetermighthave thoughtthatnight.
ButPeterneedstosee that
1) ourstandardsarecompletelydifferentfromthoseinGod's
kingdom.Peterwascaughtwithinthesystemofthevalues
136
ofourworld:The masteris beingserVl'd.wh
is theonewhois serving.
2) wecannottakeinterestinJesusbywhatwe are 40
HimbutthroughwhatHei5 doingto and tbr 111.
we can have a glimpse ofHis death: He died fur m;
throughHis deathwe takepartinHis life.
PeterneedstobewashedbyJesus!Thosewhodon'tacceptJl>'I lI S
as someonewhoserves usdon'tbelongtoHim. Peterwanb In
be withJesus (cf. John 13:36-38). But he cannot share l-l is
pathwaytothecross; thatis whereJesusis goingforU5_Let Me
wash you. This is theright way to be with Me.
Peterunderstandsthatthisis morethanjustaphysicalduty;it
9
more importantly l11eans taking part in Jesus and the
communitywithHim.Hethereforechangeshismindsuddenly:
my hands and my head as we!!!
10 Possible interpretations:
1) The bathis necessaryonlyonce as thebath of re-birth Oohn
3:5).Althoughwe liveourlife inthecommunitywithJesus,
wecontinuesinning.WethereforeneedHisforgivenessevery
single day (cf. 1. Corinthians 6:11).(In the Old Testament,
priests had to bathe thel11selves completely before their
investiture [Exodus 29:4; Leviticus 8:6]. Before their daily
dutiesinthesanctuary,theyhadtowashonlyrheirhands
andfeet[Exodus 40:31-32]).
2) IfJesus'foot-washingisasymbolfol' Hissacrifice,v.10could
be interpreted:My sacrifice is enough for everything.That
is allyou need!
10-11
""ho!e body is c!ean: Jesus' commentis a predictionof everyone's
statusafterJesus'death(cf. 1Corinthians6:11).
not every one ofyou: Jesuslovedallofthem(13:1)andhadwashed
every foot - but there is one among them who had betrayed
HimandHis love(13:18).
13 teacher: (didaskalos)
137
Lord: someonewhohas poweroverothers;someonewhocalls
othersto hisservice
14
1washyourfeet is turned intoyouwashoneanotber's
feet(cf. Philippians2:1-5).Ourcommunityis characterisedby
Jesus'deeds.He notonlyturnsoldvaluesupsidedownbutalso
turns his deedsintoanexampleofhowwe shouldbehaveand
live(13:34-35) . Jesus- us,we- oneanother:rhatistheformula
thatwe shouldlivewith.
15
Example: Jesusdoesn'twantto have peoplewhocheerHim up
butpeoplewhofollowin His footsteps, imitators.
16
Whoeverdoesn'twanttobeaslave,presumestobeaboyeJesus.
17
you will be blessed ifyou do them: Jesus presents thefoot-washing
as ablessingtharis meantfor thepersonwhonoronlyknows
butputshisknowledgeintoaction.
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
What would you do if you had only 24 hours left to live? - The answers to this
questionwillrevealwhatis mostimportantforus inIife.Jesusknewtha.
Hisdeathwouldcomesoon.ThetextgivesaccountofhowHewithdraws
with his disciples into a house in order to celebrate the Passover with
them.ThesupperthattheyhaveismuchmorethananordinaryPassover
feast - itreveals a newmeaningofPassover.
B. Questions
Jesus(v. 1-3)
1. Itis saidtwiceJesusknew - Whatdid He knowandhoware the
thingsdescribed tharareawaitingHim?
Thedisdples(v. 4-5)
2. Washing feet and c1eaning them from dust was part ofthe
Jewishcultureinthoserimes.Butirwasthetaskoftheservants.
Therewasn'taservantpresentar thesupper,and thedisciples
didn't even consider the possibility oftaking the basin and
washingfeet themselves.Whatdoyou feel whenreadingthat
irwasJesusWhosrartedwashingthedisciples' feet?
3. The authorlinksverses 3 and4 togetherOesus knewthar...so
hegotup... ). Whatwashisaimby sayingthis?
Peter(v. 6-9)
4. Most ofthedisciples- surprised- letJesus performthisduty.
But when it was Peter's turn, he simply couldn't keep quiet:
Lord, are you going to wash my feet? What kind ofrhoughts and
feelings mighthave beengoingthrough his mind?What is ir
thatweIike abouthim?
5. Whatis Jesus' reacrion?Howdoes He helpPeterovercomehis
rejection?
I 1:' 139 138
JeSllS' disdples(v. 8.10-17)
6. Jesus' foot-washing has several meanings.Whatmeaningdoes
Jesus putforward inverses 13-15?
In verses 8 and 10, another meaning is presented. Here, the
majoremphasisis notonimitatingJesus,butratheraccepting
Himasaservant.Otherwise,PeterwillnotbelongtoHim.What
mightJesus thinkaboutthis?Whatmightwaterandwashing
symbolise?
C. Application
1. Ruling- serving
Jesus is themaster- butHe didn'treach powerby despotismo
He came as God's servant. He wants us to be like servants to
eachother.Whatkindofhierarchyarewelivingin?Whatcould
washing one another's feet mean?In whichsituationscouldIbe a
servantinsteadofbeingserved?
2. Jesus knewthatthe time had come (v. 1)
Hishourwas notthemomentwhenhundredsofpeoplewere
cheeringHim(cf. chapter6:15) butitwaswhenHe diedonthe
crosS.Hisdeathwas hisdutyfor us.Read Mark10:45andthink
aboutthemeaningofthisverse.ThesymbolthatJesusapplies
hereis theransomofaslaveI servant .
140
9. Itisfinished
(Jesusonthecross)
John19:
1
-3
l. Personal preparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:TheplanoftherulingIsraelitestokiliJesuswas putintoaction
(cf. 5:18; 10:31; 11:46-50).Themainaccusation:blasphemy.Because You, a
mere man, e/aimtobe Cod (10:33).Inthedeadofthenight,Jesuswasarrested
andinterrogatedbytheJewishrulers- all inthesamenight.Intheearly
morning,Jesus is taken to Pilate, theRoman procurator.Theaccusation
is manipulated.Blasphemywasn'tanoffense inPilate's eyes.Therefore,
theJews accuseJesus ofbeinganevildoerand criminal(18:30) Who, as
King oftheJews (18:33), rebelsagainsttheRomans.
PilatethoughtJesusnotguilly(18:38), butinsteadofreleasingHim[rom
prison, hewantsto find a compromise:Theannual amnestyoffers him
the perfect opportunity to release Him by vote ofthe people. But the
peoplevotefor Barabbas, aviolentrobber, to besetfree (18:40) .
1 Pilate: RomanprocuratorofJudea
TheJewswereoutoftheirjurisdiction;theywere notallowed
toexecutethedeathpenalty.InordertokillJesus,theyneeded
