It’s BSF Time Again (Well, Almost!)

Hey all,

Hope everyone had a restful and relaxing summer.  We just back from a camping trip where a hummingbird got stuck in our tent.  It was so amazing to see up close just how fast those wings actually move.  God’s creations are amazing!Hummingbird

Like last year, I’m wondering start dates for you all.  I will be doing the Study of Moses (sorry to all those Revelation guinea pigs out there :(  Will have to wait until next year.

I’m SUPER excited as I’ll be taking on an expanded volunteer role with BSF (and, no, not a group leader, although maybe one day).

Just leave your start date below as a comment.

Thanks and have a fantastic, blessed week!

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BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 30: Review Questions for Book of Matthew

As always, the last lesson in BSF is a review lesson and a reflection on what you have learned throughout the year at BSF.  I will not be posting my answers as they are all personal questions, but I will leave you with some of my final thoughts for the year.

I learned Jesus had to rise from the grave so that we could.  I learned how everything Jesus did was for us.  The connection between the Old and New Testaments was strengthened in my mind as I gained a deeper understanding of prophecy and especially how it relates to Jesus.

I learned how God briefly turned His back on Jesus at the cross but Jesus never turned his back on God.  Important for us to do as well when we think God has abandoned us.

I gained a much deeper understanding of the disciples.  Before, I thought little of them to be quite honest and what I did think of them was idealized.  Now, I know they were just like you and me–common folk who were flawed but with a good heart–who yearned to understand and follow Jesus even when they failed.  But they never gave up.  And in the end, they fulfilled God’s purpose for their lives here on Earth.

I learned the key to healing is having faith.  Those who had faith in Jesus were healed.  Those who didn’t, were not.  Unseen faith is the key to heaven.

I learned everything Jesus did had a purpose.  He wasn’t just indiscriminately walking here on Earth.  Every footfall was planned from the beginning of time.

Jesus himself became more real to me.  I saw him more as a human who had the same emotions and problems as we do here on earth.  He had to be God and man at the same time–I would imagine not easy to do.  He formed close connections with those close to him and felt pain when they failed him or betrayed him.  He had expectations that were let down.  He had burdens to carry that we could never imagine.  Yet his courage gives me strength.  For if Jesus could bear the sins of the world, then I can bear whatever little problem is going on in my life.

My favorite story/lesson was John the Baptist’s beheading for I saw just how easy it is to sway young people to do horrible acts because of their ignorance.  This is important for me to remember as I raise my kids in this Fallen world where at every turn they are bombarded with images of how they should be or how they should act and messages of how premarital sex is okay and smoking marijuana is healthy.

You can never fail when you study the Bible for God is with you and He never fails.  He speaks to you right where you are even if you’ve heard these very familiar tales a hundred times.  Overall, I loved the study of Matthew.  I’ve never really had the opportunity to study Jesus in depth and now I feel confident in speaking about his time here on earth with others.  Studying the Bible makes it more accessible and real and the life lessons are ones we need to hear over and over again in order to live them out.

I am, however, looking forward to the break where I have much writing planned (2 re-writes and a non-fiction book to begin), which I believe is my calling here on Earth.  Naturally, I am excited to begin!

I thank all of you for joining me in this study.  You have enriched it infinite-fold with your comments and presence.  I look forward to next year with Moses (or Revelation for some of you). God bless and have a rejuvenating break!

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 5: Matthew 28:16-20

Summary of passage:  The disciples go to Galilee where Jesus told them to meet him.  They worshiped him when they saw him but some doubted.  Jesus said he had been given all authority in heaven and earth and to go and baptize all in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey all the commands and I will be with you always to the end of time.

Questions:

11)  According to Webster’s authority means “power to influence or command thought, opinion, or behavior; persons in command; a conclusive statement; testimony; a citation used in defense or support; convincing force or weight.”

12a)  Jesus commanded his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey all the commands.  Jesus promises to be with you always to the very end of the age.

b)  The word “all” is repeated (more times in other translations than here).  All authority, all nations, all things, all days.  Jesus is speaking to every person on this planet with eternal power.  Everyone is to know him from now (1st century AD) until the present moment and the future.  The idea of authority and command is also repeated.  Jesus has the right to tell us what to do, and therefore we must obey unconditionally.  That is the scope:  it applies to all of us without question and for all time.

c)  Baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and teach them to obey all he has commanded.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My kids just got baptized!  It was awesome!  Talk about Jesus to others everywhere I go.

e)  As our Lord, he has the right to command us.  He tells us to do something we should do it like we expect our kids to do what we tell them to do.  And he promises to be with us as we do it.  With Jesus by our side, we cannot fail.  Nothing is impossible.  Only with him and through him will we be all we were created to be.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:

Romans 5:10:  Jesus’ resurrection gives us a new life with God.  Live as such.

2 Corinthians 4:10-18:  Fix your eyes on eternity and not the troubles of the here and now.  We carry around Jesus’ life within us and we should overflow with gratitude. Do not focus on life’s circumstances but on the greater picture to come.  Reflect Jesus to others in your daily walk.

Galatians 2:20:  Die to self; live for Christ through faith in him.  Do God’s will and not your own.

Philippians 3:10:  We share in Christ’s sufferings.  Our sufferings grow and change us, making us more like Jesus and better able to spread the Good News to others.

