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2020 Reading Plan

Week 3 Summaries and Questions for The Life of Jesus Reading Plan

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Week 2 - January 20-24:

It's not too late to download a copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan PDF and follow along with us.

Monday – Luke 2:8-21: Rather than announce the birth of the Messiah to Israel’s official shepherds in Jerusalem, a heavenly host of angels proclaim the “good news” (v. 10) to lowly shepherds “out in the field keeping watch over their sheep” (v. 8). Upon hearing the angelic message proclamation, the shepherds “went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger” (v. 16). The Savior of the world was not the mighty Augustus in Rome, but an infant lying in a feed trough in the little town of Bethlehem. The testimony of the shepherds results in three responses: the amazement of the hearers (v. 18), the pondering of Mary (v. 19), and the praise of the community (v. 20). Going back to the message of the angels (v. 14), to whom does God assure peace? Why to them? Trace the idea of God’s pleasure in Luke 3:2; 10:21; 12:32 what do you find?

Tuesday – Luke 2:22-38: In keeping with the piety of Mary and Joseph, Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day (Luke 2:21) and He was, “according to the Law of Moses” (v. 22; see Exodus 13:2, 12, 15; 14:19-20; Leviticus 12), presented to the Lord. As the family enters the temple, no high priest, nor any other temple official, such as a priest or Levite, receives them. Rather, two otherwise unknown persons, Simeon and Anna, announce the Lord’s arrival. Although they hold no temple office, together these two embody the sincere faith of the common people of Israel. (Not unlike what we saw with the shepherds.) Write a short description of Simeon and Anna. What do they each add to your understanding of the coming of the Messiah?

Wednesday – Matthew 2:1-12: As much as two years has passed since the night the Savior was born. (This timeframe comes from combining Herod’s question in v. 7 with his orders in 2:16.) “Wise men” or “Magi” (v. 1) come to Jerusalem from the east to worship the new born King.  Within Matthew’s narrative this visit suggest three things: First, their coming and bringing gifts, recall the story of the Queen of Sheba’s visit to the other son of David, King Solomon (1 Kings 10:1-10; cf. Psalms 72:10-11, 15; Isaiah 60:5-6). Secondly, the star which plays such a prominent role in the story echoes Balaam’s prophecy in Numbers 24:17, “A star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” Lastly, these foreign dignitaries become the first example of Gentile faith (cf. Matthew 8:5-13; 15:21-28; 27:54). The Magi not only found Jesus, but worshiped Him and told the entire city of Jerusalem concerning His coming (vv. 2-3). In what ways has your search for the Lord resulted in your worshipping Him and telling others about Him?

Thursday – Matthew 2:13-23: Warned in a dream to flee, Joseph and family immediately depart “by night” (v. 14) to Egypt. God’s direction to the wise men in Matthew 2:12 has bought time for the family’s escape, but it has only added to Herod’s frustration. Unable to secure the child’s identity leads to the indiscriminate slaughter of males two years and younger. When the threat has passed (literally), Joseph and his family are brought back to Galilee. Throughout this portion of the narrative, Matthew carefully demonstrates how these actions fulfill Old Testament scripture (vv. 15, 17-18, 23). Why do you think God instructs Joseph and his family to flee to Egypt rather than confront the enemy? What do these early incidents teach you about what was to come?

Friday – Luke 2:41-52: This is the only story of Jesus’ youth among the four canonical Gospels. There were many apocryphal gospels that attempted to fill in the lost years of Jesus’ life. By and large, these extra-Biblical accounts present a miracle-working Jesus with the temperament of a preadolescent. (For example, in the Infancy Gospel of Thomas Jesus turned a rude child into a goat, then back again after the child repented.) In contrast, the Bible’s lone youth narrative focuses on Jesus’ wisdom and humility. From vv. 46, 49, 51, 52, in what ways is Jesus a model for Christian children today?

Week 2 Summaries and Questions

Sunday, January 12, 2020

It's not too late to download a copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan PDF and follow along with us.

