Connect Bible Study Notes

Term 1 2018

St. Matthew’s Passion
Each of the biographies of Jesus (Gospels) focusses on the events of the week of Jesus’ death. Jesus willingly and resolutely heads towards his death, to open the way back to friendship with God. His death is the measure of his love for us. His subsequent resurrection guarantees eternal life for all who trust him and gives us our “marching orders” – a mandate to share the good news of Jesus with others. This term we look in detail at Matthew’s account of these events – with fresh eyes and thankful hearts.

The Beginning of the End Matthew 28:16-20 8th April

  1. How do you explain v17? What is the place of doubt in faith?
  2. What is the ‘therefore’ there for in v19?
  3. What is the difference between a disciple and a convert? What difference does that make to our ministries? (v19)
  4. Why should disciples come from all nations?
  5. What is the mission of the church? Why?
  6. Where does baptism fit in the mission of the church?
  7. These words were addressed to the original apostles. Do they apply to us? Why/why not?
  8. What does it mean to you that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Jesus? How does his authority affect your daily life?

The God-forsaken God Matthew 27:45-56 25th March

  1. Read through this passage and list the “signs” that accompany Jesus’ death.  What do you think they point to? In particular what is the significance of darkness and the torn curtain?
  2. Jesus cries out quoting from Psalm 22:1 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  What does this question reveal about the depth and nature of Jesus’ suffering? Why do you think it is important to acknowledge that we cannot fully appreciate what is happening here?
  3. One of the versions of the Apostle’s Creed states “On the cross, Jesus descended to hell”. How does this help us to see what is happening for Jesus?
  4. Read the rest of Psalm 22. What hope does that Psalm point to? What is the danger in moving from verse 1 to the rest of the Psalm without feeling the full force of the “forsakenness” of the author.
  5. Jesus' “loud cry” as he died (verse 50) was probably “It is finished” (See John 19:30.) If so, what does this mean?
  6. Why do you think Matthew records the words of the Centurion in verse 54 and the names of the women who were there?
  7. How would you respond to someone who says Christianity has an unhealthy morbid fascination with death as shown by its choice of a cross (an instrument of torture) as its symbol?

Crucify Him Matthew 27:27-44 18th March

  1. “Irony” is defined as: “the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite”. Read through Matthew 27:11–44 and note all the instances of irony, dividing them into deliberate and unwitting irony. In particular, how would you classify the people’s answer in verse 25.
  2. What types of suffering does Jesus endure in this passage?  Who contributes to his suffering?
  3. Jesus is taunted with “He saved others, but he can’t save himself.” Is this true?  Give your reasons.
  4. Stuart Townend wrote the line “It was my sin that held him there.” What do you think that means? Someone else has said “It was not nails that held Jesus to the cross, it was love.” What do you think this means? How do both of these together form a more complete picture of what is happening here?
  5. Compare Matthew’s (and the other Gospel writers’) restraint in describing the physical torture handed out to Jesus with the graphic detail of Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” (if you have seen the movie – I don’t recommend you watch it but someone in your group may have – they can share their impressions). Why do you think the Gospel writers are so restrained?

Mob Rule Matthew 27:11-26 11th March

  1. Why did the chief priests change their charge against Jesus from blasphemy (26:65) to treason (27:11-12)?
  2. Why do you think Jesus did not reply to Pilate (27:14) or the high priest (26:63)?  See also Isaiah 53:7.
  3. Comment on Jesus’ words, ‘You have said so’ to the high priest (26:64) and to Pilate (27:11). See John 18:36.
  4. How do you account for Jesus’ calm composure during his so-called ‘trials’? See Isaiah 50:4-9.
  5. What was Pilate’s opinion of the chief priests and elders (v18)?
  6. Why do you think Pilate gave the crowd a choice between Barabbas and Jesus for release? (v17-18)
  7. What was Pilate’s political situation in relation to Jesus? What was his family situation?
  8. Why did Pilate wash his hands of Jesus?
  9. Who was responsible for Jesus’ death?
  10. Imagine you are a member of a church where political persecution is common. How would this passage help you?

