Being a disciple of Jesus has never been a walk in the park. It's more often a long, dusty, difficult road, with plenty of sweat and suffering. That's the road, after all, that Jesus himself walked, as he headed south from Galilee to Jerusalem to face the cross. Following Jesus walks with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem in Luke 9-12, and learns with his disciples what following him really means. It means that nothing in our lives will ever be the same again, because we have said 'no' to ourselves and 'yes' to Jesus as our Lord and King.
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It may seem a strange place to launch a new Bible study—right in the middle of Luke’s Gospel.
It’s where the disciples finally work out that Jesus is no ordinary man. In Luke 9, Peter confesses that Jesus is “the Christ of God”, the king that God has chosen to lead his people and rule his heavenly kingdom. It’s exactly what anyone needs to realize before they can become a follower of Jesus. And in Luke’s Gospel, the section that follows (from chapter 9 onwards) is all about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
So this is a brilliant part of the Gospel to begin with if, like Peter, we have realized that Jesus must be our king, and we want to know what happens next.
What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? Will we be powerful like him? Will we be rich? What’s this about needing to ‘take up our cross’? Once we decide Jesus is king, will we have to tell others?
And what about other parts of the Christian life? Christians are supposed to do good works, but what good works? Isn’t Christianity just about trusting Jesus, and not about good works? What about prayer, money, and religious activity—where do they fit?
So then, this guide has two aims.
Firstly, the idea is to read this section of Luke’s Gospel and be challenged to trust Jesus, and to see what that means for our lives and attitudes, including such important areas as prayer, wealth, and success.
Secondly, the plan is to provide a simple model of how to read the Bible for ourselves in a small group.
To help meet the second aim, each session begins with a brief discussion starter to help break the ice, and then dives straight into the Bible with questions about what the passage says. These opening questions usually have obvious and short answers straight out of the passage. After this, the questions deal more with what the passage means and how it applies.
The accompanying leader’s notes (starting on page 39) give hints, tips and suggested answers, as well as background information and other passages to consult. However, the main idea is to stay with the passage in Luke that is set down—on the assumption that this particular part of God’s word has something to say, and we ought to pay attention to what is in front of us.
The best way to use this guide is to read the set passage for yourself, and answer the questions briefly in your own time before you come to the group. When you then discuss your answers in the group, the work you’ve done by yourself will be a great help to yourself and to the other group members.
My prayer is that this guide to chapters 9 to 12 of Luke’s Gospel will help us see Jesus more clearly and so trust him more firmly.
— Gordon Cheng, May 2004