Gospel Community Studies
Study 1: Purity & Tradition – Mark 7:1-23 (30/1/2022)
- What did you learn about the traditions of the rabbis and the Talmud?
- Describe the notion of personal purity.
- Why does the goal of being ‘true to yourself’ need to be qualified? What must happen first?
- Mark 7:14-15 is the fulcrum of the whole section. What is the significance of this passage?
- Reflect on the relationship between the new thing Jesus is doing and Moses food/purity laws.
- Think of the way in which Jesus challenges the keeping of the ‘traditions.’ How might you apply this to your own life or ministry?
- What is the lesson for us today?
- What kind of purity is important to God and how might we live that out?
Study 2: A Greek Woman & A Deaf Man – Mark 7:24-37 (6/2/2022)
- Trace Jesus journey in Mark 7:24-8:9. What are the regions he covers? Summarise what happens.
- Have any of you been to Lebanon and what was the topography like?
- Why does Jesus say to the Syrophoenician woman, v27 – “First let the children eat all they want, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
- What are the parallels between Jesus’ ministry to the Jews in Galilee, and his ministry here in Mark 7:24-8:9 where he moves through Gentiles lands? What is the significance of the feeding of the 4,000 in light of this?
- The Syrophoenician woman is one of the 11 supplicants in Mark. The supplicants are those who come in supplication to Jesus and exhibit true faith. They are very unlikely characters, starting with the leper in chapter 1:40-45. Name as many of the 11 supplicants in Mark as you can (even just 2 or 3)
- What characterises these supplicants?
- What is the significance of the healing of the deaf/mute man for who Jesus is? (Isaiah 35:6, Exodus 4:11)
- Jesus heals the deaf/mute man in a way that is sensitive to him, leading him away from the crowd and using sign-language and Gentile idioms to communicate what he is going to do for him. Describe how Jesus has been sensitive to other people in need, in the way he healed them, throughout Mark’s gospel. For example, the leper (chapter 1), the woman with the 12 year flow of blood, the girl who has died (chapter 5). How has Jesus been sensitive to you in the way he has brought healing/salvation to you?
- Pray for faith like this Syrophoenician woman
- What are the implications of this passage for our mission?
Notes on the growth of the Gospel in Lebanon after Jesus was there –
Acts of the Apostles says that Paul visited Tyre in 58 AD, met with the disciples and stayed with them for 7 days. They pleaded with him not to go to Jerusalem due to Christian persecution there. (Acts of the Apostles 21:3–6).
The Gospel also spread in Sidon as it had in Tyre. In Acts says that Paul was allowed, on his way to Rome as a prisoner around 60 A.D. to meet his friends in Sidon (Acts of the Apostles 27:3). After Tyre and Sidon, the Gospel spread throughout the coastal cities of Lebanon because the disciples had to pass through Lebanon on their way from Jerusalem to Antioch in the north and vice versa.
Communion – 13/2/22
This way of communion can take the best part of the night.
- First read 1 or 2 appropriate scriptures and share a couple of appropriate thoughts.
- Take communion one person at a time in this way… One at a time, get each person to share one area where they need Jesus in their life (gospel need). Give them adequate time, and then have 1 or more other gospel community members speak the gospel into their need, sharing how Jesus is good news for their need (gospel provision). Then pass them the bread and wine so they can take a piece of bread and dip it in the wine. While they do this say ‘This is his body given for you… his blood shed for you.’
Gospel need –
This might be an area of sin or an area of suffering. It might be resolved, or it might be unresolved. Keep it vulnerable, yet appropriate for a mixed gender group.
Gospel provision –
Jesus brings good news to every area of sin and suffering in our lives. Keep the words you share encouraging and focused on Jesus.
Example – Fear
- Gospel need: “I need Jesus right now because I am numbing my fears through distracting myself with Netflix and social media instead of engaging with Jesus.”
- Gospel provision: “Jesus knows what it is like to be afraid. He experienced fear in His life on earth and sympathizes with you. He is your refuge. As you draw near to Him, He will comfort and protect you. He rose from the dead in victory over everything we should fear the most. This Easter, remember the good news that you don’t have to numb your fear but can draw near to Jesus as your refuge.”
