Discussion Starters for Lesson 7, May 7-13, 2016
- Memory text… “‘I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles’” (Isaiah 42:6, NIV). Does it trouble you at all that, as your lesson points out, the ministry of Jesus was directed primarily at the Jewish people? Why or why not? Shouldn’t the Jewish people have felt honored for this exclusive privilege? What was God’s primary intention for the Jews? To be saved? To save others? Why?
- Feeding the hungry. Why did God feed the 5,000? Of what should that event have reminded His? Did it? If not, what did the miraculous feeding of the multitude bring to the people’s minds? Suppose that you were a member of a section of society that was barely eking out an existence and a miracle brought you plenty of food. What would you conclude about the source of that food? Wasn’t that gift enough to qualify Jesus as King of the Jews? Do we ever hope for material blessings and leave other benefits of the kingdom out of our calculation?
- Lord of all creation. Do you believe that God is the Lord of ALL creation? Why do we suffer from terrible storms if He is in charge? Jesus dismissed His disciples from the crowd after the feeding and stayed behind. Why? A little later the disciples see a figure walking on the water. Do they know it is Jesus or does Jesus need to reveal His identity to them? What does Peter ask for in the height of the excitement? In his desperation, what does Peter gladly do? Is there a lesson for us there?
- The hypocrite’s heart. Do you think that we, as latter-day Christians, too often behave as false-hearted hypocrites? What led the hypocrites of Jesus’ time away from God? Are we tempted in the same way today? How could we be drawn from the words of God to follow teachings that “are merely human rules”? “Are you still so dull?” Jesus asks Peter and the other disciples. What meaning does He give to the act of eating with unwashed hands in violation of the rules of the religion? What is Jesus really saying?
- Crumbs from the table. Do you detect a hint of humor as well as firm instruction in the story of the woman who gives Jesus a bad time for seeming to turn down her request for food at the table? Why is this story hard to understand? If someone asked you for some potato chips only to be told they’re not supposed to be shared with the dogs, how would you feel? Was Jesus being rude? What are some clues to tell us otherwise? What are we missing in this story? What is the lesson Jesus wants us to learn from this passage?
- Lord of the Gentiles. Does Jesus have equal love and compassion for His Jewish people and for the Gentiles? Why? Didn’t the Jewish nation arise because of God’s compassion for them–and everyone else, the Gentiles, were excluded? Are you a Jew or a Gentile? In His everlasting love, does God include people of vastly different religious persuasions? Does He love Muslims? Buddhists? Seventh-day Adventists who have strayed from the Word of God? How should we respond to God’s everlasting and all-encompassing love for others?