The Great and Difficult Sayings of Christ

This study was written as a congregational study that followed my pastor’s sermon series. Small groups would work through the study throughout the week, then hear the sermon, and then discuss both the homework and the sermon during the next small group meeting.

In that model, here is The Great and Difficult Sayings of Christ

sayings of Christ: Final Week, Endnotes…

Oh dear one of God, you have completed quite the adventure in 19 weeks of study. Here you sit, having explored the blessed words of our Savior. Maybe you feel overwhelmed with Who He is, or overwhelmed at what you learned.

In my years of study and teaching, I have found the end of any study challenging. Where do you go from here? What did you learn, and how can you apply it? So I bring you my own brand of wrap-up: Endnotes.

This last week, you have one assignment.

Go through your journal from the beginning of this study. On a separate page, list out all the commitments you have made during this study.

Keep that page. Use it to remember the mighty ways the Spirit moved in your heart. See it as a quick reminder of those moments where you knew something needed to change, and you knew exactly what it was.

This is your summary, your opus, your lessons learned. Cherish what He has given to only you, as you alone are the only one of you in the world. He created you. He longs for you to have a life ever-closer to Him.

Thank you for spending these weeks with me. I pray God has given far more than my human mind could conceptualize.

_________________________________________________
Check back on June 3, 2013 for our next study, “Christianity: Plain & Simple”

sayings of Christ: Week 19, Freedom…

The last week of study! You made it! There will be a final wrap-up post next week where you get to pull together everything you learned, so don’t leave us yet. I am so proud of you for hanging in there. I pray God has richly blessed, Jesus has come alongside, and the Spirit has been moving to and fro through your soul over these past several months. MONTHS! Without further adieu, here is “Freedom.”

Read:

  • John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
  • John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.'”
  • John 8:36 “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”
  • John 3:7 “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.'”
  • John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
  • Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
  • John 15:4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.”

 

YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH WILL MAKE YOU FREE

Read John 8:31-32. What stands out to you?

 

What two things does Jesus promise in verse 32?

 

What is the precursor to that promise?

In order to be free, we must know the truth. In order to know the truth, we must continue in his word. To continue in His word, we must be His disciples. What does being a disciple mean?

Read Isaiah 50:4. What stands out to you?

 

What, according to that verse, does a disciple do?

 

Read Matthew 4:18. Who called the disciples?

 

Read Matthew 5:1. Though Jesus retreated from the crowds, He welcomed the disciples. What stands out to you about that fact?

 

In Matthew 11:1, what were the disciples given?

 

Read Matthew 14:15-19. What was the role of the disciples in the feeding of the crowds?

 

Is this what the disciples initially had in mind for the crowds’ dinner? What was their recommendation?

As disciples, we are chosen. We have access to Christ that is not available to those outside of discipleship. We receive instruction from Him. We must be very careful; just as the disciples had the wrong idea on how to get the crowd fed, we can have the wrong idea about particular issues as well.

The disciples first cleared that idea through Jesus, Who had other plans. They willingly accepted His different idea as well as their role in that idea. We must do the same; we must check our ideas through Christ first. For He knows the way that is best. Our humility on the front end frees us to see the glory of God work through a situation. Being a disciple opens doors to a truth you might not otherwise see. It is not clear if the crowd realized the baskets being passed around with food were miraculously filled. They simply ate. The disciples knew what they started out with; and the disciples were able to see the miracle unfold before their eyes. They saw a truth behind a seemingly ordinary set of circumstances.

Being a disciple of Christ allows us the opportunity to see His hand working behind the scenes. It allows us the opportunity to see the real truth in a situation: that God is working. He is in control, and He longs to manifest His glory in our lives. That truth will make you free.

EVERYONE WHO COMMITS SIN IS THE SLAVE TO SIN

Read John 8:34. When you think of slavery, what comes to mind?

 

Read Matthew 6:19-34.

In this passage, Jesus pits two things against each other: God & wealth.

Using verses 25-34, list the qualities and/or characteristics used to describe wealth.

 

List the qualities/characteristics used to describe God.

 

What are the qualities of treasures on earth?

 

What are the qualities of treasures in heaven?

 

What is the impact of the dark eye?

 

What is the impact of the clear eye?

 

Review your lists. What is your reaction to those things listed for wealth, treasures on earth, and the dark eye?

 

What is your reaction to those things listed for God, treasures in heaven, and the clear eye?

 

What might your life be like if you chose wealth, earthly treasures, and the dark eye?

 

What might your life be like if you chose God, treasures in heaven, and the clear eye?

“…choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” –Joshua 24:15. Meditate on that.

