Bible Study

Throwback Thursday on Wednesday! ~ Rightly Dividing: 12 Do’s and Don’ts for Effective Bible Study

Family stuff, church stuff, a hurricane in the Gulf, and a speaking engagement this coming weekend, means I needed a little flexibility in the blog schedule, so I’m flip-flopping Wednesday and Thursday this week. Today, I hope you’ll enjoy this Throwback Thursday article, and, Lord willing, Lesson 10  of Ezekiel will be coming your way tomorrow.

Originally published August 19, 2014

12 dos donts

Bible study. As Christians we want to do it, we know we’re supposed to do it, but have you ever stopped to think that there are right ways and wrong ways to do it? Let’s take a look at a few do’s and don’ts of “rightly dividing God’s word” in Bible study.

Do use a good translation, not a paraphrase. You want to get as close to the original wording as possible. There are a number of easy to read, accurate translations out there. The English Standard Version (ESV) and New American Standard Bible (NASB) are two of the best. Try some translations on for size at BibleGateway.com.

Do read the entire Bible from cover to cover at least every few years. It will give you a better understanding of the “big picture” of the Bible and how all the little pieces inside it fit together. (I highly recommend a chronological reading plan since the books of the Bible aren’t always arranged chronologically.)

Don’t neglect the textual context. Every Bible verse has what I call a “micro-context” (how it fits in with the verses immediately before and after it) a larger context (how it fits in with the chapter and book it’s in) and a “macro-context” (how it fits in with the big picture of the Bible). When we fail to take verses in context, we are mishandling and misappropriating God’s precious and holy word.

Do consider the cultural context. Who wrote the passage, and what do we know about him and his perspective? To whom was the passage written- Jews or Gentiles? Those under the Law or those under grace? Men or women? Pastors or lay people? How did the culture at the time view the topic the passage is about, God, Judaism, the church, etc.? At what period in history, in which country, and in what language was the passage written? A good study Bible or study Bible app can be a tremendous help here.

Don’t confuse descriptive texts (passages that describe something that happened to somebody) with prescriptive texts (a command we’re to obey). Just because you read that Noah built an ark or that Judas went out and hanged himself, doesn’t mean that God is telling you to do the same (thank goodness!). Those are descriptive passages. God is simply telling the story of what happened to someone else because it somehow fits into His bigger story of redemption.

Do consider the type of literature and literary devices you’re reading. Is this book of the Bible history? Poetry? Law? Prophecy? Epistle? Is the particular passage a song, metaphor, hyperbole, comparison, allegory, parable? The Bible uses various vehicles to drive truth home, and they must all be understood in different ways.

Don’t feel like you HAVE to use a Bible study or devotional book or workbook. It really is OK to just pick up the actual Bible and study it. God made His word understandable, made you smart enough to understand it, and gave you the indwelling Holy Spirit to illumine your understanding.

Do, if you decide to use one, choose a Bible study book or workbook that treats Scripture as the “swimming pool” you dive into and swim around in, not the “diving board” the author springs off of into a pool filled only with her own personal stories, anecdotes, and opinions.

Do read the Bible in orderly chunks, not in single verses. Think about the way you would read a magazine. Do you pick it up each day and read a random sentence or paragraph? Do you read the third page of an article before you read the first page of it? You’ll best understand a book of the Bible if you start at the beginning and read the chapters in order to the end.

Don’t give in to the temptation to read yourself into Scripture. The Bible isn’t our story. Approach every passage remembering that the Bible is God’s story of redemption through Christ from His perspective, and we study it to learn about and draw closer to Him.

Don’t underestimate how helpful your Bible’s cross-references to related verses can be. Reading several different passages on a particular topic you’re studying can give you a broader understanding of what the Bible has to say about it.

Do let clear passages interpret unclear passages. This is another reason cross-references are so handy. If you come across a passage you just don’t get, try reading related passages that are clearer, and understand the unclear passage in light of the clearer ones.

Lengthy tomes have been written on the topic of biblical hermeneutics and Bible study methods, so I’m sure I could go on at length, but it’s your turn:

Have you ever found it difficult or daunting to study the Bible?
What are some of the benefits of rightly handling God’s word?
How has a right understanding of Scripture helped you to grow
in your walk with the Lord?


THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AT SATISFACTION THROUGH CHRIST.
Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 24

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

Mark 16

When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

[Some of the earliest manuscripts do not include 16:9–20.]

[[Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

14 Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at table, and he rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues;18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by accompanying signs.]]


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Jesus was crucified and buried on a Friday afternoon. What day did the women go to the tomb to anoint His body? (2) Why did they wait until Sunday instead of going on Friday evening or Saturday? (1) How does verse 1 say the women obtained the spices? Would they have been able to purchase them or do the work of anointing Jesus’ body on the Sabbath? What was the purpose of anointing a dead body with spices?

2. Read verses 1-5, focusing on the women’s actions and conversation. Do their words and behavior indicate that they expected Jesus to be dead or alive? Why would they not have expected His resurrection since He prophesied it multiple times?

3. Why was there a stone sealing the entrance to Jesus’ tomb? (3-4) Compare what Pilate and the chief priests believed about Jesus’ resurrection, and their subsequent actions, with what the women believed about Jesus’ resurrection, and their subsequent actions. How did the unbelief of the two groups differ?

4. Even though Jesus had prophesied his resurrection many times, the women didn’t have much of a frame of reference for someone rising from the dead. How does God sending the angel to explain things to them (5-7) instead of scolding them for their failure to grasp the situation demonstrate His mercy and understanding of their human frailty? What was their emotional reaction (8) to all these events? In light of the recent events of the crucifixion, and the actions of people such as Pilate and the Jewish leaders, explain why the women might have reacted (8) the way they did.

5. Imagine the book of Mark ends with verse 8. Who and what is the focus of the last chapter of Mark’s gospel? Why is Jesus’ resurrection crucial to the Christian faith, and to you personally as a Christian?

6. What does the notation between verses 8 and 9 mean? Read the following note on verses 9-20 from the MacArthur Study Bible¹

What evidence does Dr. MacArthur cite that Mark may not have written verses 9-20 and that it may have been added later? Does this in any way mean that the Bible is unreliable or inerrant? What are some precautions Dr. MacArthur suggests we should take with 9-20, and how should we handle this text comparatively?

7. Compare verses 9-20 with Matthew 28, Luke 24, and John 20, and any cross references (on 9-20) your Bible lists. Is there anything in verses 9-20 that isn’t mentioned elsewhere in Scripture? Is it “safe” to believe everything in 9-20 that matches up with other Scripture?

8. What has been the most important thing you’ve learned from our study of the book of Mark?


¹John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, English Standard Version, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), p.1464-1465

Homework

Read the following resources on the ending of Mark:

The Fitting Ending to Mark’s Gospel by John MacArthur

The Ending of Mark by Robert Stein

Should Mark 16:9-20 be in the Bible? at Got Questions?


Suggested Memory Verse

And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him.
Mark 16:6

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 23

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

Mark 15

And as soon as it was morning, the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him over to Pilate. And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, “Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you.” But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed.

Now at the feast he used to release for them one prisoner for whom they asked. And among the rebels in prison, who had committed murder in the insurrection, there was a man called Barabbas. And the crowd came up and began to ask Pilate to do as he usually did for them. And he answered them, saying, “Do you want me to release for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he perceived that it was out of envy that the chief priests had delivered him up. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release for them Barabbas instead. 12 And Pilate again said to them, “Then what shall I do with the man you call the King of the Jews?” 13 And they cried out again, “Crucify him.” 14 And Pilate said to them, “Why? What evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify him.” 15 So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, he delivered him to be crucified.

16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

21 And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. 22 And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). 23 And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. 24 And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. 25 And it was the third hour when they crucified him. 26 And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. 29 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, 30 save yourself, and come down from the cross!” 31 So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. 32 Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.

33 And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. 34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

40 There were also women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. 41 When he was in Galilee, they followed him and ministered to him, and there were also many other women who came up with him to Jerusalem.

