Study #2 – The Cross through the lens of Choice and Covenant

Study #2 – The Cross through the lens of Choice and Covenant

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Warm up Questions

  1. What is the biggest (or best) party or event that you have organized? What was it? What made it so special? How many people were involved? How much preparation did you have to do?
  2. How do you react when you get an invitation to something you want to go to? What about an invitation you find inconvenient? Maybe to an event you don’t want to go to? How honest are you with the excuse?

1. Studying the Text – An invitation from the King

Read Matthew 22:1-4 – The invitation ignored

Reflection Questions:

  1. At this point in the parable, who do you think the king represents? Who do you think the son represents? Who do you think the slaves and guests represent?
  2. Why do you think the guests did not come?   
  3. Do you think that there would be a legitimate excuse to refuse an invitation from a king?

Read Matthew 22:5-7 – The King Goes to War

Note: Matthew’s version of this parable differs from the more well-known version from Luke 14:7-14.  Matthew’s version has a much more violent response from the guests and from the king. 

Reflection Questions:

  1. Why do you think that some of the quests paid no attention to the invitation, instead going back to business or the field?  Is it significant whether the guests could not come or would not come?
  2. Why do you think some of the guests mistreated and killed the slaves/messengers?
  3. How did the king respond? Does the king’s response make sense, especially considering it happened in the middle of a wedding banquet?
  4. After reading about the king’s response, does your answer to the question about who the king represents change? Why or why not?

Read Matthew 22:8-14 – The Open Invitation and the Mysterious Guest

Reflection Questions:

  1. Why do you think the man was not wearing a wedding robe? Do you think the king’s response makes sense, considering the man had only recently been invited and perhaps may not have had time or the resources to put on the proper dress?
  2. After reading this portion of the parable, does your answer to the question about who each character represents change? Who do you think the guest without the robe represents? Brainstorm some possibilities, even if they are unlikely.
  3. What ways do we respond to God’s invitation? How do we relay the invitation to others? How can we truly show that the invitation is open to all, even those who we may not feel comfortable inviting?
  4. What does Jesus’ statement in verse 14 mean?

Extra Resources

This is a very difficult passage to wrestle with.  Some interesting articles for further reading include:

3. Bible Project Video – Covanants

Watch Bible Project – Covenants  (5 mins)

Discussion Prompters:

  • The video talked about 5 different Covenants – 4 Old Testament and the new covenant in Jesus. Match the covenants on the left with the promise on the right.
Noah Covenant – if they obey the laws then God will bless them and they will represent God to all of humanity
AbrahamGod promises to bless them in return for them trusting God and doing what is right and just
IsraelThrough the body broken and blood shed, this covenant offers forgiveness, grace, life and reconciliation to all who turn to Jesus and believe.
DavidGod makes a covenant to not destroy the world again … and doesn’t ask anything in return
New CovenantGod asks _____ and his descendants to partner with God and promises that from their family line will be the one to extend God’s kingdom
  • The previous parable talked about invitation; the video talked about covenant.  What do you think is the difference between an invitation and a covenant?  Which term do you think is the better word for describing what God is offering us?
  • The traditional idea of covenant is where two people together instigate the process and come together to make promises to fulfill certain commitments.  The burden of the covenant is shared equally between both parties and likewise either party is free to leave the covenant if the other party breaks their promises.  How are the covenants that God makes different from this understanding? 
  • How does your understanding of Easter and the forgiveness and reconciliation that comes through the death and resurrection of Jesus fit into this idea of Covenant?  (If you have time, read Hebrews 10:16-25)

2. Studying the Text – The Gospel of Choice vs Gospel of Chosen

Read Luke 23:32-43

Reflection Questions:

  1. How does this portion of the Easter narrative speak about choice?  Who are the different characters, what are the choices they are making, and why do you think they are making the choices they are?
  2. Jesus chooses to speak only twice in this passage … how do these two statements reflect the good news of Easter? Do you think that there is meaning also in the time Jesus remained silent?  

Read 1 Peter 2:9; John 15:16

Reflection Questions:

  1. How do you understand these verses?  What does it mean to you when the Bible talks about us being “chosen”?  Note: we are not necessarily talking predestination … although if you have time, you may like explore passages such as Romans 8:28-30 or Ephesians 1:3-14 or just google “predestination”
  2. If Jesus has already chosen us, if we are chosen people, does that take away our own choice of whether to respond to the gospel or not?

Reflective question – which of these words sit the best with your understanding of Easter and the gospel – invitation, choice or chosen?

5. Bible Project Video – Gospel of the Kingdom.

Watch Bible Project – Gospel of the Kingdom. (5 mins)

Discussion Prompters:

  • The video refers to Isaiah 52:7 – How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Also read Romans 10:11-15.  How does this tie in with the concept of invitation & choice?
  • The Greek word Evangelion means good news or gospel – particularly the announcement of the reign of a great king.  The video talks about how the Kingdom that Jesus was proclaiming was an upside-down kingdom.  How do you think that the Easter Narrative reflects Jesus’ teaching of the upside-down kingdom?
  • The video described Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as his “enthronement as King”.  What were the kingly symbols that are within the crucifixion narrative that reflect this idea of King?  What other ways might the resurrection speak of Jesus’ reign?     

6. Prayer

Choose one of the following ideas to end this time in prayer:

A. Reflective Prayer

Have someone in your group read the following prayer slowly, allowing the group to ponder and personally pray each line in their own minds and hearts.

Creating God,
may we find more time when time is always running out,
may we find more silence when there are too many words,
may we find more words when the silence is too much,
may we find more grace in a world that is desperate for love,
may we find more love when grace seems in short supply,
may we find more in a world that lives on less,
may we be ever keen for your invitation
to join you in the community that invites life for all.

B) Prayer Circle Blessing

If you are in a group, form a circle and choose someone to begin the blessing. That person will turn to the person on their right, and pray a blessing over them, “[Name], you are a chosen child of God, invited to share in God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. Amen.” Then, that person turns to the person on their right and repeats the blessing. This continues until everyone in the group has been blessed.

© 2023 Rev Phil Swain.  Turramurra Uniting Church.

Portions of this study are from Spirit and Truth Narrative Lectionary Small Group Guide #1-25 © 2014-2022 Spirit & Truth Publishing.