Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, October 4, 2020 | Proper 22 | Year A]
OLD TESTAMENT: Isaiah 5:1–7
- Who is the beloved in this song about the vineyard? Who is the vineyard? What was the beloved’s hope for the vineyard?
- What did the beloved do to the vineyard in the hopes for a good crop? What did the beloved reap from the vineyard?
- What was the beloved going to do the vineyard as a result of the harvest? How does this apply to what happened to the people of Israel and Judah?
GOSPEL: Matthew 21:33–46
- In what way does this parable draw on Isaiah’s prophecy? Why would Jesus use this particular imagery?
- In this parable, who is the landowner? Who are the vine-growers? Who are the slaves sent to collect the harvest? Who is the son?
- Where was the son killed? How does this picture what Jesus knew would be coming?
- See Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45. What does this scripture have to say about the stone which the builders rejected? What would the Jewish leaders have thought Jesus was referring to when he talked about himself in this way? Why would they find this offensive? What was in their hearts with regards to Jesus?
- What ultimately did God allow to occur to the Jewish nation following Jesus’ crucifixion? How was this a fulfillment of what was written by Isaiah and spoken by Jesus?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, September 27, 2020 | Proper 21 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 21:23–32
- Who came to Jesus to challenge him? What was the question they asked him? Why might have they asked this question? (Hint: see the context—what happen prior to this in Matthew’s gospel?)
- What did these men hope to achieve in questioning Jesus? Did Jesus answer their question directly? Why not? Why didn’t they answer Jesus’ response?
- In the parable Jesus told, who was the landowner? Who were the two sons? What was the difference in the way the two sons obeyed their father? Why would these men have found this parable offensive?
NEW TESTAMENT: Philippians 2:1-13
- What are the objective or spiritual realities realities Paul states in the first verse of the passage? Who is the Source of all these things? Through whom do we receive them? How do we receive them?
- What are we to be doing because these things are true? Whose example do we follow?
- Jesus has been highly exalted by the Father—to what extent did Jesus humble himself and become obedient before this? Why is Jesus’ name above every other name?
- What is every tongue to confess? What are we to work out with fear and trembling? Where do we find the will to obey? Where do we find the power to obey? How does this relate to the objective or spiritual realities in verse 1?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, September 20, 2020 | Proper 20 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 20:1-16
- What is Jesus describing with this parable? Who does the landowner represent? Who do the laborers represent? What does the vineyard represent?
- When did the landowner hire his workers? What did the landowner agree to pay each laborer? Is this payment based on how many hours they worked during the day?
- What did the laborers think the landowner should have done? Were they right? Was the landowner free to do what he wanted with his money? Why? Why would he want to pay the last the same as he did the first?
- In Jesus Christ, to whom has God made the kingdom of God available? What does each person receive simply because of Jesus Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension? Why does God do it this way?
- How does what a person receives today differ from what James, John, or one of the members of the early church received? Why or why not?
- What did Jesus mean by saying the first would be last and the last first? In what ways do we often act like the laborers who believed the landowner should have paid them more for having labored longer?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, September 13, 2020 | Proper 19 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 18:21-35
- When Peter asked how many times he should forgive someone, what was the answer he was probably hoping to receive? What number did Jesus give him? Why?
- What did Jesus compare to a king settling his accounts? What was the king’s purpose in bringing each of his servants to him and having them give him an account? Can this be used as an example for us in how we interact with one another? Why or why not?
- One slave owed ten thousand talents and couldn’t pay the king back—his debt was too large. What would normally happen to someone who couldn’t pay their debt? What did the king do instead? How does this picture what God did with humanity in Christ?
- The servant was offered grace—did he recognize the great gift he was given? What did he do to the people who owed him money? What might have motivated him to force them to pay him back? Did the servant really know his king and understand his heart towards him? How does this apply to our relationship with the Father?
- At first, what was the king’s reason for forgiving the servant’s debt? What does this say about what kind of heart we are to have towards others? What should the servant have done to those who owed him money and why?
- In what way is this parable an opportunity to look at our own hearts and consider how we treat those who we feel are indebted to us in some way? Is it right to punish someone who hurts us or errs against un in some way? Why or why not?
