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Tetelestai (It is Finished) Week 7 Study Guide: Kingdom Through Cross

Community Group Study Guide — Tetelestai (It is Finished): Kingdom Through Cross
Mark 8:31-37 and Colossians 1:13-14

Study Information:
Imagine being one of Jesus’s early followers. You hear him teach, you get a sense of his authority and power and you are even part of his miracles like distributing bread during the feeding of the 5,000 and watch him calm the storms on the sea of Galilee. There would be an authority and power about Jesus that would have been undeniable. But then you hear him say things like “the Son of Man must be rejected, suffer, die and rise again…” The title “Son of Man” was used in Daniel 7 for the messianic king that God would send to deliver his people, one who had all authority and power. The idea of this king suffering and dying was laughable, but Jesus didn’t just say it once, he said it three times in the gospel of Mark on the way to the cross (Mark 8:31, 9:30-31,10:32-34). We think of a kingly inauguration with royal robes, crowns, crowds shouting praise, etc. Yet the inauguration of Jesus’s kingship came with suffering and rejection. The gospels teach us that Jesus’s kingdom was inaugurated with weakness and that the king MUST suffer. This Sunday is Palm Sunday, a Sunday where the church focuses on the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when the crowds declared him as king. This moment began the week that led up to the cross. In this study guide we want to talk about that theme of the kingship of Jesus and how the cross brought about the kingdom of God. 

The King Must Die
Mark 8:31
Jesus took his disciples to an area called Caesarea Philippi which was an area in Northern Israel known for Caesar worship, hence the town name “Caesarea.” Jesus asked his disciples “who do people say that I am?” The crowds were talking about Jesus’s power and teaching and thought he might be Elijah or John the Baptist or the promised prophet from Deuteronomy 18. The disciples had been with Jesus and seen it all, so he asked them, “who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “you are the Christ” which was the Greek word for “messiah,” anointed king. Many thought this king would build a following and lead the people of God to freedom from their oppressors and reestablish Israel as their own people, but that was not what Jesus said next. After that declaration, Jesus began to teach them about how the king must suffer, be rejected, die and rise again (Mark 8:31). In short, Jesus said “I am the king, and the king must die.”

Our thoughts on kingship and power are a bit muddled. We do not have a king, and much of our vision of kingdoms and such come from medieval images or movies and television. Usually we associate kings with power and authority and often abuse of that authority and yet here Jesus taught them that the kingdom of God would be inaugurated through death. The kingdom of God would look like sacrifice and weakness. The cross was not an accident and it was not something Jesus could have avoided, the pathway of his kingdom went through the cross. 

Isaiah 52:13 said “Behold my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up and shall be exalted.” Notice the combination of the word “servant” with the throne language of high, lifted up, exalted. As you move through Isaiah 52 and 53 you also get a lot of language around how this servant has to suffer and what God accomplished through that suffering, namely our forgiveness and restoration to him. The idea of a suffering king was not a new idea, but it was certainly missed by the 1st century crowds and disciples. 

Why must the king suffer? Jesus suffered to rescue his people from a rival kingdom.  

Rival Kingdoms
Colossians 1:13-14
We are all born into a kingdom. That is because our first parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled against God’s rule and chose self-rule and the rule of the serpent. Paul called this kingdom the Domain of Darkness and following Christ involves being rescued from that domain and given a new authority in Jesus. Jesus died so we could be transferred and brought under a better king called the Kingdom of the Beloved Son. Notice five characteristics of that new kingdom. First, the new authority is Good! God is the one who causes the transfer and is the one who set up this kingdom. The authority in the Domain of Darkness is at best you, at worse the devil and neither of those authorities will lead you towards life. Second, the kingdom is built on love… notice whose kingdom it is: The “beloved Son!” The Domain of Darkness is a loveless kingdom built on selfishness. Third, God’s kingdom is a family…, there is a Son who shares his life with us. Notice the words “in whom,” meaning we are counted in Christ and part of the family of God. The Domain of Darkness is built on factions, disunity and pride. Fourth, in God’s kingdom there is redemption. To be redeemed is to be purchased out of captivity and brought to freedom. The Domain of Darkness keeps us chained and enslaved to things of this world like sin. Finally, in God’s kingdom there is forgiveness for sin, which is precisely why Jesus the king had to suffer and die. In God’s kingdom our debt is paid for, in the Domain of Darkness you are perpetually defined by your mistakes and wrong doing. 

Our sin held us captive to a rival kingdom, but Christ died to free us and transfer us to a better kingdom. 

Following the King
Mark 8:32-35
After Jesus announced to his disciples that he must suffer and die, he turned to the crowd and called his followers to take the same path that he was on. Deny yourself and take up our cross and follow me. Denying yourself will require growing in discipline and self-control, but Jesus expands by telling us to lose our life so we can find it. Life in the Greek here is the word “psyche” which is where we get psychology; Jesus is expressly saying to not be ruled by our sense of “self” which is a key feature of the Domain of Darkness. Instead, we give up self-rule and follow him and by doing that we find life. We can follow Jesus through faith and pursuing the kind of life he lived, marked by selflessness, service and sacrifice all of which were on display when he entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. 

Are you following Jesus as king? Who would you say rules in your life? 

At your community group:

Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.

How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week? 

Discussion Questions:
Read Mark 8:31-35

Why would the disciples be so shocked about Jesus’s message that the king must suffer? 

Compare and contrast the Domain of Darkness and the Kingdom of God’s Beloved Son in Colossians 1:13-14.

What does following Jesus as king require from his disciples? Why would God want us to lose our sense of self and how does that relate to the problem of being in the Domain of Darkness before being saved?

What are one or two ways having Jesus as your king gives you assurance this week?