According to the Gospel of Mark in the Bible, a man near Gerasenes was possessed by an army of demons. The man was a source of fear for the local people. He had been living in a tomb, hitting himself with rocks, and yelling wildly at night. Jesus helped the man transfer his demons onto a flock of pigs, and the pigs ran over a cliff.
Would you have been able to approach a wild man like the one in Gerasenes? What would have kept you away from him? Why do you think Jesus approached him?
According to the Acts of the Apostles in the Bible, a man named Saul was a Pharisee, or conservative Jew. He was active in the fight to stop Jesus from preaching. One day Saul was going to Damascus to arrest any followers of Jesus he might find. As he rode along, a light flashed in front of him, and he fell to the ground, blinded.
. . . and at the same time heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Who are you, sir?” he asked. The voice answered, “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting. Get up and go into the city, where you will be told what to do.” (Acts 9:4-6)
For several days, Saul could not see. He converted to Christianity and took the name Paul. His sight returned when he was baptized. Now instead of persecuting Christians, Paul became an active preacher in Jesus’ name.
Saul had a dramatic moment of spiritual awakening. However, spiritual awakening does not need to be so dramatic. Have you ever had a moment when you felt spiritually aware? Describe your experience.
According to Christianity, to have “grace” is to experience the unconditional love and the forgiveness of God.
What does it mean to experience unconditional love? How would a person know he or she was experiencing grace?
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus and God are often called “the light.” Why is that? What associations do you have with the word “light”?
From what you know of Christianity, are there other words that could describe Jesus or God symbolically?
Jesus was teaching a crowd of 5,000 people on a hill beside the sea of Galilee. The people became hungry. A boy brought Jesus an offering of five barley loaves and two fish. According to the Gospel of John in the Bible, Jesus blessed the offering and distributed the bread and fish throughout the crowd until no one was hungry.
Everyone knows that it is important to eat literally, but what is the figurative meaning of this story? What does Jesus do for his listener?
Several o f Jesus’ apostles recorded this parable.
A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell along the path, and was trodden under foot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock; and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundredfold. (Luke 8:4-15)
Jesus hen explained that the seed in the parable was the word of God. In that case, what is the meaning of the parable?
Jesus took the apostles Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain. His friends saw an aura around Jesus. Then the Jewish prophets Moses and Elijah appeared. Jesus’ face was like a sun. His clothes became white as light. According to the Gospel of Matthew in the Bible, Jesus said to his disciples “rise and have no fear.”
What does it mean to have no fear? How would your life be different if you didn’t have any fear?
Soon after Jesus’ death, his followers started to teach about his life and deeds. One such man was Paul. Paul was a Jew who had a spiritual conversion on the road to Damascus and spent the rest of his life traveling and teaching about Jesus. Paul believed that all people sin and all people can receive the grace of God. According to I Corinthians, one of the books of the New Testament, Paul said that love is the greatest thing.
How might love be the “greatest thing”?
Not long after Jesus’ death, the apostle Peter was speaking to a group who knew nothing about Jesus. He needed to summarize what Jesus had done. Part of his summary was simple: “He went about doing good works.”
How do you imagine Peter’s audience might have responded to this description of Jesus?