John Archive

The Life of Christ teaching series - comments from group members

Session 1: Why Four Gospels? Their Unique Purpose and Message

P: I like Mike's emphasis on the beauty of Jesus. Reading the four gospels help give us a fuller of this one whom we worship!

An: Who knew that Matthew was focussed on Jesus as King, Mark focussed on Jesus as servant, Luke on Jesus as man and in the book of John, Jesus as God?  The audience does dictate the focus of the message as Mike Bickle noted in Matthew's writings, the Jewish people were the audience, in Mark's, the Romans, the Greeks in Luke and all peoples in John's spiritually centred gospels. I had never really thought about these things until after hearing Mike Bickle's first video in this series on the life of Christ.

M: I had forgotten how good and meaty Mike's teaching is. It reminds me of McIver's book the Four Faces of Jesus. The point that keeps returning from Mike's overview in this lecture 1 is the Augustine quote, where the story goes that Augustine was searching to understand the mystery of God. When the Lord asked him to pick up a shell and empty the ocean. Augustine said it was impossible The Lord then asks Augustine how Augustine expects that he can use the shell of his mind to empty the ocean of the Lord's being. It is so true, we only get the tiniest of glimpses into the mystery and we can't even comprehend that without the help of the Holy Spirit.

RH: I am enjoying this teaching!

Session 2: Overview of the Life and Times of Jesus Christ

An: I've been listening to the 2nd lesson for the 2nd time today.  The city of Capernum as Jesus' headquarters is new to me; I always thought it was Nazareth. Jesus's life setting was so well explained including the complexities of the political climate at the time by Mike Bickle.  Power struggles, political fractions and divisions, diversity of religious beliefs and cultural differences are highlighted; similar to ours today in North America in all their intricacies. Mike presents the story of Jesus' life in a succinct yet meaningful synopsis or 'snapshot', as Mike calls it, of the gospels. 

P: I love how Mike clarifies the groups in the culture at the time. Very clarifying. Also, he emphasizes how the gospels harmonize. It is helpful to consider that Jesus was very active preaching and teaching for 3+ years, so it shouldn't surprise us similar stories and messages occur in different gospels with content that's not identical.

M: The two things I found remarkable were that Jesus sat with the Father and the Holy Spirit to choose who would be in his family line. It is so obvious; I missed it! The other thing, which is still so true today, is that Jesus offends our minds to reveal our hearts and then leaves us with a choice.

Session 3: Jesus' Pre-Existence and Genealogy

P: Moving from overview to more detail now!

An: It is so difficult for me to understand 'how' Jesus could be there in the beginning, be the Word, be a separate person, become a man, and to love me so much. Finally, after giving up on my thinking about it all, I just believe it in my heart that it is all true and only then do I know. It finally came to me in the third time listening.

Session 4: Jesus and John: Birth to Manhood (Lk. 1-2, Mt. 1-2)

RH:  His admonition to not take lightly when God intervenes struck me.  Then the gaps between God's promise and the fulfillment of it does not mean God has forgotten me or his promise.  I am blessed if I take hold of what God has told me.  

M: I was looking into the movement of the Star of Bethlehem and came across this explanation, which is quite interesting.  In any event, I have no problem with the Father causing a star to operate outside of its usual course or ability, but I much prefer that the "star" was the Glory of God.

Session 5: John's Ministry and Jesus' Temptation (Lk. 3-4)

M: Mike gave the clearest juxtaposition of Adam and Jesus as the second Adam that I have heard to date. I also liked the reminder to be alert and to take a strong stand against the enemy of God echoing Ephesians 6:10-11.

P: I was struck by the presentation of the central issue in Jesus' temptation: He had to say "no" to the temptation of leaning on His deity to accomplish His mission. He conquered this temptation, and chose continually to operate in His humanity. He was victorious in the temptations, and in all things, as a real human being like us who needed to depend on His Father.