- In this story the lord or king was moved to anger by the slave’s unforgiving behavior—does God become angry when we are unforgiving? What type of anger does God express towards those who are unforgiving and what purpose does it serve? How is it an expression of his unconditional love?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, September 6, 2020 | Proper 18 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 18:15–20
- In what setting is this teaching to be applied? Why is this important to keep in mind?
- What are we to do when a brother or sister sins? Why do we tell only that person how they have sinned—why does this matter?
- What do we do if the person will not listen to us? Why only two or three witnesses? What are the benefits of doing this?
- What are we to do when the person still will not hear us? Why do we put a boundary between us and them?
- How are what God’s Spirit-led ministers do and say supposed to be a reflection of God’s binding and loosing in heaven? What is meant by this?
- What is the benefit of believers gathering together in unity when they pray? What does their unity demonstrate?
NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 13:8–14
- What is the only thing we are to owe a fellow believer?
- What does love never do? What is the fulfillment of the law?
- What are we to lay aside? What are we to put on? How does this relate to Paul’s discussion regarding love?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, August 30, 2020 | Proper 17 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 16:21–28
- What was Jesus beginning to show his disciples at this time? What was Peter’s response? Why might he have said what he did to Jesus?
- How did Jesus respond to Peter saying, “God forbid it, Lord”? What was Peter setting his mind on? What were “God’s interests” that Jesus was referring to?
- What is a person who wishes to follow Jesus to do? What does it mean to deny oneself? Whose cross are we to take up?
- What did Jesus mean by saying “gains the whole world”? What are some examples of this in our lives today?
- What did Jesus mean by “forfeits his soul”? What is the price paid for our soul? Is it a price any of us can pay?
- What is the name Jesus gave to himself in verse 27? Why is this name important? How is he going to come when he returns to earth again? Who will be with him?
- What were some of them going to witness before they died?
NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 13:8–14
- In Romans 13:8-14 the apostle Paul talks about how the law is fulfilled. What is the fullest expression of the law? What are some ways in which this is expressed?
- What are we to put on? How does this relate to Jesus telling his disciples to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him? What are some ways we are to deny ourselves?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, August 23, 2020 | Proper 16 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 16:13–20
- What question was Jesus asking his disciples? Who were people saying Jesus was?
- Who did Simon say Jesus was? Why was this important for them to understand? Who did Jesus say revealed this info to Simon? How do we come to know who Jesus is and who God is?
- What name did Jesus give Simon Barjona? (Note: Jesus spoke Aramaic and would have used the word kepha for rock. Matthew wrote in Greek. There are two words in Greek, the masculine noun petros—meaning a detached boulder, and the feminine noun petra—meaning bedrock. This was a play on words: “…you are petros and on this petra I will build my church…”)
- Read 1 Peter 2:4-9. Who is the builder? What does Peter say Jesus is building? Who is the living stone or cornerstone of this building? What does Peter call the people of God? What is our purpose?
- What is “the gates of Hades” a synonym for or what does it mean? What was Jesus prophesying was going to occur that would defeat “the gates of Hades”?
- The keys of access to a household were given to a steward. In what way after the resurrection did Peter and the apostles enact as stewards of the kingdom of God on earth what was bound and loosed in heaven? (See Acts 2:14-36; Acts 8:14-17; Acts 10)
- Why would Jesus not want the disciples to tell anyone who he really was? How would this news getting out have affected his ministry and finishing what he was setting out to do?
- Read Romans 12:1-8. What are we to do as living stones in offering ourselves to God? What are we not to be conformed to? How are we to be transformed?
- In what way does Paul’s description of the various gifting within the church resemble the picture of the new Jerusalem (Rev. 21:1-2, 14, 18-21) and Peter’s example of living stones?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, August 16, 2020 | Proper 15 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 15:21–28
- What was unusual about where Jesus was traveling? Why might he have done this? (Hint: See Matthew 15:10–20)
- Where was the woman from, who called out to Jesus? What did she ask for? What was wrong with her daughter?
- What name did this woman give to Jesus? What was the significance of this name?
