Prepare the Way - Questions & Guide (Week 1)
Sunday we began our look at the Gospel of Matthew, and this week we begin our Sermon based Growth Groups. Below is a selection from this week's Growth Group questions, with some additional helps. If you enjoy this, please get connected into a Growth Group so you can share your thoughts, hear from others and apply God's Word into each others' lives.
Read matthew 3:1-6
1. In ancient times the arrival of a king required special preparation. A herald would be sent ahead to prepare the road the king would travel on. How is John preparing “the way of the Lord”? Why is that message necessary?
- John is preparing “the way of the Lord” through preaching a message of repentance.
- This message is necessary because all people have shifted their allegiance away from the true king, to the false ones of this world (self, material world, the devil).
A helpful way to illustrate this is to recall the story of Robin Hood. Below is a simple way that the story connects this message of “repentance” as a type of preparation for the coming true king.
In Robin Hood, the good king Richard is away and the evil prince John has set himself up as king and is abusing the people. Now, imagine someone comes and says, “Good news! Richard is coming back, he will restore his kingdom once more.” Well, this is good news… for those who are under oppression from Prince John, who are still loyal to King Richard. But for Prince John and everyone else in rebellion against Richard’s rule, what are they to do? Either prepare to fight or do whatever it takes to make peace.
How do we make peace? John the Baptist tells them to “Repent.”
NOTE ON THE ‘KINGDOM OF HEAVEN’: The kingdom sums up God’s plan to create a new human life by making possible a new kind of community among people, families, and groups. [It combines] the possibility of a personal relationship to Jesus with man’s responsibility to manage wisely the whole of nature; the expectation that real change is possible here and now; a realistic assessment of the strength of opposition to God’s intentions; the creation of new human relationships and the eventual liberation by God of the whole of nature from corruption.
Read matthew 3:7-10
2. Not only did ordinary people come to hear John, but also some Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees and Sadducees. What does John say to them? Why does he speak to them so harshly?
- John said these religious leaders were:
- “A brood of vipers”
- “flee-ers” ie. Scaredy cats motivated by judgment only
- lousy with excuses
- likely to get “cut down”
- John speaks harshly to them because:
- They were not responding in repentance, but in self-righteousness.
- They were trying to associate with John and this movement, but were not truly repenting themselves.
- They thought their religious heritage was enough to keep them safe when the Messiah/King came.
NOTE ON PHARISEES & SADUCEES: Pharisees and Sadducees represent two of the three main religious sects of Judaism at the time. They are part political party and part religious faction. Pharisees derived their name from a word meaning “separated”’ they viewed themselves as God’s separated ones. They studied the law very carefully and made a determined attempt to put it into practice. In doing this they paid close attention to lots of rules that were meant to help the people avoid breaking any command of God. Sadducees were a small aristocratic and priestly sect that had made its peace with the Roman government. It’s possible that they only gave weight to the first five books of the Bible (Torah).
read matthew 3:11-12
3. How does verse 12 help us understand Jesus’ roles as King? How should this inform and grow our sense of urgency in sharing the gospel message?
- The picture in verse 12 helps us to see that Jesus’ role as King is not only to gather His own people, but also to bring justice to those who are aligned against Him.
- This is a great reminder that Jesus is a dividing line – He rescues and He judges. The picture of the alternative (“burn with unquenchable fire”) is to help motivate us to take the message of repentance seriously for ourselves and for all who will hear it.
NOTE ON “WINNOWING” WHEAT: At harvesttime the grain would be “threshed,” tread upon by men or oxen, thereby shaking the grain free from the husks, but still left in the same pile. Then it was “winnowed” – portions of the pile would be tossed into the air, the heavier grain would fall straight down and the lighter husks (the unusable “chaff”) would be blown away from the pile. In this process of gathering the wheat, the farmer is also separating out the chaff, which will then be burned. The sense from John is that this harvest time is near its fulfillment. (However, read 2 Peter 3:8-9 to see why it is still not fully completed).
Did this help get your gears going on studying King Jesus? There's a lot more to discover, especially in a group of people willing to wrestle with God's Word and let God's Word wrestle with them. Join a group, or make your own! Let's grow together.
Wednesday Night Groups start tomorrow (September 13) at 6:30 PM, show up in the Gym.
For all other Groups - click here to let us know what you're looking for and we'll place you.
 Blomberg, C. (1992). Matthew (Vol. 22, p. 74). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.