BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 5: John 20:24-31

Summary of passage:  Thomas who was absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples refused to believe Jesus had risen unless he sees Jesus.  So Jesus appears a week later in much the same manner when Thomas is present and he believes.  However, Jesus commends those who believe without seeing.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He’s devoted to Jesus and follows him.  His faith is weak though when Jesus is not around.  He’s a skeptic but he questions honestly.  He was authentic:  he never pretended.  If he didn’t understand something, he said so.  If he felt discouraged, he acted like it.  I’m very much like Thomas–open book.  One who questions and doesn’t pretend “I’m good” when strangers ask when I’m not.  Once Thomas sees, his faith is 100%–never to leave again.  All in.  That’s me too.

13)  Jesus appearing before him.  He acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and God–the only disciple to do so.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Truthfully, it hasn’t.

Conclusions:  Another weak lesson despite the fact I like Thomas.  Questioning leading to faith is the lesson here which should have been the focus of the questions instead of personalizing them.

End Notes:  “Thomas” is Aramaic and “Didymus” is Greek for twin, which could have been an epithet.  By not staying together as Jesus had said to do (John 15:17; 17:11), Thomas missed out on the first blessing of Jesus.  Hence, this recorded exchange earned Thomas the nickname “Doubting Thomas”, which is unfair to what he’ll become.  It wasn’t that he doubted; he refused to believe in the disciples’ testimony.  Thomas is slammed for this but he could be in shock still or mourning.  He was still with the disciples however.

Again, Jesus appears in the same way and says the same thing on the same day–a Sunday–evidence of the disciples gathering together on Sundays.  The doors are locked still, indicating the disciples still haven’t quite internalized the resurrection of Jesus yet.

Jesus gave Thomas what he asked for (his physical presence and proof) out of mercy and kindness.  He didn’t have to appear for Thomas’ sake but he did.  For Thomas, the implication of a risen Jesus was too great to take someone else’s word for.  Jesus orders him to stop doubting and have faith.  Despite all the previous faith Thomas had, without faith in the resurrection none of it mattered.  The same is for us.  Doubt is okay to a certain extent.  It moves us towards faith and deepens it.

Thomas quickly believes, calling Jesus Lord and God, titles Jesus does not refuse.  He calls Jesus my Lord and my God–titles of deity.  He also is not half-way in.  He’s all out (100% doubting) or all in (100% belief).  This is the high point of faith.

Fun Fact:  Thomas in fact is the only disciple that is recorded who directly addresses Jesus as God.

Scholars are divided on whether or not Thomas actually touched Jesus’ wounds.  Because Jesus points out only that Thomas has seen him that strengthens his faith, most say Thomas didn’t actually touch Jesus.  However, sight could have been what had convinced Thomas and not the physical touching.

Ironically, Jesus says those who believe without seeing are the blessed ones–that would be us!  Those who are satisfied with God’s gifts and not yearning for more.  This is another beatitude from Jesus to us.  If we demand a voice, a vision, or answers, our faith is diminished.

Some scholars say Thomas’ belief is the climax of the book of John.  Here, Jesus has conquered unbelief–more important than the miracle of sight or sorrow or sin.

Thomas’ questions led to faith because he expressed them sincerely and looked for answers.  We last see Thomas in the Bible in Acts 1:12-14 praying, waiting with the other disciples for the Holy Spirit to come.

Tradition has it Thomas went to Parthia and India to spread the Gospel.  Present-day Christians of St. Thomas of India claim spiritual descent from him and a place near Madras is called St. Thomas’s Mount.

John sums up this chapter with the whole point of the Gospels–the show the truth of Jesus’ Messiahship and to present him as the Son of God so that readers may believe in him– and to bring about faith that leads to life.

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BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 28, Day 5: Various Passages for the Day

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

10)  Matthew 28:19-20:  “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

(We had this EXACT SAME passage and question in Lesson 19 Day 3.  My answer hasn’t changed and neither has the passage.)

It challenges me to spread the word.  Duh.

John 13:31-36:  “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you much love one another.”

It challenges me to love others.  Duh.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.”

This challenges me to remember my blessings, be grateful for all I have, to pray more, to be happy, to remember this is the life God has granted me, to challenge what I hear as Truth and see if it lines up with the Word, to hold onto God (the good), and to avoid evil.

Hebrews 12:28:  “Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

This challenges me to be more worshipful.  I’m wondering what acceptably means here.  I don’t like it for it’s too subjective.  Your acceptable might not be my acceptable.

1 Peter 1:13-16; 2 Peter 3:10-14:  “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  Be holy in all you do.”  “You ought to live holy and godly lives and look forward to a new heaven and a new earth.”

This challenges me to be more like Jesus and be holy and not be like the world around me.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Be more like Jesus.  Every day.  Love others.  Do His will more.

Similar question:  Lesson 24 Day 5

Conclusions:  We’ve had question 10 before.  My attitude is so poor as you can tell.  I hope yours isn’t as bad as mine.

Conclusions to Lesson 28:  Complete and total filler lesson.  All were personal questions except for question 8 on day 4 (the only good question in my opinion).  All were ones we’ve had before on topics beaten to death.  Weak.  Can we just finish Revelation please?

