I. Ingredients for a great community group aka our hope for tonight 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!
II. Pray for those things. Action: Have student pray. Sample if no student will pray: Since our goal is to encounter Godâ€™s love through community and through listening to the text, letâ€™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 and exegesis: Matthew 20:1-16 Imagine: Imagine you are one of Jesusâ€™ disciples, 2000 years ago. What do your hands look like? What is your name? Action: Take turns reading the passage as one group. Have someone describe the main event in vs. 17-19, 20-23, and 24-28.
God gives us big dreams for the future Read: A Mother’s Request 20 Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. 21 “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” 22 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered. 23 Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” Exegete: The disciples miss what Jesus is predicting. Still expecting a military leader for their messiah, they look forward to the earthly comforts that their supposed victory will bring, as this story shows. It’s possible that the mother of James and John was Jesus’ aunt on his mother’s side, which gives some explanation for why she might approach him. Known as the Sons of Thunder, this aggressive act appears to be characteristic, and could be a trait passed down from their mother. The request is ultimately for a share in Jesus’ prestige and power. They’re looking past the promise of crucifixion, and they’re definitely not thinking that Jesus might not fully inaugurate his kingdom until his second coming thousands of years later. They probably thought the cup, traditionally a reference to judgment or retribution in the Old Testament, was hyperbolic - that any suffering on Jesus’ end couldn’t be all that bad. Jesus is so gentle with his disciples, even as he denies their request and subtly assures them that they will also meet a gruesome end. His authority is only what the father gives him, and His Father has already assigned those positions. “To ask for worldly wealth and honor is often to ask for anxiety, temptation, disappointment, and envy; and in the spiritual arena to ask for great usefulness and reward is often to ask for great suffering.” Tiny group question: What is a gift or opportunity that you regret getting? Maybe one that made you a more terrible person or didn’t live up to expectations?
He wants to dream with us and us to dream with him Read: 24 When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. 25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Exegete: When the other 10 object, they don’t do it from humility but from jealousy - they don’t want to miss out. In a way, this story brings down egalitarianism. Jesus says that some will be awarded choice positions, and the desire for equality might actually be a mask for “enlightened self-interest” or some sense of entitlement. When Jesus contrasts his kingdom with the world’s kingdoms, he’s not just saying there won’t be corruption, but that the system itself is entirely different (there won’t be “lording over” or “lordship over,” between brothers). Somehow minister has come to be a position of power in the church, when it means helper at the root. Jesus asks for us to stick to the root word, going so far as to emphasize it with the word slave. To pagans, humility was a vice and not a virtue, but Jesus wants to give the honor of leadership to slaves. V 28 again shows Jesus believed he was Isaiah’s suffering servant. Tiny Group Question: How can you use the gifts God has given you to serve others this week, rather than yourself?
Jesus dreams of eternity with us Read: Jesus Predicts His Death a Third Time 17 Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, he took the Twelve aside and said to them, 18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” Exegete: This is the first time he mentions how he dies and involves the gentiles. Last week we talked about God’s grace in spite of our sinfulness, this text shows us how God pays the cost of forgiveness. He will fall victim to the results of legal proceedings, but will be resurrected. The disciples didn’t understand this, as the following story shows. Gospel Turn: “We know not what we ask when we ask for the glory of wearing the crown, and ask not for grace to bear the cross in our way to it.” (Henry) God wants us to dream, to ask for the glory of wearing the crown that he has set aside for us. Ultimately, that crown is an eternal relationship with him. But we don’t have to wait for eternity to begin to enjoy it, because he has given us many gifts, talents, skills, relationships, and opportunities with which to enjoy him even in our lives on earth. And the reason we have this great, transcendent blessing, is because of Jesus’ dream. Jesus set his sights on Calvary to die in our place, that we might enjoy the eternal relationship with the Father he willingly and necessarily lost on the cross. And thanks to this good news, our hearts are filled to overflowing with God’s love, and when we enjoy our gifts in this life we share them with others to point them toward the giver of every good gift.
IV. Pray in tiny groups: Ask God to show us the gifts he has given us in life, as well as how he wants them to be used to bring him glory and cause others to know his heart. Ask God to show us how a relationship with Him is the greatest gift, and how it is given to us through Jesus.