- How did Jesus initially respond to the woman’s request? When the disciples insisted that Jesus send her away, what did he tell them? Why would this be a significant reason for Jesus not to help her?
- How does this fit in with the conversation Jesus had with the Pharisees and scribes earlier in the chapter? (Hint: See Matthew 15:10–20) Who was Jesus initially sent to and what was their response? What does the book of Acts teach us about who responded to the gospel in a greater way than those Jesus was initially sent to?
- In a companion passage for this Sunday, Romans 11:1–2a, 29–32, the apostle Paul says God has not rejected his people. Who has God “shut up in disobedience”? Who does God choose to show mercy to?
- How did the woman in this story approach Jesus? What example did he give her as a reason not to help her? What did she say in return? (Note: Jesus used the term for wild dogs, while she used the term for little household pet dogs.)
- What did Jesus eventually do? What did he say the woman had? How did she demonstrate this? What does this miracle teach us about God’s mercy?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, August 9, 2020 | Proper 14 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 14:22-33
- What was the event which had occurred right before Jesus’ disciples got into the boat? What was Jesus doing while they were going across the lake? Why was he doing this? What does this teach us about ourselves and our life in Christ?
- Where was the boat when Jesus ended his time on the shore? How did Jesus come to them? What did the disciples think he was? What was their emotional response to seeing Jesus in the midst of the storm? How is this often our response to God when we are in the middle of a personal storm in our lives?
- What did Jesus first say to the disciples? Why is this so often the first thing the angels tell humans when they have a message for them? What does this tell us about how we should respond to God?
- What did Peter say to Jesus? How did Jesus respond? What did Peter do? What happened when Peter began to focus more on the storm than on Jesus? In what ways do we often do what Peter did when life gets difficult?
- How is Peter’s cry for help a good illustration of humanity’s need for grace? What is Jesus’ response when someone genuinely cries out for help? What does this tell us about the heart of the Father and what kind of God he is?
- What happened when Peter and Jesus got in the boat? What did the disciples do when they saw the wind die down? What is our response to God dissolving the storms in our lives and rescuing us from drowning in sin, evil, and death?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, August 2, 2020 | Proper 13 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 14:13–21
13“Now when Jesus heard about John, He withdrew from there in a boat to a secluded place by Himself; and when the people heard of this, they followed Him on foot from the cities. 14When He went ashore, He saw a large crowd, and felt compassion for them and healed their sick. 15When it was evening, the disciples came to Him and said, “This place is desolate and the hour is already late; so send the crowds away, that they may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16But Jesus said to them, ‘They do not need to go away; you give them something to eat!’ 17They said to Him, ‘We have here only five loaves and two fish.’ 18And He said, ‘Bring them here to Me. 19Ordering the people to sit down on the grass, He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up toward heaven, He blessed the food, and breaking the loaves He gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds, 20and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets. 21 There were about five thousand men who ate, besides women and children.”
- What had happened to John the Baptizer, Jesus’ cousin? (Hint: read Matt. 14:1-12) What was Jesus’ response to this event? Why do you think he did this?
- What was Jesus’ response to the people seeking him out? How does this show the heart of the Father?
- What did the disciples tell Jesus he should do, since it was so late in the day? What did Jesus tell them they should do? What reason did the disciples give for not being able to do what Jesus wanted them to do? How does this often match up with our own response to those things Jesus asks us to do for other people?
- What did Jesus tell the disciples to bring him? What did he do with it? What was the result of the disciples bringing what they had to Jesus? What does this teach us about how to do ministry?
- What was left over at the end of the miracle? What do you think the disciples did with what was left? What does this teach us about the extravagant grace of God?
OLD TESTAMENT: Isaiah 55:1-5
1“Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourself in abundance. 3Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, according to the faithful mercies shown to David. 4Behold, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5Behold, you will call a nation you do not know, and a nation which knows you not will run to you, because of the Lord your God, even the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified you.”
- Who does Isaiah say should come to the waters? Who should buy and eat? What does the prophet say they are spending their money and wages on?
- Where does real nourishment and true abundance come from?
- Who was God’s everlasting covenant with? (See Isaiah 52-54.) Who did this prophecy point to—who was David a picture of? Who was the nation God would call through this man?