thesentenceofaRomanjudge(cf. 18:31).
flogged: awhipwithleatherstrapstwinedwithpiecesofmeta!.
Thefloggingwasanattemptatasecondcompromise.Theinitial
pardonhadgonewrongandnowPilatehoped thejc'Ws would
besatisfiedwiththisalternativepenalty.
2-3 In the foreground, there are the soldiers who triumphantly
malee fun of Jesus. But God is the oneWho is worleing in the
141
background;He hasall thepower. He makesfunofthepeople
andappointsaking(cf. Psalm2,4-6!).
Cf. 18:37: I am a king. And the soldiers keep mockingJesus in
theirviolent, inhumanway.
TheyaccuseHimofconsideringHimself'theKingoftheJews' .
ButJesusconsidersHimselfthe"KingoftheJews"fromatotally
different point ofview:In Psalm 2, the Messiah is appointed
king by God; as the Son ofDavid the Messiah is also King of
Israel; therefore,God Himselfis KingofIsrael(Isaiah44:6).
4 Onceagain, Pilatesays thatheconsidersJesus notguilty.
5 Here isthe man: "LookatHis misery;Heisjustanordinaryman;
feel pityfor Him!" (cf.John1:14)
6 Pilateunderlinesfor thethirdtimethathecannotfindJesusin
anywayguilty
7 AccordingtoJewishlaw,blasphemyincurredthedeathpenalty.
Butwho is blasphemous?Jesus, WhoconsidersHimselfGod's
Son,orthosewhowantHimcrucified?
TheJewish rulers have to take the alternatives into account:
eitherto kneel downin front of Jesus and pray to Himorkili
Himfor being"blasphemous".
8-11 Jesus knows:God reigns; He has thepower(10:28).
11 JesussacrificesHis JifeofHis ownfreewill(10:18).
greater sin: TheJewsaredrivenbyhatredtowardJesusWhoclaims
to be the Messiah. Pilate acts out ofcowardice and the high
priestacts as someoneappointed by God,whoknows theGod
ofIsraelandtheScriptures.
12 Pilate is being coerced by the people. EmperorTiberius once
had kicked those thatopposed him from a rock into the sea
afterhavingthemseverelypunished.
142
14 Passover: aJewishfeastcommemoratingtheHebrews'liberation
from slavery and their exemption from the slaughter ofthe
firstborn in Egypt (Exodus 12:21-27).Jesus is the final true
Passoverlamb(1 Corinthians5:7).
14-15 PilatemakesfunofJesusandthe Jewsdenythattheyarewaiting
for theexpectedMessiah.
Notice thecontrasts :notJesus but Barabbas; notGod butthe
Emperor; nottruthbutpower.
16 Pilatesacrificedtruth,justice,andinnocenceandwasrewarded
witha poJiticalsuccess.
18 Cf.John3:14-16
Thecrosswasaninstrumentof deathandshame.For theJews
crucifixionwas a sentencegiven by God, "Cursed is everyone
whohangsonatree... "(Galatians3:13,Deuteronomy21:22,23)
Even the Romans who loved the brutality ofthe coJiseum
abhorredthegoreofthecross.TheRomanphilosopherCicero
wrote, "Let the very name ofthe cross be far away not only
fromthebodyof aRomancitizen,butevenfromhisthoughts,
his eyes, his ears." ItwasforbiddenforRomanstobe crucified
for itwasconsidered"thedeathofaslave".
23-24 The garments ofthe executed were usually given to the
execution squad. With their nakedness, the crucified
simul taneouslylost, theirlastpossessionsandtheirdignity.
25-27 Even in His suffering, Jesus holds onto His love for uso The
disciplewhomJesuslovedwasprobablyJohnhimself.
28-30 finished : brought to an end, accompJished (Greek. telos): The
Greekwordmeansbothendandtarget.Jesusreachedtheend,
andHis Father'smissionis accomplished.Salvationis brought
to anend.Christ is the awning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for
ours but also for the sins ofthewhole world (1.John2:2).
143
11. Groupdiscussion
A. Introduction
Ciye ashortexplanationofthehistoricalbackgroundandsituation.
Perhaps readaselectionofyerses fromJohn18 to setthescene.
Revi ewJesus' hintsatHis sufferinganddeathin thetextsstudiedso far
(3:14-16; 6:71; 10:11).
B. Questions
A) Jesus'trial(v.1-16)
Let's haye a look at the people and groups who take part in
Jestls' trial.
TberulingJewsandthepeopleofIsrael
1. Why do theJews want to kili Jeslls? What is their main
accusation?Lookingatthescencs ofthesoldiers' mocking
andtheinterrogationwithPilate,theaccusationapparently
musthayebeendifferent.WhatdotheyaccuseHimof?Why
aretheysoambiguotls?
2. Describethefeelingsofthe(ruling)Jews towardJesus.
Pilate- aRomanjudge
3. Howwouldwe describePilate'scharacter?
4. Why does Pil at e sentence Jesus to Qcath although he
considers Himtobe notguilty(Y.18:38; 19:4,6)?Whatkind
ofproblemsis hefacing?
Jesus
5. During the t r ial Jesu5 says only one sentence (Y. 11 ).
Otherwise,He remainssilent .WhatdoesHe meanbywhat
Hesays inY. 11 ?CouId thi sexplainHiscalmness?
B) Jesus'death(v.17-30)
Ontheeross
6. Jestls remained silentalthough the people wanted Him to
defend Himself. In His suffering, whenhedid speak,what
was hedoinginsteadofdefendinghimself?(He wascaring
for His motherI He was caringfor the fulfilmentofCod's
Plan).
7. Hislastwordsarenot"It'a al! overnow"butrather"It isfinished".
Whatdoes thatmean?
C. Application
1. WhydidJesus have to die?
To alloutwardappearances,itwasbecauseofthehatredofthe
religious rulers againstJesus and aRomanjudge without a
backbone. However, ifwe look at othertexts in the Bible,we
cometoquiteadifferentconclusion:Mark10:45;Isaiah53:4-6;
Romans5:6-8;1.Peter2:22,24.Read maybe:"Justice or Lave" {see
page 161).
2. The parties inyolved inthe trial andcrucifixion(rulersofthe
Jews,Jews,Pilate,soldiers)areexamplesofpeoplelikeyouand
me:That's howwe are, that's how we react toJesus ' claim of
beingGod'sSon.:Hatred,mockeryandattitudeslikeThat's none
ofmy business. Is thisimageof mankindtoonegatiyeorarethere
similaritiesinourtimesorlives?
144
145
10. Theemptytomb
(Jesus' resurrection)
John20:1-31
l. Personalpreparation
Observation,interpretation
Context:Jesus was laid in the tombon theeveningbefore the Sabbath
day. Nothingfurtherwas doneontheSabbath(Luke 23:56). Onlyonthe
morning ofthe day after the Sabbath did the women have their first