 

IF THE SON MAKES YOU FREE, YOU WILL BE FREE INDEED

Read Matthew 9:19-22.

 

Imagine you had a wound on your arm that would not stop bleeding. It bleeds, not enough to kill you, but it will not heal on it’s own.

What would you do?

 

If doctors couldn’t help, would you ask your Bible study or church for prayer? Why or why not?

Imagine this going on for twelve years. You begin to get the feeling of where this woman lived her every day. She had probably been to countless doctors. She had likely tried every wives tale healing. She had probably gone to her church, and they had probably tried to pray her better. When that didn’t work, maybe they tried to cast out whatever demon they may have thought assailed her. But then, because such a hemorrhage was considered unclean, she was probably shunned.

Sick, probably weak from continued blood-loss, without answers, and shunned. This woman was held captive by something she tried and tried to change, but couldn’t. Her loneliness could only be eclipsed by her shame.

We are this woman. We have secret sins and struggles we don’t dare tell anyone about, for if they knew, surely they would shun us. Or so we believe. You will not have to write out your secret sins. However, please take time, right now, to list them out to God in your heart. He already knows them; do not be afraid to verbalize them to Him.

And the peace of God will spread through you. He knows your heart and loves you.

The woman in this scripture had likely heard of Jesus’ other miraculous healings. She’d probably followed Him around to see for herself if the stories she had heard were true. And she’d probably started and stopped a dozen times, wanting to ask for help like the others did, but too afraid her shame would be exposed.

Maybe her heart grew to believe this man names Jesus had the power of life and death. And maybe she grew to believe He could heal her as well.

Her shame likely warred with her need. And her faith grew in the process. So much so that she believe that merely touching His hem would be enough. She did not seek to be cleared of her loneliness, she just sought to be healed of her wound. One day she ducked her head and reached out a hand.

As Jesus felt the healing power leave Him, He turned. Not to scold, but to meet the woman whose faith in His healing power was so great, He didn’t even have to know she sought it for it to have its full effect.

But her story does not end there.

Read what Jesus says to her in Matthew 9:22. Write it out in your journal.

And in those brief words, He restored far more than her health. “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” (NASB”

“Daughter”: she was no longer alone
“take courage”: no longer a reason to be ashamed
“your faith has made you well”: re-establishing her as a welcomed member of the fellowship that had to call her unclean.

You see, Jesus isn’t content with healing our bodies. He does that, but He does so much more. He longs for far more than that. He touches the outcast, He encourages the shamed, and He re-establishes that which was once unclean.

He doesn’t want to just take away your sin, He wants to restore your life.

For this one truth will ring throughout the halls of time: “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” –John 8:36

What do you need to hand to Jesus to be freed of the burden you carry? Give them to Him now.

 

YOU MUST BE BORN AGAIN

Read John 3:1-12. What stands out to you?

 

In verse 12, Jesus speaks of two categories of things: earthly and heavenly.

Read Colossians 1:13-14. What are the two domains described by Paul?

 

With those two kingdoms in mind, read Colossians 3:5-9. List out the characteristic actions of being in the domain of darkness.

 

For verses 12-17, list the characteristics for the kingdom of His beloved Son.

 

Read Galatians 5:19-23. Add these qualities/characteristics to the appropriate list from above.

If you are a believer, your life should look more and more like the kingdom of His Son. But how do we get there?

Read the following scriptures and note what might be done to move life from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son.

 

Colossians 3:10-11

 

2 Corinthians 10:3-7

 

Philippians 3:7-14

 

Galatians 5:24-25

 

We have not obtained it. But by renewing our minds, controlling our thoughts, and counting all as rubbish for the sake of knowing Christ, but the grace of God and strength of the Holy Spirit, we can be more and more like the kingdom of God.

What is God asking you to do as a result of what you have learned?

 

FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD

Read John 3:13-36. Note what stands out to you.

 

Create a list titled “Belief” and one called “Disobedience”.

 

Review John 13:36 and list those things associated with belief.

 

Turn to James 2:17-26. Add to the lists what James writes about the relationship between belief and obedience.

 

Look over each list you have created thus far. What are your thoughts on what this has to do with freedom?

 

Read James 1:5-8. What stands out to you?

Add characteristics form this passage to the appropriate belief/disobedience list.

 

It would seem that part of doubting actually has to do with our actions (disobedience). So often we only focus on the heart-aspect of doubt and altogether skip over what our actions are communicating.

Imagine the disobedience list describes one person and the belief list describes another.

Which person do you want to be?

The result of faith, which is the foundation for endurance, is being complete and lacking in nothing. What an amazing concept.