- In what way is this prophecy a hopeful presentation of what God intended to do? How does the idea of food and water without cost help you to understand and appreciate God’s abundant grace?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, July 26, 2020 | Proper 12 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 13:31–33, 44–52
- What is the central topic of these parables? Why would Jesus use parables to explain this to his disciples and the crowds around him?
- In the parable of the mustard seed, who is the sower and who is the seed? What is so significant about the mustard seed starting out very small but ending up large enough to be a place of rest for the birds? What was Jesus describing?
- In the parable of the leaven, who is the leaven and who is the woman? What is the flour? What happens to the flour? How does this picture Jesus’ central topic?
- In the parable of the merchant seeking pearls, who is the merchant? Who is the pearl of great value? What did the merchant do to purchase this special pearl? How does this picture what Jesus did?
- In the parable of the fish, what is the sea? What is the net and when is it thrown into the sea? Who do the different types of fish in the net picture?
- Which fish were gathered in the net and brought to shore? What happened to the fish in the net? Where did the “good” fish go? Could the fish live where they were going? Where did the “bad” fish go? Were they able to live there?
- Who sorts through the fish and puts them where they are to go? Whom makes the decision about where the fish end up? What is the reason for sorting through the fish?
- What happened to the “good” fish? What happens to fish when they are put into containers and stored? How does this picture our participation in Christ? Why is this important?
- Why would Jesus say the “bad” fish would experience weeping and gnashing of teeth if those fish actually ended up where they normally live? What was Jesus referring to when he spoke of a furnace of fire—what are other examples in Scripture of divine fire? How does our rejection of Christ resemble the “bad” fish seeking life on their own terms?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, July 19, 2020 | Proper 11 | Year A]
- What did Jesus compare to the man who sowed good seed in his field? What happened when the man was away from his field? What happened to the crop in the field?
- When the servants asked the man about gathering up the tares, what did the man say? How and when was the crop to be harvested?
- Who is the good seed? What is the field? Who are the crop of the good seed? Who are the crop of tares? What is the enemy? What is the harvest?
- Who is sent to gather in the harvest? How does Jesus describe what will happen to those who are the tares when the harvest is gathered in? What will happen to those who are the good seed?
NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 8:12–25
- What are we obligated to live to? What do we often think we are obligated to live to and what does it result in?
- What spirit leads to fear? What spirit have we received instead?
- Who are the sons of God? How do we know that we are God’s adopted children? Who are we heirs of and heirs with?
- In order to be glorified with Christ, what must we do with him? How does Paul compare the value between these two things?
- What is the creation eagerly waiting for? Why? Who is suffering the pains of childbirth? What is meant by this?
- Why do we, like creation, groan within ourselves? What is the purpose and benefit of hope?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, July 12, 2020 | Proper 10 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 13:1–9, 18–23
- Who was Jesus talking to? What is a parable? Why did Jesus speak to the people in parables?
- What were the different places where the sower sowed seed and what happened to the seed in those places?
- Why would Jesus say, “He who has ears, let him hear”?
- What is the seed and who is the one who sows it?
- What did the seed sown by the side of the road picture? What are some examples of what this looks like when we share the gospel today? How does the manner in which we present the gospel affect a person’s response to it?
- What was the seed sown in rocky places a picture of? What would be a good example of this happening today in the life of someone who has heard the gospel? In what ways can we as the church encourage new believers to endure?
- What was the seed choked by weeds and thorns a picture of? Today, what are some things which limit or negate our fruitfulness as believers?
- What is pictured by the seed which bears fruit? How can we participate with God in bearing good fruit? How is bearing good fruit related to hearing the Word?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, July 5, 2020 | Proper 9 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 11:16–19, 25–30
- What did the Jewish leaders accuse John the Baptizer of doing? What did they accuse the Son of Man of doing? Who was the Son of Man?
- What did Jesus mean when he said “wisdom is shown to be right by its results?” What was more important to Jesus than the opinion of the Jewish leaders?
- Who did Jesus address his prayer to? What does this show us about his relationship with God? Who did Jesus say God takes pleasure in revealing his goodness and love to rather than to the Jewish leaders?