opportunitytogoandsee thetomb.
1 Mary: Shewasfrom Magdala.Jesoshadfreed herfromdemons
(Luke 8:2).Togetherwithotherwomen,MarytookcareofJesus
and His disciples (Luke 8:3) and shewas amongHis followers.
WhenJesuswascrucified,shewas thereUohn 19:25). Love and
hurt drove her to go and see the tomb on this morning.The
tomb was carved outofrock with a stone over the entrance,
sealingit.
2 the disciple, the oneJesus laved: Mostlikelythatis howJohnrefers
tohimself.Reachingthetomb,Marynoticesthatthestonehas
gone. She canonly drawone conclusion: Someone has taken
Jesusaway.ShereturnstoJohnandPetertellingthemwhatshe
has seen.
3-7 strips oIlinen Uohn 19:40): The fact thatthe linen is still there
means thatJesus cannothave been taken away. Furthermore,
thelinenwasfolded.Fromthisdescription,itobviooslywasn't
robbery.
Threetimesitis repeatedthatsheI hesaw (v. 1,5,8).Seeingthe
stone rolled aside, Maryhasjustonethingonhermind:They
have taken Himaway.Peteris surprisedandhelplesswhenhe
146
sees theemptytombandthefolded linen.Theyallstillbelieve
thatJesus is dead. None ofthem remembers the hints atHis
risingfrom the dead. The empty tomb doesn't evokejoyand
happiness.
8-10 JohnseesHimandbelieves:SuddenlytheversesofPsalm16:10-
11 becomeaguaranteeofJesus'resurrection.Hestartsto und-
erstand:that'swhatJesus had beentalkingaboutUohn11:25-
26). He has risenagain,He lives!Johnknows thisforsure.
11 Thetomband tearsarecloselylinked.The tombis asymbolof
death,transitorinessandfinalseparation.Itis thedividingline
between life and death.What remains is tears and grief. And
that is whatMary mayhave felt: She was disturbed,crushed,
withdestroyed hopes and expectations.This is howshestood
atthetombweeping.
14-16 Mary doesn't recognise Jesus. She is a prisoner ofher own
imagination.Finallysherealiseswhathashappened.1twasnot
theemptytombortheencounterwiththeangels;ir wasJesus
Whocalled herby hername.(cf.John 10:27; Isaiah43:1; Luke
19:5).
17 Possible interpretations:
1) Mary wants to touch Jesus to make sure that He exists
physicallyandthathersensesarenotplayingtricksonher.
Jesus answers her:Do not hold on to Me.The encounterwith
Jesus- notwhatwe areable to touchandfeel - provides us
withcertaintyaboutHis resurrection.
2) Mary wants to touchJesus as if to restore the former
communitywithJesusandHisdisciples(Matthew28:9). But
Jesuskeepsheraway.GoingtoHisFatherfirstisaprerequisite
to beingwith His disciples.The community's shape starts
changing(20:22).
Brothers:Thisis howJesuscallsthosemenwhohadleftHim
afew days earlier.
MyFatherandyourFather:Jesusremainsthe SonofGod.Heis
notsimplyoneofus. ButstillHe makes us take partinthe
147
communitywith His Father. We are able to become God's
Hehasbeenhurttoodeeply,andwiththishu rll i ~ duubt
children.
rundeep.
19 On theverysameday!
26-28 Faith derives from the encounter withJesus and II b word.
ThomasrecognisesintheresurrectedmantheoneWhol1lIIll'y
Peace be with you (v. 19,21): Jesus' greeting to the disciples
had once followed (My Lord). And he realises:Jesus llimscl f is
addresses their fear oftheJewish rulers and their questions
God.ThroughHimGodbecamea humanbeing,He diedforliS
and doubts :\iVhat had really happened? If He is living, He must be
andwasresurrectedonthethirddayfromthedead.Thisisnot
disappointed because we left Him. He will never ta/k to us again.
an ordinaryconfession(You are) but ratherThomas' personal
confession(my...).
20 Jesus'woundsaresymbols ofpeace. FromHis woundedhands
and feet healing and forgiveness is given to everyone who
Explanation:Resurrectionhasnothingtodowithreincarnation
believes inHim(cf. Isaiah53:5).
oracontinuedexistenceofthesoulorofthespiritafterdeath.
In the Bible, spirit, soul, and body are united. Resurrection
Jesuspossessesatotallynewidentitythatis beyondimagination:
means thatone becomes alive - not onlyone's soul but also
His wounds reveal Him tobethecrucifiedSaviouron theone
one'sbody.Thatiswhythetombwasempty.Jesus'worldlybody
hand;ontheotherhand,however,Marydoesn'trecogniseHim
wasturnedintoanewformofflesh(cf. 1Corinthians15).And
andHeentersthroughthelockeddoorsofthehousewherethe
thisnewfleshexistsinparalleltotheearthlyflesh(v.27Jesus '
disciples hadgathered.
wounds!).In theteachingofreincarnation,however,thesoulis
The crucifiedJesus is theresurrectedJesus. RecognisingHim,
separatedfrom thebodytobecomealiveinanotherone.There
thedisciples 'fear, scepticismandworryis turnedintojoyand
isnocontinuitybetweenapersoninthisworldandthatperson
gladness.
afterdeath"on theotherside".
21
as: Thewordmeansboththecomparison(like theFather)and
thereason(because).His missionis His authority:Accordingto
11. Group discussion
aJewishlaw,theonewhois sent,is senthavingtheauthority
ofthesendingparty.
A. Introduction
1. The FrenchauthorAlbertCamusoncewrote:Christ has come in
are connectedwithJesus; throllgh His powertheyare able to
22
TheHolySpiritis partofHismission.ThroughHimthedisciples
arder to salve two main problems: evil and death. Sin and death -
work. these aretwo ofthemajorchallengesthatwe face.
On the cross, it was the question ofsin, and in Jesus'
23 Forgivenessofsins - thatwasJeslls' veryown mission.Thatis
resurrection,itwastheovercomingof death.
the reason why He carne into ourworld and died for us on
Calvary's hill (cf. Matthew1:21; John1:29).His missionis now
ChristianfaithdependsonJesus'resurrection(cf.1Corinthians
transferred to His disciples. 15,17,18,32).ltis notonlyaneventthathappenedsometimein
thepastbutitis theexpectationandconfession ofeveryone's
25
Thomasremainssceptical.Hewantsproof;hewantstoseeHim,
resurrection from death in the future.That is thegreat hope
touchHim, hearHim.Heis afraidofsimpleanswers. He is not
thatChristianslive wi th.
willingtojustbelievethosepeoplewhomhewouldusuallytrust.
