Friday, February 19, 2016

An On-Line Bible Study for Lent Week Two: Luke 13:31-35

An On-Line Bible Study for Lent
Week Two

Scripture: Luke 13:31-35 Contemporary English Bible

31 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” 32 He said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me,[a] ‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. 33 Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed outside of Jerusalem.’ 34 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when[b] you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

Questions for Reflection:
1.       In this passage, Jesus journeys towards Jerusalem, the place where he will be killed.  He knows what awaits him but goes anyway.  Have there been moments in your life when you knew something was going to be unpleasant or painful, but because it was the right thing to do you chose to face it?  What gave you the strength and courage to make that choice?
2.      Jesus laments over Jerusalem and says, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings. . . “  Feminist writers have noted Jesus’ use of a maternal image to describe his feelings.  What do you make of it?
3.      Jesus indicts Jerusalem for refusing to heed the prophets and choosing to persecute or even kill them instead.  Part of the reason we turn to this story during Lent is to see in this indictment our own culture, world, city and selves.  In what ways does our culture or do we refuse to hear the messengers of God today?  How do you tell the difference between a prophet speaking for God and just another crackpot with an agenda?
4.      What ways is God calling you to be prophetic?  What ways is God calling our church to be prophetic?  What stops us from answering that call?

Further Reflection:
How do we tell the false prophet from the true prophet? The true prophet seldom predicts the future. The true prophet warns us of our present hardness of heart, our prideful presuming to know God's mind. And the final test of the true prophet is love. God came to us as Jesus because of love....
We must be careful in our right and proper protests...that we are protesting truly, that we are not being false prophets fearing only for our own selves, our own families, our own country. Our concern must be for everybody, for our entire fragile planet, and everybody on it.... Indeed, we must protest with loving concern for the entire universe. A mark of the true prophet in any age is humility, self-emptying so there is room for God's Word.
Madeleine L'Engle
A Stone for a Pillow

Many people mistakenly believe that a prophet's job is to predict the future. This is wrong.

Prophets of God don't tell us what is going to happen; they tell us what should happen, and, more importantly, they tell us the way things really are, and what needs to change. Often prophets tell us things about ourselves and our society that make us uncomfortable, or even angry. They do this by speaking truth to power.

I'll say that again, prophets speak truth to power. That's their job. Prophets are usually outsiders who have the courage to stand up and tell the people in power what the real issue is....

Prophets aren't popular with those in power because they stand as a threat. They're often mistreated, imprisoned, exiled, mocked, ridiculed or killed.

How do we tell the difference between a real prophet and a nutcake with a megaphone? That, my friend, is the perpetual problem.
"Truth to Power"
—Rev. Peter B. Panagore
The word "prophet" is a translation of the Hebrew, Navi; a word the meaning of which we are still not sure.

Navi may mean "one who is called," "one who proclaims," or "one who shouts."

The English connotation of "prophet," derived from the Greek, suggests that the prophet is a teller of fortunes or a foreteller of the future.

This is part of the prophetic personality, but more than being a fore-teller or seer, the authentic prophet is a forth-teller, that is, a commentator on what is happening.

The prophets themselves had criteria for true and false prophecy, and the fortune-telling aspect was of relatively minor concern in determining who was "true" and who was "false."

What was crucial in this determination was not whether the prophet foretold the future correctly or not, but rather whether he abdicated his moral obligation or not.
You are a Christian only so long as you constantly pose critical questions to the society you live in ... so long as you stay unsatisfied with the status quo and keep saying that a new world is yet to come.
- Henri Nouwen

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