RH: I liked his definition of repentance.  To change our perspective and break our agreement with wrong ideas and with wrong leadership in our lives.  Right ideas being seeing things as God sees them.  Satan's goal in tempting Jesus was to get Jesus to act independently of God. This concept is so clear but I had not seen it before. This is what Satan did in the Garden of Eden to Adam and Eve.  

Session 6: John's Loyalty and Jesus' Early Ministry (Jn. 1:19-4:42)

M: I need to think a bit more about the analogy of Jesus as Jacob's ladder with angels ascending and descending. Although, without doubt, Jesus has provided an open heaven for us.

P: Mike effectively painted the story of the water turning into wine. Jesus was not yet ready to announce His ministry and miracles in a public way, and yet honoured His mother's request. He did this sign almost secretly, and yet it was still a great landmark event at the beginning of His ministry to reveal Himself as the bridegroom.

RH: While God is focused on our hearts, Israel was looking for a Messiah to take away the oppression of Rome which is why they were excited about miracles and signs.  Maybe they thought Jesus was someone that could "take on Rome" and win.  

Do we come to Jesus because we want to be better people or want things, or to be with Jesus?  Do I still want to follow Jesus even when he doesn't do things my way?

Session 7: Jesus' Early Ministry in Jerusalem and Samaria (Jn. 3-4)

P: I was struck by Jesus' very unique dealing with two very different people: a prominent Jewish leader and a Samaritan woman (really, a Gentile). He loves both! Also, a reminder that John 3:16, while it is good news, is followed by verses that express the condemnation of those who don't believe. We can't "cherry pick" the Bible.

RH: Do I want to be free from sin or get away with sin?  Interesting his observation that Men believe man is neutral and mostly loves light.  

Session 8: John's Ministry in Galilee (Mk. 1-2, Lk. 4-5)

P:  Mike's explanation of the chronology helped me: that Jesus first had a season in Jerusalem. Here John records that He did signs and wonders, cleansed the temple, and met Nicodemus. Then He went to Galilee, which is recorded mostly by the other three gospels. It was also clarifying that understand that Jesus came as a spiritual deliverer. He will ultimately come as a ruling king and political deliverer, but in His first coming He was being strategic to not emphasize that role.

Mike had good insight into demons as liars, which is why Jesus did not want them "advertising" Him as the Holy One of God, even if they spoke truth in a twisted kind of way. 

Session 9: Jesus' Ministry (Jn. 5, Mt. 12, Mk. 3, Lk.6)

P: I noticed Jesus' comparison to His Father,  who works on the Sabbath, as does Jesus (John 5:17). Another pointer to Jesus' divinity! It was also clear to me that Jesus deliberately stirred up this Sabbath controversy by breaking their Sabbath traditions, both in Jerusalem and Galilee. He was truly challenging religious tradition, and presenting Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath, and the Teacher who interprets the written word. 

RH: Our first calling is to be WITH Jesus. His first priority is to be WITH His Father.  I see this in practice when Jesus spent a night in prayer before he chose the 12 and gave the Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus, what do you know about prayer that we don't?

Session 10: The Twelve and the Sermon on the Mount (Lk. 6, Mt. 5-7)

P: I liked his emphasis on the Beatitudes as being foundational for discipleship. As we teach and encourage newer believers, whether we actually use Matthew 5-7 or other Scriptures, we want to pay great attention to these subjects highlighted by Jesus.

RH: I appreciated his explanation of the beatitudes which he referred to as Beautiful flowers of the heart that God wants to bloom in our lives.  These require much more reflexion, study and prayerful application which is why I have listened to this session 3 times. I hope everyone else is enjoying these sessions as much as I am.

Session 11: Jesus' Unique Power and Compassion (Lk. 7)

P: I liked the exhortation to believe God for His promises, and not be reactive to those who have abused the faith message. I was also struck by his emphasis on a "two-handed" approach: that part of God's message is like a flute that causes rejoicing, and part like a funeral song that causes mourning. 

RH: My takeaway from this session: Trust God when He does things differently.ntnt

Session 12: Seven Parables of the Kingdom (Mt. 13)

P: I'm really looking forward to this teaching!