I. 3 INGREDIENTS FOR A GREAT COMMUNITY GROUP 1. Information vs. Revelation –
We would have a change of heart and not just a change of mind!
By the time we leave here tonight you would not just know God loves you, but you would experience his love at a heart level…
As a result, your big problems would seem small.
2. Exegete Text –
We want to listen to the text, rather than speak to it.
The Bible was written 2000 years ago, so we have to see what it means to them, in their culture FIRST, before we can understand what it means for us today. Exegeting is like a time machine.
3. Be Real –
Be vulnerable with someone else in the room.
Don’t be fake.
Don’t give religious answers.
If you don’t want to answer, then don’t answer!
4. How you grow is counter intuitive. Like a tree in the sun. Sunshine over the heart.
II. PRAYER: Pray for those things.
Have student pray.
Sample if no student will pray:
Since our goal is to encounter God’s love through community and through listening to the text, let’s ask God to open our hearts to be vulnerable with each other and help us hear what the text is saying.
III. SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 23:23-28
Pre-Text: How would you describe Jesus?
to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 24 You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Scripture: Matthew 23:23
to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.
Pharisees – The religious leaders in Jesus' time. The Sadducees, the other religious group in power, was in charge of the temple. Whereas, the Pharisees were the religious leaders of the people! The Sadducees were the religious group with the political/legal power, the Pharisees had the cultural power.
Pharisees knew the law - what was good to do in God’s sight, and did it with incredible diligence. They followed all 614 Jewish laws that were based on the OT. Yet, Jesus calls them hypocrites over three times here. Which begs the question, what does he mean by hypocrite? Well he mentions they are tithing, but they are not tithing for justice, mercy, and faithfulness. In other words, they are doing the right thing, for the wrong reason. They are doing good things, not for God, but for themselves.
Large group questions
1. Who might these people be today?
2. Could you be a Pharisee? (rhetorical)
Tiny group questions (Pharisee heart check)
Pharisee heart check list
1. Pharisees repent of bad things, but Christians can repent of good things too.
Questions: Have you ever repented of doing something good? Why or why not? If so, how long ago was it? What was it?
2. Pharisee sees God as useful, Christians see God as beautiful.
Questions: When is the last time Jesus wasn’t just useful, but you were moved by the beauty of what He did for you on the cross? What was it like? When did it happen? If you never have, do you wish you could?
(Caveat: This does not mean when you thought, “nature’s so beautiful and touching, or look at all these people worshiping together.” Follow the sun beam back to the sun. See the beauty of what He has done to bring people together, what He gave. Don’t say nature
or going to the beach – Pharisees see the beauty of this, but not how it’s connected to God’s love through Jesus.)
3. Pharisees pray to God to get stuﬀ, Christians pray to God to get God.
Be honest what does you regular prayer life look like: are you like the Pharisees hurrying through prayer, getting it done fast, right before you go to sleep, asking for God to mostly bless you – or are you setting aside time with Him daily because you can’t wait to spend time with HIM? Christians can’t wait to spend time with God (OR When was last time you were excited to spend time with him? Have you ever been? Why or why not?)
(Caveat: You say, “I don’t, but I want to,” and maybe you tried to spend time with God, and it hasn’t happened. If you’re not sensing his love for you, we would love to meet with you after. You have tools, don’t know how to use them. Like making a cake with the ingredients but no recipe, you don’t know how to position yourself to do this.)
Scripture: Matthew 23:25
to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Exegete (What it meant then):
Question for large group: What are all the things that Jesus calls the Pharisees in these verses?
Answer: hypocrites, dirty cups, full of greed and self-indulgence, wicked, full of dead men’s bones, white washed tombs.
Question: Is he being nice?
We need to learn something about Jesus.
Jesus is perfecting loving, but that means He is not always nice! Out of His love for people, He is not always nice!