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 28, Day 5: Deuteronomy 32:44-52

Summary of passage:  After Moses sang the Song, he told the people to take his words to heart and live by them so that they will prosper in the new land.  That same day the Lord told Moses to climb Mount Nebo and view the Holy Land before his death.

Questions:

10a)  To take all of his words to heart.  Moses said to love and serve God with all of your heart and soul.  He said God would circumcise your hearts in order to love Him.  Because the heart is what matters to God.  We all will sin.  But are we truly sorry for our sin.  Do we have a heart for God?  Or do we not truly care about our actions?  God wants our hearts.  Once He has that everything else falls into place.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  When you love and serve God, God happens.  Blessings happen.  To you and to others.  Peace happens.  Fulfillment.  God’s plan happens.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s words are our life.  His commandments.  His will.  Without God’s word and His Holy Spirit within we have no life.  We are empty shells.  For His word is Him.

12a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is just.  Moses didn’t physically enter the Promised Land but Moses is in heaven in a much, much better land than here on Earth.  That’s what matters.  Not what happens to Moses down here.  He was probably the most faithful man to ever walk the earth.  It is not for me to judge God’s judgements.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The part of my thinking that is selfish and all about me.  The part of my thinking that is not from God but from Satan.  The thoughts that need to be of God instead of of the world.

Conclusions:  Personal Day here.  12a was redundant.  We were asked before when Moses was first judged by God whether we thought it was just punishment or not.  The only question I liked was the non-personal question (10a).  I liked how we did examine the heart for that is what matters to God.  Whether we desire Him or we are indifferent to Him.  Moses knew what God wanted and he desperately tried to impart that to the people before he left.  Again, a man after God’s own heart who spoke face to face with God.

End Notes:  Moses is to “be gathered to your people”, which was the ancient Israelites way of saying going to heaven before Christ came to allow them to go to heaven.  I’ve posted about what this means before.  You can read HERE if interested.

Others who were “gathered to their people” in the Pentateuch:  Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Aaron.

Quick Reminder of where Israelites are:  http://www.keyway.ca/gif/nebo.gif

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 Genesis Lesson 28, Day 5: Genesis 45

Summary of passage:  Joseph could no longer keep his emotions in check so he sent all of his attendants out. He made himself known to his brothers and wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him.  His brothers were terrified so Joseph beckoned them closer and told them not to be angry at themselves for it was God who had sent him ahead of them in order to save lives and preserve a remnant on earth.

He sends them back to retrieve Jacob and all of his household and items to live in Goshen where Joseph will provide for them.  Tell him about everything you have seen, all the honor Joseph has, and bring him here quickly.

He hugged Benjamin and wept and embraced all his brothers and wept and talked with them.  Pharaoh agreed to have Joseph’s family come along with all their belongings.  He will give them the best of the land.  They could leave their belongings because the best of Egypt will be theirs.

He sent the brothers along, giving Benjamin 300 shekels of silver and five sets of new clothes and giving his brothers just new clothes.  Joseph reminded them not to quarrel along the way.

Jacob agreed to go to Egypt.

Questions:

15a)  He tells them that it was God who sent him before them in order to save lives and preserve a remnant on earth.

b)  Well it’s hard to say.  No one in this chapter is singled out except Benjamin who is favored by Joseph as well (ironic in my view).  The brothers are always referred to as “they”.  That alone should show that they acted together as a cohesive whole and had to love one another.

Possibly when they were frightened they clung to each other.  They all embraced each other and cried over Joseph.  They talked together.  The “sons of Israel” (verse 21–another use of the word Israel shows faith) all went together to collect Jacob.  Joseph warned them not to quarrel as brothers do.

16)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray to forgive.  Pray for God’s power to forgive.  Choose to forgive.  Give it to God.

Conclusions:  The best part of Joseph’s story to me is how God used evil for good.  How he took the brothers’ actions and made Joseph prosper beyond his wildest dreams.  And how Joseph forgave his brothers and in the end ended up doing good towards those who wronged him.  God makes ALL things work together for our good (Romans 8:28) and there is no better example in all of the Bible of this than the story of Joseph.

Note how the last verse calls Jacob Israel.  The name Israel is used when Jacob is acting out of faith.  The name Jacob is used when Jacob is acting on his own.  Interesting.

Scholars say chapters 42-45 takes place over 2 years.  It seems as if it’s shorter but it’s not.  We must remember how difficult transportation was in ancient times over rough terrain on foot with nothing but donkeys to pack your belongings.  Also, we must remember the time between the first journey to Egypt and the second.  The brothers only return when they run out of grain.  That would take a bit of time to eat that up.  So Simeon sat in prison for 2 years!

Both Joseph and Jesus were sent to save God’s people.  Both were despised and betrayed by their own people.  Yet God’s will to save conquers all.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 5: 1 Peter 2:13-25

Summary of passage:  Peter says to submit ourselves to every authority instituted among men who are sent by him (God) to punish those who do wrong and commend those who do right.  And doing good will silence the ignorant.  Live as servants of God and do not use freedom as an excuse to do wrongs.  Respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.

