Small Group Bible Study

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1 March 2018 ORCHARD ROAD PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH Small Group Bible Study INTRODUCTION We see in this section a grand sweep of God s redemptive plan for Israel and the nations. From the impending death and resurrection of Christ, to what it means to respond to Christ s call to be His disciples, to the future of Israel and the coming judgment upon her for her failure to even recognise the visitation of her Messiah. All these are to correct our spiritual vision and teach us how to live in the light of this new age that Christ and His saving works have ushered in. 4 Mar This Age Versus The Age To Come Mark 10: Mar Greatness By God s Way Mark 10: Mar The King At His Temple Mark 11: Mar Lesson I From Fig Tree Mark 11:

2 SERMON DATE 4 MAR 2018 This Age Versus The Age To Come Mark 10:13-31 Introduction In a world that esteems power and possessions, Jesus calls His disciples to learn the ways of a child and give up worldly wealth. Unless they learn the humility of a childlike dependency on God and His provision, they stand in danger of missing the kingdom of God. The rich man who could give up neither his wealth nor the status his wealth afforded him was a prime example. In contrast, the disciples decision to give up all to follow Jesus revealed that they were true children of God. They would be rewarded relationally not only in this age but even more so in the age to come. For Study and Discussion 1. People of the Kingdom (v13-16). The disciples rebuked those who were bringing children to Jesus to be blessed because children were viewed as unimportant in those days. To the disciples, the little children were but an unwelcome distraction. But Jesus teaches his disciples that they have much to learn from little children. a) What was Jesus response to his disciples rebuke of the people bringing the children? How does Jesus describe those who will enter the kingdom of God? b) The term kingdom of God is used mainly in the bible to refer to God s reign or rule, rather than to a physical or heavenly realm (e.g., Psalms 103:19, Matthew 6:10, Luke 4:43, 11:20, 17:20-21, 19:11-27). The phrase entering the kingdom of God thus carries the meaning of coming under the saving rule of God, the sovereign King (Colossians 1:13). In this context, why is it essential for those who want to come under the saving rule of God to receive the King like a little child? In what ways are believers to be like little children? Read also Matthew 18:1-4. c) The apostle Paul writes that believers should be mature and not childlike in their thinking (1 Corinthians 14:20). Indeed, all believers should be growing in wisdom and maturity (Colossians 1:28-29). How can believers have childlike faith while at the same time growing in maturity? 2

3 2) Barriers to the Kingdom (v17-25). The man who approached Jesus, like most Jews then, considered himself to have good standing before God, having kept a loophole-filled version of the Law. He assumed that obedience to the law can earn him eternal life. In love, Jesus taught him the truth about the one thing that could give eternal life and what one must be willing to give up for this one thing. a) Jesus instruction to sell everything, give to the poor, and follow him was a challenge to the wealthy man who desired eternal life but was too attached to his wealth. The man s love for his earthly treasures was the barrier that prevented him from entering the kingdom of God. Instead of treasuring money, what should the man do? b) In this context, what is the one thing that the man lacked? c) Apart from material riches, what other possible barriers may prevent us from following Jesus today? What is the cost of following Jesus? Read also Luke 14:25-33, Philippians 3:7-8. 3) Riches of the Kingdom (v26-31). The disciples were amazed because the man who seemed to have kept the law and was blessed with wealth was judged by Jesus to be unworthy of entry into the kingdom of God. But apart from human effort, Jesus reveals the power and hope that will enable His followers to do the impossible. a) What does Jesus teach about the source of salvation in v17-18 and v26-27? b) Followers of Jesus, who treasure Him and the Gospel above all else, are blessed with the riches of the kingdom of God. Read also Ephesians 2:19, 3:16, Romans 8:16-17, 14:17, Matthew 6:33. What blessings does Jesus promise to those who would give up everything to follow him in: i. this present age ii. in the age to come c) How is Jesus promise of present and future riches a source of great comfort and encouragement for his followers who would be subjected to persecution and who may be among the last in economic, social, and political terms as a result of their sacrifices for the Gospel? Consider Romans 8:18, John 14:

4 Discipleship Pointers The people of the Kingdom of God are those who would receive Jesus, the Risen King, in faith and declare Him Lord of their lives: trusting in Him, obeying Him, and depending on His power, wisdom, and provision in all things. A childlike faith requires the humility to recognize our own helplessness apart from God and the confidence to subject ourselves to Christ s sovereign rule as a child trusts his father to provide what is good. As children of God, we also learn from our Father s teachings so that we may obey and do what is pleasing in our heavenly Father s sight. The barriers to the Kingdom of God are all things, ideas, or persons that we would treasure more than Jesus. Our money, status, fame, and achievements cannot help us gain God s acceptance. Neither can these satisfy our soul. We may gain everything that this age offers, but without Jesus, we still lack the one thing that matters most. May we, like the apostle Paul, count all earthly gains we had as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ, our Lord (Philippians 3:7-8). The riches of the Kingdom of God are promised to those who would give up everything to follow Jesus. These riches are promised for both the present age, in our daily living, and in the future age, when Christ shall come again to reign in His full glory. For example, those who are rejected by their family for accepting Christ will gain the larger family of believers. In the age to come, the values of this age will be reversed. Those who seek status and importance here will have none in heaven. Those who are humble here, serving others, will be great in heaven. Eternal life is not gained on the basis of status, wealth, or obedience to the law, but by humble cross-bearing discipleship (Mark 8:34-35). Family/Group Moments Have you considered the cost of being a disciple of Christ? Is there anything or anyone you treasure more than Jesus? Pray that God will teach you to overcome these barriers. What have you sacrificed for the sake of following Christ? How have you been richly blessed in your discipleship journey with Jesus? Share if these riches/blessings have come in the form that you expected. How may your testimony encourage other disciples to bear their cross for Christ? 4

5 SERMON DATE 11 MAR 2018 Greatness By God s Way Mark 10:32-52 Introduction This passage begins with Jesus third Passion Prediction, the last and the most detailed. The Jewish leaders would condemn Him, and then the Gentiles would kill Him. It starts with Jesus leading the way to Jerusalem and ends with Bartimaeus following Jesus on the way. Jesus prediction of his own betrayal and death reveals the ways of God s kingdom. This contrasted with the disciples erroneous notion of greatness. The true pathway to greatness and glory requires a total reversal of values, exemplified by the way to the cross. The first shall be the last, and the servant of all. For those who followed Jesus, this is a march towards danger and death. But it is also a march towards redemption and glory, summed up in the climactic pronouncement of v.45, unveiling God s salvation-giving purpose in His Son. For Study and Discussion 1. Read vv Jesus predicts His death a third time. a. Why do you think the disciples were astonished? What is their expectation at this point? b. Why are the others afraid? c. This is the third prediction, read the other predictions v8:31 and v9:31. Is this prediction different from the earlier two predictions? What is the difference? d. Even at this point, the disciples think there will be a revolt with Jesus set up as the earthly king, what goes through their minds when Jesus teaches them again about Himself here? e. Why do you think Jesus repeated the prediction of His impending death and resurrection three times? 2. Read vv James and John s incredible request. a. Why do you think James and John made this request? b. Read v38. Jesus gave a sharp and penetrating answer the way to privileged position in the messianic kingdom is not by grabbing power but by relinquishing it through service to God with its accompanying suffering and pain. What does the cup here mean? Refer to Mk 14:36. 5

6 c. Read v. 45. How did Jesus summarize His own ministry in this key verse? 3. Read vv Blind Bartimaeus. a. vv What reputation did Jesus have that led Bartimaeus to ask for healing? b. How many times did the word call or calling appear in this short account? What is the relationship between faith and God s calling on our lives? c. Jesus didn t immediately heal him, but asked him a question (v. 51). Why? d. How is the faith of Bartimaeus shown in this account? Discipleship Pointers This is the last healing before Jesus enters Jerusalem. Yet, the religious teachers and the disciples were still blind to Jesus true mission. The passage begins and ends with the way or the road to Jerusalem. It is another depiction by Mark concerning what it means to follow Jesus. By repeating the prediction of his death and resurrection, Jesus is impressing on us the very center of our faith, which is the sacrifice of his own life and death as our only pathway to life. If Jesus, Son of Man, came not be to serve but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many, what should His disciples be? Today as we declare ourselves as His disciples, what should our posture be? Just like James and John when we desire something, Jesus asked them (v36) What do you want me to do for you? What would be our response? The call of the Lord Jesus in our lives ought to draw out the deepest desire of our heart, which is to be healed of our spiritual blindness so that we can follow in His steps. Faith is the decisive response to the call of Jesus. Having his eyes opened by Jesus, Bartimaeus immediately left behind his garment, perhaps his only belonging to gladly follow Jesus on the way to the cross of Jerusalem. Bartimaeus shows the response of a true disciple to the call of Jesus. Family/Group Moments In what ways have you responded to God s calling in your life? How does God s calling draw out the deepest need and desire in your heart to live for Him? Spend some time sharing and praying about the state of our service to others what are the areas of service that requires us to start doing, stop doing or make changes to? Do we still have the remnant of our old-self, wanting earthly glory like James and John? What are the attitudes and actions that need to be reflected upon in order to be aligned to God s will? 6

7 SERMON DATE 18 MAR 2018 The King At His Temple Mark 11:1-11 Introduction This is a triumphant entry not as envisaged by the cheering crowd. They expected Jesus to set up His rival kingdom to Caesar. But in a week, Jesus would be led out as a captive to his execution. He came into the city to suffer and die. He would be rejected, by the rulers and the people. Right up to Mk 12:40, the high priests, the Pharisees, the Herodians, the Sadducees, and the teachers of the Law would take their turns to challenge Him. Within days, the cheers would turn into betrayals, panics, and cowardice. Yet God s purpose transcends our human failures. Jesus came in fulfillment to Mal 3:1-2, to inspect and judge His temple. He came indeed as a King, not to set up an earthly kingdom, but a universal dominion that will stretch beyond time and space. The true celebration of His kingship is our faithfulness to follow Him not for our earthly agendas, but for His eternal purposes and glory. For Study and Discussion 1. Read vv 1-3. Bethany was near Jerusalem (John 11:18). What did Jesus do nearing Jerusalem? What instructions did He give to his disciples? a. Refer to Num 19:2; Deut 21:3; 1 Sam 6:7 Jesus specifically asked for a colt no one has ridden. Why? b. What did the disciple do? Refer to Matt 21:7. c. When these 2 disciples followed instructions, what happened? 2. Read v5 Jesus anticipated the question, what would be going through the mind of the disciples as these things unfolded? a. Imagine you were one of the disciple what would you be thinking? b. Why did Jesus instruct them to bring a colt? Matt 21:4-5, Zech 9:9. 7

8 3. It seems there were spontaneous responses from the people what happened? vv7-8 a. What does Hosanna mean? Why did the people cry Hosanna? b. Ref 2 Kings 9:13, what are the parallels here? c. How did Jesus respond to their cries of Hosanna? 4. Describe how the day ended here in v11. a. Was Jesus pleased with what He saw that evening? (See what He did the next day in v15). b. Why did Mark tell us that Jesus had inspected everything in the Temple and left? See Mark 1:2 and Malachi 3:1-3. Discipleship Pointers What are the instructions that we get from God? Are we following them like the disciples who went ahead to get the colt? What goes through our mind when we cannot see the future, but when we know the clear instructions of God? What are our actions? Do we act in accordance to faith? The crowd was crowning Jesus as their King and Saviour but for a wrong reason, and with a wrong understanding of what Jesus has come to do for them. Hence they would turn against Him just (15:11,13-14) as the disciples would turn away from Him in a matter of days (14:15). Why would a people who once called Jesus as Lord and Saviour turn their backs on Him? Is the same happening today? What then does it mean to receive and honour Jesus as King in your life? When Jesus comes to inspect His temple today, what do you think he is looking for, and what He will say and do (I Cor 3:16; 6:19)? Even though the people had a wrong understanding of Jesus as their King and Saviour, the mission of God in Christ was not at all derailed by the people s failure. Christ continued to pursue and eventually complete His mission to save us as our King and Saviour. Yet, the humble coming of our Lord to earth should not blind us to the fact that He will come again as our Judge (vv. 11, 15, Mal 3:1-3). He has seen everything we do and He will soon pronounce His judgment (as we will see in Mk 11:12-25). In fact, the whole point of this passage, in the symbolic act of Jesus riding on a colt in His public and provocative entry into Jerusalem, much unlike His usual practice of avoiding public attention, plus His silent entry into the Temple to inspect it, is to point to Him as the Messianic King of Israel, promised and forewarned in the OT (particularly in fulfilment of Zech 9:9 and Mal 3:1-3). It is a vital revelation that calls for an immediate and appropriate response from all who have eyes to see and ears to hear. Family/Group Moments The world is confusing now, and it was just as confusing in Jesus time, if not more. What parallel lessons can we learn from this passage to be the disciple Christ wants us to be? Reflect and share with others in the group. Pray for one another sharing key actions and reflections from this study. 8