- Who has God the Father entrusted everything to? Why is this important to understand?
- Who truly knows the Father? How do any human beings come to know their heavenly Father? What does this teach us about the centrality of Christ?
- Who did Jesus invite to come to him? What were they to expect to find in him? What did Jesus mean by this?
- What is Jesus’ yoke? Why is this yoke different and better than that of the Jewish religious leaders of that time?
- Why did Jesus say people should allow him to teach them? How was he different as a teacher than the religious leaders? What will people find if they allow Jesus to teach them?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, June 28, 2020 | Proper 7 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 10:24–39
- Jesus told his disciples that those who received the disciples received him as well—who else would they be receiving? How is this possible?
- What does it mean to receive Jesus? How does one receive Jesus by receiving those he has sent? What is the reward in receiving Jesus?
- What is the reward for giving a cup of cold water to someone in need? What does it mean to give someone a drink “in the name of a disciple”? What is the point Jesus is trying to make here?
NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 6:12–23
- What are we not allow to reign in us? How are we to be not using the parts of our body? How are we to be using them instead?
- What is not to be our master? Why? Does this mean it is okay to sin?
- What is the result of presenting ourselves as slaves for obedience? Who are we to be slaves of—sin or obedience? What is the result of being slaves to each one? What did Jesus do for us—what did he make us slaves to?
- What is the result of presenting ourselves as slaves to righteousness? Are we genuinely slaves then? What is our true freedom?
- What are the wages of sin? What is the free gift of God? Which one have you chosen to participate in and receive?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, June 21, 2020 | Proper 7 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 10:24–39
- Who did Jesus say his disciples were to become like? What did the Jewish leaders call Jesus? How were the disciples to expect to be treated by the leaders of the Jews?
- What did Jesus mean when he said that nothing that is concealed would remain that way? What are Jesus disciples to do with what he tells them?
- What were the disciples told about fear? What keeps Jesus’ disciples from living in fear?
- What are Jesus’ disciples to confess? What would Jesus do if they did this? What would he do if they denied him?
- What did Jesus say about bringing peace? What did he mean by this? What would demonstrate that someone is worthy of Jesus? What would demonstrate that someone is not worthy of Jesus?
- What are we to lose and what will we find if we lose it? What did Jesus mean by this?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, June 14, 2020 | Proper 6 | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 9:35–10:8
- What was Jesus doing in the cities he was going through? What did he feel toward the people he encountered? What does this tell us about our response to people we meet during our everyday lives?
- What did Jesus mean by God’s “harvest”? What did he tell the disciples to do with regards to it? In what ways does this apply to Jesus’ disciples today?
- When Jesus called his disciples to himself, what did he give them? What were they to do with it? Has God given this same thing to believers today?
- Who were the original twelve apostles? Who was named first? Who was named last? What do you think might be the reason they are named in pairs—in a series of two people together?
- What may be the difference between a disciple (a learner) and an apostle? (Hint: It has to do with what Jesus did in verse 5.) What are some ways in which Christians today are meant to behave as disciples and as apostles?
- Where were the apostles to say away from? Why was this? Was there a time when Jesus told them to go to these places? If so, when?
- What were the apostles to do on this missionary journey? What were they to say was “at hand”? What would be the evidence that the apostles were sent by God to preach this message?
- In what ways are believers today sent by Jesus? What is the evidence that they are God’s representatives in this world?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, June 7, 2020 | Pentecost | Year A]
OLD TESTAMENT: Psalm 8
- In what way does the psalmist describe God’s name? How do we know the splendor of God’s name? Who is God Lord over?
- What does the psalmist say is amazing about human beings? When the psalmist uses the expression “son of man”, who does this bring to mind? How does the son of man go from being lower than God to being crowned with glory and majesty?
- How do we participate in Jesus’ lordship over heaven and earth? How does this affect our relationship with all God has made?
GOSPEL: Matthew 28:16–20
- Where did Jesus tell the disciples to meet him? What was their reaction to seeing him there?
- What may have caused doubt in the minds of some of those who saw him? They were sure of the resurrection—what exactly were they doubting?