Example – Uncertainty
- Gospel need: “I lost my job in the pandemic and it’s hard for me to trust that God will take care of my family.”
- Gospel provision: “Your pain is seen by your Father. He is a good Dad who will provide for your every need, even when things seem bleak. If He gave us the life of His Son, we can know that He will take care of His kids. You can rest knowing that you are safe in the Father’s arms even if the road ahead is hard.”
After everyone shares, spend some time in prayer together thanking Jesus for the hope that the gospel brings to our lives.
Study 3: Jesus Feeds 4,000 – Mark 8:1-21 (20/2/2022)
- How is this feeding of a crowd (8:1-10) different from the feeding of the 5,000 recorded in Mark 6:30-44?
- What can we learn from this story and it’s earlier lookalike companion?
- What is ironic about the Pharisees asking for a sign just at this point in the story?
- Instead of giving them a sign, Jesus and his disciples got in a boat to cross the water. He warned them about the yeast of the Pharisees and of Herod. In light of what you’ve learned from Mark so far, why does Jesus give this warning (8:14-21)?
- What would make Jesus groan today? What is it about us that would make him say, like a frustrated teacher, ‘You still don’t get it’?
- In what ways can we ‘remember and see’ exactly who it is who is in the boat with us?
- Share areas you need help in this and pray for one another.
Study 4: Seeing Jesus Clearly – Mark 8:22-9:1 (27/2/2022)
- When they arrive in Bethsaida, Jesus heals another blind man. (8:22-26) How is this healing related to what happened in the boat?
- The blind man needs 2 touches to bring his physical sight. What 2 touches did the disciples need?
- The Jewish people were expecting a messiah who would sort out their political mess and put the Gentiles in their place. Peter’s reaction makes it clear that’s the way he thought. How does Jesus redefine what the messiah would do here in Mark 8:22-9:1?
- Jesus asks us the same question he asks his disciples: “Who do you say I am?” What is your answer to who Jesus is and what he is actually doing in the world?
- Jesus tells his disciples that following him has its dangers and risks. How can following Jesus be dangerous for us as well?
- Following Jesus is Mark’s definition of what it means to be a Christian, and Jesus is not leading us on a pleasant afternoon hike. How have you seen in your life and in others’ lives the truth that, ‘if you want to save your life, you’ll lose it; but if you lose your life because of me and the gospel, you’ll save it.’?
- Share areas you need help in this and pray for one another.
Study 5: Extra Study notes on Mark 8:31-38 (6/3/2022)
Reflect on Mark 8:31-32 –
Having finally brought the disciples to the place where they recognize that he is the Christ, the Son of God, Jesus now begins the task of preparing them for his death. This is no easy task. Everyone was expecting the Messiah to come one day, but no one was expecting that the Messiah would come to die.
- The Messiah was expected to lead them to victory against their national and political oppressors.
- The Messiah was expected to sit as King on the throne of David.
- The Messiah was expected to restore Israel to economic prominence and to her historic borders and glory.
But this is not the only difficulty that confronts the disciples in Jesus’ teaching about his death. Jesus makes it even more difficult for them to understand the necessity, or even the possibility, of his death by referring to himself as ‘the Son of Man’ [8:31].
The ‘Son of Man’ is the glorious, divine figure of Daniel’s vision in Daniel 7:13,14. This glorious figure parallels Ezekiel’s vision of ‘the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD’ in Ezekiel 1:28, and of John’s later description of the resurrected, ascended Jesus in Revelation 1:12-16.
Reflect on Daniel 7:13-14 –
- Describe the ‘son of man’ seen by Daniel.
- Which part of this description makes his death appear impossible?
- Which parts of this description appear to support the common Jewish expectations of the Messiah?
But there are other prophecies of the Messiah, the Anointed One, which speak not of his political or military victory, but of the victory over sin and death that he achieves through his death. Most significant of these are ‘the Servant Songs’ of Isaiah.
Reflect on the Lord’s servant in Isaiah –
- Isaiah 42:1-9
- Isaiah 49:1-7
- Isaiah 50:4-9
- Isaiah 52:13-53:12:
Jesus is pulling together three Old Testament prophetic figures: the Messiah, the Son of Man, and the Suffering Servant. He makes them all one. And he identifies himself as that One.
