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Bible Study: Pentecost 7 (B) – July 7, 2024

July 07, 2024

RCL: Ezekiel 2:1-5; Psalm 123; 2 Corinthians 12:2-10; Mark 6:1-13

Note: During the 2024 Season after Pentecost, Sermons That Work will use Track 2 readings for sermons and Bible studies. Please consult our archives for many additional Track 1 resources from prior years.

Ezekiel 2:1-5

Impudent and stubborn! Lord, keep those epithets from ever describing us. Alas, like the children of Israel, we rebel against God daily, and God knows it. Whether it’s our idolatrous love of worldly goods and money, our destruction of the natural world, our resentment of other people, or any number of sins, these rebellions are noted by God. But there is hope. God sends prophets like Ezekiel to call us back. God calls our priests, pastors, and teachers, our parents, friends, and neighbors to call us back. God sends his very son to call us back. And we can rest assured, even if we’ve frequently strayed far off the path, that we are never so far away that God will stop calling.

  • When have you rebelled against God?
  • How have you been called back toward God?

Psalm 123

There are times when we look around the world and see only devastation. The litany of things that are wrong with the world could go on forever – maybe this very week, you’ve made the familiar list of failures from yourself, those closest to you, and your community. If you spend your time cataloging these things, you’ll have precious little time to do anything else.

Of those failures, there are plenty that can be solved and plenty that cannot. We can and should work on ourselves, tapping into the virtues that God calls us to live. We can and should develop and refashion our advocacy, ministry, and relationships based on those virtues. And perhaps most importantly, we can and should – we must! – cast our eyes on God, asking for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to guide our hearts and minds in everything we do to address the problems in our lives.

  • What lines from this psalm stick out to you? Why?

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”

What a challenge. Again, God speaks to us through the ages, right through the channel he selected. The words are at once both tremendously reassuring and horrifyingly difficult: God tells us, through Paul, that some of our failures, our frustrations, our miseries will not end on this side of Jordan. Much as we might fervently pray – and God knows Paul did! – we may need to continue on in faith, enduring certain limitations, even calamities. This is a hard sell in a society in which happiness is (endlessly) just one purchase, one pill, one simple trick away. But how reassuring that God’s amazing grace and all-encompassing power are sufficient for us. Many of those flashy purchases, many of those wonder pills, many of those simple little tricks prey on our (just as endless) fears and anxieties. God steps in and says, “Don’t worry. The most important things I have already handled on your behalf.”

  • What is your first reaction when you read, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”?

Mark 6:1-13

In this passage, Jesus returns to his hometown for a lukewarm welcome. As the crowd listens in the synagogue, they’re incredulous. Who does this guy think he is? Does he think he’s better than us? We know where he came from, who his people are. And now he thinks he can lecture us? Thinks he can impress us? Pretty rich stuff! The people’s refusal to believe, their stubbornness and fear of being put to shame by this guy precludes them from seeing the miracle right in front of their faces.

So, what does our Lord do? He moves on to the next villages – likely less cosmopolitan and less exciting – with his disciples. This can be instructive for us; in Matthew Henry’s 18th-century commentary, he explains, “If we cannot do good where we would, we must do it where we can, and be glad if we may have any opportunity, though but in the villages, of serving Christ and souls.” May it be so.

  • Where would you like to serve? What impediments stand in your way, and how could you overcome them?
  • What other lessons can we learn from this episode?

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Christopher Sikkema


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This page is available in: Español