- What did Jesus say had been given to him? How does this relate to what happened to Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness? (See Matthew 4:8-10).
- Because of what Jesus had been given, what are we as Jesus’ disciples or followers to do? How are we to do it? In whose name do we do it? For how long was Jesus commissioning us to keep on doing this?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, May 31, 2020 | Pentecost | Year A]
GOSPEL: John 7:37-39
- The priests would pour out water from a pitcher on the seven days of the festival, reminiscent of the water coming from the rock (an appeal for rain) and the prophesy of living water flowing from the temple in the last days. Where did Jesus say the rivers of living water would flow from? What (or who) was he referring to when talking about living water?
- Why was the Spirit not yet given? Who is the Source of the Spirit?
- What kind of thirst was Jesus speaking about? What are some examples of how we try to quench our thirst in ways other than with the Spirit?
NEW TESTAMENT: 1 Corinthians 12:3b–13
- What (or who) is necessary for us to recognize and give heed to Jesus as Lord? What is given to us by the Spirit?
- When Paul speaks of the “same Spirit”, he also speaks of “the same _____” and “the same _______”. Who is he talking about, different persons? What is the difference between gifts, ministries, and effects? What is the point Paul is trying to make here?
- Paul calls these gifts, ministries, and effects manifestations of the Spirit. What is the purpose of the Spirit giving these things? How is it possible for these things to not fulfill this purpose? Give an example.
- Who decides which gifts will be distributed to each person? How does this demonstrate the Gift Giver of these gifts has personhood?
- What is the point Paul is making when he talks about many members and one body? Who is the body we are members of? By whom were we baptized into this body? What (or who) are we made to drink of and why is this important?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, May 24, 2020 | Ascension Sunday | Year A]
GOSPEL: Luke 24:44–53
- What was Jesus referring to when he spoke of the Law of Moses, the Prophets and Psalms? What was written in this about Jesus? How did Jesus help them to understand what was written? What does this teach us about our study of the Bible and learning more about Jesus Christ?
- What would be proclaimed to all the nations? In whose name would it be proclaimed?
- What were the disciples to be? What are some examples of what this looks like, both then and today?
- What (or who) was Jesus going to send them? What were they to do until he did? Why was it important for them to wait on him to do this? What does this teach us about how we go about sharing the gospel?
- What was the last thing Jesus did before he was parted from them? Who was it meant for? How does this correspond to what the church today does in their worship liturgy?
- What did the disciples do after Jesus left? In what ways do we today as the Body of Christ follow their pattern of fellowship?
GOSPEL: Acts 1:1–11
- What was Luke’s purpose in writing the book of Acts? What was Jesus doing during the time following the resurrection and before his ascension? Why was this important? What does this teach us about our life together as the Body of Christ? What does this teach us about what our life might be like when we are resurrected?
- Where were the disciples to wait for the Father’s gift? What (or who) were they waiting for and why was it important that they wait? How does Jesus use the picture of baptism to help them understand what is going to happen?
- What did the disciples believe Jesus was going to do next? What did Jesus say was going to happen instead? What was the vision he cast for them? How does this apply to what we are to be doing today as God’s people?
- What happened with Jesus after he spoke these words? What did the angels tell the onlookers when Jesus ascended? Where were the disciples to be placing their focus?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, May 17, 2020 | 6th Sunday in Easter | Year A]
GOSPEL: John 14:15–21
- How do we live our lives when God’s love is filling our hearts?
- Who did Jesus say he would ask his Father to give us? How is this person different or the same as Jesus? How long would he be with us?
- In what way is the world blind to his presence? How do we come to know him?
- What is the significance of Jesus not leaving us as orphans? How can Jesus be with us when we are unable to see him any longer? How and why do we have real life?
- How do we come to know that Jesus is in the Father, we are in him, and he is in us? What does Jesus mean by this?
- Where does our love for God come from? How is it expressed? What happens when we live in the truth of our belovedness?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, May 10, 2020 | 5th Sunday in Easter | Year A]
GOSPEL: Gospel John 14:1–14
- Who are we to believe in? What does this belief do for us?
- What did Jesus mean when he said that there were many dwelling places in his Father’s house? What and where is the place Jesus is preparing for us?