The Life and Teachings of Jesus - Week 2 - January 13-17:

Monday – Luke 1:39-56: Today’s reading brings the two previous passages together into one event. Mary’s visit brought a reaction from John in Elizabeth’s womb. Through the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 1:15, 41), the Messiah’s forerunner gives testimony to the Messiah even before he was born. Elizabeth praises Mary for filling an important role in the history of salvation (vv. 42-45). Mary replies to Elizabeth with an inspired utterance. Her hymn of praise in vv. 46-55 is known as the Magnificat, (Latin for “Magnifies”). There are strong echoes of Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10 in Mary’s words. A striking feature of this hymn is the fact that Mary views God as overthrowing established authorities in favor of the weak and poor.

Respond to God’s deeds of salvation for you in the model of Mary and Elizabeth. Write a few lines praising God (or copy a few lines from your favorite hymn). Share your words with a friend or post them on social media so that God may be praised by others.

Tuesday – Luke 1:57-66: The next two readings complete the birth narrative of John. In keeping with Gabriel’s words (Luke 1:14), the surprising news of John’s birth gladdens the hearts of Zechariah and Elizabeth’s neighbors. Next, the focus of the narrative turns to the circumcision ceremony that occurred eight days after John’s birth (cf. Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3). It’s during this time that a male child receives his name. Those present (the priests performing the ceremony perhaps?) want to name the child “Zachariah after his father” (v. 59). However, when the parents demand the child be named “John” (v. 60, 63; cf. Luke 1:13) Zachariah’s “mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God” (v. 64; Luke 1:20).

Note, that three times Luke described people’s spontaneous reactions to the happenings surrounding John’s birth (vv. 58, 63b, 65-66). What do you think might be Luke’s purpose in repeating this fact?

Wednesday – Luke 1:67-80: Often referred to as the Benedictus (Latin for “Blessed”) the prophecy of Zacharias ends the birth narrative of John. The one who disbelieved (Luke 1:20) now believes, and his first response is to praise God. His prophecy (v. 67) has two sections. The first part (vv. 68-75), set in past tense, declares God’s faithfulness to the covenant with Abraham. The second part (vv. 76-79), set in the future, foretells the redemption promises to Israel that are signified in the birth of John.

For what character qualities and acts does Zechariah praise God? In what way(s) might this prayer influence your own prayers to God?

Thursday – Matt. 1:18-25: Matthew tells the story of the birth of Jesus from the standpoint of Joseph rather than Mary, as Luke does. In his narrative of events, Matthew simply states that Mary became pregnant due to activity of the Holy Spirit, then goes on to tell what Joseph does. When Mary was “found to be with child” (v. 18) that was not Joseph’s, it was expected that he would divorce her (even an engagement required a formal divorce). Nevertheless, an angelic visitor tells him not to do so because all this has happened to fulfill the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14.

These extraordinary events bring Joseph face to face with a difficult decision. What personal qualities does he display in the way he handles the situation?

Friday – Luke 2:1-7: Luke anchors Jesus’ birth in history, in the powerful world of Rome. Our Savior’s advent is not a myth, but rather it is a record of divine activity in historical time. “In those days” (v. 1), God used a Roman emperor’s decree to fulfill the plan He announced in Micah 5:2. Because Joseph was of the lineage of David, he was required to register for the new tax at his ancestral home of Bethlehem (cf. 1 Samuel 17:12). It’s popular to imagine Mary arriving into the town, riding a donkey while in active labor, or at the very least having contractions. Luke however, clearly implies that the family had been in there for some time, “While they were there,” he states, “the time came for her to give birth” (v. 6). In the crowded confines of the village, the only comfortable place to lay the newborn Messiah is a “manger” (v. 7) the lowly feed trough of cattle, sheep, and goats.

Why do you think God had His Son born in the circumstances described in 2:7, rather than in a royal or at least a comfortable household? (consider: 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:1-10)

Keep on reading my friends. See you next week.

Week 1 Summaries and Questions

Sunday, January 05, 2020

It's not too late to download a copy of The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan PDF and follow along with us.

Week 1 - January 6-10:

Luke 1:1-4: Luke artfully introduces his gospel of the life and teachings of Jesus with a formal dedication following in the classical style of his day. Luke informs us that: 1) Others had sought to compile gospel narratives of the things believers had been taught by eyewitnesses and ministers of the word. 2) It seemed good to him, after careful research, to write his own “orderly account.” 3) Since he had “traced the course of all things accurately from the first,” Theophilus could have certainty concerning the things he had been taught about Christ.

