Background work –
Listen to N.T.Wright lecture here:
Chapter 8 of All Who Came Before has Barabbas and a Pharisee listening to Jesus preach the so-called “Sermon on the Plain.”
1. Do you believe Luke recorded every word of Jesus’ sermon? How long do you think the sermon lasted?
2. Prior to the sermon, Jesus had been praying all night. Why did Jesus need to pray to God, if he was actually God himself in human form? Do you think he planned in advance to spend the night in prayer? Or did it just happen? Should all night prayer sessions be planned in advance, or happen spontaneously?
3. Worship (originally ‘worth-ship’) describes the way that we attach worth to things that we value. Politics, in the broadest sense, describes the way that human beings structure their world around the things that they value. Was the sermon on the plain religious, or political? Or is it not possible to separate the two.
4. Jesus claims we should love our enemy. Who is your enemy? What does it mean to love them? What does it do to you as an individual when you love your enemy?
5. The people who heard this sermon were oppressed by a Roman Empire that treated its subjects ruthlessly. Many in Jesus’ day wanted to take up arms against the Romans, and when Jesus told his enemies to ‘take up the cross’, he would probably have been mis-heard. People who died on crosses, were rebels against Rome – and that seemed to be what Jesus was inciting: rebellion. How would you summarise the message of the sermon in a single sentence?