why Jesus? (1)

 

Why-Jesus-WillimonTomorrow marks the start of the fall Bible class quarter for adults at MoSt Church. This quarter is a “Christ quarter,” meaning we’ll spend at least two the quarter’s three months focused on some aspect of Jesus Christ.

Scripture, of course, will be our source of information as we consider the Christ, but in the class I lead (20/20) we’ll use William Willimon’s excellent book entitled Why Jesus? as an outline.

Since about the only thing significant missing from Willimon’s study is a set of discussion questions for each chapter, as I can I’ll reproduce a class intro and discussion questions here each Saturday during the course of our class journey. The following is for chapter one (which is entitled “Vagabond”).

Introduction

The question through the ages has been “What is God like?” The four Gospels seem to say that God has answered that question thus: “Hear, watch, imitate, and serve my wandering Son, Jesus, and you’ll know.”

We can use the word “wandering” because the four Gospels read not unlike something of a travel log or the journal of a road trip. They speak to us of a Jesus who was/is ever on the move.

Jesus bursts on the scene in Matthew’s Gospel as a traveling king, the roads he travels having been recently leveled and smoothed for his journey by his forerunner, John (Matt. 3.1-17).

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus comes out of nowhere. He hits the ground running. He is ever and always a man of action (cf. the word “immediately” appears 42x in Mark).

One long journey by Jesus to Jerusalem compromises the bulk of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9.51-19.44) and it’s a journey studded not so much with definitions, explanations, and arguments of God and his way, but with stories of life along the way with Jesus.

And in John’s Gospel he shows up as another world’s “Word” that enters our world and moves from place to place leaving signs and speech along the way of a totally different perspective of what constitutes real living.

Similarly, the four Gospels portray Jesus as constantly seeking to move his followers away from their comfort zones and status quo, and onward in a journey with him toward “the kingdom of God.” No one is exempt from his urging onward: men and women, the powerful and the vulnerable, young and old, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, believing or not. From his birth to his death to his resurrection and beyond, his message remains the same: “Seek me and follow me, walking in my steps.”

And so, what are we to make of all of this? Let’s think and talk about it together.

Questions

1. Are you a homebody or would you rather “never sit still?” Do you prefer change or sameness? Why?

2. The world has its understanding as to what makes for “the most interesting man in the world.” As a Christian, make the case for Jesus being the most interesting man in the world.

3. As a group, brainstorm examples of how exactly in the Gospels Jesus is depicted as being “on the move.”

4. What evidence would you lay on the table that Jesus seeks to take seekers out of their comfort zone?

5. Why is it important for us to see Jesus as a man on a mission and on the move, without a home of his own and dependent on the financial support of others?

6. Jesus is “the way” (Jn. 14.6). The church is “The Way” (Acts 9.2). What does this mean … and not mean?

7. Engage the following statement: “The Bible introduces us to a living, speaking, moving Person, not to the final and fixed word on everything. … Vagabond Jesus won’t be held down by me in his determination to move freely toward you.” Is this true, false, or “it depends”?

8. Is God too big to know? In Jesus, God becomes very specific. Does this comfort or disturb you? Explain.

9. How is it that one might say “Jesus is a curious thing to say about God”?

10. In your journey with Jesus, what have you frequently felt: joy or fear? Why?

11. “Jesus tends to come to people where they are but rarely leaves them as they were. Conversion of thought and life, a whole new world, is part of the adventure of being loved by Jesus, of being invited to be his traveling companion. … That’s bad news for those who are complacent with the world as it is; good news for those who think that they may have been created for more …” What are your thoughts on this?

12. Why do we humans tend to be so resistant to God’s motion, movement, change, and correction?

13. Elaborate on this statement, imagining you’ve just said this to Jesus himself: “Here, let me thank you that, through the church, you have introduced me to lots of folks for whom the world has not been as comfortable, good, and seductive as the world has been to me and my family, adamant that I take responsibility for them and their needs, referring to these strangers as ‘brother’ and ‘sister.’”

14. Tell us of something Jesus has moved you away from since you started walking with him.