- The ‘Messiah’ is the anointed king, a descendant of David, awaited with joyous expectation.
- The ‘Son of Man’ represents the saints and comes with the clouds to the Ancient of Days and receives all authority and kingdom which he then shares with the saints
- The ‘Suffering Servant’ is humiliated, rejected, despised, killed, but then is restored
Reflect on Mark 8:34-9:1 –
It seems that Peter’s man-centred attempt to turn Jesus aside from God’s eternal plan moved Jesus to give teaching about values and priorities to the larger crowd. Because their expectations of the Messiah are incorrect, so also their expectations of being followers of the Messiah are incorrect.
Following the real Messiah does not mean earthly glory.
Following the real Messiah does not mean earthly recognition.
Following the real Messiah does not mean earthly power.
Following the real Messiah does not mean earthly gain.
Following the real Messiah does not mean earthly victory.
Following Jesus means denying oneself.
Following Jesus means taking up one’s ‘cross’.
Following Jesus means losing one’s life for his sake.
Not following Jesus means forfeiting your soul (life).
Peter has just been ‘ashamed’ of or embarrassed by the things Jesus has said about the divine necessity of his rejection, suffering and death. Such a defeated Messiah is no Messiah at all. But now Jesus says:
‘If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels’ [verse 38].
This statement looks beyond Jesus’ death, to his resurrection, ascension, and ultimate return. Jesus will come in power and glory in his resurrection, ascension and return.
He came as the Messiah – not to re-establish the kingdom of Israel, but to establish ‘the kingdom of God … with power.’ Some of those listening to him actually saw him do it [9:1]: they saw his resurrection and ascension.
Study 6: Transfiguration – Mark 9:2-13 (13/3/2022)
- If you were Peter, how would you describe this event known as the transfiguration?
- Write down all the ways that the transfiguration echoes the history of Israel, especially Moses and Elijah?
- Compare and contrast the transfiguration and Jesus’ baptism (Mark 1:9-11).
- How would the transfiguration confirm to the disciples what Jesus has been saying about his sufferings, death and resurrection (Mark 8:31-9:1)?
- How can Moses and Elijah appear like this? What does this show us about the spatial relationship between heaven and earth?
- In Mark’s Gospel, how does Jesus continue and finish the work of Moses and Elijah?
- Reflect on Peter’s offer to make three tents in Mark 9:5. Explain what some of his motivations and thoughts might have been.
- What does the transfiguration show us about the identity of Jesus?
- What is the relationship between the transfiguration and Jesus’ resurrection?
- Why were the disciples puzzled about what Jesus meant by rising from the dead (v9-10)?
- The prophets said that Elijah would return before the final victory of God’s people (Malachi 4;5). In the next exchange about Elijah (v11-13), what is Jesus talking about when he says Elijah has already come, and they have done to him as they pleased? What is the implication of this for how we understand the final victory of God’s people?
- Consider that Jesus is the beloved Son of God and the living embodiment of the presence of God. Put this in your own words and share with someone this week.
- How does the transfiguration and all that is said in Mark 9:1-13 encourage you to take up your cross and follow him?
Study 7: Down The Mountain – Mark 9:14-29 (1/5/2022)
- During Jesus’ time on the mountain with Peter, James and John, what is happening to the other disciples?(9:14)
- Why does Jesus struggle with their unbelief? (9:19)
- What faith does “if you can” represent? What does Jesus say about faith and possibility? (9:24)
- How do the father’s words in 9:24, ‘I believe, help my unbelief,’ show he has true faith?
- What method does Jesus use for this exorcism? (9:25)
- Why couldn’t the disciples drive out the spirit? (9:28-29)
- Describe what you learned about Jesus and prayer in Mark 9:14-29?
Study 8: One Cup Of Water At A Time – Mark 9:30-50 (8/5/2022)
Read Mark 9:30-37. What does Jesus teach his disciples about coming events?
Why don’t the disciples understand him?
When and why are we like the disciples in this situation – sometimes failing to hear (listen and obey) something from scripture or something from church or something in prayer?
