BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 27, Day 4: Matthew 26:69-27:10; Luke 22:59-62; John 18:12-27

Summary of passages:  Matthew 26:69-27:10:  Peter was sitting outside Jesus’ trial when a servant girl came up and asked him if he were with Jesus of Galilee.  He denied it.  He went to the gateway where another girl told others Peter was with Jesus of Nazareth.  He denied it again with an oath this time.  The people came up to him after a bit and said that he must be with Jesus because of his accent.  Peter cursed himself and swore for a third time he did not know Jesus.  A rooster crowed and Peter then realized what he had done and Jesus had been right.  He then wept bitterly at his own sin.

In the morning, the Sanhedrin meets to officially proclaim Jesus guilty of blasphemy and sentence him to death.  They hand him over to Pilate who must agree as anyone executed must be approved by the Romans.

Judas was seized with remorse when he saw Jesus was going to be killed.  He returned the 30 silver coins and admitted he betrayed innocent blood.  They didn’t care and Judas threw the coins into the temple.  Then he hung himself.  The chief priests could not use the money since it was blood money so they bought a potter’s field with the money for burial of foreigners.  That is why it is called the Field of Blood.  This fulfilled prophecy by Jeremiah.

Luke 22:59-62:  Luke describes the scene as Peter is sitting nearby Jesus and denies him in his presence.  Peter denies Jesus 3 times and on the third time the rooster crows.  Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter.  Peter then remembered Jesus’ words.  Peter then fled and wept.

John 18:12-27:  Jesus was taken to Annas first.  Peter and another disciple followed Jesus.  The other disciple was known to the high priest and was allowed to enter the high priest’s courtyard with Jesus but Peter had to wait outside.  The other disciple gained permission for Peter to enter.  Peter denies the Lord when asked and all are huddled around a fire as it was cold.

Jesus was enduring questioning at the time and told them to ask those who heard him these questions.  Jesus was struck for his suggestion and sent to Caiaphas next.  Peter then denied Jesus 2 more times and the crow crowed.

Questions:

8a)  Peter was asked by a servant girl if he were with Jesus.  Peter denied this. (Matthew 26: 69-70).

Another girl saw Peter and told others that he was with Jesus.  Peter denied this with an oath (Matthew 26:71-72).

People went up to Peter and said he had to be one of those with Jesus because of his accent.  Peter’s denial escalated.  He called down curses on himself and swore he did not know Jesus (Matthew 26:73-74).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  To me, Peter’s denial increases and so does his passion.  Man is like this today.  You get so caught up in the lies and the deception that they perpetuate themselves until it reaches a breaking point like it did with Peter when the crow rang and Peter was hit with Jesus’ prophecy.  It starts out with a small lie or denial but to cover that lie you have to lie again and even bigger and then to cover that lie you lie some more until you may actually believe your lies.

Then you usually fall and the fall is so big you weep.  We must all stay true to God and ourselves to avoid what happened to Peter.

9a)  Peter sinned mainly due to ignorance and out of fear.  Judas sinned for greed and personal aggrandizement.  Note how Peter cried:  this is a sign of repentance.  Note how Judas threw his coins and stomped off like a two-year old being denied a treat at the store.  This is anger at the reaction from the Sanhedrin, not anger at his own actions or a desire to amend.

Peter learned from his sins and grew to do the Lord’s will.  Peter accepted his sins and God’s forgiveness for them.  Judas was too overcome with guilt that he took the easy way out and killed himself.  He didn’t go to God afterwards.  He couldn’t forgive himself like God can.

b)  By taking Jesus’ work and extending it.  By founding the church along with others and God and growing the spread of Christianity.

c)  Definition of repentance according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one’s life; to feel regret or contrition for”.  The definition of sorry from Webster’s Dictionary is “feeling sorrow, regret, or penitence; mournful, sad”.  Judas felt sad about what he did but he didn’t turn from his sins and dedicate his life to Christ afterwards.  To repent is to want to do better and be better and change your ways.  To be sorry is just a temporary feeling of regret but no changes are made in behavior or attitude.

d)  We are all responsible for our sins.  We are all granted Free Will.  No one makes us choose to sin or turn from God.  That is our choice given to us by God.  We must choose Him and His ways.  If we don’t, that is our fault.

10)  The biggest contrast is not the questioning itself for in both cases the questioning escalated but in the handling of the questioning.  Jesus exhibited grace, calm, and love at all times.  He let man’s accusations fall off.  He spoke only when necessary and did not fire back.  Peter became more and more agitated and it showed up to the point he had denied Jesus three times before it dawned on him what had happened.  Peter let fear for his own life supercede his love for Christ.  He doubted God’s protection.  Self became more important.  A warning to us all.

Conclusions:  Loved this lesson!  Such a warning to us about staying true to God.  Staying true to ourselves.  Letting God take our fears and anxieties.  Answering out of love and compassion and not self-righteousness or anger.  And in the end trusting in God’s plan as Jesus did–even if it’s not what we’d choose.

Did not like question 9d.  Reflects what’s wrong with American society today:  it’s never my fault, it’s someone else’s.  Of course Judas is responsible for his sin.  To suggest otherwise is ludicrous.  But people today are always looking for an out.  Some medical condition or what-have-you that makes you sin and is a crutch to lean on.

I did like the flippancy in the Sanhedrin’s response to Judas.  Judas was seeking some kind of consolation for his mistake but was denied.  Too often today people are coddled when they sin instead of reprimanded.  Our society would be better off if more of us took the Sanhedrin’s approach to sin:  “That’s your responsibility.”  Not that we shouldn’t help others overcome.  But that we must ensure proper acceptance and repentance before healing can take place.

I loved Luke’s nugget of how Jesus turned and looked straight at Peter after his third denial.  Can you imagine?  You deny Jesus in his presence???  I cannot imagine the shame and grief Peter experienced.  Although I think I’d be a better person if I knew Jesus were in the room with me at all times.

End Notes:  If you are cursing yourself, I would say you are so agitated and so out of control that you don’t know what you are doing.  Yet Peter was granted two gifts from God here:  the love, forgiveness, and encouragement in Jesus’ face as he met Peter’s and the memory of Jesus’ words, which shocked him into repentance.  We know how to be better.  Sometimes we have to remember how to be so.

Like I said, this was the real trial in the daylight and Pilate, the Roman governor, was the only one who had the authority to execute men.  Pilate’s normal residence was on the coast of Caesarea but he was required to be in Jerusalem for Passover to show  his support for the Jewish people.  Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, has much more detail on this.  Pilate (as we’ll see) was not an easy sell:  he did believe Jesus innocent and recognized the trumped up charges but he bowed to the will of the people (Matthew 27:17-19).

The biggest irony that gets me is Jesus is condemned by the people whom he came to save and had only shown mercy and love to.  Who amongst us would do that?

Judas was sorry for the result of his sin, not sorry for the actual sin itself.  He didn’t want Jesus to die; but, he would have sold him out again if given the chance.

By throwing the money at the priests, Judas was saying they were guilty as well.  The priests would not touch the money now even though it was theirs to begin with (hypocrisy, anyone?).

A burial ground was considered unclean.  Hence, it suited the priests to use the money for that purpose.

Some scholars say the fact Judas hung himself is a contradiction of Acts 1:18-19 where Judas fell headlong and his body burst open.  If Judas hung himself, his body would not be defiled so it wouldn’t have been touched.  Hence, it might have been thrown into the field and left to rot and spill open.

There is also controversy about the quote at the end of the passage attributed to Jeremiah because it appears in the book of Zechariah 11:12-13 instead.  Some say this was just a clerical error when copying of the Bible took place.  Some say Zechariah was the one who recorded Jeremiah’s words.  Some think both the books of Jeremiah and Zechariah were recorded at the same time and thus appeared in one book, so Matthew was referring to the same book when he wrote his.

To me, this is a detail I can wait to discover.  God said it all so which prophet said it or recorded it is no big deal in my book.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 27, Day 4: Genesis 40

Summary of passage:  Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker offended him so he threw them in jail.  Potiphar assigned them to Joseph.  After some time, both men had a dream and Joseph noticed they were downcast about it.  So he asked them why they were gloom and they said because they had a dream they did not understand.  Joseph asked them to tell him his dreams because God can interpret them.

The chief cupbearer dreamed of a vine with three branches.  Grapes bloomed on the branches and the cupbearer squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and gave him the cup. Joseph said in three days time the cupbearer will be restored to his position as cupbearer.  He asked him to remember him and mention him to Pharaoh so that Joseph may be released.

The chief baker dreamed of three baskets on his head of which the first baskets contained baked goods for the Pharaoh but birds were eating all the food. Joseph said in three days Pharaoh will remove his head and hang him on a tree while the birds eat his flesh.

In three days time, it was Pharaoh’s birthday and he gave a feast for all of his officials. Just like Joseph had said, the chief cupbearer was restored and the chief baker was hanged (or impaled).  The chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph.

Questions:

8a)  He asked them why they appeared so gloom.  So he had to have noticed a change in them, meaning he had to have been monitoring their condition.  He offered to help through dream interpretation and give them hope by mentioning God.

b)  Several opportunities.  On a personal level he was able to lift one man’s spirits with good news and warn the other man to cherish his last days before his life was taken.  He had the chance to prove that God was with him and that God was interpreting dreams correctly–so to show God’s powers.  It gave him a chance to tell them about God and perhaps convert them before their death.

And it gave Joseph an opportunity to get out of jail if the cupbearer mentioned him to Pharaoh.  It gave Joseph hope that he may still be free.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Take note of people.  See when they are down.  Ask them about it.  Encourage them with the Word.  Tell them of God and His strength to lift them up.  Pray over them.

9a)  Omnipotent, omniscient, control the future, blesses those who belong to Him and believe in Him.  God is good, faithful, and just.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Acknowledgment from others.  That the cupbearer forgot him.  That he may languish in prison for the rest of his life.  I don’t think he ever doubted God.  But we all get depressed and down by our circumstances.  And I’m sure Joseph did as well.  He was probably disappointed he had to wait another two years in prison.  But he trusted.  And that made all the difference.

10)  Leadership, trustworthiness, caring, empathy, dream interpretation, desire to help others, patience, kindness, trusting in God, honesty

Conclusions:  I liked how Joseph approached the cupbearer and baker.  That they did not come to him.  That Joseph took the initiative and noticed they were down.  If Joseph hadn’t of said anything, Pharaoh would have never of known of his abilities.  Joseph took concrete action about his circumstances.  He still had a heart when many would have lost it long ago.

Note Joseph never abused his power.  “He attended them” (Genesis 40:4).  He served. He cared about others.  Just like Jesus.

God notes our good deeds even when others do not.  God remembers us even when others do not.  God rewards us even when others do not.  God promotes us and demotes us–all according to His will–not our own.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 27, Day 4: James 4:11-17

Summary of passage:  James says not to slander one another for this is in essence slandering the law and judging it.  There is only one Lawgiver (God) and Judge (God and Christ).  Who are we to judge?

James blasts those who make plans without God.  For our life is a mist that vanishes after a while and we do not know what tomorrow will bring.  We must ask first if it is the Lord’s will, then we will do this or that.  Otherwise, you are boasting, which is evil. Anyone who knows the good and doesn’t do it sins.

Questions:

11)  Everyone is open for criticism especially if you are in the public eye.  When I wrote my column, it somehow became okay to attack me personally (and my family).  And anonymously.  I love the Internet.  But not everything about it is positive.  We all need constructive criticism so we can become better people.  But when it turns personal and is given without a loving heart, I think this is when this Scripture applies.  Then we have crossed the line into judgment and Christ’s realm.

As Paul keeps repeating, we are not to speak unless it is encouraging and uplifting, not to tear down and hurt.  We must tame our tongue as James says in James 3.  I think this coincides with these warnings.

I tell my kids, “If  you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.”  Exactly what this scripture says.

12)  Leviticus 19:16:  “Do not go about spreading slander among your people.  Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life.  I am the Lord.”

13a)  Boasting, bragging, pride, not relying on the Lord but relying on yourself

b)  If it is and aligns with God’s will.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We must rely on God for everything.  We do nothing on our own.  Before making plans, I need to pray first and make sure it is in accordance with God’s will for my life and not my will.

Conclusions:  Another good lesson that aligns with a common theme in this study:  If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all, especially slander or speech with malicious intent.  We are too free sometimes in this society to say what we want without thinking of the consequences to others.  Guard our tongue as James say and speak only uplifting words.

I liked James question, “What is your life?” (verse 14)  I think sometimes we do get prideful when in reality we are an ant compared to God.  God can snuff us out with one step of His foot.  Good thing to keep in mind when we are tending towards arrogance and need to turn back towards humility.

I loved the last verse.  I apply this to our purpose (which is always good since it’s from God).  If you are not doing it, you are sinning.  Also, this verse speaks to doing what is right versus ignoring the situation.  I think of how many videos or exposes we see recently where people walk by someone in need (apparently this is human nature since it happened to the Good Samaritan as well millenia ago).  We must do the right thing no matter the cost to ourselves.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 27, Day 4: Isaiah 60:15-18

Summary of passage:  God will make Israel the everlasting pride and joy of all nations and will drink the milk of nations and be nursed by royal breasts so they will know He is their Redeemer, Savior, and Mighty One.  God will bring the better material (gold instead of bronze, silver instead of iron, bronze instead of wood, and iron instead of stones) and will make peace and righteousness their ruler.  Israel’s walls and gates will be Salvation and Praise.  Violence will be vanquished.

Questions:

9a)  God will make Israel the everlasting pride and joy of all nations and generations.  Israel will drink the milk of nations and be nursed by royal breasts (will receive the wealth of nations freely as a mother nurses her baby).  God will replace bronze with gold, iron with silver, wood with bronze, and stones with iron (give better things).  God will give peace and righteousness, vanquish violence, ruin and destruction, and call Israel Salvation and Praise.

b)  God can make our walls (be it of our home or those around us) a place of salvation, peace, and righteousness.  He can turn whatever we have into something better.  We can be the pride and joy in our generation especially amongst our family.  We can receive God’s riches freely–as freely as a babe nurses (a mother gives her baby milk).

10)  Personal Question.  My answers:

Lord:  Ruler of my life

Your Savior:  God’s unfathomable love for me

Your Redeemer:  I can fall but God will catch me

The Mighty One of Jacob:  God can do anything for me, through me, and with me.

Conclusions:  It’s nice to have an easy day now and then.  The image of God blessing Israel as freely as a mother gives her milk to her baby speaks to me because I remember those days where baby came first in everything including when she or he wanted to nurse.  Great stuff!