149 148
2. Mary stood at the tomb weeping (v.11). Ihis is how many people
have stood atthegraves oftheirfamily members and friends.
Death:to loseabelovedone,end,separation.Whatcrossesour
mindwhenwe thinkaboutdeath?Whathaveweexperienced
upuntilnowinourownlives?
B. Questions
ThedayaftertheSabbath
1. Ihe text shows us how different people reacted to Jesus'
resurrectionandhowtheystartedtobelieveinHiminlightof
His death.In ordertogetageneraloverviewofthetext ,letus
collectinformationaboutthedifferent people thatappearin
thetext oWhoarethey?Whatwas theirrelationshiptoJesus?
HowisyourrelationshipwithJesus1
2. Beforewe takeacloserlookatthesepeopleletus reviewsorne
facts. What state were thedisciples in afterJesus died?What
shows us thattheydidn'texpectHis resurrection?
Theemptytomb(v. 1-10)
3. Ihreetimesthetextsays she/he saw. WhatdidMary, Peter,and
Johnsee(=theotherdisciples)?Whichconclusiondidtheydraw
fromthethingstheyhadseen?
4. It says aboutJohn:He sawand believed.Did heseeI realisemore
thanPeterdid?Whydidhebelieve?Whatdoesbelievemeanhere?
MaryMagdalene:Tearsof griefandlave(v. 1-2,11-18)
5. What impression do we have ofMary Magdalene and her
relationshipwithJesus?
6. Herfirst reactionwas:Ihecorpse has beenstolen(v. 2). In the
end,shetellsthedisciples:IhaveseenJesus.He is resurrected.
(v.18).Whatmadeherchangehermind?
Peacebewithyou(v.19-23)
Jesus is alive.Now, one mightexpect a huge proclamationor
somethingsimilartohappen.Butnothingofthekind.Instead,
Jesus, withoutbeingseen, visits somc IWllplc': fU
His disciplesandlaterThomas.
7. Whydid the disciples meetbehindclosel! dll\lr,
was intheair?
8. WhatmightithavemeantforthediscipleswhcnJl'slI
steppedinsideandgreeted themwithpeace(v. ltJ .: 1.
Thomas:hewantstoknow(v. 24-29)
9. HowisIhomaspresentedtothereader?Whatdowethinkholll
hiscriticalwayofthinking?Howwouldwehavereactl'dlO rlll'
disciples' reports?
10. WhatdoesIhomas'confession reveal?
C. Application
Inverses30-31,Johnpresentsthereaderwithhisreasonforwritingthe
gospel.Whathindersus fromreceivingJesus,God'sSon,as ourSaviour?
Ifthat's whatwe want,what do we have to do to receive Him into our
lives?
Ifneedbe,you can mentiontheprayeronpage160(Appendix).
150 151
N
..
lf'I
CHECKLIST1
Personal preparation
Observation (BE RADICAL .. ):
B efore you do anything else: Pray for the meeting. Pray for an
understanding of the texto Pray for the growth and encouragement of
each member of the group.
E ven ifyou are tempted to rush in: Pray first. Ask Cod for wisdom.
Ask Him to show you what he wants to tell you and the others from this
text, and from your time together.
R ead the text - It is good to read different translations and, where
possible, parallel accounts of the incidents j thoughts in other books of
the Bible.
A nalyse the text - Examine each word carefully, perhaps as if you
wanted to shoot a film of it!
Determine the context - Who is doing what, where, when and why
befo re and after the text?
1 dentifY the participants - Who does he, she, they refer to in the
text?What problems, background, experience, hopes do these individuals
place in Jesus? How do they approach Him?
e onsider Jesus and His (re)action - What is striking? What does Jesus
see in other people and in thei r problems?
A sk yourself what issues arise from the text - Where is the text
unfamiliar? Where do 1 feel like disagreeing with the text? Where will
others find the text unfamiliar j disagreeable?
L ook at the results - How did a relationship with Jesus change the
lives of the others?
154
Transformation (.. AND WISE):
A llow the Holy Spirit to lead you to transform onl! t hll\C II I
Ask Cod to show you the next steps in Faith for you ami each 1I11'1111
the group.
N ow is the time to come to Christ and become more like \I im. Ask
Cod to lower barriers that you and others in the group may have lo apply
what you have learnt from the text to your lives.
Decide to give Cod the Father room to deepen your faith in Him.
and ask for Him, in his merey, to deepen the faith of other in the group.
W hat does the text mean to our lives? What did the incidents j
thoughts mean to the people identified in the text? Where do we
encounter similar situations? What do (could) the incidents j thoughts
mean to us today?
1 s there a particular area of my life that needs ro change? How did
the people identified in the text change? Why did the change take place?
What would a similar change in our lives look like today?
S tand in awe ofthe reality ofthe living Cod. How did Cod intervene
in the lives ofthose read about? What attributes of Cod lead them to act
as they did? How can this reality challenge me?
E xpect change and E nd in prayer.
155
CHECKlIST2
Preparingthegroupdiscussion
Who mightcome to the Bible study?Take theirbackground, questions
and doubts into consideration. Ask God to help you see what His next
stepmightbeintheirlife.
00notpreparea monologue!Tryto formulatequestions thatenhance
1. theanalysisofthetext
2. theinterpretationand
3. theapplication.
Everyonewhocanreadisacompetentparticipantinthediscussion!When
theyparticipateandsaysomethingontheirown, theywillrememberit
evenbetter!
WhatexplanationofhistoricalbackgroundI termsI facts areneededfor
aconstructivestudyofthetext?Whichfacts will membersofthegroup
notbe aware of? How can all members ofthe groupbe brought to the
samelevel ofsufficientbackgroundknowledge (be creative here- share
yoursources, askothersto doresearchfor thegroup, .. .)?
Choose questions that can have several answers (try to answer the
questions for yourself1). Try to avoid questions that have a 'yes' or 'no'
answer. Also try to avoid questions thatencouragewild speculationon
whatthetextdoesn' tsayo
Take awholediscussionunitintoconsideration.