What is on the disciples’ minds that is preventing them from understanding Jesus? (v33-34)
How does Jesus define greatness? (v35-37)
How does Jesus embracing a little child illustrate his point about greatness
How do our concerns for status sometimes get in the way of understanding Jesus and participating in his mission?
Read Mark 9:38-50. How does Jesus’ attitude toward the man casting out demons in Jesus’ name differ from the disciples’ attitude?
How is the disciples’ attitude similar to how Christians react today towards other Christians who aren’t part of ‘our’ group?
What is Jesus getting at with these graphic pictures in 9:42-48?
How does Jesus’ final command in v50 tie back to the issues raised in v33-34 and 38?
- What is next in your GCs serving of one another and the wider community?
Study 9: What God has joined together – Mark 10:1-12 (22/5/2022)
- Read Mark 10:1-12. Divorce and remarriage is as much a controversial issue for Christians today as it was for the Pharisees who asked Jesus about it. Remembering Herod’s marital status from Mark 6 and what happened to John the Baptist, how could the Pharisees’ question put Jesus in a tough spot no matter how he answered?
- How does Jesus deal with this trap?
- In this dialogue what point is Jesus making by going to what Moses commanded about divorce in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 while the Pharisees note instead what Moses permitted about divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4?
- What is the point of Moses’ command in Deuteronomy 24:1-4? What/who does it protect?
- When Jesus is safely back in the privacy of the house with his disciples, what does Jesus add to his answer (v10-12)?
- If the problem is Israel’s hardheartedness, not the ideal of Genesis 1-2, what does this say about Jesus’ ultimate mission?
- How does this section relate to the broader theme bookended by Mark 9:35 to 10:31?
Study 10: Like A Child – Mark 10:13-31 (29/5/2022)
How does Jesus’ attitude toward children differ from the disciples’ attitude. What value system are they operating from? (9v13-16)
What characteristics of a child represent the discipleship?
How are the discussions about divorce and children connected?
- What is the rich man looking for? (v17)
(The NIV has translated this ‘eternal life’ but the Greek says ‘the life of the age to come.’ Many first-century Jews divided the time into the present age and the age to come. The present age, their own time, was full of sin and injustice, lying and oppression. Good people suffered, wicked people got away with it. But in the age to come that would all be different.)
- Jesus answers his question by restating the basic commandments that every Jewish person knew well – the Ten Commandments. Which commandments does Jesus leave out? (Check out the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17)
- How do the commandments Jesus leaves out in v19 relate to his directive in v21?
- What does the young man’s failure to obey Jesus’ command reveal about the one thing he lacks?
- Why were the disciples shocked that wealth won’t guarantee a place in the age to come (23-26)? What value system are they operating from?
- Many today and back in Jesus’ day, thought wealth was a sign of God’s pleasure. How can wealth actually be a hinderance to us in our call to follow Jesus?
- When Peter declares that he and the other disciples have done what the rich man would not do, what assurance does Jesus give them (v28-31)?
- How are the promises of v29-30 being fulfilled in your life today?
- In what area is Jesus asking you to change your thinking or your actions as you follow him? What might he be calling you to leave in order to follow him?
Jesus Is Better – Hebrews 1:1-2:4 (20/3/2022)
Read 1:1-4 –
- What does the writer say about God’s having spoken through the Old Testament prophets?
- List 8 things these verses tell us about Jesus.
- What benefits come to us through Christ?
Read 1:5-14 –
- What does the writer want to prove about Jesus’ position in relation to angels?
- The writer quotes God in v5. What do the question and quotations in v5 reveal about Jesus?
- How is Jesus different from, and superior to, both the prophets and the angels?
- What is your concept of angels? Compare it with what the writer says about the duties and position of angels in v6, 7, 14.
- What responsibilities and authority does the Son have (v8, 9)?
- What is the comparison with the creation meant to reveal about the Son in v10-12?
- List the words that describe the creation and those that describe the Son.
- What thoughts do v13 and 14 add to the contrasting functions of angels and the Son?
- What locations are suggested (v13, 14) for the present activities of the Son and of angels?
- What relationship do angels have with human beings?