Colossians 3:1-4:  Set your heart and mind on heaven and not on earthly things.  For you have died and only Christ is alive in you.  Remember things here on earth are only temporary and not important.  God’s work is what matters and nothing else.

Conclusions:  The emphasis here is on the importance of doing God’s work and following His will for your life and not yours.  Also, the importance of sharing the gospel with others.  As Jesus’ last words spoken to his disciples while in physical form here on earth, don’t you think they are the most important?  So they should be to us also.

What a comfort Jesus’ last recorded words:  “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Can you imagine how your life would change if at every moment of every day you knew Jesus was walking with you and present in every situation (good and bad) in your life?

God was there.  I was just blind.

End Notes:  Jesus’ authority is what sends us, guides us, and empowers us to do his commission and nothing else.

Disciples are not converts.  They are students, scholars, and learners and they are made, not born instantly.  It is a life-long process to become a disciple of Christ for it takes that long to get to know him and be like him.

Note the absence of circumcision here.  This new covenant does not require an outward sign anymore, only inward is what matters.  Yes, baptism is an outward sign to the world, but it affects the internal more than the external.

“In” is also translated “into” so into the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Note also the singular “name”, meaning the Son, Father, and Holy Spirit are one, not three separate deities.

Note the teaching of “all things” and not just some things in the Bible as is popular today.

We work for and with Jesus as he is with us in every moment of every day.  He protects us, powers us, gives us peace in our daily lives.  Each footfall is next to his but more so is behind his as well as he guides us on his path to righteousness and salvation.  We cannot fail with Jesus.

Suggestion:  Read the other versions of the commission.  Mark focuses on Jesus’ chastisement of the disciples’ unbelief.  He includes what happens if people do not believe and signs of belief.  He just says to go and preach, not to make disciples.

Luke focuses as well on the disciples’ doubt.  He ate in their presence probably to help alleviate some of this.  He just mentions preaching and being sent out to the world.

John merely records Jesus interacting with Peter but here we see the commission as well:  feed and care for Jesus’ sheep and follow him.  Here, we see teach and turn to followers (disciples) of Christ.

My favorite?  Matthew’s by far.  The focus is on learning about Christ, sharing Christ, and him always being with us–in my opinion, three of the most important things about Jesus.  We need to learn about him.  We need to share him.  And he is there always.  We are never alone.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 4: Matthew 28:1-15; Acts 1:3-11

Summary of passages:  Matthew 28:1-15:  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb after the Sabbath at dawn. An angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone back. He appeared like lightning in all white. The guards were afraid of him and fainted.

The angel told the women to not be afraid and that Jesus has risen. Come and see and then go and tell the disciples that Jesus is in Galilee. The women did as told and on the way Jesus met them. They worshipped him and Jesus told the women the same message as the angels said.

The guards went into Jerusalem and told the chief priests what had happened. The chief priests and elders bribed the guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen Jesus’ body and they would keep the soldiers from getting into trouble because of it. The soldiers agreed.

Acts 1:3-11:  Luke picks up the story right after the resurrection.  Jesus gave many proofs that he was alive.  He appeared to the disciples over a a period of 40 days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  Jesus told them to stay in Jerusalem until they received the Holy Spirit.

The disciples asked Jesus if he was going to restore the kingdom of Israel.  Jesus said that is not for you to know.  You will receive power with the Holy Spirit and be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the world. Then Jesus was taken up to heaven and as the disciples watched two men told them Jesus would return in the same way he was taken.

Questions:

9a) 1 Corinthians argues that if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then our faith is useless and we are all false witnesses. Our faith is futile and we are still unsaved sinners and there is no afterlife with God in heaven.  I think the number of witnesses who saw Jesus alive and touched him is proof.  Mary clung to Jesus when she met him after his death (John 20:17).  Thomas touched Jesus’ wounds (John 20:27).

All the disciples witnessed Jesus in the flesh when he appeared to them.  1 Corinthians 15:6 says 500 people witnesses Jesus walk on the earth after his death.  Furthermore, as the Bible is God’s breathed word, we are to have faith in what it says.  The Bible says his body rose from the dead and Jesus walked the earth once more.  Hence, we are to believe it.

b)  Our faith is useless and we are still in our sin.  There will be no eternal life with God in heaven. For if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then neither can we.

10)  John 10:17-18:  Jesus laid down his life and took it up again.  This is how it shall be with us.

Acts 2:31 with Psalm 16:10:  Jesus would not be abandoned to the grave nor his body decay.

Acts 17:30-31:  God will judge the world and His proof is raising men from the dead.

1 Corinthians 15:45-58:  Physical death is the penalty for sin so when we die, our sins die with us.  When we are raised, we are raised anew–imperishable and immortal–and we are now righteous with God.

Ephesians 1:18-20; Romans 6:4:  We can live a new life through the glory of the Father.  God has power over the dead to give life.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14:  With Jesus’ death and resurrection, he gave the ability and power for all believers to rise from the dead with him to be with God.

Hebrews 7:16, 23-28:  Jesus’ resurrection allows us to live forever and our sins are forgiven forever with his blood.  We can all be near to God because of Jesus.

1 Peter 1:3-5:  Jesus’ death and resurrection gives us a new life and inheritance in heaven.

Christ’s resurrection must take place physically or we cannot rise from the grave and come to new life in him and live eternally with God.

