Friday September 25 Matthew 5:17-20
- What connections do you see between Jesus’ personal mission statement as he gives it here, ‘to fulfill the Law and the Prophets’ and the prior references to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies that Matthew has already cited? (Consider which fulfillments were passive and which will be active.)
- Optional: view this video from the Bible Project to get additional background on the Tanak (the Hebrew name for the Old Testament) and what Jesus was getting at when he spoke of fulfilling the Law and the Prophets.
- How do you feel about a way of life that consists in trying to keep a long list of commands? Do you think that’s what Matthew means at the end of his Gospel when Jesus says disciples are taught to be taught to “obey everything I have commanded you.”
- How do Jesus’ statements about how the Law and its commands will not pass away counter arguments that some Old Testament commands no longer apply to us in the modern age?
- What do you think Jesus is getting at when he says our righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees and teachers of the law?
Saturday September 26 Matthew 5:21-32
- What two major kinds of human bonds or relationships are addressed by Jesus in this passage, and which two of the ten commandments?
- What contrast does Jesus make here between his authority and the authority of Moses?
- Identify the commands made by Jesus in this passage. Which ones can be taken literally? Which ones might better be taken metaphorically?
- How would you interpret and apply the command to gouge out the eye or cut off the hand that causes sexual sin?
Sunday September 27 Matthew 5:22 or 28
- Which is more of a problem for you, anger or lust?
- What is God saying to you about your standard of righteousness when measured by the standard of Jesus?
- Construct a prayer of gratitude for how Jesus came to fulfill all righteousness (3:15) and every aspect of God’s Law (5:17-18), and invite the Lord Jesus into any areas of your life where you have been unable to live up to his standard, trusting his forgiveness and grace.
Monday September 28 Matthew 5:33-6:4
- In your estimation, are oaths taken as seriously now as they were in ancient or premodern times? In what ways do modern businesses or government agencies try to guarantee a person’s promise or commitments?
- Have you made personal promises or commitments you could not keep? If so, how did it damage relationships and how well have you been able to repair any such damage?
- How realistic do you think it is for people to be expected to not resist an evil person or to give to whomever asks? What might happen if Christians were to act this way?
- If it were possible for Christ to transform you so that you would spontaneously and automatically love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, before you even realized what you were doing, would you have him do it?
- What kind of picture does Jesus portray of the heavenly Father in this passage? What is he like? How does this snapshot compare to your other conceptions of God?
Tuesday September 29 Matthew 6:5-15
- Why do you think Jesus stresses the importance of secrecy in activities like prayer and charitable giving?
- How fair do you think the perception is that the religious right in America is full of hypocrisy? What kind of impact does this perception have on the Church’s mission of making disciples?
- Is it more comforting or alarming for you personally to realize that your Father knows all your secret thoughts and sees all your activities?
- What application point does Jesus offer for the realization that God already knows what we need before we even ask? And if the Father already knows, why do we need to ask?
- How often do you pray the Lord’s Prayer? Has it influenced your personal style of prayer?
Wednesday September 30 Matthew 6:16-18
- See Leviticus 23:26-32 for some background on what special day and ceremony prescribed fasting for Jews. Does Jesus teaching on fasting imply anything about whether fasting is a way of making amends to God on the one hand, or receiving reconciliation from God on the other?
- See Psalm 35:12-14 for an example of how fasting could be practiced in connection with prayer. What emotions are associated with fasting?
- Suppose you were asked by an irreligious person to explain the difference between dieting and fasting as a spiritual discipline?
- Suppose you were asked by a devout Muslim to explain the difference between Islamic fasting and Christian fasting?
Thursday October 1 Matthew 5:23-24, 6:14-15
- If personal reconciliation (5:23-24) or forgiving others (6:14-15) is an essential prerequisite to connecting with God, what might this imply for persons who feel disconnected from God?
- How would you explain the difference between forgiving someone and being reconciled with them?
- If reconciliation is important to discipleship, how is it best modeled and taught? Who has modeled for you how to be reconciled with others?
- Are there any persons you need to forgive or to reconcile with? What is stopping you?
Session 4 Powerpoint:
MeetingRecording, Thursday, Oct 1