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

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BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 31, Day 2: Acts 21:16-22:29

Summary of passage:  We pick up Paul right at his arrival in Jerusalem.  He was greeted warmly and then meets with James and all the other elders to give an account of his travels.  Immediately, there is a concern that needs to be addressed:  the Jews have mistakenly been informed that Paul is teaching the Jews to turn away from Moses and their customs.  They are angry.  So to appease them, we suggest you take four men and pay their expenses to be purified.  Then everyone will know the rumors are false and that you are living in obedience to the law.

Paul agrees and complies.  However, some Jews see him at the temple and repeat the rumors to the crowd and also throw in a lie about how Paul brought Greeks into the holy place in the temple, a lie based on a false assumption of association.

The angry mob seized Paul, beating him, fully intending to kill him for such a perceived violation of Jewish law.  However, when the Romans found out an uncontrolled riot was taking place, they ran to see what the commotion was all about.  The Romans arrested Paul and tried to figure out what was going on.  Unable to do so due to crowd noise, they remove Paul to the barracks.  Paul asks to speak to the mob in his defense.

Paul tells them his origins:  he’s a Jew who used to persecute followers of Jesus until Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus and God commissioned him to the Gentiles.  This angered the crowd when Paul mentioned the Gentiles (for they believed the Gentiles were not equal with the Jews in God’s eyes) and the Roman commander ordered Paul be flogged and questioned about why the crowd was so incensed.

Here, Paul invokes his Roman citizen privileges (illegal to flog a citizen until found guilty in a court of law and illegal to chain a citizen) and the commander immediately changes course.

Questions:

3a)  He was trying to reassure the Jerusalem church of his loyalty by agreeing to take Jewish vows.  There was concern that Paul had turned against Jewish customs so they suggested Paul pay for the purification rites of four men as a gesture of support to the Jews and their way of life even though the Gentiles are not required to do so.

It seems to me there was a lot of confusion and misinformation about the new Christian faith and what it entails amongst the people.  Remember, there was no 24-hour news reel back then.  In this instance, mob mentality played a key role in Paul’s arrest and denouncement.  One person spread the rumor Paul took a non-Jew into the temple and a riot ensued.

It is very, very difficult to change and erase centuries of belief.  Most Jews had not accepted the fact that Gentiles are not equal to them in God’s eyes, that they too are now set apart, and set apart in the same way they are:  through faith in Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul’s teaching were seen as blasphemous and disrespectful.

b)  1 Corinthians 9:20:  “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews.  To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law.”  Paul’s attitude is to do whatever it takes to win people to Jesus, including supporting the Jews in their customs.

4a)  They seized Paul, dragged him from the temple, and tried to kill him.  The Romans intervened by arresting Paul so he wouldn’t be killed by the crazed, out of control mob.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The same reason He allows bad things to happen to us all:  to strengthen us or perhaps those around us and test our faith in Him and His word(s).

5a)  Total obedience.  He asks, “What shall I do, Lord?” (verse 10) immediately after Jesus appears to him.  God commissioned him to the Gentiles (verse 21) and he obeyed immediately, never once turning back, despite the hardships.

b)  As soon as Paul uttered the word “Gentiles”, the crowd grew incensed.  We must remember Jews have lived for millenia as God’s chosen people, set apart and chosen by Him, as special.  So accepting the fact that Gentiles are now their equals, able to be saved by believing in Jesus, is an idea completely foreign to them and offensible.

Furthermore, when Paul declares this as God’s plan when he says the Lord told him to go the Gentiles (verse 21), this outrages the Jews.  God?  Our God said such a thing?  They just couldn’t believe it to be true.  So emotions took over and they wanted Paul to die for what they believed to be blasphemy.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I believe I have several callings.  First, is a wife to my husband.  Second, is a mother to my children.  Third, is a writer of novels to reveal God to unbelievers in a non-threatening yet powerful way.  Fourth, one day as a worship leader.  Fifth, through this blog in some way.  I hope it helps others see and know Him more.  It’s that simple.

I don’t really talk about my callings outside of my immediate family.  To be honest, I don’t talk to a lot of people outside of family.  Not to be stereotypical of writers but I’m much better with the written word than with the spoken word.  My husband and I often miscommunicate cause I’m so bad.  So I send him an email to clarify my thoughts on a matter.

So I haven’t experienced a lot (either positive or negative) because it’s something between God and me and when the time is right it will be between me and others.

Conclusions:  Yeah!  I’m so happy to be back in the book of Acts!  It’s like we stopped the book half-way through right at the good part and I am eager to see how the story ends.

I liked 5c because even though you may know God’s calling on your life it’s good to put it in writing.  I knew all of these callings but putting them together gives me a different perspective and priority for them.

I think a good question would have been:  how do you react when faced with a situation you know will be challenging but you have to do it anyways?

Poor Paul.  He knows his return to Jerusalem will be anything but pleasant and yet he walks it anyways, fulling trusting in God’s plan for his life and knowing God is right there beside him no matter what he will face.

I’m not for sure how I would have reacted if I had to walk in Paul’s shoes:  heading into a hostile environment where you know you will face physical pain, persecution, and probably death.  It’s a good lesson for all of us to ponder.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 9, Day 5: Hebrews 2:1-4

Summary of passage:  We must pay more careful attention to God’s gift of Salvation and the Holy Spirit lest we drift away.

Questions:

10a)  To pay more attention to what we have heard (Bible and God) so that we do not drift away.

b)  That Jesus is our salvation

11)  Everything in our culture entices us to drift away.  Turn on the TV and you see sex, drugs, and evil as glorified.  Jesus is never mentioned (unless you’re on a Christian station or movie) and has been banned in most places (schools, etc) and labeled as not politically correct.  Nothing in our culture helps us hold onto the gospel.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He showed His love when He sent His son to die for us so we can be with Him and when He granted us the Holy Spirit within.  I can try to remember this daily and be grateful for it even when I have no gratitude in my heart for anything around me.  I can never give up hope that this too shall change and hold onto God’s promises with everything I have.