Conclusions:  Great lesson!  I had never really connected how it’s the fact Jesus rose from the dead that allows us to rise and be with God.  I had always just thought Jesus died for our sins and now we get to be with God.  Nope.  If Jesus hadn’t risen from the grave, Jesus could have died for our sins but we’d have no eternal life.  We’d just be cleansed forever but not live forever.

Hence, Jesus’ physical death on the cross paid for our sins.  His resurrection is our resurrection as well:  into a new life with God always.  Great passages explaining this!

End Notes: Acts 1 records the last time Jesus is seen by his disciples in his physical body.  You can only be a witness for Jesus if you have the Holy Spirit within.

Jesus’ commission of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the rest of the Earth is the outline of the rest of Acts–in that order.

Jesus’ ascension into heaven is for the disciples:  so they would know for a fact he was gone.  With his departure, the Holy Spirit could now come (John 16:7).

Presumably two angels appear and tell the disciples to get to work.

I love the phrase “same Jesus.”  Jesus never changes as God never changes.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 3: John 20:1-18; Luke 24:12-32

Summary of passages:  John 20:1-18:  Mary Magdalene returns to Jesus’ tomb early on the first day of the week and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.  She ran to Simon Peter and the other disciple (John) that Jesus had loved and told them that Jesus’ body had been taken.

Peter and the other disciple run to Jesus’ tomb to investigate and saw strips of linen lying in the tomb and the burial cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head.  The disciples returned home but Mary stood outside the tomb crying.  She looked in the tomb and saw two angels in white seater where Jesus’ body had been.  They asked her why she was crying and she answered because Jesus’ body was stolen and she doesn’t know where it is.

Jesus appeared at that moment.  He asked her the same thing and she does not recognize him until he utters her name.  He told her to go and tell his brothers that he will be returning to his Father and she did.

Luke 24:12-32:  Being told by the women that Jesus had arisen, Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself since he didn’t believe them.  He saw the strips of linen in Jesus’ tomb but still wondered what had happened.

On the road to Emmaus that same day, two of Jesus’ followers were wondering what was going on.  Jesus appeared to them but they did not recognize him.  He asked them what they were speaking about.  Cleopas said he must be a stranger if he doesn’t know recent events.  They recounted the story of how Jesus had been crucified and how his body was now missing and how the women had said he is risen from the dead.

Jesus called them foolish not to understand the prophets so he began with Moses and explained all the Scriptures concerning himself.  They invited him to stay with them overnight.  He blessed the bread and then they recognized him and Jesus disappeared.

Questions:

6)  “The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.”  The fact that the strips of linen and cloth were neatly arranged discounted the grave robbery theory as robbers have no concern for neatness and would have hurriedly stripped off the linen to get to what lay beneath.

7a)  As intimate as sheep who know their master’s voice like Mary who instantly recognized him when he spoke her name.  The caregiver for all of their needs and whom they implicitly trust, obey, and follow.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This whole study has impressed upon me the importance of doing His calling for my life on this earth.  How not to give up on that in the face of adversity.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The importance of understanding the Scriptures and the prophecies of the Old Testament.  The importance of listening to Jesus when he does explain them to you.  And the importance of sharing those lessons learned with others as Jesus himself did.  How we should pray to see Jesus in our midst.  How we should pray for our hearts to be set aflame by him.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I try to explain to my kids the meanings and the intricacies of the Bible in terms they will understand.  And I try to explain to you all as well what I understand.  I pray to see Jesus and have him guide my heart and I pray this for others and my kids as well.  I teach them he is there and we can see him with grace and love.

Conclusions:  Don’t like reading John in the middle of the chapter.  Read more for further understanding.  Who amongst us wouldn’t have wanted to have been on that road to Emmaus to hear Jesus explain the Old Testament?  Wow!  What a gift!  Can you imagine the power of Jesus uttering your name and you instantly recognize him?  I want to hear my name spoken from his lips!

Overall, filler lesson since Matthew was not mentioned at all with a lot of personal questions.  Important?  Yes.  For we all must learn to recognize Jesus’ voice in our lives and understand the connections of the Old and New Testaments.

End Notes:  Cleopas could very well be the husband of “Mary the wife of Clopas” who stood faithfully by Jesus’ cross as he died (John 19:25).

John and Peter do not understand what they see because they have forgotten Jesus’ words.  They only know something amazing has happened.

Note Mary is NOT afraid when the angels appear to her here.  This is one of the few places in the Bible when someone is not afraid when angels appear to man.  Her grief is such that their presence does not affect her.

Mary plans to carry Jesus away when she finds him.  How she would accomplish this remains a mystery but her devotion is such she only is focused on finding Jesus.

Mary is already clinging to Jesus when he tells her to not hold onto him.  This tells us he definitely has a tangible, physical body.

Note Jesus’ distinction between “my father” and “your father”.  He is differentiating himself from us as he should since he is our lord as well.

If someone had fabricated this story, would they make a woman the first to see Jesus?  No. Women were nothing in first century AD.  This speaks to the Truth of God’s Word.

Jesus knew the 2 men on the road to Emmaus were sad when they shouldn’t be.  Hence, he wanted them to understand what had truly happened.  Amazing God’s care for the lost!

Jesus encourages them to tell him things even though he already knows them.  As God wants us to do always.