On one list: bondage.
On the other: freedom.
The choice is yours.

sayings of Christ: Week 18, I AM…

We are almost there! Hang in there for the culminating statements of Jesus: I AM this week and we will wrap up with Freedom next week.

Read:

  • John 6:48 “I am the bread of life.”
  • John 8:12 “The Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the Light of the world, he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
  • John 10:7 “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.'”
  • John 10:11 “I am the good Shepherd, the good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
  • John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies.'”
  • John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.'”
  • John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.”

THE GREAT I AM

Jesus is the great I AM. But what does that mean? And what does that mean in your own life?

Sometimes to understand something, you need to see its other side. To appreciate the brightness of an Arizona day, you may have to first experience the overcast gloom of Seattle in the spring. To grasp the power of the light, you may have to spend some time in the darkness.

To understand the great I AM, we may first need to explore one we know better: ourselves. We can understand the majesty of Jesus in light of the peasantry of our own experience. And sometimes knowing who you are begins with understanding who you are not. For help with that, let’s turn to John the Baptist.

Read the following scriptures and identify who John claimed to NOT be:

 

John 1:20

 

John 1:21

 

John 3:28

John knew who he was not. He was not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet. He also knew his place.

What did John say about himself in John 1:27?

 

Yet John’s beginnings were far from ho-hum. Read Luke chapter 1 and summarize all the uniquenesses of John’s creation.

 

Why was Zacharias made mute?

 

Zacharias’ tongue was loosened after he did what?

So John was:

  • son of a priest chosen by God to burn incense before Him
  • miraculously conceived
  • filled with the Holy Spirit, even in-utero
  • described by angels
  • so important his father wouldn’t be allowed to speak until after his birth

Yet John did not boast in these things. He knew his purpose and claimed to be nothing more than one fulfilling his calling. John understood the majesty of Christ in part because he understood his lowly position in relation to Christ.

Another would come later with a similar perspective.

Read Philippians chapter 3.

 

According to this passage, who are you in relation to Christ?

 

Who are you not?

 

What is He telling you?

I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE

There are 289 uses of the word “bread” in the Bible. And the ways it is used varies. From bread on the table to the Bread of Life, God uses bread in a number of ways.

Jesus is the great I AM. And He says He is the bread of life. Let’s take a look at some of the ways He fulfill that very identity.

Read Genesis 3:17-19. What do you learn about bread?

 

Because of the curse, Adam would have to toil and work and sweat to get bread for his table.

With Jesus as our bread of life, do we have to toil for eternal life? Or is it freely given?

Though we may need to work to put food on the table, we no longer need to work to earn favor with God. Jesus, alone, is our favor. And He alone cancels the curse and fills the eternal hunger.

Read Exodus 16:4. What do you learn about bread?

God provides bread from heaven for the desert-bound Israelites. He provides sustenance in dry places.

In what ways is Jesus the sustenance in the dry places of your life?

 

Read Acts 2:41-47. What role did bread play in the early church?

Breaking bread together is a sign of fellowship. You won’t often invite an enemy over for dinner. Yet inviting one to your table extends a sign of friendship and camaraderie.

In what ways is Jesus the fellowship link in your life?

 

Praise Him for all the ways He is your bread of life.

 

I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

Read John 8:12. What stands out to you?

 

What does it mean to you that you do not have to walk in darkness?

 

What does it mean to you that you (possess, carry, keep) the Light of life?

 

Read Matthew 5:14-16. What stands out to you?

 

How can you be the light of the world if Jesus is the light of the world?

 

It is a heavy responsibility to carry the name of Christ. He is the light of the world. And He is in us. Therefore, we are lights in the world. It is uncomfortable to realize that Christ has identified us in this way. It is disturbing to realize that He has us here to show the world who He is.

In what ways have you forgotten this responsibility? (in your work? your home? your actions? your desires? etc.)

Bring each before Jesus. Accept His comforting hand and ask for His guidance as you shine your light before men.

Meditate on Psalm 139:11-12.

 

I AM THE DOOR OF THE SHEEP

Doors serve the function of both being the first point of welcome, but also the point of protection in a home.

Read John 10:7. What stands out to you?

 

What does it mean to you that Jesus is the door?

 

Read Exodus 12:21-27. What stands out to you?

Jesus is our door and our Passover Lamb. His blood protects us from the destruction we deserve. And the actions are to be visible signs, that when the children ask, you will tell them how God delivered you.

In what ways can you live to show Jesus as the door?

 

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD

For me, the most powerful aspect of this truth is found in John 10:14. Read it. What stands out to you?