As you begin this New Year exploring the life and teachings of Jesus, what do you hope to learn? How do you want your faith affirmed?

John 1:1-18: In the sublime opening lines of his gospel, John sets forth to introduce the great truths and themes which we will continually visit throughout our reading, such as: Jesus’ eternal nature (vv. 1-3), His incarnation (vv. 4-5), the work of John the Baptist as the forerunner of the Messiah (vv. 6-8), the Lord’s rejection by His own people (vv. 9-11), His saving work (vv. 12-13) and the magnificent Savior, Jesus Christ (vv. 14-18). Over the many entries of our reading plan we will see the richness of each of these topics.

Write down everything 1:1-18 says about the Word, noting who or what He is and what He does. 

Matthew 1:1-17: At the outset of his gospel, Matthew, writing for a Jewish audience, establishes Jesus’ heritage as the “son of David, the son of Abraham” (v. 1).  With a series of three “fourteen” generational groupings (v. 17), Matthew demonstrates that Jesus is not only a direct decedent of Abraham and David, but ultimately the fulfillment of the covenant God made with each man (see Genesis 12:1-3; 2 Samuel 7:12-16).  Secondarily, Matthew wants to demonstrate God’s providential working to bring the Messiah into the world. He didn’t forget His promises to Abraham and David but worked to bring the Anointed One at just the right time (cf. Galatians 4:4, 29).

Look over the various names Matthew includes, which ones do you recognize? Other than Abraham and David, what significance can you attach to any of these people?

Luke 1:5-25: Following his introduction, Luke begins his narrative with the dramatic account of the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. In Jesus’ day most Jews believed that for more than 400 years God had actively spoke to His people since the prophet Malachi lived. Malachi ended his work with a promise from God to raise up Elijah and usher in spiritual renewal in Israel (Malachi 4:1-6). Now with the foretelling of John’s birth, God is remembering His long made promise by raising up Elijah in the figure of John (compare Luke 1:16; Malachi 3:1; 4:6). 

From the text, describe Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth. What, in Zechariah’s mind, made the promise of a child unbelievable? Have you ever responded to God’s promises as Zechariah did? Explain.

Luke 1:26-38: Next Luke turns his attention to the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. This section parallels the one immediately preceding (Luke 1:5-25). Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus as he had John’s (cf. Luke 1:19, 26). Again, a divinely initiated birth announcement shows the unique significance of the individual to be born. In the preceding section the father was the main figure, but in this one the mother is the center of the story. The significant feature of the birth of Jesus is that His mother was a virgin. The importance of the virgin birth cannot be overstated. A right view of the incarnation hinges on the truth that Jesus was virgin-born. Both Luke (v. 34) and Matthew (Matthew 1:18-25) expressly state that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. The Holy Spirit produced the conception through supernatural means (v. 35). The nature of Christ’s conception testifies to both His deity and humanity in one.

How does Mary respond to the angel’s proclamation (v. 34, 38)? Compare Mary’s response to Zechariah’s in 1:18. Why did Mary receive no rebuke? How can you cultivate Mary’s attitude? 

Keep reading and we'll see you next week. Blessings. ~Clay Gentry

The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Bible Reading Plan

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Our relationship with Jesus is like a journey, the more we walk with Him the more we know Him. Would you like to know Jesus on a deeper level? If so, then let us invite you to join our congregation on a journey through The Life and Teachings of Jesus. Through a combination of the four gospels, we'll chronologically trace the footsteps of Jesus’ life from His preexistence with the Father, through His ministry in Galilee, to His submission to the cross and His ultimate triumph in the resurrection. Through short daily readings (starting Jan. 6th), along with insightful summaries and challenging questions, there's much to learn. Download your copy today. It is our hope that as we journey together through the greatest story ever told we’ll find, as did the apostle Paul, that “everything is loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:8). ~Clay Gentry 

The Life and Teachings of Jesus 2020 Reading Plan PDF