Jesus called them foolish for not believing the testimony of others.  It was a heart problem as so often it is with us.

We should pray that Jesus opens our eyes to see him who walks by our side every day.  Then, as these two men did, we will see him and understand.  Their hearts were set aflame by Jesus’ words. What our prayer should be every day:  to be on fire for Jesus!

Map of Emmaus with great re-telling and famous accompanying artwork:  http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm

Cleopas:  What we know is basically what the Bible tells us of him.  He is never mentioned again outside of this story.  More information HERE if interested.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 2: Matthew 28:1-15

Summary of passage:  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb after the Sabbath at dawn.  An angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone back.  He appeared like lightning in all white.  The guards were afraid of him and fainted.

The angel told the women to not be afraid and that Jesus has risen.  Come and see and then go and tell the disciples that Jesus is in Galilee.  The women did as told and on the way Jesus met them.  They worshipped him and Jesus told the women the same message as the angels said.

The guards went into Jerusalem and told the chief priests what had happened.  The chief priests and elders bribed the guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen Jesus’ body and they would keep the soldiers from getting into trouble because of it.  The soldiers agreed.

Questions:

3a)  Three days after he was crucified on the Sabbath.  Mark 16:1 says when the Sabbath was over.  Luke and John both say the women arrived early on the first day of the week.

b)  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Mark 16:1 says Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus and Salome.  Luke does not name them until verse 10, saying Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others.  John just mentions Mary Magdalene.

c)  Jesus had already risen.

4a)  A violent earthquake had accompanied the angel.  His appearance was like lightning and he single-handedly opened the tomb.  Mark tells us that the tomb was already open and a young man dressed in a white robe was sitting in Jesus tomb.  They were afraid as well because Jesus’ body was missing.  Luke says that two men in clothes gleaming like lightning suddenly appeared beside the women in the tomb that had already been opened.  John says Mary Magdalene saw tow angels in the tomb seated where Jesus’ body had been.  She was crying and then Jesus himself appears to her.

[Fear is a natural human response to supernatural events and things the mind cannot comprehend nor understand.]

b)  They came to him, clasped his feet, and worshiped him.  The other gospels’ versions are too different here to compare.

c)  The same thing the angels told them to do:  “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”  The other gospels’ versions are too different to compare.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With Jesus, fear is masked by a hope and a knowledge of what is to come.  Everyone is afraid at times in their life especially as children since there is just so much we do not know yet.  We are afraid of people, of evil, of bad things happening, of death of ourselves or of loved ones, of the unknown, of circumstances that spiral out of control, etc.  But with Jesus we can be calm as the storm swirls around us and find comfort in him.

With the Holy Spirit, he is always present within so we don’t have to be alone when frightful things happen in this world.  Pray and he will be there–always.

5a)  Jesus’ friends:  With joy and worship.

The guards:  With fear.

The Jewish leaders:  With fear and denial and deception.

The Jewish people:  Not told in Matthew.  Luke leads us to believe confusion.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The disciples didn’t understand themselves Jesus’ death and purpose yet so how could they invent such a story of resurrection?  Also, they doubted as well what they had seen until Jesus himself appeared to them.  Furthermore, they had no motivation to invent such a story.  They would only be persecuted more for saying such a thing.  Why bring that upon themselves?

Conclusions:  A better question for 5b would have been “Which group in part A could you identify with and how do you respond to Jesus’ Resurrection?”  Overall, liked this lesson.  Interesting how again the story and the details vary amongst the disciples.  Love how the priests are still trying to be in control of earthly events and to maintain their power.  But money cannot hide the Truth.

End Notes:  The women were headed to properly embalm and care for Jesus’ body.  Jewish law strictly forbade handling dead bodies during the Sabbath and since he died during a Sabbath celebration they had to wait for its conclusion.

Matthew is the only one who notes the earthquake.  The earth shook at Jesus’ death and at the announcement of his resurrection.

Jesus is the first one recorded in the Bible to be resurrected with a new body.  He is still resurrected in heaven.

Jesus had already left the tomb when the angel appeared.  The only reason the stone was rolled away was for the benefit of the witnesses to testify that Jesus was not there.  Note how it’s the same people who watched Jesus’ body being placed in the tomb who witnessed to its being gone.  This proves the truth of their words.

Jesus’ resurrection proved that he had paid our sins with the Father and that it was accepted.

If you are running towards Christ, it is likely he will meet you.  If you are moving slowly, there is more chance of failure along the way.  So run to him!

Historically speaking, there is more evidence for Christ’s resurrection than most other events in history.  Doubters are those like the priests:  they know the truth but reject it.  And for that they will pay the price.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time Jesus calls his disciples “Brothers”.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 5: Matthew 27:51-66 with Hebrews 9

Summary of passages:  At the moment Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  The earth shook, rocks split, and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.  They appeared to many people.  The centurion and guards guarding Jesus were terrified at the earthquake and exclaimed Jesus to be the Son of God.  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons were at Jesus’ tomb.

Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body and was granted it.  He wrapped it in linen and placed it in his own tomb where the women stood.

The next day, the Pharisees and chief priests asked Pilate if they could post more guards because they remembered Jesus’ prophecy to rise again and they didn’t want the disciples stealing Jesus’ body and telling people Jesus had risen.  Pilate granted their request and more guards were posted.

