WEEK ONE: BIBLE STUDY OVERVIEW
Insights on Coping with our own suffering (Matthew 26:36-46) NIV
Note to Group Leader and Participants:
Background for the Group Leader: In this passage from Matthew 26:36-46, Matthew shares the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He died. Knowing his impending suffering and death, He asks Peter, James and John, disciples and apostles who followed Jesus, to pray with Him.
As the group leader, you will begin the discussion by raising the questions below, inviting them to share their thoughts and feelings. You do NOT have to use all the questions. These are suggested questions and you may skip any that may not seem appropriate for the group. Do not insist that they talk. Let them pass if they choose not to speak. For some, they will want to take the whole time to talk about their reflections. Ask them to limit their comments to two or three sentences and remind them that they can share more in small groups after the activity is over. If you noticed that an individual is deeply saddened by what he/she is saying, you may want to offer him/her the opportunity to share more with a social worker, a family member or friend. This is not a time for therapy. It is a time to experience spiritual wellness by recognizing the positive and painful moments in life,and affirming the individual’s experiences.
Week 1: You will review terms used, listen to the passage and follow your guide’s suggestions as you view the art associated with it. At the end, you may want to share your thoughts based on the guide’s questions.
Week 2: You will read the same passage together and discuss the question, delving more into its message.
Week 3: You will read the closing reflection, listen to the song associated with it and together answer the final discussion questions.
WEEK ONE – ART FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
Insights on Coping with our own suffering (Matthew 26:36-46) NIV
NOTE FOR GROUP LEADER: While allowing the group to view the image of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, the group leader will read or have the audio recording of the passage (Matthew 26:36-46) NIV. In preparation for this reading, the group will discuss and reflect on the terms and historical information provided under “Terms to Understand and Discuss.” After discussing the terms, the group will silently reflect on the photo and then the passage will be read while they continue to view it. The artwork will either be projected on a screen or printed out for easier viewing. The passage is printed below for further review, if desired. Follow the steps below:
Step One: Terms to Understand and Discuss:
Garden of Gethsemane: a garden at the foot of the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem where, Jesus began His passion and agony and was arrested before his crucifixion. The passage of Jesus’ agony is recounted in all four Gospels, each adding revealing elements.
Peter: one of the twelve apostles. He was also known as, Simon Peter, Cephas, the Rock, and was one of the first leaders of the early Christian Church. He died by crucifixion sometime between 64 and 69 AD in Rome.
Sons of Zebedee: James and John were the sons of Zebedee. All were fisherman, until one day, Jesus approached James and John while they were mending their nets. When Jesus called them, and they left Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him.…
will of God: according to Church teaching, God’s ultimate will, or desire, is the sanctification and salvation of all His children. His will for our unique lives is part of His plan for the advancement of His kingdom on earth and in heaven.
“May this cup be taken from me.”: These are the words that Christ spoke during his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when he begged God to change His destiny, the suffering that He would endure on the day of His passion. “This cup” refers to His suffering, His fate. Some theologians suggest that Jesus may not only have been referring to His own pain and death, but also to the fact that He would be subjected to the sin and wickedness of His human family and that He would be separated in death to His Holy Father.
Fall into temptation: temptation is when one experiences an internal desire to act against the will of God and being faced with the choice of being faithful or unfaithful to God and his guidelines/commandments which are set for us to help us become better human beings in our journey toward salvation. Some say that such temptations may come from the devil; others says that it comes from our own inner allurement to sin. If we “fall into temptation,” we give in to these desires or temptations.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”: words spoken by Jesus when He returned to ask the disciples to pray with Him on the night before He died. Here, He acknowledges that the disciples truly want to be with Him in prayer, but they do not have the strength or the determination to follow through on their commitment to kneel and pray with Christ. They have given in to their own inner weakness and sleep overcomes them.
The Son of Man: Jesus often calls Himself the Son of Man because He truly was human and was born of Mary. He also acknowledges His divine roots by not objecting to this title and to openly declaring that He was God.
Betrayer: Judas Iscariot, the apostle and disciple who betrayed Jesus and delivered Him into the hands of those who would crucify Him.
Step Two: Art for Reflection (Items needed: Artwork)
Group leader begins by saying: In this activity we will reflect on an image of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. The passage you will hear builds to this moment. Consider Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. What is happening? What is Jesus doing? Why? Who are the other people in the scene? What do the people nearby seem to be doing? Why? What appears to be the attitude of the others in the scene? Try to put yourself into the image. Where are you? Reflect on the feelings and experience of each person in the photo. What would your feelings and experiences be in this circumstance? I will give you three minutes to reflect. (Group Leader gives the group about three minutes of silence for the group to consider and meditate on the visual impact of the art. At the end of the silent reflection, go to Step Three.)
Step Three: (Items needed: Artwork, Passage from Matthew 26:36-46 NIV printed below, and questions for discussion and reflection.)
Group leader now says: “I will read (or play) the passage (from Matthew 26:36-46 NIV). While you listen to the passage continue to reflect on the artwork.” After the reading, the group can discuss and reflect on any or all of the following questions.
- Describe the scene. Who is there? What is happening?
- Put yourself in the scene. Where are you? What are you doing? What are you thinking?
- What do you suppose Jesus is thinking? Considering? Praying?
- What is He feeling? Why?
- What do you suppose is happening to the others in the scene?
- How do you suppose the conversation went between Jesus and his disciples?
- Who do you think is the person in the cloud?
- What is the person in the cloud holding? What is He saying?
- How does Jesus respond? Why?
- At the end of his time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus awakens the men, What does He say to them? What is going to happen next?
- How do you suppose the men respond? How do you suppose they feel?
- What other thoughts do you have on this passage?
NOTE TO GROUP LEADER: At the end of the session, you may want to allow the group to have a few moments for open discussion about the session and what it may have meant for them.
New International Version
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”
40 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41 “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
42 He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.”
43 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. 44 So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”