- In what ways is the Son superior to… the prophets… the angels… all creation
- What is the work of… the Son… God the Father… the prophets… the angels
Read 2:1-4 –
- What conclusion does the author draw from what he has said in chapter 1?
- Describe ways in which a person might drift away How can we make sure we are not drifting?
Jesus, brother, captain, king – Hebrews 2:5-18 (27/3/2022)
Read 2:5-9 –
- What is the point of the contrast between human beings and angels?
- What is humanity’s destiny? How does Jesus already fulfill our destiny (v9)?
- Why has Jesus been crowned with glory and honour?
- What does Jesus share with all humanity (v9)?
- What has Jesus done in his death that no other man ever did?
Read 2:10-18 –
- The word in v10 for author or pioneer means leader or originator in the sense of one who initiates and carries through. In what ways was Jesus qualified to be such an author (v9, 11, 14, 18)?
- Why was it the suffering of Jesus which made him fully adequate to initiate and carry through our salvation?
- In what ways does Jesus identify with human beings in v11-13 and 14-18?
- Keep in mind that it is the children of v13 who are referred to in v14. Consider the reasoning of verses 14, 15, 16. What advantages come to us because Jesus took on our humanity rather than the nature of an angel?
- Why did Jesus have to die?
- In what ways do people express their bondage to the fear of death?
- To what extent do you now have freedom from the fear of death?
- Why is it significant that Jesus in his high-priestly position is both merciful and faithful? What does Jesus do for us as our high priest (v17)?
- What 2 things has Jesus shared with us (v18)? What difference does this make for you?
- In your own words describe the great tribulation the writer tells about in this chapter.
- What things is Jesus able to do for us? Why?
Jesus, the Rest-giver – Hebrews 3:1-4:13 (3/4/2022)
Read 3:1-6 –
- What do the titles apostle and high priest tell you about the ministry of Jesus?
- In what ways is Jesus superior to Moses (v3-6)?
- What difference does this picture of Jesus make when you are worried or afraid? …When you are tempted?
- What does it mean to hold on to our courage and the hope in which we boast (v6)? Describe the person who fails to do these things
Read 3:7-19 –
- What warning does the writer add to v6 by quoting from Psalm 95 in v7-11?
- The writer compares those who have become the people of God through faith in Christ to those delivered from Egypt under Moses’ leadership. What is the point of the two if statements (v6, 14)
- What warning and command are given in v12 and 13?
- Why do Christians need these same warnings today?
- How can we avoid becoming hardened by sin’s deceitfulness?
- What warning is implied by the expression as long as it is called Today?
- What lessons are we to learn from the experience of these Israelites?
Read 4:1-13 –
- What does the author say about his rest in v1?
- Why didn’t the good news of the opportunity to enter Canaan do any good to those who lived in the time of Moses?
- What response of faith must we make to receive the benefits of the good news that Jesus went through death for us?
- What in v3-9 determines whether a person benefits or not from the great promises and intentions of God?
- According to v10, what does entering God’s rest mean for believers in every generation?
- In v11, Let us make every effort to enter that rest… with v3. How can these elements of rest and making every effort co-exist? Give examples of how this contrast works out in your life as a Christian.
- In v12 list 4 things we learn about God’s word. What is the meaning of these qualities? What does this sharp two-edged sword accomplish?
Jesus, Our Relatable & Gentle High Priest – Hebrews 4:14-5:10 (10/4/2022)
Read 4:14-16 –
- How do the 6 things the writer says about Jesus in these verses give you hope?
- What 2 things are we to do because we have such a high priest (v14, 16)? What will this mean in practice for you?
- How do v14-16 encourage you to approach God in confidence?
Read 5:1-10 –
- What do we learn about a high priest’s work, attitudes and office (v1-4)?
- How does each of the requirements for a high priest find perfect fulfilment in Jesus (v5-10)
- Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered (v10). How does this clarify what you learned in Hebrews 2:10? How have you or a Christian you know, learned through suffering?
- For what did all that Jesus experienced fit and prepare him? Why is he able to be our Saviour?
- What condition for salvation does the writer make clear in v9?
- What important element about the Melchizedek priesthood do we find in v6? How does this substantiate the use of the word eternal in verse 9?