Hebrews 9:  In the tabernacle was a place with two rooms called the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.  Only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place and then only with blood to atone for the people’s sins.  All priests could enter the Holy Place and they did frequently for worship.

Jesus Christ through his blood entered the Most Holy Place, cleansing us in the process so that we may serve the living God.  He created a New Covenant where we may receive eternal inheritance and life.  The Old Covenant had required everything be cleansed in blood repeatedly.  Now, Jesus made one sacrifice for us all and will come again to bring salvation to those waiting for him.

Questions:

9a)  Only the high priest and only once a year.

b)  Blood as a sacrifice for God to cleanse himself and the people of their sins they had committed in ignorance (and on purpose).

c)  It was torn by God to signify that by Jesus’ death all people now had immediate access to God.  All people could enter into a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ and be made righteous to stand in His presence.

10a)  Scholars believe witnessing the crucifixion and the death of Jesus may have converted some of the soldiers, including this centurion.  But he seems not to have understood as he uses the past tense, saying Jesus was the Son of God.  We all know He is the Son of God and is alive today.  However, we shouldn’t fault him too much for this mistake as most people didn’t realize the full significance of Jesus’ death, not even his disciples until much later when God breathed the knowledge into them and allowed them to see the Truth.

b)  Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.  John 19:25-26 says the mother of Jesus is there as well [See End Notes for more explanation.]

11a)  Joseph of Arimathea was a prominent member of the Council of the Sanhedrin and risked “being fired” or even death as he could be charged with blasphemy as well for his belief in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  He had not consented to Jesus’ death sentence.  He gave up his own tomb for Jesus.  Nicodemus was a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin as well (John 3:1-21).  He faced the same risks as Joseph did as a believer.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The care taken with Jesus’ body.  He was buried as a king would have been buried.  He was wrapped in fine linen and placed in a tomb cut of rock, which only the wealthy could afford.  I liked how it was mainly women who stayed vigilant by the tomb.  How they were the first to see Jesus arise.  How God had once again chosen those discarded by society to bear the most important message of all time:  He is risen!

c)  The Pharisees and the chief priests were afraid Jesus would rise again on third day like he had proclaimed so they asked Pilate if they could take extra precautions against this or against the disciples stealing Christ’s body and saying he had risen.  They sealed the stone in front of the tomb and posted an extra guard.

Conclusions:  I liked the conciseness of Hebrews 9, which boiled down the Old Testament laws and how Jesus broke them.  I loved the prominence of women–the forgotten ones who never leave Jesus’ side.  I like how John says Jesus’ mother is there.  I’m not for sure I could be there to witness one of my kids crucified, but she is by his side till the end and is blessed when he speaks to her (John 19:26).  What strength and courage!

I loved seeing God at work as well, continually using the Pharisees to strengthen the truth of who Jesus is.  I loved seeing God use Joseph and Nicodemus as examples to others of the risks worth taking for your beliefs and the care worth giving even when one is powerless in the face of events, small acts can make a big impact.

End Notes:  The rocks take note of Jesus’ death even if the people are ambivalent.

Scholars quibble that there should be a break between Matthew 27 verses 51 and 52 because the earthquake happened on the day Jesus died and the resurrection of the holy people came only after Jesus’ resurrection 3 days later. This is unclear though as you read it together.

Matthew is the only gospel that records that holy people rose with Jesus.  With very little detail given, scholars are unsure the purpose except to accompany Christ to heaven.

Normally, victims of crucifixion are left on the cross to serve as signs to others not to disobey Rome.  Their bodies rot or are eaten by animals.  However, during this Passover season, the Romans did not want such a display.  Furthermore, in the past, the Romans gave the bodies of Jewish victims to relatives for burial to keep the peace in Judea and pacify the Jews.

It is important that this tomb was never used.  This would eliminate any doubt that the body that arose was Jesus and not some other body.

Only the rich could afford such a tomb.  This was a huge sacrifice for Joseph to make for Jesus.  A stone in front of it was the customary way to seal off a tomb to prevent it from being disturbed.

The process followed by wrapping Jesus and putting spices on his body was the Jewish custom.  They would let the bodies sit until only bones remained.  Then they would put the bones in an ossuary which is a small stone box and place that in the tomb for eternity.  The Orthodox church still practices this custom today.

“The next day” would have been the Sabbath.  The Pharisees are so afraid of Jesus they are breaking all the laws.  Ironically, they knew Jesus’ prophecy better than the disciples who had run away for fear of their lives.  The disciples were an excuse:  the Pharisees were afraid Jesus would rise again.  It is this security that validates Jesus’ resurrection for men.  Again, Jesus wins in the end!

The guard normally consisted of 4 soldiers but could have been more in this case.  The seal on the tomb was a Roman seal and if broken, would have resulted in the soldiers being fired or executed as it would violate Roman authority.  They didn’t care a lick who Jesus was–which only makes Jesus’ resurrection the more powerful.

