Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 7

The season of Lent that just concluded 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 […] The post Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 7 appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.

Walking with Christ to the Cross, Week 7
The season of Lent that just concluded 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. He Has Risen! The invitation of Lent is to wholeheartedly seek the Lord, to “take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God” (Lamentations 3:40 MSG). On our six-week journey through Scripture, we’ve walked with Christ to the cross by reflecting on our need for repentance and God’s lavish grace for all who seek him. With Jesus’ disciples, we’ve witnessed his crucifixion, death, and burial. And now our journey through Lent brings us at last to the joyous conclusion of the gospel story, to those first moments of the first Easter morning. 1. Having witnessed Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and burial, the women who had traveled with him to Jerusalem from Galilee (Luke 23:55) arrive at the tomb to perform a final act of devotion by anointing his body. As you read the story in Luke 24:1–12 (NIV), pay particular attention to how the women, the apostles, and Peter respond when nothing is as they expected. For insights into the setting and characters of this story, see the note “The Resurrection Discovered (24:1–12)” in The IVP New Testament Commentary Series. How would you characterize the initial responses of the women to the empty tomb and the angels’ proclamation? The response of the apostles to the women? Of Peter when he heard the news and then saw the empty tomb?All of Jesus’ followers loved him and believed him to be the Messiah, but everyone in this story responds differently to the unexpected good news of his resurrection. The women believe (v. 8), the apostles do not believe (v. 11), and Peter appears to fall somewhere between the two. Given that this should have been astonishingly good news for all of them, how do you account for their differing responses?What might their differing responses suggest about their expectations for who Jesus was as the Messiah?How do the angels’ words to the women demonstrate God’s plan and providence?What is it that ultimately convinces the women of the resurrection? 2. Acts 10:34–43 (NLT) is one of several sermons by Peter recorded in Acts. The setting is the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion who became one of the first Gentile converts. In anticipation of Peter’s arrival, Cornelius has assembled a large gathering of his relatives and close friends (Acts 10:24, 27). As you read the passage, note how Peter appeals to his Gentile listeners in presenting the gospel. For insights into this passage, read the note “Acts 10. The Gospel Also for the Gentiles” in Halley’s Bible Handbook Notes. How does Peter stress the universality of the gospel? Consider his choice of words and phrases as well as his statements.First-century Jews, including Jewish Christians, believed that only those who lived by the law of Moses and abided by Jewish rites and customs could find favor with God. They considered Gentiles unclean and avoided contact with them, which Peter acknowledges when he says to Cornelius, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you” (Acts 10:28 NLT). With this as background, how do you understand the significance of Peter’s statements in verses 34–35? How do you imagine these statements might have impacted his Gentile listeners?Why might Peter choose to describe the Good News as peace with God? What would his listeners likely have expected from God instead?In telling the gospel story, Peter could have chosen to share the things that Jesus taught, but he doesn’t. What does he focus on instead?How does Peter acknowledge Jesus’ humanity as well as his divinity?How does Peter demonstrate God’s plan and providence? Questions for Reflection The resurrection was something no one, not even Jesus’ closest followers, expected. Out of suffering, humiliation, and death, God brought something mind-blowingly unexpected—new life! The challenge for Jesus’ followers was to be open to it, to believe that the impossible was possible.What current circumstances in your life would you describe as impossible? It might be a situation in which you feel trapped, defeated, cold to God, or stuck in self-defeating or sinful patterns. What thoughts or emotions arise when you consider being open to the possibility that God might have something unexpected for you? How might you follow the example of Peter and run toward your questions or whatever you don’t yet understand but hope to be true?It is in remembering the words of Jesus that the women are convinced of the resurrection. As you look back on your relationship with Christ, what do you remember of him? What truths has he spoken? When has he brought new life from suffering or anything that felt like a death? If you could give these memories a voice, what would they say? How might they speak resurrection hope into your life now?In presenting the Good News, Peter stresses God’s acceptance, peace, goodness, healing, power, and forgiveness. As you read his presentation of the gospel story in Acts 10, what stood out most to you? Which of these aspects of Good News do you need most right now?The invitation of Lent is to wholeheartedly seek the Lord, to “take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God” (Lamentations 3:40 MSG). What did you discover about your life and your relationship with God during this Lenten season? In what ways, if any, has it helped you to experience the joy of Easter personally? A Prayer for the Week Ahead Psalm 118:1–2, 14–24 NRSV. For Additional Study Additional readings for Easter include Isaiah 65:17–25, John 20:1–18, and 1 Corinthians 15:19–26. For insights into the Isaiah 65 passage and its connection to Jesus and the plan of salvation, see the corresponding note, “Universal applicability of justification (5:12–21),” in the Asbury Bible Commentary. For insights into the John 20 passage, see the corresponding note, “Resurrection Appearances” in the Zondervan Bible Commentary. For insights into the 1 Corinthians 15 passage, see these notes from the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary.For a comprehensive study of Jesus’ resurrection, go to Luke 24:1–12 and see the corresponding note, “Resurrection of Jesus Christ,” in the Encyclopedia of the Bible.In Luke 24:1–12 (NLT), the good news of Jesus’ resurrection is announced by angels, whom Luke describes as “two men in clothes that gleamed like lightening” (v. 4). For a comprehensive overview of angels in the Bible, see the corresponding note for this passage, “Angels,” in the New International Encyclopedia of Bible Characters.Following his resurrection, Jesus appeared not to the masses but to “witnesses whom God had already chosen” (Acts 10:41 NLT). To learn more about these appearances, go to Acts 10:34–43 and see the corresponding note, “Why did the risen Jesus appear only to those already convinced of his resurrection? (10:41),” in the NIV Quest Study Bible Notes.Peter’s message recorded in Acts 10:34–43 was delivered in the house of Cornelius, one of the first Gentile converts. To learn more about Cornelius, see the corresponding note for this passage, “Cornelius,” in the Encyclopedia of the Bible. See also “The Conversion of Cornelius (10:1–48)” in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament. 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 7 appeared first on Bible Gateway Blog.