These questions are connected to the message, “How Not to Read the Bible,” from Dec. 12, 2021. You can watch it here.
Dive In: Read this passage slowly in an unfamiliar translation of the Bible (e.g. N. T. Wright’s The New Testament for Everyone, Contemporary English Version, Amplified Bible, or The Message).
- What insights did you glean from either the text or the sermon? Was there anything that challenged your embedded beliefs or assumptions about Scripture? Discuss.
- For any of us who have spent time in church, we likely have an embedded theology — untested, unchallenged beliefs we’ve readily embraced. As we go through life we often “stub our toes” on these embedded, untested beliefs and find ourselves rethinking our beliefs and assumptions and formulating a deliberate theology — a belief system that has been wrestled through and thought through (or sadly some walk away from faith and God altogether). Discuss any of those assumptions or beliefs that you may have “stubbed your toes on” when faced with life’s curveballs (they often show up in platitudes). Have you resolved them or are they an ongoing mystery that you are choosing to hold lightly?
- One scholar has said, “God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus.” Do you agree? If not, explain. And if that is the case and Jesus is the final authority (Matthew 28:18-20; John 1:1,18; John 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-3) and the filter through which we read all of Scripture, how does/should/will this impact your reading of Scripture?
- Does knowing that Jesus is the final authority, that God is like and has always been like Jesus, bring you a sense of relief, confusion, confidence, or _____________________?
- In Luke particularly, prayer always precedes something big — Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness alone with God, Jesus off to pray before calling his disciples, etc. Have you ever experienced a time when you were faced with “something big” and spent significant time in prayer over it? If so, share with your group what you experienced in that time.
- This is only the second time that we read that God speaks audibly in the gospels. The first time was at Jesus’ baptism. Why do you suppose God chose this time to speak audibly?
- What do you think is the significance of the cloud? (Exodus 13:21-22; Daniel 7:13)
- There is more to Moses and Elijah’s presence than just representing the law and prophets. At Moses’ mountaintop experience on Mt. Sinai, his face shone and he is considered, in Jewish thought, to be the prototype of Jesus (Deuteronomy 18:18). Elijah, in Jewish thought, was a prophet associated with the end times — a precursor of the Messiah. So Moses was representative of historical redemption and Elijah of future redemption. Jesus stands at the crossroads connecting past and future redemption. Then they disappear. What do you think is the symbolism, the significance, of this?
Exercise: Let’s try reading a passage with a “Jesus lens.”
Read Philippians 2:5-8
Read Philippians 2:5-8
- Describe what is going on in this short passage?
- How have you understood Jesus’ self-emptying (kenosis) here? Have you understood this self-humbling, self-abasing posture as a temporary posture for his earthly mission or God’s all-the-time nature (“making himself nothing,” “taking the nature/form of a servant,” self-sacrificing), if God has always been like Jesus?
Act on it: As you read your Bible this week, intentionally put on the Jesus filter and see if it changes how you might understand the passage. What new insights appear? What challenges you?