Women at the cross:  Anyone else confused by who is at the cross?  I am!  The only one mentioned by all 4 Gospels is Mary Magdalene.  Mary, mother of James and Joses, is mentioned twice.  The others only once.  Here’s a good break down of it all and a wonderful chart showing with women are mentioned in which Gospel:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_at_the_crucifixion

Nicodemus?  Anyone else need a refresher on him?  I did.  He’s a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin as well.  Here’s another great breakdown on where he appears in the Bible, mainly in the book of John:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicodemus

Map of Arimathea:  http://bibleatlas.org/full/arimathea.htm

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 4: Matthew 27:35-50; Psalm 22

Summary of passages:  Matthew 27:35-50:  The Romans crucified Jesus and divided up his clothes. They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head. Two robbers were crucified with him. Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then. The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried out to God, asking why he has been forsaken. The observers thought he was calling Elijah. Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Psalm 22:  David asks God why has God forsaken him and why is He so far away.  Yet God is faithful.  Yet David is a scorned man, mocked for his belief, and told let God save him.  Yet trouble from men is near.  He cannot speak.  He is pierced.  They divide up his clothes.  Lord, rescue me from them.  I am weary.  All nations will bow before Him.  And his righteousness will be proclaimed now and for all future generations.

Questions:

7)  Psalm 22:1:  Jesus spoke these words in Matthew 27:46 on the cross as he took on the sins and God briefly turned His back to His Son.  We feel Jesus’ agony both at his physical suffering and his spiritual abandonment.

Psalm 22:2-6:  We feel Jesus’ unanswered prayer; yet despite Jesus’ suffering and scornment by man, God is there, faithful, trustworthy, the Holy One of Israel.

Psalm 22:7-9:  Jesus feels insignificant as he is mocked on the cross and told that God should come down and rescue him (Matthew 27:43).  Yet all in God’s plan.  Jesus reminds God of his birth and care given to him then–and thus the appeal for care now. [Note that just because God has abandoned Jesus, Jesus does not abandon God.  This is an example for us all.  Never give up.]

Psalm 22:12-13:  Men claw at Jesus and come against him.  The bulls of Bashan were known for their strength.

Psalm 22:14:  Jesus is exhausted and drained physically and spiritually.  Jesus is completely devoid of any strength.  This describes his physical suffering as bones were disjoined on the cross and some scholars speculate Jesus’ heart might have burst (John 19:34).

Psalm 22:15:  Jesus can no longer speak as his mouth is dried up and he has no more strength on the cross. Physical death awaits.  This harkens back to Genesis 3:19 where man returns to dust.  Christ became our curse (Galatians 3:13).

Psalm 22:16:  Jesus was surrounded by wicked men.  Jesus was literally pierced at the hands and feet to be hung on the cross

Psalm 22:17:  People mock him from his arrest to his death.  Even the prisoner crucified with Jesus mocks him.  They think they superior (if only they knew).  Jesus suffered no broken bones (John 19:31-37), which fulfilled prophecy (Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Zechariah 12:10; Numbers 9:12).

Psalm 22:18:  The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus divided up his garments and cast lots for his clothing.

Psalm 22:19-21:  Yet God is there to deliver Jesus into His arms from the people.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The Old Testament has always been relevant in my life as all the Bible (God’s breathed Words) is and should be.  The more and more connections made between the Old Testament and the New Testament and the more and more prophecy I see fulfilled only fills me up with God and spurns me to learn more and more and be closer and closer to my Creator and Lord.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It has made me realize that Jesus’ suffering is universal.  David suffered.  Jesus suffered.  So I must suffer as well.  It is part of life.  Part of the Christian life.  And yet both endured.  Both grew stronger.  Both did great things.  So can I.  For without lows, the highs are meaningless.  Both felt forsaken by God as I have in my life.  And that is okay.  Our journey to Him is just that–a journey.  As long as we know who is standing at the end, awaiting us with open arms, I deem it all worthwhile.

Conclusions:  There seems to be a theme or a belief that the Old Testament is meaningless to Christians.  That it is dismissed and deemed unimportant.  This annoys me.  As does questions like 8a.  To me, the Old Testament is just as relevant today as the New Testament.  It always has been.  I’ve never held such a belief that the New is more significant than the Old.  Yet in some of my groups, some have said as such.  And questions such as 8a seem to perpetuate that notion.

I wish people and the Christian community would stop implying such.  Without the Old Testament, there would be no New Testament.  Both are of equal importance and should be treated as such.  We must obey both to live like Jesus.  There should be no separation between the two.

End Notes:  We can sense the agony in the Psalm.  Can you imagine a child’s pain when their parents turn their back on them?  This is what Jesus is experiencing only at a much, unfathomable level as it is God who is the one who turns His back (and He never does).  The intimate and constant connections has been broken.  Yet, it is not a complete forsakenness–but enough for Jesus to cry out to God.  This is something we can relate to but never understand because we will never be in Jesus’ place.

Note even in the midst of suffering and doubt God remains Holy and good.  The devil did not win here.

Have you ever felt as low as a worm?  That’s pretty low but I think we’ve all been there.

Notice once the author has poured out his laments and feelings of abandonment he exclaims “You have heard me”. So it is with us and God.  God hears our cries for help and answers us.  He is always there and He is not silent in our misery.

Jesus declares and praises God.  It is often thought only the first half of Psalm 22 refers to Jesus but Hebrews 2:12 declares otherwise when the author of Hebrews quotes Psalm 22:22.

John 17:26 “I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” suggests the real reason Jesus died for our sins:  It was the will of the Father and Jesus obeyed completely and absolutely to God’s great glory.  Powerful stuff!

