By Deacon Ken and Marie Finn
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Pray and ask God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.
“THE PARACLETE, THE HOLY SPIRIT WHOM THE FATHER WILL SEND IN MY NAME, WILL INSTRUCT YOU IN EVERYTHING, AND REMIND YOU OF ALL THAT I TOLD YOU.” (JOHN 14:26)
FIRST DAY Reread last week’s readings.
- What was a helpful or new thought from the readings or from the homily you heard on Sunday?
- From what you learned, what personal application did you choose to apply to your life this week?
SECOND DAY READ ISAIAH 49:3, 5‑6 FIRST READING
(“My God is now my strength.”)
- Who is the Lord’s servant? To whom is the Lord speaking and what does he show through them? Isaiah 49:3
- Who is being referred to as “Israel” in the following scriptures?
Personal ‑ Do you see yourself with the name “Israel?” Reread Isaiah 49:3 and put Jesus’ name in place of Israel and then put your name in that place. Meditate on this.
- Who has spoken? Isaiah 49:5
- Where did he form Jesus and as what did he form him? Isaiah 49:5, Psalm 139:13
- Who would be brought back to the Lord and who would be gathered to him? Isaiah 49:5
- What is Jesus made in the sight of the Lord? Isaiah 49:5
- Who is Jesus’ strength? Isaiah 49:5
- What did God make Jesus to the nations and where will his salvation reach? Isaiah 49:6
- What did Jesus say and what will happen to those who follow him? John 8:12
Personal ‑ In question 4, 6, and 7 above, put your name along the side of Jesus’ name and reread the question and answer.
THIRD DAY READ 1 CORINTHIANS 1:1‑3 SECOND READING
(“To you who have been consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people.”)
- By whom was Paul called and what was he called to be? 1 Corinthians 1:1
- To whom did Paul and Sosthenes send greetings? 1 Corinthians 1:2
Personal ‑ Do you see “the church of God” as a building in which you worship God, or do you see “the church of God” made up of yourself and others who believe in God?
- Read the following and tell to whom it refers as the Church: Acts 9:31 Acts 20:28 Ephesians 5:23
- Where was “the church of God” located in this particular greeting by Paul and Sosthenes? 1 Corinthians 1:2 See whether you can locate this on your bible map
- How do we become consecrated in Christ Jesus? John 17:17‑19
- What kind of people are we called to be? 1 Cor 1:2
- What happens when we call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Romans 10:13
- What comes from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ? 1 Corinthians 1:3
- How do you receive grace? 2 Peter 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:9
Personal ‑ How do you see yourself as one called by God to be holy, and consecrated by him daily? How do you spend time alone with the Lord, talking with him, sharing your fears and anxieties as well as your joys and peaceful times? Take at least ten minutes each day this week without any distractions and talk to him, your Lord.
FOURTH DAY READ JOHN 1:29‑34 GOSPEL
(“It is he who is to baptize with the Holy Spirit.”)
- When John caught sight of Jesus coming toward him, what did he exclaim? John 1:29
- Read Exodus 12:1‑13 concentrating on verses 3, 6, 12 and 13. What was done to atone for the sin of idolatry (Exodus 12:12), or worshipping false gods?
- Why is Jesus referred to as “the Lamb of God?” Isaiah 53:7, 8 and 12
- What is the sin of the world? Exodus 12:12
- What did John say and into what position did he put Jesus? John 1:30
- In John’s statement, “After me is to come a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me;” would this indicate that Jesus was born before him? Luke 1:34‑36
Personal ‑ In your own words, write out what this passage means to you. John 1:30
- What was John’s reason for baptizing? John 1:31
- What was John’s testimony? John 1:32, Isaiah 11:2, Matthew 3:16, Mark 1:10 and Luke 3:21‑22
- When we receive the Spirit of God, what else do we receive? Isaiah 11:2
- John says he did not recognize Jesus. Who told him who Jesus was? John 1:33
- When did God reveal to him what he was to do and where did he reveal this to him? Luke 3:2
- What did God reveal to John? What did John see for himself and to what did he testify? John 1:33-34
Personal ‑ How has God revealed to you that Jesus is the Chosen One? Do you feel you are one of God’s chosen ones? Take time this week to reflect on the way God has chosen you and for what purpose.
FIFTH DAY READ PSALM 40:2, 4, 7‑10
(“To do your will, O my God, is my delight.”)
Read and meditate on Psalm 40:2, 4, 7‑10.
What is the Lord saying to you personally through the Psalm?
How can you apply this to your life?