- How do we know the way to our Father’s house? Who did Jesus say his Father was? How does every person have access to the Father? How do we come to know the Father?
- What did Jesus mean by saying, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in me”? How did Jesus do his works of healing, preaching, and casting out demons?
- What was the evidence of the presence of the Father in Jesus? What did Jesus say that believers would do because he was going to the Father? How do believers do these things?
- When Jesus said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it,” what did he mean? Does this mean we can ask God for anything and he is committed to doing it?
NEW TESTAMENT: 1 Peter 2:2–10
- How do we grow in respect to salvation? What does it mean to be living stones? What did Paul mean by “a spiritual house for a holy priesthood?” What are these living stones to do?
- Who is the precious corner stone we are to believe in? What happens to those who disbelieve?
- How does God describe believers—who does he say we are? What are we to do because God “has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light”?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, May 3, 2020 | 4th Sunday in Easter | Year A]
GOSPEL: John 10:1–10
- Who is the person who enters the sheepfold by a way other than the door? Why does it matter how they get into the sheepfold? Whom is Jesus probably talking about? What was the problem Jesus was addressing?
- Who is the person who enters by the door? What does he do when he enters the sheepfold? Why is this? What happens when he leaves the sheepfold? Who was the shepherd in this parable? Who were the sheep?
- How did the sheep respond to a stranger’s voice in comparison with the shepherd’s voice? Why was this? How did this apply to the point Jesus was trying to make?
- How are we to see Jesus? What should our response to him be? Who should we avoid? Why did Jesus come? How does this apply to our lives now as well as in the life to come?
NEW TESTAMENT: 1 Peter 2:19–25
- When we sin and are harshly treated, how are we to respond? How are we to handle unjust suffering?
- What is the purpose of our calling? What is the example given to us by Jesus Christ? How was Jesus able to do what he did while on earth? What does this teach us about how to endure unjust suffering?
- Read Isaiah 53:6. How does this passage expound on that passage?
- In what ways have you experience unjust suffering? How difficult or easy was it to handle unjust suffering the way Jesus did?
- What does Psalm 23:4 teach us about the paradoxes (suffering in the midst of blessing, sorrow in the midst of joy, and so on) we face in life?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, April 26, 2020 | 3rd Sunday in Easter | Year A]
GOSPEL: Luke 24:13–35
- What were the two people walking on the road to Emmaus talking about? If you were one of those two people, what do you think would have been uppermost on your mind and in your conversation?
- Why did they not recognize Jesus when he joined them? Why might Jesus have done this? Does it seem like Jesus enjoyed this conversation?
- What did they believe Jesus was going to do that didn’t happen? How long ago had the crucifixion happened? What was Jesus’ emphatic declaration in response to their disappointment—what were they slow in doing? Why was this so important?
- During the rest of the journey, what did Jesus do? How does this speak to the way Jesus joins us on our journey of life?
- When they reached their destination, Jesus acted as if he would keep going—what did they do? How did they finally recognize Jesus? Why might this have happened? In what ways does your everyday fellowship with Jesus make it easier for you to recognize his presence?
- When Jesus left them, what did the two men do? Why was this? How does what they did when they got to Jerusalem teach us about what we need to be doing as Christians?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, April 19, 2020 | 2nd Sunday in Easter | Year A]
GOSPEL: John 20:19–31
- Why were the disciples hiding behind locked doors? How was Jesus able to enter the room without unlocking the door? What greeting did he give them? How was this greeting a fulfillment of his word to them?
- What did Jesus show his disciples? Why was this important to the disciples? Why would this be important to the readers of the apostle John’s gospel? (Hint: What did the Docetists and Gnostics teach about Jesus?)
- When Jesus breathed on them, who did he encourage them to receive? Why was this important? Who in Christ has forgiven all our sins? How does this affect our capacity to forgive others?
- Who wasn’t present the first time Jesus came to them in the upper room? What did he say he needed in order to believe?
- After greeting the disciples the second Sunday Jesus came to them, what did he do? What was Thomas’ response? Who did Jesus say would be especially blessed in believing? What does this tell us about having faith in Jesus?