42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,43 Joseph of Arimathea, a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God, took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 44 Pilate was surprised to hear that he should have already died. And summoning the centurion, he asked him whether he was already dead.45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb. 47 Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Study verses 1-5. Who was Pilate, and what was his position? What crime had the Sanhedrin decided Jesus was guilty of in Mark 14:64, and what sentence was to be carried out as His punishment? What did Levitical law say about this crime, its sentence, and how that sentence was to be carried out? Did the Sanhedrin follow this law? If the Sanhedrin was so concerned about Jesus breaking God’s law, why did they break God’s law by failing to carry out the death sentence according to the law? Why did they take Jesus to Pilate to enforce the death penalty instead?

2. Describe the scene in verses 6-15 in your own words. What motivated Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd to do and say the things they did and said? What can you surmise about the personal character of Pilate, the chief priests, and the crowd? What part did power and position play in this part of the story? What part did both Jews and Gentiles play in this part of the story? What was Pilate’s perception of Jesus in verses 1-15? Where were the disciples during all of this?

3. Examine verses 16-20. Take a look at the footnote on verse 16. How many soldiers gathered around Jesus? Why were they mocking Him, and what did the mocking center around? Who created the thorn bush (17), the reed (18), the spit (18), and the soldiers themselves? When was the last time you used something for sinful purposes that God created for good?

4. In Gethsemane, Jesus rebuked Peter for fighting back against the arrest mob, saying, “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?” At any step along the way – in Gethsemane, in His mock trial before the Sanhedrin, when judged by Pilate, when abused by the soldiers – Jesus had the power, and plenty of justification – as Creator of the universe and of the people mistreating Him – to turn Jerusalem into a crater. Why didn’t Jesus fight back or defend Himself? What does this teach us as Christians about laying aside our own rights, when necessary, for the sake of the gospel?

5. What impact did Christ’s crucifixion have on Rufus, and later, his mother (21)? The centurion? (39) Did everyone who witnessed the crucifixion become a Christian? Why or why not? Would the chief priests have believed Jesus was the Messiah and become His followers if he had come down off the cross? (31-32) Compare Rufus’ and the centurion’s belief in Christ with the mockers’ and chief priests’ disbelief. (21, 39, 29-32)

6. The mixture of wine and myrrh (23) was meant to be an anesthesia. What are some of the side effects of anesthesia? Why did Jesus refuse it?

7. What was the official charge against Jesus? (26) In what ways was this true? (2) In what ways was this false?

8. What were the mockers referring to in verse 29? What was the irony of their statement? (29-30)

9. What was the “curtain of the temple“? (38) What was the significance of its being torn, and its being torn from top to bottom?

10. Compare the scattering of the disciples with the gathering of the women (40-41) at the cross. How might their staying with Jesus through the crucifixion have been a comfort and encouragement to Him? How might witnessing the crucifixion have been a blessing to the women and emboldened their witness for Christ in the coming years? How can these women’s faithfulness to Christ serve as an example to us as Christian women today?

11. What position did Joseph of Arimathea hold? (43) Why would Joseph have needed to “take courage” with regard to approaching Pilate? (43) With regard to his place and reputation in the Sanhedrin? Why would it have been dangerous or detrimental to be seen as an associate or ally of Jesus?

12. Among those who deny that Christ’s resurrection actually happened are people who argue that on Easter morning, the women who found Jesus’ tomb empty had actually gone to the wrong tomb. How does verse 47 refute this theory?


Homework

Explain the events of Mark 15 in your own words as you would explain them to someone who has never heard the story of Christ’s crucifixion. Ask a lost friend or loved one to let you “practice” on her, if possible. As we saw in question 5, among those who were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion, some believed in Christ, and some did not. It is the same when we share the gospel today. Why do some believe the gospel and some don’t? List three ways grasping this truth can help as you share the gospel.


Suggested Memory Verse

And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Mark 15:2

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 22

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21

Mark 14:53-72

And they led Jesus to the high priest. And all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. 54 And Peter had followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the guards and warming himself at the fire. 55 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking testimony against Jesus to put him to death, but they found none. 56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree. 60 And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” 61 But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” 62 And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 63 And the high priest tore his garments and said, “What further witnesses do we need? 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. 65 And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him, saying to him, “Prophesy!” And the guards received him with blows.