9 SERMON DATE 25 MAR 2018 Lesson From A Fig Tree (I) Mark 11:12 25 Introduction This inspection of the fig tree followed right after Christ s inspection of the temple (11:11). Both symbolized the failed institution of Israel s religion. The leafy fig tree looked good from a distance, but was barren when examined close up. It s destruction from the roots up points to the severity of the coming judgment on the temple. The temple mount would (figuratively speaking) be taken up and cast into the sea, replaced by a new praying people who live by faith under God s grace. For Study and Discussion Read Mark 11: This study is divided into three sections based upon the contents. (1) The cursing of the fig tree and its aftermath (11:12-14, 20-21). (2) The cleansing of the temple (11:15-19). (3) The teaching of Jesus on faith and prayer (11:22-25). 1) The cursing of the fig tree and its aftermath (11:12-14, 20-21). Mark s readers understood that this lesson about the fig tree is a dramatized parable, that is, it is a lesson taught by what is done as much as or more than by what is said. Jesus actions here resemble what Isaiah did when he walked around naked and barefoot to symbolize how Judah would be humiliated when they went into exile (Isa 20:1-6) and what Jeremiah did when he put on a yoke to symbolize his people s future slavery (Jer 27:1-15). a) In ancient Israel, for someone to live under his own vine and fig tree referred to living in security and plenty (1 Kings 4:25; Mic 4:4). A number of Old Testament prophetic passages speak of the destruction of the vine and fig tree or say that they failed to produce fruit due to the failure of Israel to obey God. If Mark s readers thought about Jesus words in this context, what conclusion would they draw from the teaching? How would they see it worked out in history? How should the early church have responded to this? How should we? b) In the passage on the transfiguration God told Peter, James, and John that This is my beloved Son; listen to him (Mark 9:7). How does this passage show that the disciples obeyed God s instruction? How would they have responded when they considered the broader implications of his words? c) What do Jesus words, May no one ever eat fruit from you again, imply about the place of national Israel in God s plans after the resurrection? How will God work in the future? What can we learn from this? 9

10 d) Though Mark says nothing about Peter s feelings upon seeing the withered fig tree (11:20-21), what new things might he have learned from this about what it means for Jesus to be the Messiah? 2) The cleansing of the temple (11:15-19). a) In the light of the teaching of this passage, other New Testament teaching, and history, was Jesus intention was to cleanse the temple, reform the worship that took place there, or replace it with something else? How do you reach this conclusion? How does this impact the church? b) Since no one except for Jewish priests could enter the temple building, the activity here took place in what is called the court of the Gentiles, the place where Gentiles could come to worship God. As Jesus quote from Isaiah 56:7 indicates, the temple was to be a house of prayer for all nations. How did the selling of merchandise in the temple impact the worship of Gentiles the nations? How did Jesus action change this symbolically? What does Jesus reference to the Jews making it into a den of robbers mean in the light of Jeremiah 7:8 15? c) What main point do the stories of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple work together to teach the first readers of Mark s Gospel? What can churches today learn from this about our practices and things that we trust in? 3) Teachings of Jesus on faith and prayer (11:22 25). a) After Peter pointed out that the fig tree had withered Jesus responded by saying, Have faith in God. How does the change in the place of the Jews and the temple in God s plans impact our understanding of this? What should we do because of it? b) Jesus point about telling a mountain to jump into the sea is clearly not to make us think that we can move a literal mountain by faith. What is his purpose? How can you make use of this in your life? What is the relationship between prayer and forgiveness? How does Matthew 6:9 15 impact your understanding of this? 10

11 Discipleship Pointers Jesus citation of Jeremiah 7:11 is a key to understanding this passage. The context of Jeremiah 7:1-15 tells us that Jesus was attacking the temple as a place of false security and hideout for those who had committed evil, turning it into a den of robbers as in Jeremiah s time. Like the cursing of the fig tree that sandwiched this central account, the overturning of tables was a symbolic act to pronounce total judgment and removal of Israel s temple which had become not only a hideout, but the economic, political, and religious centre of power for the religious elites, to the exclusion of the poor, the outcast, and the oppressed whom Jesus had come for. See also Isaiah 56:3-8 where the citation on a house of prayer for all the nations is taken from. Jesus had come to open a new way for a new praying people who come to God not via the temple, but by grace. This mountain on which the temple stood, would therefore be cast into the sea of the abyss to make way for the new faith community. As Mark is writing a couple of decades after Jesus resurrection, he wanted his readers to learn from the events and think of how they apply to their lives. We too need to consider whether our spiritual lives bear fruit or are withered from the roots up. Similarly, we need to consider whether our trust in a form or place of worship takes precedence over our relationship with God or whether we turn to him with true faith that is demonstrated by prayer and forgiveness of others as we have been forgiven. Family/Group Moments How can you help one another so that you won t fall into the trap of trusting in the old way of serving God rather than trusting God himself? How can you encourage others in your group to pray more faithfully, believing that God wants to answer them? What needs to be cleaned up in your life so that God s reign can become more evident? Bible-For-All (BFA) Team: Ps Edward Goh (Editor), Mr Ong Whee Teck (Co-Editor), Dcn Tang Yew Chung (Co-Editor), Mr Paul Johnson, Dr Walter McConnell, Eld Christy Or, Mr Andrew Tan, and Mr Simon Ting Layout & Typeset: Mr Pang Siok Sen. 11

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