A New Exodus (Matthew 26:17-30) Rob Woodrum

For the people of Israel, the Passover Meal was and is the central celebration of the Jewish faith. It is a special meal, with special food and special prayers – all of it rich with meaning about the national heritage and covenant they enjoyed with God. In our text this Sunday we’ll be reading Matthew 26:17-30, where Jesus and his disciples share the Passover Celebration together. Jesus, however, veers from the normal traditions and reshapes the celebration to reveal something amazing about his mission!

The Passover meal was instituted during the exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt where they had lived as slaves. It commemorated their deliverance from slavery, as well as their protection from judgement, as the angel of death passed over the houses where the blood of the Passover lamb was sprinkled. The exodus of Israel revealed the distinction between the systems of this world (Egypt) and God’s Kingdom. Israel enjoyed a unique relationship with God – a covenant – and those are the things the Passover celebrated.

Jesus chose Passover as the timing of his sacrificial death. What does that tell us about the nature of Jesus’ messianic mission? What is it recreating. What are the parallels, on a worldwide scale, between the first exodus and Jesus’ mission.

Why do you think Jesus cryptically states that one of their own will betray him? Why do you think he didn’t just point him out and condemn him on the spot?

If Christ’s body and his blood, given sacrificially on the cross, is the basis of our unique relationship with God (a new covenant, in Jesus’ words) – what will that relationship look like in light of its basis?

Contrasts of the Cross (Matthew 26:1-16) Rob Woodrum

The story begins with Jesus giving one of his clearest predictions of his upcoming death so far. He even indicates when it will be taking place. What does that tell us about the nature of Christ’s death? Was it an accident? Was he pushed into a corner where he couldn’t escape? What does his foreknowledge reveal about his mission?

In contrast, look at the religious leaders conspiring to have him murdered. They considered themselves representatives of God; doing God’s work. Look at what morals, values and commands they were willing to throw aside in order to keep their place of political power. What contrast do you see between Jesus’ willingness to die and their schemes? How does our present day, Evangelical church measure up when compared to the cross?

The woman who brings the perfumed oil and pours it on Jesus (weird thing to do…but I’ll explain it a bit on Sunday) is commended by Him. He described it as anointing him for burial, tying this act to His upcoming sacrificial death. If we look at her example, what would we say the cross of Jesus can inspire in our lives? What do you think Jesus meant by indicating her actions would be remembered when the Good News is shared?

What question does Judas ask? How does that contrast with Jesus’ cross and the woman’s sacrificial devotion? If we’re not challenged by this, we’re not thinking it through. The cross exposes something here in Judas. What are our motives for following Jesus? If it cost us everything, would we still be faithful? How can the cross reshape our values and form us into better people?

Hope to see you Sunday! Surf-N-Grill is supposed to be happening – but the weather just doesn’t seem cooperative with our plans (with a nod to my opening paragraph). Let’s hope for some clearer skies!

The Wonderwhat Podcast #3-Brian & Kristi Talk Shop

This week we get to meet Brian & Kristi who both work at Eastgate and they share some of their stories of redemption and grace.  We also discuss theBibleProject.com, Calvary Chapels Pastors Conference and Dr. Who.

Music credits include: Surfing With My 2 Little Brothers  by Party People in a Can;  Le Surf by Chocolat Billy; Falling, Falling by Podington Bear

 

Risky Mission (Matthew 25:14-30) Rob Woodrum

This week we’ll be reading a very familiar parable – the parable of the Talents, in Matthew 25:14-30.

As you read this story, remember that parables aren’t meant to be exact representations of God’s kingdom in all the details. Jesus said it is “like” this sort of thing. The most important element of this story to discern is just what Jesus meant the talents to represent. A talent was a sum of money in Roman currency.  We get our English word “talent” from this parable, interestingly enough. Do you think Jesus is talking about money? Probably not, since money is the metaphor he’s employing. Do you think he’s talking about our skills though? What else do we know that God has entrusted to us, his subjects, to manage while our King isn’t presently seen?

The element of investing the talents is intriguing to me. It carries the implication of risk-taking. What would taking risks with what God has entrusted to us look like in our lives? What would it look like in our churches?

The third steward in this story seemed to speak respectfully to his master. But what do you think his actions actually revealed? Contrast the way the first two stewards interacted with the master and the third stewards assessment of what the master is like. What do you make of that contrast, if anything? Here’s a hint – how did the Pharisees understand God in contrast to Jesus’ revelation of God?

This should be an intriguing story to consider!

Prepared to Wait (Matthew 25:1-13) Rob Woodrum

This week, as we continue our study in Matthew, we’ll be reading about the unusual wedding rituals of ancient Palestine as we study chapter 25:1-13.

