Friday, July 29, 2011

Lessons From Legion

For some, questions like these are easy to answer:

How is Jesus the fulfillment of Adam’s true destiny?
How is Jesus foreshadowed in Noah’s Ark?
How are the tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple a foreshadowing of the
finished work of Christ?
How is the Word of God, the Torah, completed in the Word of God, Jesus Christ?
How do the roles of prophet, priest, and king of ancient Israel find their perfect fulfillment in Christ Jesus, our Lord?

One of the reasons some of us have little trouble with such questions is that we have been schooled to search the Old Testament for clues of New Testament realities. In fact, when Jesus admonishes the religious leaders of His day to
search the Scriptures, “for they speak of me,” He’s encouraging the application of analytical observation and reasoning.
But for many Bible students that’s where it stops. They read the New Testament differently than the Old. They see the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ as a kind of end of the road – the final step in the hermeneutical process. But nothing could be further from the truth!
The New Testament must be studied the same way as the Old. Think of it. If the completion of God’s revelation is found in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus what’s the purpose of the balance of the New Testament? Another way of asking this question is: If God’s sole purpose in sending His Son into this world was to die on the cross, rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven, why call disciples? Why spend three years traveling around Palestine, on land and sea, with twelve men and five to seven women? The answer, of course, is that Jesus’ mission is greater than getting us saved. His mission is to make His saved ones replicas of Himself.
Now Jesus wasn’t alone in this replica business. The mission of every Jewish rabbi was to accumulate to himself disciples that would travel behind him and learn from his words. But Jesus is different than the typical rabbi in several key ways. First, He calls His disciples to follow Him. They don’t qualify for His tutelage based on their performance in synagogue school as was the case of other rabbis. Second, Jesus was the subject of His training. Every other rabbi imparted a body of data to his followers. Third, Jesus’ call is to do as He has done, not simply recite what He’s said.
Therefore, we should come to each story in the Gospels, and every teaching segment with the question: How do the words and experiences Jesus offers His disciples prepare them to be like Him after He has ascends?
Now, interestingly, when it comes to Sunday’s text, the story of the deliverance of the Gergesene demoniac, the answer is stunning. When you examine the location, the lifestyle, the longing, the locus of control, the loosing by Jesus, and the liberty Jesus offers the man, we find profound and striking lessons that Jesus wants every one of His disciples to learn. In short, what happens on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 5:1) is a foreshadowing of what nearly every one of Jesus’ first disciples will encounter within months of the Ascension and Pentecost.
In preparation for Sunday’s message you may wish to examine the following questions.
1. What is this area to which Jesus brings His disciples? Who lived here? What’s the history of this place?
2. How many times does Jesus travel to the Decapolis?
3. In what ways does this man symbolize the highest ideals of Hellenism or Greek culture?
4. In Mark’s gospel who’s the first one to identify Jesus’ true identity?
5. Why does Jesus ask him his name?
6. What do we know about a legion?
7. What do you make of the change in pronouns from “me” to “them”?
8. What’s Luke’s understanding of the “abyss”?
9. Why does Jesus refuse the man’s request?
10. What biblical evidence is there for the obedience of the formerly demonized man?
11. How does this experience prepare Peter, Andrew, James, John, and Philip for what they will experience in their ministries in years to come?
12. How similar is the context of the Decapolis to contemporary U.S.A.?
See you Sunday!
P.S. This message is a foretaste of what we will be studying beginning in September. We will begin a new series entitled, “Living Beyond,” the movement from Redemption to Transformation. You will be hearing a lot about this new series in the coming weeks. You don’t want to miss any of it!

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Romans' Road

How do we know we are on the “right” road to heaven? Jesus said, “I am the way… no man comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
There are several verses in the Book of Romans that teach us about salvation. You’ve heard the song from the Wizard of Oz, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” . . . well, join me this week as we “Follow the Romans’ Road.”
See you Sunday!
Those of you attending the Barclay services may want to bring your Bible on Sunday and mark the following passages:
1. Read about the road that was closed in Genesis 3:24.
2. Read about the high road of Proverbs 16:7.
3. What is the name of the highway in Isaiah 35:8?
4. What conclusion can we draw from Jesus’ parable about “hitting the streets”? Luke 14:23
5. What was the name given to followers of Jesus in the early days of Acts? Acts 9:2
6. According to Romans 3:23 how many of us start out on the wrong road?
7. Repentance has been described as a u-turn. Note the two directions of Romans 6:23.
8. In the story of Pilgrim’s Progress, Evangelist points Christian to the little wicket gate. What could that gate symbolize? John 10:7
9. As you study Romans 10:9-10, of the “Road” what do you understand “confess with your mouth” to mean?