SIXTH DAY READ ALL OF THE COMMENTARY
ISAIAH 49:3, 5‑6
The prophet speaks of a mysterious figure known as the servant of the Lord. Christians have recognized Jesus in this description. Today the servant speaks of his mission. The servant reveals his mission as a mission of comfort, compassion, and restoration. He is to make Israel a light to all the nations and that light shall be seen unto the ends of the earth. This was a time of joy because the captives were being brought back to Israel and the hand of the Lord, the Holy One of Israel had created it (Isaiah 41:20).
The communities were still very poor and labored under many difficulties and affliction; so this message of comfort was well received. Isaiah tells us in these verses that the servant is clearly identified with the entire nation. Isaiah shows us how the servant, by suffering through the miseries of being exiled from their homeland and still being faithful to God, is identified with the people of Israel as their ideal representative (verse 3). Upon returning to their homeland the exiles find that rebuilding the temple was not enough. Instead, a call to holiness and worship of the one true God was needed to bring a sense of fullness to the people. The servant will be a healing visible light to all of Israel and all the other nations, Jew or Gentile.
1 CORINTHIANS 1:1‑3
Paul begins his letter in the ordinary style of the day, the first century equivalent of “Dear Corinthians.” However, his conventional greeting includes a reminder that they are part of the Lord’s plan for the world.
In the first three verses of this letter the name of Jesus Christ appears no fewer than four times. This was going to be a difficult letter, because it was going to deal with a difficult situation. Paul’s first and only thought was that of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the church, or even ourselves, try to deal with a difficult situation by means of a book of laws and in the spirit of human justice. Often we try to call on our own mental powers. Paul did none of these things. To his trying situation he brought in Jesus Christ, and it was in the light of the cross and the love of Christ that he dealt with it.
Paul speaks of the church of God at Corinth. It was not the church of Corinth; it was the church of God. We might do well to imitate Paul in this respect and become more aware of the reality which unites us, and become less aware of the local differences which divide us.
Paul tells us something about the individual Christian. 1. He is consecrated in Christ. To be consecrated to Christ is to be one for whom Jesus died, and to know and to live out that reality. 2. We are called to be God’s dedicated people. The word “Hagios” means to be holy or saintly. If a person has been “called” by God, he must show that he is fit in life and in character for that holy service. The Christian is called into a community whose boundaries include heaven and earth. We are all called to be “Hagios” (saints).
Once again the fourth Gospel tells us that John is paying homage to Jesus. He calls him the title which has become an integral part of our liturgy, “The Lamb of God.”
John may have been thinking of the Passover lamb because he was the son of a priest and he would know all the rituals of the temple and its sacrifices. The Passover feast was not very far away (John 2:13). The blood of the slain lamb protected the people in the homes of the Israelites on the night they left Egypt (Exodus 12:1‑13). The blood of the Passover lamb delivered the Israelites in Egypt from death. Jesus was considered to be the one true sacrifice who can deliver us from death. Paul, too, thought of Jesus as the Passover Lamb (1 Cor. 5:7) in that there is a deliverance only Jesus Christ can win for us.
Two great pictures of the lamb are presented in the Prophets. Isaiah has the great picture of the one who was brought “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). Jeremiah writes, “But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter” (Jeremiah 11:19). Isaiah 53 later became to the church one of the most precious forecasters in all the Old Testament. There is sheer wonder in the phrase “The Lamb of God.” John used this phrase twenty-nine times in Revelation, and it has become one of the most precious titles of Christ. This title sums up the love, sacrifice, suffering, and triumph of Jesus Christ.
Something happened at Jesus’ baptism that convinced John that Jesus was indeed the Son of God. In Palestine, the dove was a sacred bird and it was not hunted or eaten. The dove also symbolizes Israel, God’s people formed by the Holy Spirit. The creative Spirit of God was moving across the face of the waters (Genesis 1:2)). The rabbis said that the Spirit of God moved and fluttered like a dove. The picture of the dove was one that Jesus knew and loved. The Spirit was power, power like a mighty rushing wind. The Spirit was God; the coming of the Spirit into a man’s life was the coming of God.
Baptism means to dip or to submerge. It can be used for clothes being dipped into dye. John’s baptism meant cleansing. It meant a man was being washed from impurities that clung to him. Jesus’ Baptism was a Baptism of the Spirit, and it meant his life was strengthened with power. The church has included the same Baptism that Jesus experienced in the practice of our faith. We, too, are the beloved of our heavenly Father and his favor rests on us.
The first reading tells us about a servant whose mission is to make Israel a light to all the nations. The second reading shows us that Paul responded to his trying situation in the light of the cross, and with the love of Christ. The Gospel reveals to us that Jesus is the true “Lamb of God.”
John the Baptist’s job was to point people to Jesus. Our job is to point them to Christ and show that it is he whom they seek. This week, lead someone to Christ by intercessory prayer, introduce them to this bible study or bring someone to your church. Try to be specific and gentle.