BIble Study notes for Sunday October 7th, 2012
Job 1:1, 2:1-10
Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12
This week our study focusses on the two passages from the New Testament
Firstly the passage set from Hebrews
1. Take some time to share together your answer to the questions:- ‘Who is Jesus?’; “How has my understanding of Jesus changed over the years?
a. Now read Hebrews 1:1-4
i. What are your first impressions of the one described here?
ii. How well does it accord with your answer to the question ‘Who is Jesus?’
iii. In Verse 2 we read ‘in these last days he [God] has spoken to us by a Son’. In what ways does God speak in and through his Son?
iv. What does it mean that Christ is: – ‘the heir of all things’; the one ‘through whom he [God] created the worlds (note the plural); the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being’; the one who ‘sustains all things by his powerful word’?
b. A second time, in the light of these questions, reflect back on your initial answer to the question ‘Who is Jesus?’
c. Here we read that he is the one who ‘made purification for sins’
i. What is your understanding of what Jesus achieved on the cross?
ii. What do we mean by the phrase ‘made purification for sins’?
2. Now turn to and read 2:5-12
a. Here we come to one of those passages where those with good intentions have once more denied us the riches of the text. vs6-8a is a direct quote from Psalm 8 vs 4-6, which reads ‘What is man that you are mindful of him, the Son of Man that you care for him’. By making the language inclusive, plurals are introduced ‘You have made them a little lower than the angels – you have crowned them with glory and honour – and subtly deflected our attention from the subject of the Psalm, The Son of Man, Jesus Christ [Son of Man being an apocalyptic term as we find in say for example the Book of Daniel]. In what other ways do we deflect attention away from Christ to ourselves?
b. We note that all things are put in subjection under ‘their feet’. The writer tot he Hebrews however is not primarily concerned with humanity as a whole, but with Christ and only secondarily humanity. So the original text reads v8 . . .Subjecting all things under his feet” Now in subjecting all things to him, God left nothing outside his control. As it is we do not see everything subject to him 9 but we do see Jesus . . . now crowned with Glory and honour’ Discuss how this shift of meaning changes how we read the text
c. If we read on into verse 9 we see that Christ is the one who is the archetype of humanity – that in his tasting death, he has therefore tasted death for everyone. What are the implications of this?
d. If Jesus in his humanity is actually the representative of humanity – what does this mean, to represent?
e. vs 10 refers to Jesus as the pioneer of our salvation. What does ‘pioneer’ mean? Why is ‘Jesus not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters’ [here the inclusive language is helpful rather than a hindrance. Look ahead to Mark 10:6]
3. So we turn to Mark 10:2-16
a. Chris in his sermon last week quoted Gillian Rose ‘God is not nice, God is not ‘uncle’, God is an Earthquake’ In what sense is Jesus an earthquake in this weeks reading?
b. What are our first impressions of the text?
c. ‘THis text is not primarily about divorce, but about marriage’ Discuss
d. Note the form of the Pharisees question
i. In what way do you think this is a ‘test’ question for Jesus?
ii. ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife’ It was unthinkable for a woman to divorce her husband in Jesus’ culture. This of course throws up the old chestnut of Rights. Why would someone want the right to divorce? Note – Jesus’ response does not legitimate divorce as a right – he is even handed in his treatment re men and women (vs11-12)
e. Jesus in his reply discloses their heart. He first says ‘What did Moses command you?’ Note 1) the Pharisees do not answer the question, 2) there are no commands on divorce in the Torah (although it is assumed to take place)
i. Given that, what do you make of their reply?
ii. What do you make of Jesus’ rejoinder?
iii. What is ‘hardness of heart’ in this context?
f. It is clear from the few references to divorce in the Torah [first five books of the Old Testament] that women who had been divorced (had been given a certificate of divorce) were in a vulnerable position – Read Deuteronomy 24:1-4 to see what the result of writing certificates was! Given that there is no command about divorce, and Jesus’ reply to the Pharisees ‘It was because of your hardness of heart’ it is quite clear that Jesus is here correcting an abusive system. But if we read on vs 6-12 (note in v12 Jesus sees a woman divorcing her husband as a possibility) – what is Jesus teaching overall in this regard as presented in Mark’s gospel?
i. We are accustomed to giving ‘reasons for divorce’ – it is very much part of our culture
1. what is the core of Jesus argument against divorce? Read vs 6-8
2. In what way is this a very different form of argument to that made today?
3. Now read on to verse 11-12. How does Jesus teaching to his disciples naturally flow on from his argument in vs6-8?
4. The Catholic and Orthodox churches both teach that a marriage that has not been consummated is not a marriage. Is this in agreement with the teaching of Jesus here?
4. Over the last few weeks, Jo has helpfully reminded us that Mark likes to put incidents in contrasting pairs (actually there is a very strong connection to the following story of the rich young ruler . . . more anon). The dialogue on the nature of marriage is followed by the familar story of Jesus’ disciples trying to keep children from Jesus
a. Are there any resonances with the marriage dialogue in this incident?
b. Note :- we begin with a dialogue on marriage and move to one on children
c. What is the Kingdom of God?
d. What does it mean to enter the Kingdom of God?
e. What does Jesus mean ‘receive the kingdom of God as a little child?
f. There are many fascinating parallels between Mark’s gospel and that of John (the two gospels that at first sight could not be more different) – Read John 3:1-7 [Note this is the only time John uses the phrase ‘Kingdom of God’] – Does this throw a different light on your answer to 4e?
What difference if any does it make to your reading of the Mark passage that Jesus is the one referred to in the reading from Hebrews?