Thinkofhowyouwillleadthediscussion.Ooes thestructureofthetext
giveyou ahelpfulstructureforthediscussion?Whatis thetext'scentral
theme?What would be an appropriate discussion "warm up" to this
theme?Whatkindofsummaryattheendcanunderlinethistheme?
TIPSFOREVALUATINGA
1. Whatwastheset-up like?
Oidsomeoneprepareanddecorate theroom?
Oidwe startontime?
Were we disturbed duringour meeting?(Do we need to IOllk Inr
anotherplaceto meet?)
Oideveryonefeel welcome?
Oid everyonehaveaBible/text?
Oidwefinishontime?
Oidwehavetimefor personalconversationsaftertheBiblestudy?
2. Howwastheatmosphere?
Oidwefool around,quarrel,ordidwehaveaseriousconversation?
Werewedistractedordidwe digressfromthemaintapie?
Was everyone able to participate, share something and/or ask
questions?
Wasthereanytensioninthegroup(amongparticipantsarbetween
participantsandtheleader)?
Oid everyone participateinthediscussion?
Oid we all listen to each other or did we talk to others while
someoneelse wasspeaking?
3. Howdid1 feel?
Was thereenoughquiettimetothinkordid1speakall thetime?
Could 1 show respect and appreciation towards other group
memberswithwhom1did notagree?
Oid 1payattention to others (did 1recognizewhen they agreed,
were angry, did not feel at ease, were confused, were tao shy to
speakup,werebored,etc.?),did1meettheirneeds?
Oid 1feel that 1had to defend myselfor did 1show defensive
behaviour?(WedonothavetodefendGod'sword:"Hovvdo you defend
a !ion? Let itfree and itwill defend itselj)" - Spurgeon)
156
157
4. Analysinggroup dynamics?
Who talked a lot? Was Iable to politelysilence peoplewhowere
talkingaH thetime?
Whosaidlitrle?HowcouldIencouragethosepeopletospeakup?
Who did not say anything? Did Ipass on to thegroup questions
andstatementsso thatotherscouldalsocontributesomethingto
thediscussion?
DidImakesurethatIwasnottheonlyonetoexplainandinterpret
statementsandopinions?DidIfe el insecure?Ifso, why?
Was Iableto leadthediscussionbackro thetext?
Whydidthediscussiondevelop inthewayitdid?
5. DidIrecogniseanychanges?
Are the group members speaking honestly and frankly to each
other?
Are the individual group members I is the whole group
experiencingspiri tualprogress?
Couldeveryonegetsomethingoutofthediscussion?WasitfruitfuI?
Were myexpectationsmet?
Whatdidpeoplecometounderstandaboutthemselvesandabout
Jesus?
What new things did I learn aboutJesus, other people's needs,
myself?
6. Was Iable tohelp others?How?
Were myquestionsandcommentsprecise,shortandclear?
Did I encourage group members ro take time and think by
addressingquestions to thewholegroup?Did Ihave eye contact
witheveryone?
Did I help the group to correct statements thatwere obviously
wrong,ordid1, myself,correctpeople?
Didsomeonesummarizefromtimetotimewhatwehaddiscussed
so far?
Didwe finishthewholetext?
Didourdiscussionhelpgroupmemberstounderstandmoreabout
Jesus?
DidwehaveatheoreticaldiscussionordidwesharcpersonalIhm
andexperiences?
Did we foHow upon things learned from previous Bibll- st udl
Didwetal kabout theapplicationofthingswe hadlearncd
7. What were my problems? (Taking the next meeting inlo
consideration)
Whatwas reallydifficultfor me?
Inwhichareadolneedtoimprove?
Whatwere the reasons for having reached I not having reached
thegoalofthemeeting?
Do 1need to preparebetterfor thenextmeeting?(preparingthe
textI prayingfor thegroupmembers)
Ifthereis a second leader- How canwe, as leaders, improveour
cooperationbefore,duringandafterthemeeting?
Should1changemywayI styleofleadingthediscussion?
8. Whatwere thegroup's problems? (Taking the next meeting into
consideration)
Whichtopics shouldwecoveragain?
Who in thegroupcould 1meetpersonallyand spend more time
with?
Whoshould1especiallyprayfor?
Is theresomeone1canalreadyaskrohelpmewiththepreparation
for thenextmeeting?
158
159
PRAVER
One ofthe following prayers can be use by someone seeking to invite
Jesusintotheirlife andputtheirtrustinHim.
Lord jesus,
You love meandYou wantmetofollowYou.
You haveneverforsaken me,eventhoughI walkedawayfrom You.
I chosetogomyownway, butYou did notleave myside.
Iconfessmysinandall my mistakesandaskYou:
Lord, pleaseforgive me!
You died for me on the cross and took upon Yourself everything that had
separatedmefrom You. IamverythankfulandacceptYourforgiveness.
IgivemylifetoYou. Lord, reignin meandlead me.
From nowon, Iwanttolive outofYourstrength. Help metobelieveandshow
memyplacewithintheChristiancommunity.
Amen
LordjesusChrist,
Ibelievethatyou are risenfromthedead;
thatyou arealive,andaretheLord overthewholeworld;
thatyou arestrongerthanall powersofdeath,destructionandfear.
Ibelievethatyou diedonthecrossfor mysins.
Iaskyou toforgive mysins,
And becomeLord ofmyentirelife.
Iwanttowhollybelongtoyou.
Help metoloveyou aboyeeverythingelsein mylife.
Takemylife, andlead mewhereyou wantmetogo.
ChangemylifesothatYou rejoicein it, andothersareblessedbyit.
Lordjesus,Ithankyou foracceptingmeas abrotherI sister.
Amen
TEXT
Justice or love
The steppes ofthe great Ukraine had never known peace before
"SchemiltheJust".Hisabilityasahorsemanwasunequaled.Noonebefore
Schemilhadbeenabletoconvincethenomadictribesofhorsemenwho
roamed thevastplainsofEasternEuropethattheywerestronger,safer,
and more prosperous when they worked in unison together. But that
wasastoryforyesterday.HowcouldSchemilresolvethehorribledilemma
hefaced thiscoldmid-Autumnmorning?
Itbeganasaseeminglysmallthing,really,asbigproblemsoftendo.
Someonehadstolenatrinketfromthetribaltreasury,ashinyfetishthat
oncebelongedtotheancients.Nooneknewwhatitwasfor,justwhereit
belonged. Now it was missing, and it appeared that there was a thief
among the comrades! AlI ofa sudden the atmosphere was filled with
tension.Eachoneobservedtheothersuspiciously,andeveryone hadthe
feeling ofbeing carefully watched. Friends became strangers. Stealing