Jesus is lamb, and HE IS THE LION of Judah! He’s a Lion. He’s a Lamb. He’s a rock. He’s a pearl. He’s a mighty Captain. He’s a tender lover. He’s a fragile flower. He’s a mighty tree of life.” He combines these traits in ways you would never, ever think could be combined in the same person. Majesty and meekness, power and weakness. - Timothy J. Keller, - Alan Mitchell (haha) CONCLUSION: Jesus is 100% Lion and 100% lamb at the same time
QUESTION WHOLE GROUP: We all lean towards some part of Jesus. Either more towards his lamb-ness, or more towards his lion-ness. Which one do you lean more towards?
(When we’re mad at someone else, we want him to be a lion taking our vengeance. But not with ourselves, we want him to be a lamb. We always him to be quiet, not interfering much with the things we love, or are doing, when those things are going well for us.)
In Western civilization we go about our life treating Jesus like a lamb. In Chronicles of Narnia, Jesus is allegorized as a lion. Because he is a big scary lion, naturally one of the children asks, “is he dangerous?” And the answer is yes! Of course, he is dangerous, he is a lion! But He is good.
In most of our life when things are going well, like the Pharisees, we don’t spend much time with God. We don’t let him in, and let him take his claws to our life. You can imagine the Pharisee hearing Jesus saying that and either getting mad, or not listening at all to what He was saying. He is just a lamb to them.
GOSPEL TURN In the Chronicles of Narnia there is a time the dangerous lion, who represents Jesus, deals with this boy, meant to be analogy for us. The scene starts with Eustace, a rotten boy, who has found himself in possession of a large fortune. He imagines the life and comforts he could now enjoy, and in his comforts he falls asleep with his treasure. When he awakes, Eustace is no longer a boy but a dragon, the outward manifestation of his inner greed and selfishness. “…You will have to let me undress you,” says Aslan the Lion. The very first tear (through the dragon skin) he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin oﬀ, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt…Well, he peeled the beastly stuﬀ right oﬀ — just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt — and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, than I had imagined. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me — I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again… After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me… in new clothes.
Have you let Jesus come in and contradict you deeply? That’s what He is doing. But only if you let him in can he help at all.
Here is why you should: He loves you. He knows that romantic relationship will never be enough love for your heart, that big dream isn’t big enough, those beliefs that you have that aren’t his will hurt you and others. He knows it and if you’ll let him in dangerously close, like Eustace, he will get to work, and it will hurt at first, but then you will become who you are meant to be. Given a new identity, the chains of our
dragonish pharisaical leaning will be scratched oﬀ. We can trust ourselves to this dangerous person, and that he only gives us wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us, because Jesus received the ultimate wounds for our punishment. He experienced eternal hell, and all its eﬀects, so you no longer have to live for them, so you could be set free. He went to hell and back so you could be sons and daughters and walk in His endless love.
Let the one thing into your heart that will satisfy you, the romantic relationship behind relationships, the dream behind all dreams, heart satisfaction behind all satisfaction…His Father’s Love, and The Son’s love, and The Spirit’s love. And that is because He is treated like a lamb on the cross. He is the speechless lamb. He is the lamb who was slaughtered. He is the one born of Mary, the beautiful ewe. He is the one who was taken from the flock and dragged to be slaughtered and killed at evening and buried at night, who was crushed on the cross, who rose like a lion from the dead and raised humanity from the grave below.
You can’t undragon youself because you won’t cut deep enough, you can’t cause yourself the pain that you need (think of having to do surgery on yourself), and you’re afraid of letting God control that pain. You can wait 5, 10, 50 years and see the end of the road that he already sees, when you finally get that thing you want or live that life you want to live, an end that fails to really satisfy your heart and soul. Or let him do what he has to, and contradict you, so that you can live the life he has for you, the life he designed you for and knows is best for you.
What is one area you think God would change in your life that might hurt?
Pray for each other that we would see more clearly Jesus’ desire for justice and his willingness to bring it about by the most drastic and most eﬀective means. Also that we would have the courage and faithful humility to call out our brothers when they sin, and to receive rebukes when we sin. Help us, Lord.