As you read the parable that Jesus tells, what do you believe the main point is?  How comfortable or uncomfortable are you with discussing the end times? If you knew for sure that Jesus was going to return within the next hour, what would you do differently?

It’s interesting to note that both sets of girls fell asleep while waiting for the bridegroom. The only time the differences began to show up between them was when the alarm was sounded. One group was prepared, one was not.

In what ways can we see to it that we are prepared for the reveal of Christ as King?

Living Like the World's Ending (2) (Matthew 14:15-35) Rob Woodrum

As we did last week, we’ll focus on the instructions we receive from Jesus concerning how we respond and live in light of the temporal nature of this world’s systems. As  you read through the passage, pay attention to the places where Jesus gives specific instructions to his disciples and consider how those instructions would apply to our lives in this present world.

The Wonderwhat Podcast #2-Sorry Man

So, here's the second instalment of the Wonderwhat (reboot) podcast.  In this episode R&R talk more about Eastgate history, as well as upcoming events-and of course some baseball news.

 

Living Like the World's Ending (Matthew 24:1-14) Rob Woodrum

We’ll be starting chapter 24 of Matthew’s gospel this Sunday reading the first 14 verses. Needless to say, this will not be a teaching which tells us when the world will end. What we’ll learn from Jesus is that there is a presupposition of the world’s ending. It’s how we live in the time we have that’s truly important.

v1-3 give us the overall heading of this section. Jesus predicts the end of something – what is it? The disciples ask him when this will happen, and what sign to look for to signal his coming. Do you find that odd? He’s right in front of them – why are they asking about his coming? They didn’t expect him to leave – what were they talking about? The word “coming” in the Greek is “parousia” – the arrival of a king. They are asking when he’ll be revealed as King and bring the present, broken world to it’s conclusion. They don’t realize it, but they are asking two different questions. What then, are the two subjects in view in this section?

Jesus describes things that sound like current events to us and could be alarming – except for what Jesus says in v6. What are these events, in his view?

Instead of giving his disciples a straight forward answer about when these things would happen – what does Jesus say to his disciples as instruction? (hint: v4, v6, v13)

Before things really end, what is happening according to v14? What is our mission then, in light of the end? How does knowing when the end may come have any bearing on what our mission is? Does it change? If not, what does that tell us? If so, how?

What the H Is Going On (Matthew 23) Rob Woodrum

In this chapter, Jesus sort of goes all Gordon Ramsay on the Pharisees and Scribes! As you read the entire rebuke that Jesus gives to the religious leaders of his day – what is the overarching theme that you pick up on? What do you believe he reserves his scorn for?

It would be very easy to keep this text isolated to the temple leadership of Jesus’ day, but that would be a mistake. In what ways can you pick up on parallels between the religious culture of Jesus’ day, and our present day Evangelical culture? If you were able to communicate a warning to our church from this text, what would be the most important part of Jesus’ rebuke you’d apply?

The God of Life & Love (Matthew 22:23-46) Rob Woodrum

We’ll be reading about a group of people, the Sadducees, who were themselves cynical of any notion of life after death. We’ll be reading Matthew 22:23-46.

The Sadducees pose a riddle to Jesus about a hypothetical conundrum which could occur in a resurrection of the dead in a case of levirate marriage. It’s a silly question – and Jesus seems to give a dismissive answer – but in reality, he uses the situation to express an important truth about God’s purpose with humanity. What is the emphasis of v32? What does that tell us about God’s intentions for those who will believe him?

After the Sadducees fail, the Pharisees send in a lawyer. Not that kind of lawyer – but one who was an expert in Jewish law. He asks a very common question debated by the rabbis throughout the history of Israel. What commandment is of supreme importance to God? In Jesus’ answer – what priority to we discover? How does his tethering of the WHOLE law to these two commandments reveal what God’s primary interest is for us as his followers?

In what ways do you find Jesus’ answer comforting? In what ways do you find it challenging? How can we more faithfully embrace and express the primacy of love?

Looking forward to exploring this together on Sunday! See you then!

The Wonderwhat Podcast (Reboot) #1

The Wonderwhat Podcast (Reboot) #1

So, Bradley started this podcast some time ago and did a great job, but ran out of extra time to keep it going, so we're going to give it a shot!  It's a reboot, though, so it will probably vary a bit from the old style.  We will also try to add links to the old podcast episodes as we can-

Here's some notes from this podcast for you reference:

In this episode, Rob talks about NT Wright's book, The Day the Revolution Started, you can get it here.

Also, we talk a lot about how Eastgate began, the full story is in Rob's book here.