66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with the Nazarene, Jesus.” 68 But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you mean.” And he went out into the gateway and the rooster crowed. 69 And the servant girl saw him and began again to say to the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” 70 But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” 71 But he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know this man of whom you speak.” 72 And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 21 (link above) for context.

2. List the various people and groups named in verses 53-55 who assembled to hear testimony against Jesus. Describe the ideas, people, or positions these people/groups represented, and why each of them might have wanted Jesus killed (55). Consider past interactions Jesus had with them (you might want to review previous lessons to refresh your memory) as well as the religiopolitical climate of the day.

3. Was the Council (Sanhedrin) seeking honest, accurate testimony about Jesus so they could arrive at a just verdict about Him? (55) What kind of testimony did they receive? (55-57,59) What would the Council’s verdict about Jesus have been if they had not been driven by an agenda and had received honest testimony? (55) Compare verse 58 with John 2:18-22. What did Jesus mean by this statement, and how were the “lie-witnesses” trying to twist His words?

4. In a few sentences, describe the general way Jesus was treated by the Council, witnesses, and others present in verses 53-65. How did Jesus react and respond? (60-62) Why didn’t Jesus defend Himself when verbally (56-60) and physically (65) attacked? What was Jesus’ ultimate mission and how might defending Himself have distracted Himself and others from that mission?

5. Compare the way Jesus was treated in verses 53-65 with these passages. What kind of treatment from unbelievers can followers of Jesus expect? Why? Word of Faith heresy teaches that those who have enough faith will receive wealth, adulation, and success, and that if you experience problems or suffering in your life, it’s because you don’t have enough faith. How does the suffering the perfectly faithful Jesus experienced (and the passages about Jesus’ followers suffering) blow that false teaching out of the water?

6. Jesus said, in Luke 6:45, “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” List some of the “evil treasures” (contempt, hatred, etc.) that came out in the words and actions of the “evil people” in verses 53-65. How did Jesus demonstrate the following attributes (and others you might observe) in this passage: longsuffering, love, meekness, mercy, self-control? Read Matthew 5:43-48. How did Jesus “practice what He preached” in verses 53-65?

7. Describe in your own words what’s going on with Peter in this passage. (54, 66-72) Compare this scene with Peter to Jesus’ earlier prophecy about this event in 14:27-31. How does this demonstrate Jesus’ omniscience, deity, and office of Prophet? Observe this fulfilled prophecy in light of what Jesus was ordered to do at the end of verse 65.

8. How does Peter keep physical/geographical distance between himself and Jesus in verses 54, 66, 68? As the moments go by, is Peter getting (physically) closer to Jesus or farther away from Him? How does Peter distance himself relationally from Jesus in verses 68, 70, 71? As the evening passes, is Peter drawing closer to Jesus, relationally, or increasingly distancing himself? How does Peter’s physical proximity to Jesus mirror his relational proximity to Jesus?

9. Considering what was simultaneously happening to Jesus (53-65), why did Peter deny knowing Jesus? What might he have been afraid would happen to him if he admitted being Jesus’ disciple? What went through Peter’s heart and mind when the rooster crowed the second time? (72) Have you ever – maybe more subtly – denied knowing Jesus or hidden the fact that you were a Christian? Why? What were you afraid would happen? Was this a good reason to conceal your relationship with Christ or distance yourself from Him? Have you repented of this?

10. Compare 14:27-31 and 54, 66-72 in light of what Jesus said in 14:38: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” How was Peter’s spirit willing in the earlier passage and his flesh weak in the latter passage?

11. As Mark is “God’s good news for the Gentiles,” imagine you’re a first century Gentile reading today’s passage. What impression does this passage give you of Peter? The Jewish rulers? The way Jesus responded to persecution and abandonment by His own people? How might the Gentile perception of the way the Jews – including Jesus’ own disciples – treated Jesus at His trials and crucifixion have had an impact on the first century church (made up of both Jews and Gentiles)?


Homework

Meditate on the way Jesus responded to persecution and mistreatment in verses 53-65. Recall an incident from your own life in which you were persecuted or mistreated by others. List the ways you responded in the same way Jesus did. List the ways you responded that were not Christlike. Is it always necessary, and godly, to defend yourself against attack?


