Our online Bible study is meant for your own personal use to use for yourself or to gather together with a small group of people to study and discuss the questions together. Periodically, we will change the Bible study topic so that this online Bible study will continue to be fresh. We hope that you will gain something from this and grow in your faith at the same time.
We also offer a Fall Bible Study that you can print out by clicking on the link provided below.
The Cross: It’s Tragedy and Triumph
“If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34
Read Mark 9:29-38 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What does it mean to say that the shadow of the cross casts itself over the entire gospel?
- Why was following a rejected and suffering Messiah so difficult for Peter?
- What three aspects of following Jesus are listed in verse 34? Which is the most challenging to you?
Crucified Jesus, you call me to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow you. Help me to accept a life of self-sacrifice and imitate your generosity. May I never be ashamed of you cross.
“So Pilate released Barabbas for them; and after flogging Jesus, he handed him over to be crucified.” Mark 15:15
Read Mark 15:1-15 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- How does the gospel demonstrate that many people are responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus? Why is it so wrong to blame only one group?
- How could the crowd who welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem now shout “Crucify him”? How do you feel when you read out loud “Crucify him!” when you are reading the passion accounts?
- Imagine the reaction of Barabbas as he watched Jesus being condemned in place of himself. What might have been some of his thoughts and feelings?
Innocent Jesus, you offered yourself so that I might live. Your cross unshackled the bonds of my captivity and set me free. Help me to give my life for others and to love as you have loved.
“Let the Messiah, the King of Israel, come down from the cross now, so that we may see and believe.” Mark 15:32
Read Mark 15:16-32 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- How does the passion show in the most unexpected ways that Jesus is a king?
- Who has been a Simon of Cyrene for you, helping you carry the cross? How can you be a Simon for others?
- How are the three cruel mockeries of Jesus on the cross expressions of his truest identity?
Crucified Savior, you reign from the cross and establish your kingdom in pain. Help me trust that real power and victory is available through the weakness and humility of the cross.
“Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last.” Mark 15:37
Read Mark 15:33-41 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- When have you felt abandoned by God? How does the fact that Jesus truly felt abandoned by God help you?
- What do the two dramatic consequences of Jesus’ death tell you about the effects of his death?
- Why does the gospel note that only the women stood with Jesus at the cross? Why happened to the men?
Lord Jesus, through your cross you have opened the way to God and gathered me into the community of your disciples. Thank you for remaining on the cross so that I may live.
“At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The earth shook, and the rocks were split.” Matt 27:51
Read Matthew 27:45-56 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- Why is the crucifixion narrative different from one gospel to the next? Why did the early church preserve all four accounts instead of only one?
- Why does Matthew allude so often to the Old Testament in his gospel account?
- How do the apocalyptic signs surrounding the death of Jesus on the cross express the meaning of that event?
Lord of the new age, your death shook the foundations of the old order and signaled the breaking in of God’s kingdom. Gather me with your disciples at the foot of the cross and enliven my hope of resurrection.
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34
Read Luke 23:33-49 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What is the particular emphasis of Luke’s crucifixion narrative?
- What does Jesus’ forgiveness of his persecutors teach you about your being called to show mercy to others?
- In what way does the experience of the criminal become your own as you look to the cross of Jesus?
Compassionate Savior, remember me as I look upon your cross. As I receive the forgiveness that you so generously offer to me, help me to forgive anyone who needs my forgiveness today.
“”Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” John 3:14
Read John 2:12-21 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- In what way is the uplifted bronze serpent a foreshadowing of the cross of Jesus?
- What ugly or dangerous experience has become a source of growth or headache for you?
- What are the implications for you of “believing in Jesus”?
Exalted Lord, you were lifted up on the cross so that whoever believes in you will not perish but have eternal life. As I gaze upon your uplifted cross, deepen my belief that you have the power to heal me eternally.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19
Read John 2:13-22 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What is the relationship between the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the destruction of Christ’s body on the cross? How is Jesus the new temple of God’s dwelling?
- What type of zeal consumes your life?
- What needs to be expelled from the temple of your life so that you can better experience the presence of God?
Lord Jesus, you are the new temple not made with human hands. Accept the sacrifice of my life and unite it with your death and resurrection to become a perfect offering to the Father.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
Read John 12:23-33 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- Why is the pattern of the germinating grain a good model for understanding Jesus?
- In what ways does the grain of wheat challenge the accepted standards of your life?
- Why does the cross of Jesus draw so many to him?
Jesus, help me to surrender to you and let go of the passing attractions of this world. Help me to give myself to others so that my life will bear fruit for your glory.
” It was the day of Preparation for the Passover; and it was about noon. Pilate said to the Jews, ‘Here is your King!'” John 19:14
Read John 19:1-16 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- Who are the most powerful people you know? What is the source of their power? What power have you been given from God?
- Why is true power revealed in humility? When have you been truly strong at a time when you felt weak?
- What is significant about the day and the hour of Jesus’ condemnation in John’s gospel? How does this prove that Jesus is the true Lamb of God?
- What is the reason for Pilate’s fear (verse 8)? When have you made a decision based on fear?
- If you were Pilate, how would you explain to your wife why you had finally handed Jesus over to be crucified?
Lamb of God, you suffered humiliation and torment so that the true power of your divinity could be revealed through your suffering humanity. Teach me humility and steadfastness so that your life may shine through my own.
“Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross. It read, ‘Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews'” John 19:19
Read John 19:17-30 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- In what ways does the gospel show that the death of Jesus is the birth of his church?
- Why is the unity of his church so important to Jesus? What creates the essential unity of his disciples amidst the church’s worldwide diversity?
- John’s gospel notes that the mother of Jesus stood near the cross of Jesus. What might she be feeling at the end of his life?
- How do the mother of Jesus and the beloved disciple represent the new family of Jesus?
- What does the proclamation above the cross of Jesus express? Why does John’s gospel note that it is in three languages?
Crucified Lord, in your dying you have poured out your Spirit on the world. Give me grace and nourishment through your church as I seek to be your beloved disciple.
“One of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.” John 19:34
Read John 19:31-37 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- In what ways is the death of Jesus on the cross the new and eternal Passover?
- What does the title “Lamb of God” tell you about who Jesus is for you?
- In what ways has Jesus set you free from bondage? Do you live as a slave or as a free person?
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me. You are my atonement sacrifice to set me free from the effects of sin and death. Help me to live confidently and victoriously.
“Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.” Gen. 22:6
Read Genesis 22:1-18 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- How is Jesus like Both Isaac and the lamb that God would provide?
- What is the most difficult thing you’ve ever been asked to do? Where did you get the strength to do it?
- What did God really want from Abraham?
- Why did the early Christians turn to this text for insights into the meaning of Christ’s cross?
- What evidence do you have that God’s final word is always mercy and grace?
God, you so loved the world that you gave your only Son for us. Thank you for redeeming me through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Help me to trust in your power to save me from eternal death.
“The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” Exod 12:13
Read Exodus 12:1-14 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What did the flesh and blood of the lamb do for the people of Israel?
- In the light of the Passover, why was it necessary that Christ suffer and shed his blood? What does the Passover reveal to you about the nature of God?
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on me. You have given your life for me and shed your blood for my redemption. Free me from all that impedes me from experiencing the fullness of life.
“On this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord. Lev 16:30
Read Leviticus 16:1-22 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What do the high priest’s rigorous preparations for his annual entry into the Holy of Holies tell you about the Israelite understanding of God?
- What are the effects of sacrificial blood in atoning for sins?
- What does the annual Day of Atonement tell you about human nature?
God of the covenant, you are awesome in power and majestic in holiness. Sin alienates me from your generous and loving presence. Cleanse and forgive me of my wrong and dwell with me all the days of my life.
“He poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isa. 53:12
Read Isaiah 53:1-12 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- How does the offering of the Suffering Servant surpass the practice of animal sacrifice and bring us closer to the cross of Jesus?
- What parts of the passion narratives of the gospels echo the prophecy of the Suffering Servant?
Suffering Servant of God, you have taken my sins upon yourself and have suffered in place of me. Helpme to trust in the power of your sacrifice to heal me and free me from guilt.
“Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will be bringing innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants.” Jer 26:15
Read Jeremiah 26:7-19 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What was similar about the time periods in which Jeremiah and Jesus ministered?
- What parts of the life of Jesus show him to be a prophet like Jeremiah?
- Which parts of Jeremiah’s life foreshadow the passion and cross of Jesus?
- In what ways does the preaching of Jeremiah and Jesus about the temple enrage the religious authorities to plot their deaths?
- How have you suffered for speaking or living the truth? Are you willing to undergo rejection and abandonment for living in a way that contradicts the ways accepted in our society?
Lord God, your prophets in each generation suffered for the message they proclaimed. Help me listen to your prophets and witness to the truth of the Gospel. May the deeds of my life express the faith I believe.
“All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads.” Ps. 22:7
Read Psalm 22:1-21 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- In what ways is this psalm an apt and accurate portrayal of the sufferings of Jesus?
- When have you felt abandoned by God and by other people?
- Which verses speak most eloquently of your sorrow and your hope?
My God, my God, when I am suffering alone and feeling abandoned, help me to trust in you. When I am mocked and surrounded by evil, protect me and do not turn your face from me. May I proclaim your faithfulness to the coming generation.
“We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Cor. 1:23-24
Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-5 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- Why did the message of the cross seem to be such madness to people of the first century?
- Why would God choose to manifest himself in weakness, defeat, and humiliation?
- Why was a crucified messiah so inconceivable for many Jews?
- What was the primary barrier to accepting the cross for the Gentile Greeks?
- What message are you proclaiming when you wear a cross on your neck or hang a cross in your home?
Crucified and glorious Lord, help me to embrace the mystery of your cross as the center of my life. Though it seems foolish in the eyes of the world, I proclaim you as my crucified Savior and I rejoice in the power you display in weakness.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 12:9
Read 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and then answer and/or discuss the following questions.
- What are the old things that have passed away because you have died with Christ? What are the new things that have come to you because of the cross of Christ?
- Is our reconciliation with God our work or God’s work? What is our role in this work of reconciliation?
- Why didn’t God just take Paul’s “thorn” away after Paul pleaded with him?
- It is impossible to teach others when they think they know it all or can do everything themselves. Why is it important that we acknowledge our weakness before Christ can work with his grace and power in us?
- When have you experienced that Christ can work better in your weakness than in your strength?
Eternal Redeemer, you have reconciled me to God through your cross. Teach me to accept the message of your cross, boast in my weaknesses, endure my suffering, and give you the glory in all things.