Week of October 23-29 (Week 8)

Readings & Reflection Questions


Friday, October 23, 2020  Matthew 13:53-14:36

  1. Optional historical background: Herod Antipas and the division of lands that had been governed by Herod the Great.
  2. In this section what examples does Matthew provide to illustrate questions that were surfacing about the source of Jesus’ power and the various opinions?
  3. What motivated Jesus to feed the 5,000?
  4. Why do you think Jesus challenged his disciples to feed the people?
  5. In this section, what is suggested about the relationship between the faith people had and the miracles that were done?
  6. If Jesus called you out for a lack of faith, how would you feel about it?

Saturday, October 24, 2020  Matthew 15:1-39

  1. What is Jesus’ attitude toward the Pharisees as compared to the attitude of his disciples?
  2. What evidence, if any, do you see for legalism among Christians in America these days?
  3. What is God’s concern with the distinction between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’? 
  4. What human emotion is the typical response to things that are ‘unclean’? Is this your response to the kinds of things that Jesus says makes a person unclean?
  5. Why do you suppose Matthew used an anachronistic description, ‘Canaanite’ (which dates back to accounts from Genesis through Joshua), to describe the woman from the region of Tyre and Sidon (modern day Lebanon)?
  6. Do you think that Jesus’ comment to the Canaanite woman that she was a dog and unworthy of his ministry was intended more as playful banter to draw her in or as a serious attempt to clearly define the limits of his ministry? Or, in other words, do you think his remark was more an expression of his actual opinion or just his way of highlighting a common Jewish sentiment in order to refute it?

Sunday, October 25, 2020  Matthew 16:1-28

  1. This section begins with the second mention of Pharisees asking for a sign and Jesus responding with a reference to Jonah. What does this imply, knowing what we know in retrospect, about what is the most important thing to know about Jesus in any generation?
  2. What are the connotations or expectations that are carried in the term, Christ? (For a full overview, see the Bible Project video, Messiah.)
  3. When Jesus said that Peter would be given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, what sort of things do you think he intended to imply about what would be bound or loosed by those keys?
  4. What indicates that Peter and Jesus had differing, even contradictory, ideas about what it would mean for Jesus to be the Messiah/Christ?
  5. How well do you think our culture is equipped to understand and appreciate what Jesus meant by “the gates of hell (Hades)? How well do you think we need to understand this concept to understand the Gospel in general?
  6. Why do you think Jesus told his disciples to not yet spread the news that he was the Messiah/Christ?

Monday, October 26, 2020  Matthew 17:1-18:14

  1. Do you think Jesus was expecting to have the supernatural encounter with Moses and Elijah when he took his inner circle disciples up the mountain? Why do you think God arranged for this to happen at this point in their lives?
  2. When you hear Jesus’ explanation that his disciples could not expel the demon because their faith was insufficient, and his subsequent statement about having faith as small as a mustard seed being sufficient to move a mountain, do you find yourself discouraged or encouraged? What is the point of the mustard seedreference here?
  3. In the account about paying the temple tax with a coin found in a fish, does Jesus offer any general principle that we as Christians should also attempt to follow?
  4. Why do you suppose Jesus focused attention on the value God places on children when he was correcting his disciples’ attitudes toward greatness in God’s kingdom?
  5. Here Jesus repeats the same advice he had given earlier about cutting off an offending hand or eye, but in a different context (5:27-30 & 18:5-10). Does this different perspective offer any additional insight about what he intends us to understand by his statement?
  6. Pray for God the Father to give you the same level of concern he has about the lost.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020  Matthew 18:15-19:12

  1. What kind of behavioral expectations does Jesus set that would differentiate his disciples, or the church, from pagans or tax collectors? Do you think the church today differs significantly from the world in this regard?
  2. Based on what you know from the other parts of Matthew’s Gospel, how does Jesus expect pagans and tax collectors to be treated?
  3. Why do you suppose that Jesus’ parable of the unmerciful servant included such a vast disparity between what the servant owed the master and what was owed to him by a fellow servant?
  4. What makes it hard for people to forgive others?
  5. Does the section where Jesus responds to question about divorce give you the impression that divorce was common among Jewish people at that time? Does this surprise you?
  6. What does Jesus identify as the critical issue that leads to divorce? How can that issue be prevented or remedied?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020  Matthew 19:13-20:16

  1. Why do you think the disciples considered it appropriate to rebuke those who brought little children to be blessed by Jesus? What did they need to unlearn?
  2. If the rich young man had opportunity to hear Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount prior to asking Jesus what would be required to enter eternal life, what parts of it would have been especially appropriate for him to listen to, based on your recollection?
  3. Why is it okay to accept that it is impossible for human beings to earn or deserve eternal life?
  4. Does Jesus’ promise of reward in return for making sacrifices for him and God’s kingdom motivate you to give more of yourself and your resources for God’s purposes?
  5. With which person do you identify most easily: the laborer who complained that the latecomers got the same wages as he received for working all day; or the generous owner who paid them all equally? 
  6. Where would you place yourself on the scale between least and greatest, first and last, in the kingdom of heaven?

Thursday, October 29, 2020  Matthew 19:25-26

  1. How would you explain to another person what is the difference between being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and being rewarded for good works?
  2. Is that what Jesus is actually talking about in these verses?
  3. Compose a prayer of gratitude to God for both his strictness and his kindness.

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