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Micah 6:1-8 1
1 Listen to what the Lord says: “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. 2 “Hear, you mountains, the Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. 3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. 5 My people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.” 6 With what shall I come before the Lord and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Background 2

After the precious promises in the two foregoing chapters, relating to the Messiah’s kingdom, the prophet is then directed to set the sins of Israel before them, for their conviction and humiliation, as necessary step to make way for the comfort of gospel of grace. Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist would be someone who disapproved of sin and would preach repentance. By this action, Christ’s way would be prepared for Him. In these verses:

  • God enters an action against his people for their base ingratitude, and the bad returns (their behavior) they had made toward Him for His favors (blessings) (v. 1-5).
  • He shows them the wrong course (behavior) they thought of as following God (v. 6-7).
  • God ends with the characters of heart and soul that matter to Him the most (v. 8)

Biblical Truths and Theology 3

Here we find a change in the subject that Micah is writing about. Micah leaves the message about the future (which was in chapters 4-5). He returns to Israel’s present troubles. Verses 1 and 2 are the preparation for the case in court. God tells Micah to stand up. It is God who is actually making this protest, not Micah. Micah is speaking on behalf of God. Micah calls the mountains to be God’s witnesses. Verse 2 tells the reason why the LORD is accusing the people in Israel. This is the reason: Israel is not obeying God’s covenant.

In order to start His defence, the LORD asks two questions. First, he asks, ‘Have I done anything wrong to you?’ He tries to prove that he has not done anything wrong. The second question is ‘How have I made life too hard for you?’ The people in Israel think that they have a good explanation. They think that God’s actions have not helped them. They have worshipped Him. They have sacrificed (killed) animals to give honor to him. They have thought about what things would satisfy Him. And they have done those things. But God has not accepted any efforts that they have made. So they think that they have a good reason to complain. But the truth is that Israel has done wrong things. So God has the right to complain.

God therefore asks the people in Israel to accuse him. They should say any wrong deed that he has done. But of course, God never does anything wrong. He has always been loyal to the covenant. But the people have not been loyal to God. He does not give a list of Israel’s crimes and sins. Micah has already spoken about those.

God’s people have not answered him. So again he accuses them. But God speaks with great love for his people. His speech is full of kindness and truth. God’s purpose is to bring his people, the nation called Israel, back to himself. He wants them to remember his covenant with them. God wants his people to obey their part of the agreement. He speaks to them about two main subjects.

God reminds them about his other wonderful deeds. These were acts that he did with great power. They happened when Israel was still a weak nation. God protected the people from evil political leaders. Balak, the king of Moab, was one such leader. And God protected the people from evil spiritual leaders such as Balaam, Beor’s son. God now tells Israel’s people to remember the time when Balak and Balaam lived. Balak, the king of Moab, fought against Israel’s people then. He asked Balaam to curse Israel. But God would not listen to Balaam. God would not let Balaam curse Israel. The result was that God did good things for Israel. He rescued its people from Balak’s power (Joshua 24:9-10).

A man’s oldest son is more precious than anything else in that man’s life. The man might try to offer his son to God. But this gift is not enough to pay for the man’s sin. Even the death of that son is not sufficient payment.

God mentions the many gifts that a person might offer to Him. That rich person has many animals. And he has rivers (a lot) of olive oil (oil from a fruit called an olive). He will offer them to God. The rich person thinks that such gifts will please God. And then all will be well. That rich person may hope that God would accept those valuable gifts. The person would kill those animals and he would burn them. He would then offer them to God. Young cows that were a year old would be the best ones. Thousands of male sheep are a great quantity. Ten thousand rivers of olive oil is a very large amount. You could not even measure it. Such gifts may seem to be generous but is is about each person’s relationship with God.

Micah continues to speak to the people. He wants to give hope to Israel. The people in Israel need to obey God’s covenant. Only then will the nation have peace and safety. The nation’s safety depends on this. Its people must know ‘what goodness is’. The prophets referred to this many times (Isaiah 1:17; 5:20; Amos 5:14-15; Micah 3:2).

The prophets emphasised three examples of ‘what goodness is’ (Isaiah 5:7; Hosea 4:1; 6:6; 12:6; Amos 5:24). These three examples are:

  • Do to your neighbor (to other people) what is fair and right. (Look at Micah chapter 3.)
  • Love kindness.
  • Walk humbly with your God.

Items for Discussion

  • In what ways is today’s world like the people of Israel were during Micah’s time? In what ways are we different?
  • How might society try to argue with God today that God is not helping us or the world enough? In other words, keeping His end of the covenant?
  • Explain from God’s perspective, what justice, mercy and humility mean in today’s world?
  • How might today’s definitions differ from God’s view of what He expects from the world? 
  • Look at Verse 8 – What should the verbs mean to us?
  • Is it important to look for these attributes of human behavior when we chose our friends or leaders – why or why not?
  • What is the difference between justice and mercy?
  • How might these three attributes of character relate to Jesus’ selection of disciples?

 

Mark 1:11-17
11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[a] by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

 

John 18″15-27
15 Simon Peter and another disciple were following Jesus. Because this disciple was known to the high priest, he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard, 16 but Peter had to wait outside at the door. The other disciple, who was known to the high priest, came back, spoke to the servant girl on duty there and brought Peter in. 17 “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” she asked Peter. He replied, “I am not.” 18 It was cold, and the servants and officials stood around a fire they had made to keep warm. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.
19 Meanwhile, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and his teaching. 20 “I have spoken openly to the world,” Jesus replied. “I always taught in synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together. I said nothing in secret. 21 Why question me? Ask those who heard me. Surely they know what I said.” 22 When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby slapped him in the face. “Is this the way you answer the high priest?” he demanded. 23 “If I said something wrong,” Jesus replied, “testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest. 25 Meanwhile, Simon Peter was still standing there warming himself. So they asked him, “You aren’t one of his disciples too, are you?” He denied it, saying, “I am not.” 26 One of the high priest’s servants, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, challenged him, “Didn’t I see you with him in the garden?” 27 Again Peter denied it, and at that moment a rooster began to crow.