amongcomrades- theperfectunionwasdestroyed.
ThechieftainSchemilcalledhiscounciloftribalelderstodiscussa
courseofaction.Thedecision:announcetothetribethatthecrimehad
been committed and demand thatthe fetish be returned. Ifthe fetish
werereturnedbythenextmorning,therewouldbe norecrimination.If
itwasnotreturnedandthethiefwascaught.itwouldmeantenlas hesat
awhippingpost.
Thenextmorningthetreasurywasinspectedforthemissingfetish.
Incredibly,notonlywasitstillmissing,butanotherwasmissingwithit!
Embarrassmentescalatedtoscandal!
Thistimethecouncilandtheirangrychieftainofferednoface-saving
alternativeforthethief.Asearchofeachfamily'sbelongingswouldbegin.
Ifthethiefwerecaughtorturnedhimselfinonthefirstday,hewouldbe
given twenty lashes. Ifnot caught until the day following, the penalty
wouldbethirtylashes.Ten lasheswouldbeaddeddailyuntilthecrime
wassolvedandtribaldignityrestored.FewCossackscouldsurvivetwenty
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lashes, no one save perhaps Schemil alone could survive thirty, and forty
blows from the whip would surely be deadly. Such was the severity ofthe
crime.
The first day's search yielded no elues. The second day was the same.
With the passing of the hours, the tension among the tribesmen grew
dramatically. The search was already nearing the end and soon all that
would remain would be the belongings ofthe elders themselves.
Late in the night the news that the thief had been caught spread
quickly through the camp... It was Schemil's own mother!!!
Immediately, the feeling of relief gave way to terrible shock. Everyone
knew how much Schemilloved his mother. He always took her with him
on his campaigns. He always had her tent set up next to his. One time
when she had been very sick, he had sat beside her bed every night for
weeks . Could Schemil execute this sentence knowing it would surely kili
his own mother? Ifnot, how couldjustice be served?What would it mean
to the Cossack people ifthere were no justice for this crime? What would
it mean ifthe great Schemil beca me responsible for the death ofhis own
beloved mother? Justice or love. which would prevail?
Only the very sick and very young slept that night. Before dawn
what appeared to be the entire tribe was already gathered in a wide circle
around the whipping post and the area where the elders would sit o
Melancholy was thick in this group. Usually in gatherings of this sort
there flowed an undercurrent of desire to see the criminal "get what's
coming to him". There was none of that here. They were asking
themselves, "What would Schemil do? What would I do if it were my
mother?"
Soon the elders were in their places and Schemil took his place in
the middle ofthem. His eyes were shiny and alert, but cireled with crimson
borders. His jaws unconsciously elenched and relaxed, the powerful
muscles visibly rippling rhythmically. The weight of responsibility
slumped this grear mano His countenance bore the pain ofa man resigned
to a course of action too horrible to bear.
Lastly, the mother ofSchemil was led into the cirele and brought to
stand before the elders. She was sobbing softly, her shoulders stooped as
though she wore a heavy eloak soaked with shame. Those who had bound
her all d led her here were very quieto Th ey hel d her gently, loosely. Their
heads were down, with eycs only high enough to catch the signal that
would come from the great Schemil. It was slw.Ir p.li n l hnl lh
feeling. Schemil's pain was so great thall hosl' who \ Iood n
to feel it, too.
Schemil said nothing to his mother's guards"ju),1 nutl(!ld ht!l held
They quietly turned and led his mother to the post W hl'I"l' Slt l ' kJll'dL'd
Reluctantly, they tied her hands firmly around il. A Wil \
prepared for the ugly duty, and waited for the signal l hal 1l 0W W.I!o
inevitable.
Schemil raised his right arm slowly, but instead ofdropping his arm
to begin the whipping, he stood up instead. The tension felt by llll'
onlookers was indescribable. They were resigned to the horror ofthe deal h
of this elderly woman, but now something that no one anticipated was
prolonging it, changing it. What was Schemil doing?!
Schemil began walking the twenty-five paces from his seat to the
post with a slow, determined purpose, his arm still upright. He approached
his mother from behind, and tenderly, he wrapped his one arm around
his dear mother. shielding her with his own body. He whispered gently
against her cheek as his tears blended with hers. Then he lowered his
right armo The silence was absolute. Everyone there heard the words that
Schemil spoke, and no one who was there will ever forget them. "You
maybegin."
The others were shocked, Then they had to watch as the whip came
down again and again. The man, whom they allloved, was brutally beaten
up and carried away, covered with blood. A single moment, yet in it love
andjustice found an eternal harmony in the minds ofthe onlookers. On
the one hand. justice prevailed - the chieftain did nor break his word,
the crime was punished! And on the other hand, love prevailed - the son
shouldered his mother's guilt and the punishment was passed on to him.
AlI could see love and justice enacted at the same time and both of
them completely and uncompromisingly.
(Adaptation of illustrations by Siegfried Kettling - Recht oder Liebe, Wer bist du, Adam7,
Brockhaus Verlag. Jerry Hoggatt - The Legend of Taras. hUQ:/ Lwww.gospelcomcnet/navs/
communit,ylaJ:J.i.c;les/T-Ias.tl,t.m. and John MacArthur - Eterna/ Harmony. Grace to You [or http:/
/www.geocities.com/goshadoodle/eternal.html] .)
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Example
Analysisofaparagraph,PartA, Luke7:36-50
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A.Observation

