Men in our congregation are reading N. T. Wright's book, Simply Jesus. We invite you to read along (or come and discuss in person, men). Next Sunday we will discuss chapter one, "A Very Odd Sort of King." Here is the study guide for the chapter. Any comments posted here will be shared with the study group the following week.
Chapter 1: A Very Odd Sort of King
Here are some quotes from chapter one and a few questions to prod your reflections.
“Jesus’s arrival in Jerusalem a few days before his death is one of the best-known scenes in the gospels. But what was it all about? What did Jesus think he was doing?” What do you think Jesus was doing on that first Palm Sunday?
“Unless you ask this question (‘Are you who they say you are?’), your ‘Jesus’ risks disappearing like a hot-air balloon off into the mists of fantasy.” What are some of the images of Jesus that make Jesus more of a fantasy than a real person?
“With Jesus, it’s easy to be complicated and hard to be simple. Part of the difficulty is that Jesus was and is much more than people imagine.” Where do you see that people sell Jesus short in their understanding or experience of him?
“Jesus—the Jesus we might discover if we really looked!—is larger, more disturbing, more urgent than we—than the church!—had ever imagined.” Have you ever been challenged by Jesus? If so, how?
“We have reduced the kingdom of God to private piety, the victory of the cross to comfort for the conscience, and Easter itself to a happy, escapist ending after a sad, dark tale. Piety, conscience, and ultimate happiness are important, but not nearly as important as Jesus himself.” How do you respond to this statement?
“He was the king, all right, but he had come to redefine kingship itself around his own work, his own mission, his own fate.” How would you describe the sort of king Jesus claims to be?
“We want a ‘religious’ leader, not a king! We want someone to save our souls, not rule our world! Or, if we want a king, someone to take charge of our world, what we want is someone to implement the policies we already embrace, just as Jesus’s contemporaries did. But if Christians don’t get Jesus right, what chance is there that other people will bother much with him?” In what ways do you see that Christians don’t “get Jesus right”?
“We can try to get, not ‘behind’ the gospels, as some sneeringly suggest is the purpose of historical research, but inside them, to discover the Jesus they’ve been telling us about all along, but whom we had managed to screen out.” What Jesus stories do you recall that cause questions or struggles for you?