Judas Matthew 27:1-10 25th February

  1. Briefly discuss your theories on why Judas betrayed Jesus and why he felt remorse.
  2. We don’t have a lot to go on, in considering why Judas decided to betray Jesus, or why he felt remorse afterwards. It seems that the Gospel writers are not as concerned about motivation as we are. What themes are important to Matthew in this passage?
  3. Is remorse the same as feeling sorry? Why/why not? Is remorse the same as repentance? Why/why not? Have you ever been seized with remorse over something you have done?
  4. Compare Peter’s response to his sin (Matthew 26:75) with Judas’s (Matthew 27:3-4, 6).
  5. Compare Judas and the chief priests in regard to the responsibility for Jesus’ death.
  6. What is the role of the chief priests in Judas’s betrayal of Jesus (Matthew 26:3-4, 14-16) and Judas’s suicide?
  7. Do Christians commit suicide? If someone commits suicide does it prove that he/she was not a Christian? Why/why not?
  8. Is suicide the unforgivable sin? Should a person who has committed suicide receive a Christian funeral and burial/cremation service?
  9. What is the church’s responsibility towards people who are (a) suicidal, (b) depressed, or (c) full of remorse?

Jesus Denied Matthew 26:69-75 18th February

  1. What do the following passages reveal about Peter’s character and the depth of his commitment to Jesus?  Matthew 16:21-23, Matthew 14:22-31, Matthew 16:13-20.
  2. Read the account of Peter’s denial of Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75).  How does this account illustrate the characteristics you observed in question 1?
  3. What prospects does Peter appear to have at the end of the passage?  How do you think he feels about his future as a follower of Jesus?
  4. How does Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:1-5 apply when we assess Peter?  Can you think of a time when you denied Jesus of let him down? How did you feel after this? How did you deal with this? On what basis were you able to continue in your relationship with Jesus?
  5. Read Jesus’ “restoration” of Peter in John 21:15-19 specifically dealing with his denial? What indications are there that forgiveness and restoration don’t come automatically or cheaply?
  6. Peter, like us, has feet of clay. He reluctantly learns that God accepts gentiles (non Jewish people) on the same basis as he accepts Jews (See Acts 10:9ff)  Later he is admonished by Paul for withdrawing from table fellowship with gentiles when he is criticised for it by some Jewish Christians.(See Galatians 2:11ff).  What lessons can we draw from Peter about our own failures?
  7. How would you respond to the charge that Christianity just produces guilt ridden emotional cripples with a bad self image? What do you think a healthy Christian self image looks like?
  8. How would you respond to a Christian friend who says “Sin is no big deal because God always forgives us”?

Jesus On Trial Matthew 26:57-67 11th February

  1. What had Jesus done to upset the Jewish establishment?
  2. Why did the chief priests and Sanhedrin want to put Jesus to death?
  3. Why was it so hard for them to find the evidence to justify execution?
  4. Why do you think Jesus remained silent? See Isaiah 53:7.
  5. Would you call Jesus a victim in this incident? Why/why not? How would you describe Jesus’ demeanour in this passage?
  6. Is Jesus’ demeanour an example to us when facing injustice? Why/why not?
  7. Is it fair to say the Jews were responsible for Jesus’ death? If so, how do we answer the charge of anti-Semitism?
  8. Why might we want to get rid of Jesus? How might this desire affect us?

Jesus Arrested  Matthew 26:47-56 4th February

  1. Read through the passage and discuss:
    Who is in charge of the crowd? What indicates this?
    Who takes control of the situation? 
    What are the danger signs that the situation could get out of control? How is it “defused”?
  2. Why does Jesus refuse to approve of the use of force? What does this tell us about his obedience? What implied criticism is there in the question to the crowd in verse 55?
  3. How would you describe the interaction between Jesus and Judas? How would Jesus have been feeling? What difference does it make if Jesus’ response in verse 49 is a question “Why have you come, friend?” (as per the footnote in NIV 2011) rather than a statement?
  4. Some Christians have used this passage to argue that disciples of Jesus should take a pacifist position and refuse to be involved in all conflicts. Imagine your group is an advisory committee for our Diocese and is asked to develop a policy to guide Christians considering service in the Australian Defence Forces. What options would you include? What other passages from the New Testament would you consider? What would you see as the role of Defence Force Chaplains deployed on operations?