- Did John record every miracle and sign he saw Jesus do? What was the purpose of writing this gospel? In what way has the gospel of John helped you to believe and keep on believing who Jesus Christ is as Lord and Savior?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, April 12, 2020 | Resurrection of the Lord, Easter | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 28:1–10
- How was the stone moved away from the front of the tomb? What effect did this have on the soldiers? Why was it moved?
- How did the women feel about the experience they were having? What did the angel tell the women about Jesus? What were they to do?
- What mixed emotions did the women have as they left the tomb to go report to the disciples what had happened? Who did they meet on the way? What did he tell them to do?
- What does this event tell us about Jesus Christ and our fear of God and death? When we see that Jesus is our resurrected Lord and Savior, what does he want us to do?
- In what ways does God’s perfect love cast out our fear? What can separate us from God’s love?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, April 5, 2020 | Palm or Passion Sunday, 6th Sunday in Lent | Year A]
GOSPEL: Matthew 21:1–11
- What was the purpose of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt? What made Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem different than the usual method conquering rulers used? Why was this important for Jesus to do?
- What was the purpose in people placing their garments on the road in front of Jesus? Why did the disciples put theirs on the animal and not on the ground?
- What did the crowd shout as he entered Jerusalem? “Hosanna” means “O, save”—why was the crowd shouting this at Jesus?
- What is the most important question we can ask about Jesus? (Hint: the people in the city were asking this.) What didn’t they understand about Jesus? How does the answer to this question affect the way we approach our relationship with God and with other people? How does it affect the way we handle difficulties in our lives?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, March 29, 2020 | 5th Sunday in Lent | Year A]
GOSPEL: John 11:18–45
- What did Jesus do when he heard his friend Lazarus was sick? Did this surprise the disciples? What did the disciples believe would happen to Jesus (and to them) if he went to Bethany? What did Jesus say had happened to Lazarus? Why was Jesus glad this had happened?
- What did Martha say to Jesus when she saw him? Did Martha still believe Jesus could solve the problem? How long had Lazarus been gone?
- What did Jesus tell Martha would happen to her brother? What did Jesus tell her about who he (Jesus) was? What response was asked of her? How did she actually respond?
- What did Mary do when she saw Jesus and what did she say to him? What was Jesus’ response to her grief and the sorrow of those around him? How was this response by Jesus interpreted by the people who were there? What did they believe Jesus could have done? How does this show God’s response to the things in life which happen to us?
- What did Jesus tell the crowd to do next? Why didn’t they want to do it? What did Jesus say would happen if they did do as he asked?
- How did Jesus pray? What was his prayer like? What did it demonstrate about his relationship with his Father? Why was Jesus doing what he was doing?
- What did Jesus tell Lazarus to do? What happened then? What did Jesus tell the people to do? What does this teach us about how Jesus likes to do things, and what he has called us as his people to do?
- What was the ultimate result of what Jesus did? What does this teach us about God and the way he works in this world? What does this parable teach us about death and God’s plan for humanity? How do we participate with God in what he is doing in this world?
Group Discussion: [Reading from Sunday, March 22, 2020 | 4th Sunday in Lent | Year A]
GOSPEL: John 9:1–41
- How long had the man by the side of the road been blind? What did the disciples assume about why he was blind? What was Jesus’ response and what did he mean by it? Who did Jesus say he was and what did he say he was doing?
- How did Jesus heal the blind man? Why did he have the blind man do what he did in order to be healed?
- What was the crowds’ response to the healing? Did the blind man know who healed him? What day of the week did this healing take place? Why was that important?
- Who did the crowd take the man to see? Did they believe that he had been healed? Why or why not? Who did these men say Jesus was?
- Why did they call the man’s parents forward to testify about the man’s healing? What did they say? Why?
- What was the one thing this man knew and was sure of? What happened when the man told them the truth about his healing and that Jesus was a man of God?
- What did Jesus ask this man when he found him later on? What was his response? What did Jesus say the fundamental problem with the Pharisees was? Who in this story were the ones who were truly blind?
- In what ways are we often guilty of spiritual blindness? What is the ultimate solution to spiritual blindness? How do we participate in our healing from spiritual blindness?