Background

Mark 4

Mark tells us that Jesus’ coming is the beginning of the kingdom of God as a present reality on earth. Jesus says plainly, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news” (Mark 1:15). The kingdom is not fulfilled yet because it does not yet govern the earth, and will not do so until Christ returns. But it is here now, and it is real.

Therefore, we are called to submit to the reign of God and to proclaim His kingdom.  God’s kingdom has very real consequences in the world around us. It may well bring us into conflict, and, indeed, suffering. The Christian Church today clearly is  held in low esteem by much of the world. Mark 1:14, like Matthew 4:12, draws attention to John’s imprisonment and links this to the commencement of Jesus’ own proclamation that “the kingdom has come near” (Mark 1:15). The kingdom is thus set over against the powers of the world and we are forcefully shown that to serve the gospel and to honor God will not necessarily bring success in this life. Yet at the same time, by the Holy Spirit’s power, Christians are called to serve God for the benefit of those around them, as the healings Jesus has performed have demonstrated.

John

John wrote his Gospel because he wanted his readers to believe ‘that Jesus is the *Messiah, God’s Son’ (John 20:31).  Matthew, Mark and Luke recorded many *miracles in their *Gospels. But John chose to record only 7 *miracles, calling them ‘*signs’. John also emphasised that Jesus was human. John recorded that Jesus was tired (John 4:6). John also recorded that Jesus needed food (John 4:31). Jesus was very sad when his friend Lazarus died. At that time, Jesus cried (John 11:35). On another occasion, Jesus became angry with the people who did business in the *Temple (John 2:15). And John also recorded that Jesus was *thirsty (John 19:28). It is an important point to understand that John was NOT saying Jesus was half human and half God but was recording events to prove that Jesus was completely human and completely God

John was the perfect person to give us this information. John and the other *disciples had lived with Jesus for about three years. John knew that Jesus was a real man. Also John had seen the *miracles that Jesus did. John also watched Jesus die on a *cross and then saw Jesus after he (Jesus) had become alive again. John knew that Jesus had defeated death. And John had seen Jesus rise up to heaven.

Biblical Truths and Theology

Mark

Jesus was among the people who came to see John the Baptist and John *baptised Him. Then something happened that surprised John the Baptist, the sky seemed to opened, the *Holy Spirit descended from *heaven and rested on Jesus. God spoke saying that Jesus was His son.
Jesus then left John the Baptist and prayed for 40 days. No people were there, but God’s *angels attended Him. During those 40 days, *Satan spoke to Jesus, wanting Him not to obey God. Afterwards, Jesus went about to find His disciples.

Jesus found 4 men working as fishermen on the lake called Galilee. They had their own boats and this was a family business. In other words, their families had done this work for a long time. Then Jesus came telling the men that God had other work for them. They must leave their work, their boats and their families. The men had worked with fish. But soon, the men would work with people. Jesus would teach the men to be His disciples.

John 5

The woman who was guarding the gate probably knew the other disciple was with so she allowed Peter to enter with him. Since this is John’s Gospel, we can only guess, possibly the other disciple was John. She  did recognised Peter as one of Jesus’ disciples. Peter denied this. The leaders had already arrested Jesus. They would want to arrest his followers, too. Peter was afraid of what would happen to him. So he lied to the woman. He wanted to stay near to Jesus. Peter wanted to know what would happen to Jesus. But Peter was not brave enough to say that he knew Jesus.

Before his trial in front of the Jewish leaders (Mark 14:53-65), Annas asked Jesus questions. Many Jews considered that Annas was still the High Priest. This was because the High Priest’s job should have lasted for his whole life (see note on John 18:12-13). Jesus was not afraid of Annas. Jesus only told the truth. But, outside in the yard, Peter was not telling the truth. He was afraid, so he lied. Jesus was polite when he spoke to the High Priest. But one of the guards became angry and he hit Jesus. However, Jesus remained calm. He told them to prove it if he had said something wrong. Of course, they could not prove it, because Jesus was telling the truth. So they sent him to Caiaphas, the official High Priest.

Peter had tried to defend Jesus when the guards came to arrest him. Most of Jesus’ disciples had run away. But Simon Peter, with the other disciple, had followed Jesus to the High Priest’s home. Peter could have run away at any time. But instead, he waited outside to see what would happen to Jesus. However, he was very afraid. So, twice more, he said that he did not know Jesus. Jesus had said already that Peter would do this (John 13:38).

Items for Discussion

  • Why chose a fisherman for a disciple?
  • What do you think Jesus saw in Simon Peter that He liked?
  • Why do you think that these first disciples gave up their family business and chose to follow Christ?
  • Do you think that Jesus was disappointed in Simon Peter for denying Him three times?
  • What characteristics can we visibly see in a person that would indicate that they could become a faithful follower and believer of Christ?
  • What emotions do you think Peter had when he was witnessing the beating of Christ?
  • Was Simon Peter wrong to deny Jesus?
  • How do we prepare ourselves and strengthen ourselves so that we do not become consumed by fear of the world around us?

Discussion Challenge

  • Discipleship is not a gift, grace is the gift. Courage is not genetic, it is learned and practiced before it can be displayed. How then does the church equip its believers to become disciples of Christ? That is to be courageous about their faith and accept the gift of grace from our God every day.
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