Bible Study week 2 reflections

reflections on BIBLE STUDY – WEEK 2 -13TH NOVEMBER

 

We returned to the subject of baptism and its importance.  Believer’s baptism and confirmation were seen as a declaration of an existing commitment to and relationship with Christ.  In some denominations it is seen as being closely linked with salvation, which was why infants were baptised early.  We learned that baptism was already part of Jewish religious tradition before John the Baptist began his mission and were reminded that it was part of the great commission, “baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

 

Last week we had thought about John baptising with water and Jesus baptising by the Holy Spirit. It was suggested that by presenting himself for baptism by John, Jesus might have been underlining his humanity but then this baptism was affirmed by the Holy Spirit in the shape of the dove – the human and the divine coming together in Jesus.

 

We found the whole story of Mob very puzzling.  We wondered why the evil spirits were said to have been transferred into the pigs. Was it because Jews considered pigs to be unclean?  Would the early readers have assumed that the pigs were owned by gentiles? It was interesting that Mob wanted to follow Jesus but Jesus told him to stay in his own village and tell people what God had done for him.  He went through the Ten Towns telling how Jesus had cured him.  We realised that all the people whom Jesus had cured would probably have become witnesses for him in their own locality – a different sort of discipleship.  We noted that some people were terrified by the power Jesus had demonstrated and wanted him to leave.

 

The teachers of the Law argued that Jesus’ powers came from the Satan and we worked our way through the logic of Jesus’ argument that Satan wouldn’t drive out evil spirits.  It was suggested that the teachers of the Law were jealous of Jesus’ powers because they were in a position of authority but did not have the power to heal.

 

We were interested in the relationship between Jesus and his family. They came to look after him when they heard people were saying he was mad but when they arrived, Jesus’ words sounded a bit dismissive.  Most of us thought that they would have felt rejected.  Heegon gave us another perspective when he said that in many modern cultures the extended family is much closer than in the west and has a greater influence on individual members. In the case of political regimes this can lead to nepotism - jobs for the family. In Jesus’ case he may have felt his birth family might exercise unhelpful pressure on the work he had to do.  We remembered Mary’s part in the wedding at Cana, when she appeared to force Jesus’ hand before he judged the time was right. Another example was the mother of James and John, who said, “Promise me that these two sons of mine will sit at your right and your left when you are king.”  We came to see Jesus words not so much as rejection of his own family but a broadening of the definition of family to include all those who loved God – “Brothers and sisters in Christ”

 

We thought a lot about how Mary viewed her son, having been told before his birth he was special and then having him grow to manhood in a normal way.  Was she prepared for the conflict his preaching was causing? Had she envisaged him challenging the religious establishment?  Whatever she thought she was with him to the end.  The story about the boy Jesus debating with the teachers of the Law in the Temple suggests that he had great understanding and yet the fact that he was rejected by the people of Nazareth, when he spoke in the synagogue seems to imply that they hadn’t noticed anything remarkable about him as he grew up among them.   They were astonished at his apparently new found wisdom and powers of healing.  There seems to be a contradiction here.  Jesus himself was surprised at their lack of faith and we are told he could not perform as many miracles there.

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