Bible Study notes – Sunday October 28th – Ordinary 30B

Bible Study Notes

Sunday 28th October, 2012

Ordinary Time 30 B

 

Job 42:1-17

Psalm 34:1-8

Hebrews 7:23-28

Mark 10:46-52

 

This week’s texts are all relatively brief. Take time to read them out loud in your group. Listen. What catches your attention?

 

We come to the last of our readings in Job this week with the resolution that is in our eyes no resolution at all. Last week we read of how God speaks to Job out of the whirlwind, revealing the paucity of Job’s understanding[1] This week we read Job’s response, the LORD’s response to Job’s friends, and of Job’s restoration. It is I suggest a journey to the heart of faith

 

  1. First Job’s response. He says, ‘I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; 6therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
    1. What do we make of Job’s response? Why should seeing God cause him to despise himself? What is he repenting of?
    2. How might such a humiliating vision of God change the way in which we live before him?
    3. In Chapter 19:26, Job utters the lines, made famous in Handel’s Messiah ‘After my flesh has thus been destroyed, Yet in my flesh shall I see God’ This verse is usually taken to express a hope of bodily resurrection, yet in the light of 42:5 it is given another meaning, that somehow Job has seen God before his physical death. Read the mysterious words of Jesus in John 11:25-6, Also Colossians 3:1-3, and, again John 5:24. ‘To come to faith is so to encounter God that our life changes as if we had died and been born again’ Discuss.
    4. In this light, the story of Job is the story of someone coming to true faith. Discuss
  2. Now we turn to Job’s friends.
    1. What is the LORD’s charge against them? First note that they had with Job engaged in a very serious discussion about God and His ways. How much is such discussion part of our experience?
    2. Yet such discussion is not straightforward ‘We speak too freely of God. We do not take truthful speech about God with due seriousness.’ Discuss
    3. Although it is widely suggested that the Book of Job is one of the most ancient, if not the oldest Scripture in the Old Testament [2], one of the remarkable elements of it is the many resonances with the Psalms, especially the Psalms of David. Reflect on Psalm 32:1-6, and also this week’s Psalm in the light of our readings from Job

 

 

 

  1. Job’s restoration.
    1. It has been suggested that this restoration entirely undoes the whole story[3]. Job Is proved righteous and thus ends up materially more blessed than he was at first. Read vs 11 – note that the writer is not squeamish in attributing ‘blame’, so to speak. The Satan has disappeared from the narrative, only the mysterious one who we are told had brought evil upon Job. What do we make of this?

 

  1. We come from the mysterious book of Job, to the equally mysterious letter to the Hebrews[4]
    1. Read the passage – What if anything do you think any of this has to do with Christian faith?
    2. Again we see the High Priestly ministry of Jesus expressed in different terms to that of the ‘former priests’. What differences are alluded to?
    3. Vs 26 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. ‘This verse either denies or gives a radically different slant to many popular notions of Jesus’ – Discuss
    4. The Vision of Christ in the book of Hebrews is exceptionally exalted with for example Mark’s portrayal of Jesus. ‘Holding the divinity and the humanity of Christ in proper tension is amongst the most difficult yet crucial aspects of our understanding of God’ Discuss

 

  1. Turning now to Mark’s gospel
    1. First we note the many healing’s of blind people by Jesus. John’s gospel gives over an entire chapter to such an account. What is the significance of the healing of the blind?
    2. Interestingly Timaeus is the name of a work by Plato in which the main character, Timaeus ponders the nature of reality.
      1. In what ways does the healing of Timaeus and indeed Jesus’ strange words to the Pharisees (John 9:39-41) call into question the nature of reality?
      2. What echoes are there here of the LORD’s dialogue with Job, and last week’s gospel reading about James and John?

iii. This being the case, is not Bartimaeus’ request the request of all people of faith?

  1. Bartimaeus calls out ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me’. This is the probable foundation of ‘The Jesus Prayer’ –  ‘Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner’ In what ways is it a prayer of faith?
  2. In John’s gospel, in the resurrection narrative, Mary Magdalene when she recognises Jesus cries out ‘Rabouni!’ Meaning ‘Teacher’? ‘To See who Jesus is is to understand him to be our teacher’ – Discuss. In what ways is he our teacher?
  3. What else do you notice in this brief incident?


[1] We may also remember the question of James and John and Jesus’ revelation that they did not know for what they asked

[2] There is no mention of any of the patriarchs or Israel, however God is referred to as The LORD and also the presence of the mention of Satan (an angelic being) suggests perhaps this might not be so. Certainly it is a text of mysterious origin as well as meaning

[3] The technical term is ‘deconstructs’. In other words this final passage completely contradicts the rest of the story and so renders it useless. In contradiction of that of course one might say that it is the Sovereign Freedom of God which is the true subject of Job and this freedom is revealed in God blessing whom he will. There is no sense in the text of the restoration of Job being a reward. Insofar as there is any hint it seems that Job who has bitterly spoken against his friends’ words, finds restoration through the restoration of their friendship, evidenced in his prayers for them

[4] Regarding the title of the letter. Many people struggle with the constant negative references to The Jews in John’s gospel, yet Judaism was by no means homogenous in the time of Jesus. It is wrong to read this as antisemitic, in the way we would understand the term today. It is quite possible that the early Christians were known as, or understood themselves as Hebrews

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