The second great reason for the cross is for us:  “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord and …bow down before him.”  It is comforting to know Jesus was thinking of us at the end.

The last verse of this Psalm echoes Jesus’ last words on the cross “He has done it.”

There is so much in this Psalm.  Take the time to soak it in and reflect on Jesus’s life especially as Easter approaches.  As you do, Jesus will become closer and closer.

This whole Psalm reflects Jesus’ life perfectly.  In it, the New Testament writers saw Old Testament prophecy fulfilled.  David, the greatest King of Israel, suffered.  As Jesus did.  As it was meant by God to be.  Victory through suffering.  Only God can breathe such life into such words.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 3: Matthew 27:34-50; Mark 15:22-24; John 19:23-30

Summary of passages:  Matthew 27:34-50:  Simon from Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross for him as Jesus was too weak. They went to Golgotha where Jesus was offered wine to drink which he refused. They crucified him and divided up his clothes. They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head. Two robbers were crucified with him. Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then. The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried to God, asking why he has been forsaken. The observers thought he was calling Elijah. Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Mark 15:22-24:  Jesus was taken to Golgotha.  He was offered wine mixed with myrrh but refused.  They crucified him and the soldiers divided up his clothes through casting lots.

John 19:23-30:  The four soldiers who crucified Jesus divided up his clothes, leaving him with just the undergarment, which fulfilled Psalm 22:18.  Jesus’s mother, his aunt, Mary’s sister, Mary, and Mary Magdalene were near the cross.  Jesus saw his mother and said he was her son and told the disciple she was his mother as well.  The disciple then took Mary into him home.

Jesus was thirsty on the cross so a sponge soaked in wine vinegar was offered to him.  He drank, said “It is finished” and gave up his spirit.

Questions:

5)  The sedative drink was supposed to dull the pain and the mind.  Jesus wanted to be fully present when he took on the sins of the world.  After hanging on the cross for 6 hours in the hot sun, Jesus had no ability to speak.  His mouth would have been completely parched.  He asked for a drink so he’d have the ability to pronounce to the world “It is finished”

6a)  His clothes was divided up among the four soldiers who crucified him.

b)  We are all born naked.  Naked is the natural state.  It is also the state of innocence.  Children run around naked because they don’t have any inhibitions that it’s socially unacceptable.  It is also the state of purity when Adam and Eve were in the Garden before the Fall.  After our physical death, we will be arrayed in garments of salvation and righteousness.  Man’s clothes do not hide his sins.  They are filthy rags to God.  It is the clothes that God gives us that matters.  Thus, Christ was disrobed as he returned to His father.  So shall us all be.

Conclusions:  Short day which is nice after yesterday’s lesson.  I find it fascinating man’s obsession with the outward appearance and obsession with clothes throughout time since God does not care and unless it’s a garment of righteousness it’s filth in His eyes.  Oh, how much wiser we’d be if we had God’s eyes.

End Notes:  Exodus 28:31-32 tells us that the High Priest wore a seamless garment.  Everything has significance in God’s word and as we continue to study, we see more and more of the connections of the Old Testament and the New Testament and we should all have a deeper awe of our Lord and King.

Jesus gave up his life for us.  “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again.  No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.  This command I received from my Father.” John 10:17-18

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 28, Day 2: Matthew 27:32-50

Summary of passage:  Simon from Cyrene carried Jesus’ cross for him as Jesus was too weak.  They went to Golgotha where Jesus was offered wine to drink which he refused.  They crucified him and divided up his clothes.  They kept watch over him and his crime (king of the Jews) was placed over his head.  Two robbers were crucified with him.  Passer-bys hurled insults at him, telling Jesus to come down from the cross with his powers and if he were the Son of God, they would believe him then.  The robbers insulted Jesus as well.

Jesus cried to God, asking why he has been forsaken.  The observers thought he was calling Elijah.  Then Jesus cried once more and died.

Questions:

3a)  Leviticus 4:12, 21:  The end of sin and burnt offerings.

Leviticus 4:28-29; 5:5:  The end of sin offerings and atonement by a priest.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23:  No one who is cursed any more who accept Jesus as their atonement sacrifice.

2 Corinthians 5:21:  Jesus took our sins so we are now righteous before God.

Hebrews 13:11-13:  Jesus’ blood made us holy

1 Peter 1:18-19:  Jesus’ blood redeemed us.

1 Peter 2:24:  Jesus bore our sins on the cross so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds we have been healed.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All say the same thing essentially:  Jesus died for us and our sins so we can be with God.  This is unfathomable in its magnitude and comforting that I am saved even though I don’t deserve it.

4a)  This is difficult to conjecture without knowing whether Simon was a Jew, a believing Jew in Jesus, or a Roman or pagan.  He saw the people mocking Jesus and spitting on him.  He saw the anger towards Jesus.  He saw how Jesus was the walking dead, taking his last steps on this earth.  He saw Jesus’ blood everywhere from his wounds.  Hopefully, he felt sympathy for Jesus and thought how cruel people and the Romans are.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Truthfully, it doesn’t do anything for me.  Again, not enough information to say anything about Alexander and Rufus.  Were they good people or bad?  Does it matter?  We can’t honestly make a connection between Jesus’ death and Simon’s sons.  It would only be a conjecture.  And I myself prefer facts.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  How evil, indifferent, selfish, and callous man truly is.  How we all killed Jesus.  How we are all undeserving of the aftermath.  How without God we’d just be common animals living off of instincts.  With Jesus, there is hope.  Without Jesus, there is death.