- Describe the qualifications and preparation of Jesus to be our high priest?
- Because Jesus is our high priest, what specific blessings and benefits do we enjoy as Christians?
- Why do we need Jesus’ work as our high priest?
New Book – Soma Life ($10)
We put this book together to celebrate our tenth anniversary as a church. We’re paying homage to the original Soma Life papers from Soma Tacoma. Those papers meant so much to us ten years ago and inspired us to start Soma Blue Mountains. It’s been great to review them and make some edits to reflect what we now understand.
If you’re new with us, we hope this book will help you understand our church, and we hope it’ll be a great tool to refer to as you participate in one of our Gospel Communities.
- Our Story
- How Soma Grows
- Missional Communities
- Identity & Rhythms
- DNA Groups
- What is the Gospel?
- Missional Community Covenant
Introducing 2022: The Year of the Story and Way of Jesus
Jan 9 – In Christ & Following Jesus – Stuart
Jan 16 – The cost of being a disciple – Luke 14:25-35 – Dave
Jan 23 – Gospel Legacy – Psalm 78:1-8 – Peter Morris
SEEING JESUS CLEARLY (Mark 7-8, Hebrews 1-4)
Jan 30 – Purity & Tradition – Mark 7:1-23 – Dave
Feb 6 – A Greek woman and a deaf man – Mark 7:24-37 – Dave
Feb 13 – Vision Sunday – Stuart
Feb 20 – Jesus feeds 4,000 – Mark 8:1-21 – Dave
Feb 27 – Seeing Jesus Clearly – Mark 8:22-38 – Dave
Mar 6 – Die to really live – Mark 8:34-38 – 5for5
Mar 13 – Transfiguration – Mark 9:1-13 – Dave
Mar 20 – Jesus, the Better Voice – Hebrews 1:1-2:4 – Toby
Mar 27 – Jesus, brother, captain, king – Hebrews 2:5-18
April 3 – Jesus, the Rest-giver – Hebrews 3:1-4:13
April 10 – Jesus, Wonderful counsellor – Hebrews 4:14-5:10
April 15 – Good Friday
April 17 – Easter
April 24 –
FOLLOWING JESUS ON THE WAY (Mark 9-10, Hebrews 5-7)
May 1 – Down the Mountain – Mark 9:14-29
May 8 – One glass of water at a time – Mark 9:30-50
May 15 – 10th Birthday
May 22 – What God has joined together – Mark 10:1-12
May 29 – Like a little child – Mark 10:13-16 – 5for5
June 12 – Rich Man – Mark 10:17-31
June 19 – Come to serve – Mark 10:32-45
June 26 – Blind Bartimaeus – Mark 10:46-52
July 3 – Adoption into Soma Global – Trip Forgeng
July 10 – Soma Global Vision – Brad Watson
July 17 – Jesus, the better hope – Hebrews 5:11-6:20
July 24 – Jesus, the better advocate – Hebrews 7:1-28
JERUSALEM WITH A SHOUT! (Mark 11-13, Hebrews 8-10)
July 31 – Triumphal Entry – Mark 11:1-26
Aug 7 – By what authority? – Mark 11:27-12:12
Aug 14 – Questioning God – Mark 12:13-27
Aug 21 – 21st Century Challenges to Following Jesus
Aug 28 – Loving God – Mark 12:28-44
Sept 4 – Everything will be thrown down – Mark 13
Sept 11 – Jesus, the new and better covenant – Hebrews 8:1-9:28
Sept 18 – Jesus, the better sacrifice – Hebrews 10:1-39
Sept 25 –
THE VICTORY & TRIUMPH OF THE CROSS (Mark 14-16, Hebrews 11-13)
Oct 2 – The table of grace – Mark 14:1-31
Oct 9 – The heart of the son and the will of the father – Mark 14:32-75
Oct 16 – The crucified Messiah – Mark 15:1-39
Oct 23 – The end: a new beginning – Mark 15:40-16:8
Oct 30 – A better resurrection – Hebrews 11:1-12:3
Nov 6 – Eyes fixed on Jesus – Hebrews 12:4-28
Nov 13 – A Better city – Hebrews 13:1-25
Nov 20 –
Nov 27 –