Suggested Memory Verse

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38

Mark Bible Study

Mark: Lesson 21

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20

Mark 14:26-52

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 29 Peter said to him, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” 30 And Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” 31 But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same.

32 And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. 34 And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.” 35 And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”37 And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? 38 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 39 And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. 41 And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

43 And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. 44 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” 45 And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him. 46 And they laid hands on him and seized him. 47 But one of those who stood by drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Day after day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But let the Scriptures be fulfilled.” 50 And they all left him and fled.

51 And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, 52 but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.


The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.


Questions to Consider

1. Briefly review lesson 20 (link above) for context.

2. Examine the map below. Trace Jesus’ movements from lesson 20 (the upper room, #1) to the locales in today’s lesson. Where did Jesus and the disciples go first? (26) Next? (32) (Please note: I do not endorse anything on the website cited below that conflicts with my theology as outlined in my Welcome and Statement of Faith tabs above.)

3. Study verses 26-31. How, in this passage, does Jesus demonstrate that He is both a prophet (27,28,30) and the fulfillment of prophecy? (27,49) As you’ll recall from previous lessons, Christ has told the disciples about His impending death many times. Do you get the sense from this passage that they have grasped what is about to happen to Jesus? Compare and contrast the way the disciples believed Jesus’ prophecy of His betrayal (18-19) with their disbelief of His prophecy that they would abandon Him. 

4. Read verses 32-42. If Jesus was God, why did He need to pray? How do Jesus’ desire to pray and the words He prayed demonstrate the Trinity – and the agreement within the Trinity – to us? Compare verse 37 to verses 29 and 31. What do you observe about Peter, and why might Jesus have called him “Simon” instead of Peter? In what ways would it have been better in verses 29-31 for Peter and the others to heed Jesus’ admonition of verse 38 than to make the bold pronouncements they made?

5. What was Jesus’ will, or preference, regarding His impending suffering and crucifixion? (36) Was there any way in which Jesus was lacking faith in God as He prayed (or at any moment of His earthly life)? How did God answer Jesus’ prayer? The Word of Faith heresy teaches a) that it is never God’s will for us to suffer and b) that if God does not answer our prayers the way we want Him to it’s because we don’t have enough faith in Him. How does this passage refute these unbiblical teachings? What can we learn from Jesus’ prayer about the right way to pray?

6. Read Philippians 2:8 and Hebrews 12:4 with verse 36. How far was Jesus willing to go to be obedient to God? How does your willingness to obey God stack up to Jesus’ willingness to go even to a torturous death rather than to disobey God? Is your obedience more like the disciples’ willingness to obey but failure to follow through? (29,31,37,40,41) Do you obey God when it’s painful? Inconvenient? Embarrassing? Expensive? Difficult? When it’s not your will?

7. Go over verses 43-52. Why might the posse that came to arrest Jesus have felt the need to be armed (43) and to place Jesus under guard (44)? If the chief priests, scribes, and elders thought Jesus was so dangerous or blasphemous that they needed to put Him to death, how is it that they needed Judas to point Him out to them? (44) Why would they not have recognized Him on sight? (48-49) How is verse 50 the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in verse 27?

8. Look at verses 51-52 through the lenses of 2 Timothy 3:16-17. God must have thought these details were important enough to include in Scripture, because they’re there. Why do you think God wanted us to know this about the young man? How can we learn, be reproved, corrected, trained for righteousness, made complete, or equipped for every good work by these two verses?

9. Which aspects of spiritual character (ex: obedience, humility, etc.) does Jesus display in today’s passage? What are some specific ways you can emulate Jesus’ spiritual character in your current life circumstances?


Homework

In question 3, we saw that the disciples unquestioningly believed Jesus when He said one of them would betray Him, but didn’t believe Him when He said they would all abandon Him. Why is it so easy to believe some parts of God’s Word and so hard to believe other parts? Identify a verse, passage, or promise of Scripture you struggle to truly believe. Study that passage and its cross references this week, and pray that God will help you to trust Him and believe that part of His Word.


Suggested Memory Verse

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. Mark 14:38