Slaves submit yourselves to your masters whether good or bad.  It is commendable if you endure under unjust suffering because you are conscious of God to which you were called because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.  Christ never retaliated or made threats.  Instead, he trusted God.  He died so that we may die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds we have been healed.

Questions:

13)  Peter says we are to obey authority instituted among men because governments have a rightful authority from God and as long as they are not doing anything against God’s laws then we must obey.  The Jews in this time did not believe they should obey those who did not hold their beliefs.

Today I see little to no respect for authority or the government (and definitely nothing close to submission).  Everything government related we grumble and complain.  For this I cannot blame people.  Government today is nothing like government was in Peter’s time.  I would be curious to hear what the apostles would say about our government today.

14)  Because he is conscious of God and it is a calling because Christ suffered for you, leaving the example.

15)  Jesus did not retaliate or offer threats.  He entrusted himself to God and set the example that when we suffer we do so for God.

This question does not say personal so I’m assuming you is the plural form and not meant to be specific.  But I will just say I haven’t suffered unjustly as of yet to be honest.  Sure, I’ve suffered but who ever said it was supposed to be just?  Christ’s suffering wasn’t just so we shouldn’t expect our suffering to be just either.

Conclusions:  Again, I didn’t get a lot out of this.  Repetitive in the advice:  respect everyone; love believers; fear God; honor authority.  Anyone else getting tired of hearing this?

BSF questions are supposed to be where you are at and where I live there is no slavery (legally that is) so from my viewpoint it’s hard to relate to slavery and masters.  We are also a free society (to which could be argued but according to our Constitution we are free and definitely free when compared to Peter’s time) so submitting to government is hard to relate to as well since we’re not being asked to break God’s laws or being persecuted like Peter was under Roman authority.

In essence, applying this particular passage to my life (for I can’t speak for yours) is difficult.  The best part was how Christ suffered unjustly and thus we may as well and if we do we must endure for God’s sake.  This is something we all can relate to.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 28, Day 5: Isaiah 63:15-64:12

Summary of passage:  Isaiah 63:15-19:  Isaiah appeals to God:  Look down from heaven and see us.  You are our Father, our Redeemer.  Why do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you?  Return for our sakes.  Our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.  We are yours from of old (the Old Covenant).

Isaiah 64:  Isaiah is still pleading with God for His people:  Oh, come down to make your name known to your enemies and cause the nations to quake before you like in the past (Exodus).  You are the only God who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him and who do right.  But we continued to sin and you were angry.  So how can we be saved?

All of us and our acts are unclean.  No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you for you have hidden your face because of our sins.  Yet, you are our Father.  You are the potter; we are the clay.  Do not be angry forever and remember our sins for we are your people.  Your sacred cities have become a desert and desolate.  Your temple has burned and everything lies in ruins.  Will you hold yourself back and continue to punish us because of our sinful nature (who we are)?

Questions:

11a)  For God to look down from heaven and behold His people and return to them since the people are His. Isaiah reminds God He is their Father and Redeemer and asks God why He has left them.

b)  The people continue to sin against God.  All of them are unclean and all their righteous acts are like filthy rags.  Their sins consume them.  No one calls on God or strives to lay hold of Him.

c)  63:15:  For God to look down from heaven and see His people.

64:1:  God would come down to help and the mountain would tremble before Him

64:2:  To come down to make your name known and cause the nations to quake before you like in the past (Verse 3–a reference to Exodus 19:18 when Mount Sinai shook)

d)  To remember who He is, who His people are, and what Zion has become.  “You are our Father.  We are the clay; you are the potter.  We are your people.  Your city is a desolation and your temple is ruined.  Will you hold yourself back and always punish us for our sin?”

e)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I appeal based on who He is–His goodness and faithfulness–and how He’s my Father who has promised to never forsake me and to walk with me all the days of my life.  I ask Him to look down and come down in every area of my life and others’.  I need Him everywhere and so does everyone else.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God answered with the New Covenant of Jesus Christ.  Isaiah asked, “Because of our sinful nature, will you always punish us for who we are?”  Otherwise, we would forever be separated from God without His gift of Jesus.

Conclusions:  Isaiah recognizes the quandary the people are in and appeals to God to rectify it:  we are forever unclean due to our sinful nature.  We will forever fail.  So what do we do, God? How can we stop your anger due to our inherent sinful nature and regain your favor?  We are your people and you are our God. Remember that, God, and save us.

As we know, God had this all worked out through the blood of Jesus Christ.  But, I’m wondering if Isaiah knew?  He prophesized about the Redeemer, the Savior, the Anointed One but did he truly understand what Jesus would mean to the people?  This passage would make you think otherwise.  It’s like Isaiah knew but he didn’t know.  Does that make sense?  He had an idea but the true depth of what God had planned Isaiah just couldn’t fathom or grasp.

It’s fascinating to ponder life in OT times.  Besides the hardships involved.  But if you were a believer in the One, True God, what would your ordinary life look like?  Constant sacrifices and atonements.  Constant rules and regulations.  Amidst constant failure as a human being.  It doesn’t sound very cheery to me.