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1.Situation
jesusisinvitedtoeatwithoneofthePharisees;thereareotherguests.Awomaninthe
citywhois asinnerfinds outthatjesusis in Simon'shouseandcomestoseeHim. I
WhyhasSimoninvitedJesus?Whatistheirtopicoftheconversatlon?
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2.Othersandtheirproblems
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Simon.He hasinvitedjesusandthenisoffendedbyjesus'behaviour.Hecannotunder-
standwhyJesuswould letsuch awomantouchHim. Obviously, jesusdoes notknow
who this woman is, and thus He cannot be a prophet. Simon honestlydraws this
conclusion from the parable. In front ofall theguests,jesusis telling him off, saying
;
whathedidnotdo.
Who does SimonthinkJesusis?Whatdoes he thinkofhimse1f7What
doeshethinkofthewoman?
Thewoman.ShefindsoutthatJesusis Simon'sguestandgoestoSimon'shouse.She
approachesjesusandcries;shekissesandanointsHisfeet.
Whatisthewomanthinkingwhensheis doingthis.whenJesusreacts.
whenJesusistalldngtoSimon?
Theotherguests.jesus'behaviourprovokesthequestion:Whois He?
Whyaretheysurprlsed.inparticular.atthe"forgivenessofsins"?
3.JesusandHis reaction
He acceptsSimon's invitation and knows what he is thinking. Aparable: love and
forgivenessareconnected.Simon himselfhastodrawaconclusionfromthis.
WasSimonremissinhisdutlesasa host?
jesusletsthewomandowhatshewantstodo. BytalkingtoSimon,heindirectlytalks
tothewoman. Heturnstothewoman(v. 44!).
v. 38:WhatisJesusthinld.ng?WhatdoesHethinkofthewoman?
4.ResultI highlightoftheevent
The guestsbegin to wonder:The woman is forgiven; herfaith in Jesus hassaved her.
Jesus letshergoin peace.
B. Interpretation

