Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 2

The season of Lent invites us to return to God with our whole heart. It’s a theme that runs throughout Scripture and God’s relationship with his people. Throughout this Bible study, which you can read on your own or in a group setting, you’ll find links to Bible Gateway with notes that open automatically on […] The post Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 2 appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 2
The season of Lent invites us to return to God with our whole heart. It’s a theme that runs throughout Scripture and God’s relationship with his people. Throughout this Bible study, which you can read on your own or in a group setting, you’ll find links to Bible Gateway with notes that open automatically on your screen to the right of the Bible text in the Study sidebar. We recommend that you sign up for a free 30-day trial to Bible Gateway Plus in order to access all the material. However, it’s not necessary for you to become a member in order to enjoy this devotional series. Waiting and Persevering for God’s Promise From Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures are full of God’s promises to his people—promises to provide, to rescue, to save. God was true to every promise, but between the promise and the fulfillment, God’s people often had to wait and persevere through hardship and opposition. They had to have faith. As we walk through the season of Lent to Easter, the Scriptures have much to teach us about what it means to wait on the Lord, to persevere, and to have faith in God’s promises for our own lives. 1. Biblical writers portray Abraham as a model of faith, as one who “received what God promised because he waited patiently for it” (Hebrews 6:15 GW). Read Genesis 15:1–12, 17–18 (NRSV), which tells the story of God’s covenant promise to Abraham. For insights into this passage, read the note “The covenant dramatized (15:1 – 21)” in the Asbury Bible Commentary. What are the promises inherent in the statement God makes at the beginning of Abram’s vision (v. 1)? What foundation do they provide for the promises that follow? Abram is a model of faith, but his faith is not “blind.” Two of his three sentences in this passage are questions (15:2, 8). Even as he receives God’s promise, he laments the impossibility of his circumstances, seeks reassurance, and experiences “a deep and terrifying darkness.” What three words or phrases would you use to characterize the “model” faith exemplified by Abram’s conversation with God? Commenting on verse 6, the Asbury Bible Commentary states that Abram “accepts the word of God as trustworthy” and “believes God to be God.” What does this suggest about the nature of faith? How might Abram’s faith have been different had he chosen instead to put his faith in the promise (of land and an heir) rather than the giver of the promise? 2. One of the ways we journey with Christ to the cross during Lent is by taking seriously anything that might keep us from taking up our own cross (Matthew 16:24). Read Luke 13:31–35 (NLT, NIV), which tells one story of how Jesus did this—how he faithfully persevered on his journey to the cross. Both the Pharisees and Herod are intent on frightening Jesus away from Jerusalem with threats. In his response, Jesus uses two animal metaphors, fox and hen/chicks. To learn more about the significance of these animals, see this note in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, or the note “Go tell that fox Luke 13:32)” in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament. What does the nature of the fox reveal about how Jesus views the threats? In contrast, what does the image of the hen/chicks reveal about how Jesus views his purpose? Jesus counters the threats against him not by running away to save his life, as the Pharisees urged him to do, but by boldly proclaiming that nothing would keep him from sacrificing his life—he must proceed to Jerusalem and to the cross. He must complete his mission of love, even in the face of rejection by those he came to save. What does Jesus’ response reveal about the true nature of the threat from Herod and what was at stake? Questions for Reflection In what current circumstances do you most need to receive a promise from God? How do you need God to be your shield, to protect you while you wait for the promise to be fulfilled? In the circumstances you just identified, how would you describe the difference between putting your faith in the promise and putting your faith in the giver of the promise? To follow Jesus to the cross is to join him in his mission of sacrificial love. In the week ahead, what obstacles or threats might keep you from taking up your cross and choosing to love? Consider both internal threats (self-defeating habits of thought and behavior) as well as external threats (opposition or rejection from others). What comes to mind if you think of the threats you just identified as having the nature of a fox? For example, how might the threats be sly in deceiving you, or perhaps more insignificant than you realize? How might you be bold in your faith, declaring that nothing will keep you from taking up your cross and accomplishing your mission of love? A Prayer for the Week Ahead Read Psalm 27:7–14 in The Passion Translation and again in the New King James Version. For Additional Study Psalm 27, the prayer for the week, has been described as a prayer of courage or fearless faith. See notes in the Believer’s Bible Commentary, which pairs this psalm with events in the life of Christ, and suggests how he may have prayed these verses when he was suffering and needed courage. In Romans 4:1–25, the apostle Paul makes a connection between how Abraham was justified by faith and how we are justified by faith in Christ. God’s promises are always realized through faith. For an overview of God’s promises and their characteristics, see the corresponding note for this passage in the Dictionary of Bible Themes, “5467 promises, divine.” To learn more about how New Testament writers describe Abraham as both a model and forefather of faith, see Hebrews 11:8–12, 17–19; Galatians 3:6 – 9, 14–18, 26–29; James 2:21–24. For a comprehensive overview of Abraham’s life, including geographical context, chronology, and archaeology, go to Genesis 15 and read the corresponding note for “Abraham” in the Encyclopedia of the Bible. Check in next week for Week 3 of Walking with Christ to the Cross: Waiting and Persevering for God’s Promise. If you missed previous weeks, they can be found on our Walking with Christ page here. The post Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 2 appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.