We may pursue any of several different approaches for our Bible Study. We completed our Survey of the Bible series, and are now working our way through the gospels with a focus on how Jesus loved.
More than forty years ago Keith Green pointed out the importance of a simple two-letter word in the Bible. This video starts with the end of his song "To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice" and then he introduces "The Sheep And The Goats"; the intro and song together run for about 17 minutes.
A little more than a decade later it became popular to ask "what would Jesus do?"1 Now, most of us are familiar with what Jesus said, but perhaps have thought less about what He did. One of the things He said was "the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). We might say that this is His "mission statement", a succinct summary of His goals, plans, and purposes. (What is our mission statement, as followers of Christ?)
When He commanded his followers to love one another (John 15:9-17) He offered himself as an example. If we want to know how to love others — what to do and when and where and to whom — we could do no better than to look at what He did. Yes, He was a good teacher, a good preacher, and a good story-teller, but we want to look at what kind of do-er He was. Can it fairly be said that He actively sought out the lost and then loved them into the Kingdom of God, that Jesus figured out what people's needs were and met them? How many of His recorded interpersonal encounters involved this process?
Our plan is to examine every interaction Jesus had with the people around him. For each passage we'll note who he encountered2, whether he initiated the contact3, what type of interaction he had with them4, whether He took direct action to meet human needs5 (see Matthew 25:35-36 for examples), whether His "do-ing" was miraculous6, and what commands7 He gave. Cataloging these details is only the barest beginning of understanding how He interacted with them to meet their human and spiritual needs.
1. Matthew 1-4 - July 14, 2019
2. Matthew 5-8 - July 21, 2019
3. Matthew 9-11 - July 28 and August 4, 2019
4. Matthew 12 - August 25, 2019
5. Matthew 13-14 - September 1 and September 22, 2019
6. Matthew 15 - September 29, 2019
7. Matthew 16 - October 6, 2019
8. Matthew 17 - October 13, 2019
9. Matthew 16 - October 27, 2019
Some additional ideas for Bible Study series:
Another Bible study series: character studies of disciples, prophets, and other interesting folks. (Still in the incubation stage; nothing to look at yet.)
There are examples throughout scripture of God telling His people that their efforts were misplaced.
1 - There are several strands of criticism of the WWJD? popular movement, one of which is that we cannot and should not try to do all the things He did, but that we should be doing what He told us to do in His teaching. We are looking at what He did to help us better understand how to do what He told us to do: love one another.
2 - Did His ministry exclude or favor certain groups of people? Were some more likely to seek Him, while others had to be sought out by Him?
3 - This looks at how "aggressive" His efforts at seeking the lost were. In my efforts to love one another, love my neighbor, and love my enemies how aggressive should I be? At times hurting people sought out Jesus, at other times He confronted people with a message they would rather not hear.
4 - What methods or tools of interaction did Jesus employ? What might I do in my attempts to follow the commands of love?
5 - Obviously Jesus placed some emphasis on this issue in His teaching. This question is not an attempt to audit His "hypocrisy quotient" to see how well He practiced what He preached. Rather, we ought to examine His interactions to identify ways He met these needs that may not have been initially obvious to us.
6 - Our first reaction may be that we cannot perform miracles and anything miraculous He did we may marvel at but can ignore as an option for our own service. However, there are numerous examples in scripture of God using ordinary people to accomplish miraculous things: Moses, Samson, Elijah, Daniel, and other Old Testament heroes, as well the post-Pentecost exploits of the apostles. I am also reminded of Arthur C. Clarke's assertion that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. We should look beyond our imagined limitations to see if there are ways we can accomplish miracles of love in meeting the needs others.
7 - While we could do a complete separate study on the imperatives of Christ, it is probably a good idea as we look at what He did that we also pay attention to what He told us to do.
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