Simonwantstogettoknowjesus;hewantstoknowWhoHeis.

It mightbeaconversationasafollow-uptothesermonin chapter7:24-35

Theotherguestsalsoseemtobe interestedinjesus.

Simonasksjesustoeatwithhim.Nevertheless,hekeepshisdistance:itwould
normallybethehost'sdutytowashtheguests'feet.

Thearrivalofthewomanis unexpectedlyembarrassingforSimon.

jesus"should"haverejectedthewomanwithindignation(sheis asinner).

Simondoesnotdaretospeakfranklyabouthisthoughts.

He doesnotrealizethatthiswoman,despiteherguilt, is closertojesusthan
he himselfis.
ThewomanknowswhatSimonmustbethinking.Andstill,shemustseejesus!
Sheletsherdeedsspeak!

The woman: known as a sinner in the whole city, despised, avoided; jesus
understands,acceptsandforgives her.


ItisGodaloneWhoforgivessins(d.Luke5:21);jesusclaimstobeGod.

JesusopensSimon'seyesandshowshimthewoman'slove.
SimonhastoevaluateI condemnhis ownbehaviour.


Parable:sinis notplayeddown,but:everyonecanbeforgiven!

Despair, faith, hope, thewish to beforgiven, love.jesus letsthewoman do
whatsheisabouttodoandthusHeexpressesHis understanding,acceptance
andforgiveness.

Jesus loves them both, Simon and thewoman, and giveseach ofthemthe
pastoralcaretheyneed.

Thewomanistreatedaccordingtoherfaith: In herdespair,shetrustinglyfalls
down atJesus' feetandshows Him herlove. jesusgives herforgiveness and
peace.
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C. Application
f i
1. Conversation:jesusistalkingtothewomanin atotallydifferentwaythantoSimon.
Hedoesjusticetobothofthem.My behaviourexpressessomethingaswell.
2. Have Iexperiencedthejoyofforgivenessofsins?HowdoIshowmylovetojesus?
3.HowdoIseeothers?(d.vJ9+44,2Xsee)
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1
Analysis of a paragraph, Part B
l uke 7:36-50
Annotations on the text
v. 36 sat (Iying down) at the table: probably in the inner courtyard
of a housethat is easy to access from the outside
v. 38 to let down hair: act of utter humiliation
to kiss and anoint feet: high regard
v.44 to wash feet: minimum of host's duty
Aims I key messages
Jesus knows how to differentiate between sinner and sin.
No one is capable of paying for his sins, but everyone's sins can be
forgiven.
The one who faithfully turns to Jesus in his despair and hopelessness
will receive forgiveness and salvation.
Trusting in someone means to be thankful and loving even before the
granting of forgiveness ("advance trusting") .
Structure
A. Guest at a Pharisee's house
1 . Invitation
2. The host
B. Embarrassing incident
1. Sign of love
2. Reflections of a Pharisee
C. Jesus
1. Jesus admits the sign of love
2. Parable and accusation
3. Love and forgiveness
D. Questions or peace
1. Who is He?
2. Go in pea ce!
Example of a guide for the group discussion
Text
Heading
Aims I key messages
Annotations on the passage
Introduction
Luke 7:36-50
Invitation and embarrassing incident
(d. previous pagel
(d. previous pagel
Context: Jesus asks about John the Baptist: Who is he? Is he possessed by a demon
(v. 33) or is he a prophet (v. 26)? As a result, the question about Jesus Himself is
raised. Who is He? A glutton and a winebibber, a friend oftaxcollectors and sinners
(v. 34)7 Only through an encounter with Him can this question be answered.
Questions for the analysis of the text
Guest at a Pharisee's house
1. What was it that made the Pharisee Simon invite Jesus?
2. How can we characterise him? How can we describe his relationship with
Jesus?
Embarrassing incident
3. What is the reason forthe woman's unusual behaviour? What are her motives?
How does she express her request?
4. How does Simon see the woman (v. 39 saw)? What is the difference between
how the woman and the Pharisee see themselves?
Jesus
5. What does Jesus show the woman when He allows her to continue what she
is doing to Him?
6. What does Jesus want to explain to the Pharisee by using the parable? What
aspects of guilt and forgiveness does He mention in this parable?
Questions or peace
7. Who is Jesus? The guests are the first ones to ask this question. How
would the woman answer this question at the end of the story? What
does Jesus express when He says your faith has saved you (v. 50)?
Application
1. Where am I on the scale between self-righteousness and the feeling of being
guilty, between interest and love?
2. What is my answer to the question Who is jesus?
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