Online Services by Rev'd Chris & team including Bi

Rev’d John Richardson’s Bible Study Sunday 5th July 2020

We begin by praying that the Holy Spirit will lead us afresh in our study of God’s Word by encouraging and affirming us in our journey thus far with Him over the years and in recent days. We pray too for all those engaged in this study in their households and groups as well as those engaged solo in their own times of quiet with God. We now number over 180 households and in excess of 200 people. This week we have heard of another two groups joining us from West Kent.

We begin by reading Mark chapter 1 v14-15

REPENT AND BE BAPTISED
Jesus begins His public ministry at the age of 30 after His Baptism and Wilderness experiences. He moves into Galilee which is to become His home and base for the next three years apart from the times He travels to Jerusalem for the six major Jewish Festivals in the Temple each year.

In entering Galilee Jesus preaches the same message of repentance and baptism as John adding ‘The kingdom of God is near’ before following this up with the words and powerful message ‘Repent and believe the good news’

Mark clearly portrays the central message of his gospel in these words..the good news of Jesus Christ which is to be responded to immediately. This is an urgent task for the disciples, the followers of Jesus not just then, but since, in every age and generation. The words immediately or at once are used over 40 times in this Gospel. It is worth noticing that Galilee has a very mixed cosmopolitan population of various groupings of both Jews and Gentiles each with their own peculiar ways of life and issues. Jesus impacts these as he travels around the towns and villages sharing the good news. It is the same context within our local communities where we are based today.

JESUS CALLS THE DISCIPLES TO FOLLOW HIM
Read Mark 1v16-20. And also Matthew 4v18-22 and Luke 4v14-30 for more specific details of these early days of ministry.

Straightaway on arrival in Galilee Jesus invites others to follow and join Him
Carpenter hires joiners the old adage states!
The first four are tough, hardworking, competitive fishermen...namely Andrew and his brother Simon followed by the sons and twins of thunder, James and John. They are all at work when He issues His call to follow. They go immediately.

Consider how the hired hands and the fathers felt once they had departed so quickly? No doubt their feelings were raw and relationships were probably strained for some time with some eloquent dialect and p language floating around. I think not. How would you react?

The call of Jesus then, as now is, so strong that they left their families and businesses behind. They were the first disciples, followers, eyewitnesses, storytellers. They saw first hand the clear and definite focussed preaching, teaching and healing of Jesus’ ministry.
As they travelled they were taught,
As they taught they were trained......and as time progressed they had their own discussion and dialogue face to face with Jesus as they embarked together as it were with the rabbi, the teacher under various palm and fig trees on their journeys. Their questions were pointed. His answers were clear and teasing with many challenges reinforcing the words of old.......Come and follow me..immediately!

Questions, statements and challenges became the order of the day.......

As time progresses four disciples find themselves with eight further colleagues.
Simon, John and James became the inner circle as it were, the executive members or the Cabinet became the initial task force who shared His life, learnt His ways and knew His mind.

For the call of Simon look at Luke 5v1-11 for the next stage of discipleship.

For the call of Levi,ie.Matthew the Tax Collector look at Luke 5v27-32

And now for the Call of the 12 look at Luke 6v12-16

It begins...AT THAT TIME JESUS WENT UP A HILL TO PRAY,AND SPENT THE WHOLE NIGHT THERE PRAYING TO GOD HIS FATHER..........WHEN DAY CAME,HE CALLED HIS DISCIPLES TO HIM AND CHOSE TWELVE OF THEM,WHOM HE NAMED APOSTLES.

???????What became of those disciples He didn’t call...did they become part of the 70 who were sent out 2 by 2 recorded in Luke 10v1-9 who travelled light, with opportunity knocking in Luke 10v10-16 with the successful return and stories of Luke v17-20?.....it is worth discovering the links and imagining why Luke places this sequence of mission opportunity together for our encouragement????????

