Lesson 8

Comrades in Arms

(Luke 5, Matthew 8 & 20, Mark 9)
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Introduction: Do you separate your work from your religious practice? Some people think they are separate spheres of life. When I was in college, I briefly worked in a trailer factory during the summer. My work crew harassed me about being a "college boy" and about my religious beliefs. At the end of the summer, the leader of the crew came to me and apologized for the harassment. He said he was a "Sunday school teacher" and what he had been saying to me was inconsistent with his role in church. The Bible teaches us that we should integrate our work and our faith. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible to see how we can be "comrades in arms" even in the workplace!

  1. Peter's Professionalism


    1. Read Luke 5:1-3. Relying on your experience with boats, would Jesus' idea that He should teach from a boat raise any problems? (A boat is not a static thing unless you have a couple of anchors. I suspect Peter was also in the boat using an oar to keep it in relatively the same place.)


    2. Read Luke 5:4-5. The assumption is that night is the time to catch fish. This is something that Peter, a trained professional, would know. In addition, it seems they had cleaned up for the day. What do you think Peter thought of Jesus' suggestion that they let down nets during the day? (Jesus already had the "teach in a drifting boat" idea that showed His background was in carpentry ( Mark 6:3), not fishing. Now, Jesus suggests something else that seems impractical.)


      1. Why does Peter do the impractical? (Out of respect for Jesus - and not His understanding of fishing.)


    3. Read Luke 5:6-7. What has happened? (A miracle. The nets are built for the range of normal catches. This is beyond normal!)


    4. Read Luke 5:8-9. What do you think is going through Peter's mind that he should say this? (First, Peter must view this as a miracle. It is the result of the supernatural. Second, I think Peter has been thinking Jesus is incompetent in matters of boats and fishing. That makes Peter feel especially guilty.)


    5. Read Luke 5:10. Re-read Luke 5:8. What does Jesus' statement, "Don't be afraid," add to our understanding of what is going through Peter's mind? (More than feeling guilty, Peter is fearful.)


      1. "Fear" seems an odd emotion towards someone who was just sitting in a boat teaching about God. How do you explain this? (The only thing that makes sense to me is that Peter concludes that Jesus is divine. Jesus is the Messiah.)


    6. What does this story teach us about our work and our faith?


    7. Read Luke 5:11. Read Matthew 4:18-20. This is an earlier call from Jesus. How should we understand the statement "they left everything and followed Him?" Did they just abandon their business? (Read John 21:1-4. This suggests that even after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection Peter is still earning a living as a fisherman. Mark 1:19-20, Luke 5:8-10 and Matthew 4:21 suggest this is a family and friends business. The disciples can leave the business without abandoning their assets. Of course, after Jesus' last call the disciples seem to work full-time to advance the gospel.)


    8. Read Acts 18:2-4, Acts 20:33-34 and Acts 22:2-3. How did Paul support himself? (As a tentmaker.)


      1. What is the nature of Paul's education? Is it like that of Peter? (It is not at all like the education of Peter. Paul is a trained theologian, yet he makes tents to support himself.)


    9. What does this discussion of Peter and Paul teach us about the nature of Peter's response to Jesus' call to follow? (The call to follow Jesus does not necessarily means that we give up our profession. The fact that Jesus did a miracle regarding Peter's catch, shows that Jesus prospered him in his profession.)


      1. How can you be a "comrade in arms" with Jesus in your profession?


  2. The Storm


    1. Read Matthew 8:23-25. Who should be expert in boat-handling? (The disciples who were fisherman, not the Carpenter.)


      1. What does this teach us about being disciples and working in our profession? (That we need to rely on God. Our career and our discipleship are not two separate matters.)


    2. Read Matthew 8:26. How would you answer Jesus? (I'm afraid because I could drown!)


      1. Why does Jesus criticize their faith? (The central issue in our life is whether we trust God. Jesus tells them that as long as He is with them, they need not fear death.)


    3. Read Matthew 8:27. Should Peter have been amazed? (You might think that the miraculous catch of fish was not so miraculous. But, this is a clear miracle.)


      1. What does this teach us about our partnership with God? (We should expect miracles. Jesus controls the fish, the winds and the waves. What more does a fisherman need? If Jesus controls all aspects of your profession, what more do you need? We should put away fear.)


  3. Promotion


    1. Read Matthew 19:27. Peter says they have left everything to follow Jesus, although we are not completely sure what that means at this point in time. What does Peter want?


    2. Read Matthew 19:28. What will the disciples receive?


    3. Read Matthew 20:20-21, Mark 10:35-37 and Mark 9:33-35. This follows Jesus' discussion of thrones and judging the tribes. What is the meaning of "greatest" here? (The greatest in Jesus' kingdom.)


    4. Re-read Mark 9:33-35. What does this teach us about arguing over promotion at work? (Servant leadership. If you want to be promoted, you need to be willing to serve all. You need to be willing to do the difficult work.)


    5. Read Mark 9:36-37. This seems to be an odd switch. Why would an adult not welcome a child? (The adult has more important things to do. If you are looking for promotion and power, a child has no power to share.)


      1. What do you think Jesus' point is regarding promotion? (If you want to be promoted, you need to be willing to do "servants work" and you need to "welcome" those who can do you no good.)


      2. Let me ask you a question that relates to this. Do you know the name of the person who cleans your office? How do you treat the people you supervise? How do you treat co-workers who cannot promote you?


    6. Read Matthew 20:17-19. If you were listening to this, how serious is this?


    7. Re-read Matthew 20:20-22. Do you think that these disciples (James and John)were paying attention to what Jesus just said?


      1. If not, why not? (I don't think they were paying attention, and it is because they were focused on themselves.)


        1. If they were not paying attention to the point about crucifixion, did they understand their agreement to drink "the cup I am going to drink?"


      2. What does this teach us about promotion? (They were focused on self, not on the welfare of Jesus. This is one part of the bigger picture Jesus is painting about leadership. If you want to lead, you need to be unselfish about what kind of work you are willing to do. If you want to lead, you need to be unselfish and welcome those who cannot help you. If you want to lead, you need to pay attention to the needs of others, and not be focused on your own needs.)


    8. Friend, are you willing to integrating your faith with your work? I don't think this is mostly about telling people about Jesus when they don't want to listen. I think it is about using Biblical principles when doing your job. These principles are relying on God, trusting God to work out problems, being willing to do the work others do not want to do, welcoming co-workers who cannot promote you, and paying attention to the needs of those around you rather than focusing on self. Will you determine to follow these promotion principles?


  4. Next week: The Great Controversy and the Early Church.

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