Conclusions:  I’m really not for sure what Lesson 9 in Hebrews has to do with the Acts of the Apostles.  Nothing written here has been proven to be written by one of the Apostles we are studying.  I no where near filled up all the white space.  I’m thinking this is a filler lesson in my opinion. Not to dismiss it’s message; it’s one we all need reminding of.  I’m just wondering how this fits into the study of Acts.

Question 11 was just depressing for me as an American to think about. How our culture is so anti-Christ.  I found nothing positive in the mainstream culture.  Nothing.  I’m hoping other cultures are not this way but I don’t know since all I know is mine.  Maybe I’m too pessimistic but this has been my experience recently.

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 28, Day 2: Isaiah 61

Summary of passage:  The Lord has anointed me (Jesus speaking) with the Spirit of the Lord to preach the good news, bind up the brokenhearted, and bring freedom and light as Jesus proclaims the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God.  Jesus will comfort and provide for those who mourn.  He will give them a crown of beauty, oil of gladness, and praise as they will be oaks of righteousness for the Lord’s splendor.

The people will rebuild the city as foreigners will shepherd their flocks and work the fields.  The people will be the priests of the Lord and be fed by the wealth of other nations.  They will receive a double portion and everlasting joy.  God will reward them with an everlasting covenant for all to see the Lord has blessed them.

Isaiah now says he will rejoice and delight in the Lord as a bride and groom does on their wedding day since God has given him salvation and righteousness.  The Lord will bring righteousness and praise for all the nations just as He does for the seeds that sprout and provide abundance.

Questions:

3a)  The anointed one is indisputably the Messiah, Jesus.  Anoint means to choose as if by divine election.  The Lord has chosen Jesus to preach good news (salvation) to the poor, bind up the brokenhearted, and bring freedom and release from darkness–save from sin.

b)  Because “the day of vengeance of our God” refers to Jesus’s Second Coming, not to His first.  It wasn’t the time to proclaim it; only time to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.  Isaiah 34:8  “For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of retribution, to uphold Zion’s cause.”

4a)  They will have a crown of beauty instead of ashes (of mourning 2 Samuel 13:19), oil of gladness instead of mourning, a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be oaks of righteousness displaying His splendor.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Released from the weight of my sins daily, comforted by God’s faithfulness and goodness, seen beauty where otherwise I wouldn’t have, been grateful and glad instead of melancholy and down in the dumps.

5a)  The people shall rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.  Foreigners will shepherd your flocks and work your fields (perform menial labor) as you will be the priests of the Lord and live on the wealth of other nations.  The people will inherit a double portion and have everlasting joy.

b)  In God’s faithfulness He will make an ever-lasting covenant with them so all who see them will know they are blessed by the Lord.  They will be God’s testament to His faithfulness and goodness.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  A wedding is one of the happiest days of people’s lives.  Isaiah is as happy as the bride and groom to receive God’s gifts of salvation and righteousness.  As seeds start to grow and we see them sprout, we see God’s miracle of life.  All nations will experience God’s miracles/gifts of righteousness and praise as surely as He makes the seeds sprout.

Conclusions:  I see God’s overwhelming blessings for His people, which is a sign of His incredible love for them.  We see God’s love in providing a Savior and providing for His people’s needs as they prosper as a nation.  He does this partly for the people but also as a testament to who He is.

But God doesn’t stop there:  Isaiah says God will bring His righteousness and praise to all the Nations (most of us today). Yeah!  Praise God!

End Note:  I spent a bit of time on Question 3b.  I was hoping to find a better scripture that spoke specifically of why Jesus didn’t want to address His Second Coming at that time in his ministry.  I’d appreciate any additional verses or ideas.  The following is the best explanation I found (scroll down to the commentary section):

http://bible.cc/isaiah/61-2.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 24, Day 2 Isaiah 52:13-15

Summary of passage:  God’s servant will act wisely and be raised up and exalted.  Despite the number of people who were appalled at his appearance which was so disfigured and marred by beatings, he will sprinkle (cleanse) many nations and kings will be silenced.  And the people will see and understand.

Questions:

3)  Because He will sprinkle (cleanse) many nations of sin.  He will act wisely.  He will triumph.

4)  He will appear glorious and exalted yet He will also appear suffering to the point where many were appalled at His appearance because He was beaten so badly.

5a)  His back was beaten, his beard pulled out.  He was mocked and spit upon.  He was beaten so much His appearance was unrecognizable.  They stripped Him, put a scarlet robe on him, a crown of thorns and a staff.  He was insulted and told to save himself if he were indeed God’s son.

b)  Acts 2:32:  God has raised Jesus to life and we are all witnesses

Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9:  Jesus blessed the people and was taken up to Heaven before them, disappearing behind a cloud

Acts 2:33; Philippians 2:9:  God exalted him to the highest place and give him a name above every name. He sits at God’s right hand and has received and poured out the Holy Spirit

Conclusions:  I like the contrasts here between the suffering Jesus endured yet His eternal reward.  Reading all Jesus endured for our sakes is heart-breaking and humbling but seeing His reward is uplifting and reassuring.

It’s comforting to us humans who go through various stages of suffering but know we will have our reward as well.  Most Americans and those in the developed word (and most of the developing world) won’t be physically tortured, paraded through the streets, and crucified.  But some face abuse (physical and sexual).  Just most crimes today are hidden behind closed doors.  Others are paralyzed by the fear of war and death.

The evils of the human heart are innumerable but Jesus saved us from them for all of Eternity.