Conclusions:  Disappointed to say the least in this lesson.  Nothing concrete.  Too much personal application.  Too much conjecture.  I weary of looking up verses that say the same thing.  Would have liked questions such as:  Why was Jesus’ clothes divided up?  What does it mean to mix wine with gall?  Why did Pilate put “King of the Jews” above Jesus?  Did Pilate himself believe Jesus to be King of the Jews?  Why did the people think Jesus was calling Elijah?  Why would they offer him wine vinegar?  Here, I would have liked to compare the other passages as well on Jesus’ crucifixion.

End Notes:  Jesus’ march to the place of crucifixion would have been horrendous and excruciatingly painful. The march served as a warning to others about what happened to those who committed crimes against Rome.  Typically, a Roman on horseback would have led the way, shouting out the crimes of those condemned.  They would have taken the longest route possible so that as many as possible could see (since there was no TV back then).

The victim was forced to carry the crossbar, usually naked, and usually tied to it.  This weighed any where from 75-125 pounds.  The place of crucifixion would be a popular thoroughfare so as many as possible would witness this scene in Jesus’ case Golgotha (known as Calvary in Latin).  This is a low hill outside of Jerusalem.

Crucifixion is an excruciating death (in fact our word excruciating means “of or out of the cross”).  Last week, I mentioned this site which has great photos of the crossbeam, the cross, the process of crucifixion, and the medical reasons behind death.  Four Roman soldiers were appointed to do the process who were skilled in the proper techniques.  View HERE

Bill O’Reilly’s book, Killing Jesus, describes crucifixion in amazing detail as well as all of Jesus’ life.

Roman citizens could not be crucified unless upon order of the emperor himself.  Romans considered themselves above such a heinous act.  That should give you some clue how horrendous crucifixion is.

Knowing exactly what Jesus endured can only deepen our love for our Savior.  Please take the time to learn more.

Much is made by BSF about Simon of Cyrene.  Cyrene is in Northern Africa and scholars believe he was probably in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover, making him a Jew.  However, he could have been a trader or merchant as well.  He was definitely forced to bear the cross, probably unwillingly since who would want to carry a heavy beam for a stranger and feel the crowds’ anger.

Map of Cyrene in Libya:  http://www.combinedops.com/PHOTOS%20GENERAL/Eastmed%20Map.jpg

Golgotha, meaning Place of the Skulls, was the traditional place to crucify victims.  As dead bodies are considered ceremonially unclean, this took place outside of the city.

The wine mixed with gall was a pain-numbing, mind-numbing drink so the victims wouldn’t suffer quite so much.  It would be similar to drinking alcohol before amputation in the nineteenth century or local anesthesia today.  In Mark, this drink is outright declined.  Jesus chose to suffer completely for us.

The Roman soldiers, upon completion of the process, staying to make sure the victim died and no one rescued them.  In the past, some people did survive after being left for dead on the cross.

Jesus shows us how we can endure scorn:  silently and with love.

The sixth hour to the ninth hour was from noon to about 3 pm in Roman time.  An unusual darkness clouded the land. I imagine this as God’s sorrow and his wrath upon man.  Mark 15 tells us Jesus hung on the cross for about 6 hours.

Significance of Jesus’ cries:  Jesus quotes Psalm 22:1.  Right before death, Jesus experiences the taking upon of our sins and God looks upon Christ as if he is a sinner.  He feels God’s wrath upon man.  Jesus feels a partial separation from God.  In this moment, Jesus is grieved and cries out to God and asks why.  This is the only time in the Bible it is recorded that Jesus DOES NOT call God “Father”.

Paul makes it clear God never abandoned Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19).  But Jesus did experience sin and hate.  God laid our sins upon Jesus and he bore it.  And that is why he cried out.  God had briefly turned His face.

Note it’s the spiritual suffering that made Jesus cry out.  The physical suffering of his body he was silent. But he couldn’t take the brief moment of turning away of God.  I’m sure the angels in heaven were singing Jesus’ name.

Us stupid humans misunderstood Jesus and thought he was calling upon Elijah.  Will we ever understand?

Jesus was conscious to the end (most crucifixion victims lost consciousness or were too exhausted to speak) and was able to say a final word as John 19:30 tells us “It is finished”.  This is one word in Greek.

We must remember Jesus voluntarily died for our sins (“he gave up his spirit).  His life was not taken from him as ours is.  Jesus could never die unless he chose to die for it is sin that kills us.  He chose to bear our sins and forfeit his life.

Some say Jesus died of a broken heart.  I would say it broke but then was perfected by God in heaven!

In John 19 the priests throw a fit over the sign which read “King of the Jews”.  They protested to Pilate who said “What I have written, I have written.”  Sad how a pagan believes in Jesus and supposedly the closest men to God refuse.

I like Luke 23 who records some of Jesus’ final words and how some of these final words are spoken to women.  Luke also has my favorite quote from Jesus’ death “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  We are forgiven despite our ignorance and stupidity.  Very, very comforting.

Fun Fact:  One-third of all 4 Gospels are devoted to Jesus’ final week of life in Jerusalem.