Throughout this narrative both Mark and Luke show how strategic Jesus was in His mission planning.He sees the end from the beginning and in forming His team He demands an inner circle to share His life, to learn His ways and to know His mind.

Jesus prays all night about the crucial and critical choice......
Father,  I need close friends.
Men of good heart who are willing to learn and ready at all costs to work hard and long hours!
Men I can trust to send out as you have sent me out.
Help me to choose widely.

And so Jesus appoints twelve disciples. The number is no accident for they are to be the nucleus of the New Israel and the very foundation stones of the Church as it is to be and to be built. Again we have another significant biblical number of 12 to follow the last one of 40 and the one to come of 70!

Jesus chooses quite ordinary men then as He does people now, male and female, young and old, from all nations and peoples.
They come from various walks of life.
Some of them are middle class.
Others are fishermen.
They have differing temperaments and they disagree about politics!

PETER is a natural leader and  quickly becomes the spokesman and trade union official of the group. He is a fisherman, warm hearted and impetuous.
ANDREW is Peter’s brother and also a fisherman in the family firm. He by contrast has a quiet manner and makes friends easily. He introduces not only Peter But Philip and Bartholomew with Nicodemus to Jesus.
JAMES AND JOHN are brothers and they too are fishermen in a different family firm. They are fiercely competitive and fiery. They are ambitious and so explosive that Jesus calls them the sons of thunder. Their mother is very proud of them.
PHILIP AND BARTHOLOMEW already know each other from a Jewish tutorial and education group. They both live in Galilee. They are close friends of Andrew.
MATTHEW is a tough, hard hearted well educated character. He has trained and worked hard as a hated Roman tax collector working for the political Romans who are opposed to the Jews.
THOMAS is a twin. He is doggedly honest and is well respected for that by many.
SIMON is a fanatical nationalist and freedom fighter mercenary soldier who belongs to the resistance underground movement against the Romans.
JUDAS ISCARIOT  is very keen and appears responsible in the first instance and is appointed by the group as the treasurer or chancellor. He succumbs to the love of money and power and pressure of the Jews and Romans and eventually commits suicide.
JUDAS AND JAMES make up the number but we know very little more than their names.

For three hectic years these Jewish men with Jesus share the joys and sorrows of the teacher from Nazareth and Galilee. As they listen and learn, travel and teach, talk and love they will be grafted into the very life of God Himself.

At the end one of them will betray Jesus and the rest will desert Him while He will die and the live again for ever. That is seeing the end result from the beginning and the secret to the extending and receiving from them on until now and beyond of the Kingdom of God in our midst.

On their journeys they are joined by a small band of travelling disciples which includes Mary the Mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.


With this background and understanding

REFLECT on your continuing discipleship with Jesus in the here and now of today?
WHAT LEARNING do I wish to implement straightaway?
COME,FOLLOW ME is a continuing call from Jesus to daily continue the journey with Him. Are there changes in LIFESTYLE AND PRIORITIES THAT NEED TO BE CONSIDERED AND MADE.
WHAT EVENTS CURRENTLY impress upon the development of your living faith?
WHAT PROGRESS have I made in the last two weeks? Do not feel guilty if this is. Not appropriate,
HOW AM I TODAY?
WHERE DO I GO NEXT?....today, tomorrow, next week and in the next month?

As we bring this study to an end either as a one of off or as sequence of daily readings we pray for the needs of our households, families, neighbours and friends as well as those who have joined us in this study. We say The Lords Prayer on their and our.... behalf......OUR FATHER....
We move into the Grace remembering that until we meet again God holds us all in the palm of His hand.

And as a POSTSCRIPT WE PRAY FOR YOU ALL REGULARLY AND DAILY BY NAME

The peace of God be
Over you to shelter,
Under you to  uphold,
About you to protect,
Behind you to direct,
And ever with you to keep you safe,
Day by day and night by night.
Amen.