Last week in this blog I referenced the potential for new small group gatherings for the body of Our Savior’s. What you will see below is an example of a Bible Study and the kinds of conversations that could take place as community. Just imagine the blessing that we could be to each other through this kind of spiritual wrestling and conversation.
The Biblical Story
Luke introduces Jesus by first providing historical information that dates his arrival and also through illuminating the proclamation and prophecy of John the Baptist. Verses 4-6 are direct quotations of Isaiah 40 in which Isaiah prophecies about the Jews return to Jerusalem from their captivity in Babylon. The point being made in “make his paths straight” and “every valley shall be filled and every mountain shall be made low” is that God will make easy the return, restoration and redemption of the people. Luke is drawing a parallel here to the arrival of Jesus the Messiah who redeems the creation and brings God into a closer relationship with humanity. Our redemption and restoration does not happen through our works or efforts but through God’s unconditional grace, love and forgiveness embodied in Jesus the Christ.
John is calling the Hebrew people out to the Jordan to start over as God’s people. Through the covenant with Abraham God promised that Abraham would be the father of a great nation, that his people would have land to live on and that all nations of the world would be blessed through them. The first two promises had been fulfilled but the people forgot that they were to be a blessing to the world. John calls them back to the Jordan, the body of water through which they passed into “the promised land” to repent, to have new minds so that they may live into the third leg of the promise. This promise will be fulfilled through Jesus, a son of David. Through him all the world will be brought into intimate relationship with God.
Life Lessons for the Discipleship Journey
- The Gospel of Good News is something to be proclaimed to the whole world. With trumpet blast, with voice and heart, we are to speak the Good News to others. Talk with each other about times you gave a testimony about the power of God at work in your life. What did that feel like? What was the other person’s response?
- Repentance (metanoia in Greek) literally means to have a new or changed mind. We are called to have our self-focused minds put to death so that we can think with God’s mind, being passionate not just for ourselves but for all people. What has repentance looked like in your life – in the churches life together?
- In God’s perspective, everything that separates us from God has been destroyed. We are called to live as though the restoration and redemption of the cosmos is the only and true reality. Where do you most see that being lived or ignored?
Summary Statement/Question/Now What
- From what do you need to repent? Where does you heart, soul, and mind need to be made new?
- Like John the Baptist, what would it take for you to speak out and up in order to spread the Gospel word?
Life Connection Conversation
Diving in by Getting out of the Boat
If you had to identify with a person or statement in the text, who or what would it be and why?
Mining Scripture by Digging Deeper
- John took a risk by calling the people to repentance. Often folks will get angry at the messenger and dismiss the message. Can you name a few more Biblical characters that experienced this same pain? Will you be one of those Biblical characters for others in our world?
- In a world filled with marketing and advertising, word of mouth is still the most powerful way to spread the word. What would it take for you to be a spiritual/biblical/prophetic person of influence in someone else’s life? If not you – then who? If not now – then when?
- Evangelism is not a church word for marketing. Evangelism is the whole people of God being passionate about Jesus and doing whatever it takes to get others in on this message. Brochures, newsletters, webpages – are not effective means for communicating the gospel for those who have not heard. Only YOU – WE – are! Will you be an evangelist for Jesus?
- In Jesus we hear weekly, “The Gifts of God are Free.” That is a powerful message that most in our world have not heard. The church is in danger of losing its voice when we silence our testimonies. Imagine if the disciples who have gone before us allowed for the world to silence them. Imagine Our Savior’s in ten years if we allow the world to silence us.
Living the Faith through Daily Application
What if everyone who read and wrestled with this text were to be so convicted that they began to do one or two things differently?
Who do you know that needs to hear the message of this passage? How will you help them to hear it?
Is there anything you need to do as a result of what you’ve learned this week?