1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29), 30-39 Psalm 96, Galatians 1:1-12, Luke 7:1-10
1 Kings 18:20-21, (22-29,) 30-39:
- "How long will you go limping with two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him." What an awesome verse. How often do we do just this - wanting to hedge our bets and live between two things. I'm reminded of Jesus saying, "Let your yes be yes an your no be no." Which is it? Is the Lord God? Then follow!
- Notice the word "limping" repeated in this passage. Not just what Elijah says, but what the prophets of Baal literally do.
- "At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, "Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened."" Ah, biblical sarcasm. Isn't it great?
- What are the differences or similarities between what we see the prophets of Baal do and what Elijah does?
- The first verses don't distinguish this psalm for me from many others. Praise God, tell of God's salvations. Great is the Lord, greatly to be praised.
- God judges with equity - as a judge is supposed to do. But so often we experience injustice even in the very justice system. God's justice is always - just!
- Vs. 11 is some of the anthropomorphic language often found in Psalms, but I find it effective. Heaven, earth, sea, fields, and all that is in earth is glad for God's ruler-ship. The trees sing. To my mind come images from The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia with trees who could indeed sing praise.
- We will be judged with God's truth. How do you understand that? With what else are we judged?
- This psalm is also in the lectionary on Christmas Eve. Does knowing that make you read it any differently?
- Paul starts out by writing that he is sent neither by human commission nor human authorities, but by God. Why do you think Paul says this? How do you think people would react to his claim?
- Bam! Just a few sentences into his letter, Paul lays it out: I can't believe you are abandoning what I taught so quickly and turning to a different gospel! Paul uses a shaming "I am so disappointed in you" tone here. Hey, it has worked on children for millions of years, right?
- Paul seems very protective of his "turf" here. Yes, he wants the Galatians to believe the gospel he has presented, but do you think it is also quite personal for Paul?
- Again, Paul emphasizes sources. This time, not the source of his authority, but the source of his message. His message isn't made up by people - it is from God. I find this phrasing more compelling than the first instance!
- Have you ever had to defend your authority? Your sources? Your credibility? How did you/would you go about doing that?
- What Jesus had just finished saying was a string of teachings, most immediately, the story of the foundation built on sand vs. the story of the foundation built on rock.
- "a slave whom he valued very highly." We don't know if this means because of a personal connection to the slave or value because of the work the slave could do. Still, he brings him for healing, the only example of a master bringing a slave for healing.
- Check out all the places in the gospels a centurion appears. Are there themes/common threads?
- "I am not worthy to have you come under my roof." What do you think the centurion knew of Jesus? What would make him say this?
- "Only speak the word, and let my servant be healed." Would you trust this to happen? Would you want to witness Jesus in action? Would you trust sending a proxy with your message?
- The centurion has remarkable wisdom about his position and the position of Jesus. Even Jesus is amazed at him, a rare reaction for Jesus. "Not even in Israel have I found such faith."