Music:

“Unknown” – Colours of Melancholia

“Tramp’s Song” – Jimmie Oder

“Surfing” – Tojamura 7

Debtors (Matthew 22:15-22) Julie Higby

In our text this week Jesus will be answering a trickquestion posed once again by the Pharisees, regarding taxes. He’ll be talking about our responsibility to the kingdoms of men and also pointing out our more significant debt to the kingdom of heaven. We’ll see how, according to him, they’re very much interrelated..  Matthew 22:15-22

The Kingdom Party (Matthew 22:1-14) Rob Woodrum

What is the biggest, most elaborate party you’ve ever been invited to? Did you enjoy yourself or was it challenging to be there?

No matter how big the party was that you attended, I can guarantee it didn’t hold a candle to ancient royal feasts. They were known to last up the 10 days. Even into the medieval period, England and France threw a joint party that lasted for 17 days in a huge field, where everyone was given coats woven with silk and gold.

This Sunday we’ll read a story told by Jesus about a party thrown by a king who gets snubbed. It’s a curious story, not without it’s critics. We’ll be reading Matthew 22:1-14.

Who do you believe the king is in this story? Who is the son? Who do you believe the people snubbing the invitation represent? Who do you think the replacement invitees are? If you said, respectively, “God, Jesus, the Religious Leaders, the church”, you would be in the company of the majority of those who interpret this parable. I agree with them too. There are other views about who is representing whom, but they aren’t as convincing to me, given the context and theme that has been rolling along since chapter 21 began.

Jesus compares the kingdom of God to an elaborate party. How does that fit within your pictures of what God’s kingdom is like? How does it match up with images of people with wings sitting on clouds and playing harps? Which is more appealing to you?

Whose Kingdom? (Matthew 21:33-46) Rob Woodrum

Has someone ever taken something that belonged to you – or at least you felt belonged to you? How did that make you feel?

Have you ever been in charge of something and someone else starts stepping all over your authority? What feelings does that incur? What do you want to do? We’re going to be thinking about things like that This Sunday as we continue our study in Matthew, reading chapter 21:33-46.

Jesus tells a parable that traditionally is referred to as “the parable of the wicked tenants”…but it could be more accurately called “the story of the renters from hell”.

Read the parable over.  Who do the vinedressers who are renting the property represent?  Who would they represent as we try to understand this parable for our own lives?

Who does the Landowner represent?  What do we learn from about Him from His responses to the growing tensions?

What was the last straw in this stand-off?  What drove the Landowner to action?  What can we learn from this story about our own lives and the choices and responses we have?

It will be a challenging, yet encouraging study, I think.

For Display Only (Matthew 21:18-32) Rob Woodrum

Ever start to pick up a perfectly beautiful piece of fruit to take a bite, only to realize that it’s made of plastic – a prop, for display only. I have a frustrating story to share on Sunday about things that are for display only when you’re trying to purchase something. That’s one kind of frustration. A religion that is for display purposes only is another kind of frustration. That’s going to be the theme of our study this week.

Power & Greatness Reimagined (Matthew 20:17-28) Rob Woodrum

The passage we’ll be reading this Sunday are another one of Jesus’ image flips. We’ll be reading Matthew 20:17-28.

In v17-19, Jesus gives his third prediction of what fate awaits him in Jerusalem. This forecast is the most explicit, even including the detail of flogging and crucifixion. Based on the section that is coming up, we know that the disciples don’t get what he’s talking about. They are still assuming Jesus will be taking up a sword, assembling an army and overthrowing the powers that be. Instead of that, Jesus predicts his own death. Based on that, what do we understand the greatest expression of God’s power to be? From Sydney Carton to Harry Potter, humanity seems to intuit the power of self-sacrificial love. How does this impact the mission of the church? How should it define our main activity?

After Jesus gives this revelation, two of his disciples, Jimmy and Jack, get their mom to ask for special privileges when Jesus ascends his throne. Given what he’s just described his throne to look like, they really have no clue what they are asking for...

Grace and Rewards (Matthew 19:27-20:16) Rob Woodrum

N.T. Wright, in his “Everyone” commentary on Matthew, shares a story, in typical British fashion, about a fox hunt he had witnessed as a boy (this is not to endorse such a thing, just his account). He described the riders in red coats atop of fine brown horses that blew trumpets and led the way for hunting dogs and riders who were less dashing on more humble horses. As they charged around chasing the fox, the clever animal hid in the bushes and back-tracked after the riders had all passed him. Suddenly, those at the back of the procession looked back to the hill they had just come from and saw the fox behind them. They blew their own trumpet to turn the group around, and suddenly those who were on humble mounts were at the front of the pack, while those on the fine horses were bringing up the rear.

He used that as an illustration of how God, in a very fox-like way, turns the pursuits of life and faith around so that the ones we assumed had it all are suddenly the ones needing to catch up. The last shall be first and the first shall be last. That’s going to be a concept we’ll be considering in our study this weekend.