Key Texts: Matthew 26:56; Luke 9:51-56; John 6:1-15; John 12:1-6; John 18:1-11; John 21:15-19
Key Ideas: This week, we will look at the human side of the disciples. Time and again, their humanness burst out. Sometimes it was a bid for political power; sometimes it was anger; other times it was rashness. All these easily compromise discipleship.
1. In John 6, there is the account of Jesus feeding of the five thousand. That event was such a spectacular success, that there was a spontaneous movement to crown Jesus king, in direct rebellion to the civil authorities. Jesus sensed the movement, and avoided it. Here is occasion to think about political power and its relationship to Christ’s kingdom. Consider the following:
a. Why do you think Jesus avoided being crowned king?
b. What is the value and role of political power?
c. What does power do to people? Specifically, what does political power do to them?
d. What happens to religion when it is merged with political power? What happens to political power when it is merged with religion?
e. Is it possible for power to emerge within church structures? If so, what should be done about it?
f. How are politics and religion different?
g. Do you see any way for there to be co-operation between religion and politics without doing damage to both?
2. In John 12, there is the story of Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with very expensive perfume (it says she spent a year’s wages on the perfume). The response of Judas was blunt – the exercise had been a waste. It would have been better for the money to have been given to the poor, but put in the community money bag (which Judas controlled) first. Here is evidence that a disciple suffered from the vice of greed. How does greed damage discipleship? What can we do to minimize greed?
3. At the end of Luke 9, there is the story of the disciples being rebuffed by the Samaritans followed by their inquiry about calling fire down on the village. Here they battled hurt and anger. What ill effects can these two things have on discipleship? How do you think they could have avoided such a reaction to personal injury?
4. In John 18 can be found the stories of Peter’s three denials of Jesus. These are moving episodes, first because his denials seem to have been driven by the desire for self-preservation. Peter did not want to be exposed. He also did not want to be publicly mocked. Here humanness got the better of the disciple. It is well worth noting that his reaction later was one of heart-felt repentance. What an example for the rest of us!
a. Some suggest that Peter was a victim to his penchant for rashness. What do you think about this? Is rashness worse than inactivity?
5. A final division of the lesson has do to with the disciples abandonment of Jesus at the point of crucifixion. It seems incredible they did such a thing. But such is the frailty of the human. How do you think you would avoid doing similarly?