Jesus knows you. And He loves you just the same. He knows the dangers threatening your peace, and He knows the enemy on the prowl. He knows the thoughts that assail your mind, and the heart that truly desires to serve Him even though you may not always understand how to do so.

He knows. Lay everything before Him. He knows already; and He loves you.

I AM:
THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE
THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
THE TRUE VINE

Using your concordance, look up scriptures to gain understanding of these concepts. It may be that resurrection stands out more to you than “life”, or maybe vice versa. It may be that truth is where you struggle and you want to know more about that. Or it could be that this concept of vine intrigues you, and you want to see all the different ways it is used throughout scripture.

Pick whatever is standing out to you and study it. You will be amazed at what Christ can show you.

 

Thank Him for everything He is.

sayings of Christ: Week 17, Count the cost…

Read:

  • Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.”
  • Mark 8:34 “And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.'”
  • Luke 9:60 “But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.'”
  • Luke 9:62 “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.'”
  • Luke 14:28 “For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?”

HE WHO IS NOT WITH ME IS AGAINST ME

Life is like a giant game of dodgeball. Stuff flying everywhere. Not only do you have to be aware of the immediate attacker, you have to have “field vision” to see a ball coming at you that comes from the side or bounces off somebody else. You grab your weapon of warfare and hurl it toward the enemy. At times, you gather with your teammates and create a strategy of attack. Other times, it’s every man for himself in an all-out dodgeball blitz.

But never, ever, ever do you throw a ball at your own team. If you intentionally hit your own teammate, it won’t be long until the rest of your team gets you out as well. You are too big of a risk. If you are on the court, you could turn on a teammate at anytime. By getting you out as well, the team re-establishes trust and unity.

Life is like a giant game of dodgeball. We want to know who is on our side and who will attack us. We like the big line in the middle that separates sides. And we like when we can identify our teammates. We long for unity among the team and coverage when the attacks come hard and fast. There are rules that everybody agrees to follow, and we like that.

Read Joshua 5:13-15. What teams did Joshua think were available?

 

What was the angel’s perspective?

 

Read Matthew 12:30. What teams does Jesus identify in this life?

We like to know the teams. And we want unity within each team. We like teams so much we create teams where none should exist. We follow the sermon podcasts of certain pastors and anyone who doesn’t like that pastor as much as we do just doesn’t know what they’re talking about. In fact, we may even wonder if they are truly saved. We adhere to doctrines, somethings without actually research them ourselves, and we point fingers at the “enemy” of our chosen doctrine.

We divide families with gossip and slander simply because of annoyance between members. We divide relationships by giving ill-advised counsel. And we divide ourselves by believing the lie that we can serve both God and the world.

Jesus and the heavenly host are both very clear. There are only two teams. You only have one choice to make. Either option has associated consequences.

Read Galatians 5:17-25. What are the consequences of choosing the team against God?

 

What are the consequences of choosing God’s side?

Consider how you want your life to be. Which side will you choose? Remember, you cannot straddle the line of commitment to Christ anymore than you can straddle the line in dodgeball. You must choose a side. And the consequences of that choice are clear.

What is Jesus asking of you?

 

What stands in the way of fully committing to God?

 

IF ANYONE WISHES TO COME AFTER ME, HE MUST DENY HIMSELF, AND TAKE UP HIS CROSS AND FOLLOW ME

Read Mark 8:34-38. What stands out to you?

 

In verse 34, Jesus identifies three requirements of the one who wishes to come after Him. What are they?

Many words can be said to explain all of these things. Really, though, the more words there are, the more loopholes we can dig into this concept.

“He must deny himself”: Jesus uses a great example of the extent of denial in verse 38. The choice is simple, though not necessarily easy. Him or you. Every choice to sin comes down to those three little words: Him or you?

In what ways do you need to deny you and choose Him?

“pick up his cross”: the cross is a brutal device that tortures in the process of killing. Jesus endured the actual, physical cross. His “promise” here is that we will endure the brutality in life as well.

Read John 15:18-27. What stands out to you?

 

What does Jesus reveal about the life of faith?

He hides nothing. We should know going in that the life of faith will be hard. We will be hated. And we will overcome. But still you must choose: Him or you. Jesus does not promise a life of ease, but He does promise peace. He does not promise popularity, but He does promise that He will claim you before the Father. He does not promise smooth sailing, but He does promise to be there in the storm.

Stop believing the lie that the life of faith will bring health, wealth, and prosperity. Bring your thinking in alignment with Jesus. Count the cost. And when you do, and if you choose to fully live the life of faith, the hatred, persecutions, and storms will no longer surprise you.

What is Jesus asking you to do?