In the Zone – Ha-Makom

We want to impress on Harmony Bible group leaders the importance of disciple-making friends and the skill of listening, asking powerful questions, and provoking a faith-filled response. This article is an introduction which we would be glad to explore further during a training workshop. 

Rabbis call it Ha-Makom which means ‘the Place’. They’re not talking about ‘basketball’ or ‘flow’ but the “inter-subjective space” in which the reality of our communion dissolves the boundaries of what is yours and what is mine, the haves and have-not’s, the teacher and the learner (John 17:21).

On Thursday of the Passion Week, Jesus say to his disciples John records an intimate moment between Jesus and his disciples writing, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15). The greek word for used here for friend is philos (φίλος). The modern Hebrew word for friend, haver (f. havera) and Rachel Adler explains that the root of the word means means “to join together at the boundaries.” Elizheva Hurvich writes that the Aramaic word hebruta, which coincides with haver, refers to the “practice of learning in pairs”.

C.T.Studd Quote
To whom are you called to share the Gospel?

Isn’t this the reality also of our experiences. Friends who follow Jesus together learn more, encourage and strengthen one another. Spiritual abuse emerges in communities that fail to respect and value each person.  In the company of true friends we find belonging and its lateral dependencies shown in the Emotivational Spectrum which are: connection, and value. The practice of being a friend eliminates false barriers, covetousness, and fears, while fostering harmony, love and mercy. As illustrated in the Emotivational Spectrum the polar compound of Connection is Interdependency (and its lateral dependencies are intimacy and freedom).  With this understanding we see essential facets of such friendship and can begin to comprehend why making disciples requires us to engage in relational ministry.

As iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17), Elizaheva explains “‘Two scholars sharpen one another’, through discussion and debate, forming each other’s insight into the text (Ta’anit 7a)”. We would emphasis listening and dialog more than debate or discourse, just as we would emphasize friendship and discipleship over authority and dogma.  If you want to get a head start on learning these skills and values I suggest you read up on “Appreciative Inquiry” and “Powerful Questions“.

The Harmony of the Gospels reveals 138 questions which Jesus answered. Taylor Holmes reports that 52 were questions Jesus posed while teaching; and 61 questions were asked by others (25 of these by the disciples).  One of the questions the pharisees asked Jesus was on Tuesday during Holy Week in their final effort to ensnare him, rather than learn or hear the Good News. It is recorded in Section 135 of the Harmony of the Gospels (Mt 22:34-40 / Mark 12:28-34) – “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” And Jesus answered quoting from Deut 6:5 and Lev 19:18. His reply in the Gospel according to Mark began with the word “hear” (shamah) translated listen, heed‘ and “thou shalt love” (agapaō). I am sure that if we would employ these two commandments we would experience an evangelistic explosion!

To wrap up this lesson, disciple-makers elicit the spiritual aspirations as they engage in disciple-making friendships.  They explore the scriptures together, learning from one another, making room for questions, connection, and prayer in that sacred space (Ha-Makom) where our communion strengthens our friendship (haver). In that moment, in that context, we fulfill the first and the second greatest commandments, honoring both our covenant with God and our covenant with our community of faith.


Prepare the Way of the Lord

Week 13 | Sections 20, 21

Prepare the way of the LordAs we continue our chronological reading of the gospels, Jesus has now grown to be a man. This is when the Apostle Mark begins his Gospel record in which he aims to emphasize the activities and miraculous works of Jesus. John was already preparing the way, softening the hearts of his listeners away from self-righteousness and indifference with a message of repentance and baptism of those who desired release.

Section 20
[one_half last=”no”]Mark1¯2 1:1
1 The beginning of the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.3[/one_half]
[one_half last=”yes”]Luke 3:1-2
1 Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea4, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, 2 in the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, the son of Zacharias, in the wilderness.[/one_half]

Section 21
[one_third last=”no”]Matthew 3:1-6
1 In those days, John the Baptizer came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 2 “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, saying, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.” 4 Now John himself wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then people from Jerusalem, all of Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him. 6 They were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.[/one_third]
[one_third last=”no”]Mark 1:2-6
2 As it is written in the prophets, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you: 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord! Make his paths straight!’ ” 4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching the baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins. 5 All the country of Judea and all those of Jerusalem went out to him. They were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins. 6 John was clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. [/one_third]
[one_third last=”yes”]Luke 3:3-6
3 He came into all the region around the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance5 for remission of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight. 5 Every valley will be filled. Every mountain and hill will be brought low. The crooked will become straight, and the rough ways smooth. 6 All flesh will see God’s salvation.’ ”[/one_third]

Group Dialog:

  1. How have you personally been transformed by the Gospel of Jesus?
  2. How might our church and community be transformed if we engaged in active dialog about the reality of our faith. asked and listened to the stories of others?
  3. How does daily repentance help prepare your heart and mind to be messengers of the Gospel, and a servant of God?
  4. As the ministry of John the Baptist is focused on repentance, give space at the close of today’s study for a silent confession, and perhaps shared affirmation of faith using the Nicene creed.
  5. Think back on your baptism (infant or adult) share a related lesson of faith and God’s faithfulness that you hold dear, that gives you strength as you continue in the faith.

Learning Objectives:

Repentance, record of your journey in faith, baptism, dedication, inward transformation, sacrament, sincerity, peace, right living, fulfillment of prophesy, vocation.

Study Notes: