Friday, October 30, 2020 Matthew 20:17-34
What comment from Jesus probably sparked the request for James and John to be given places of high rank? (hint: Matthew 19:28)
Why do you suppose Jesus directed his response at James and John rather than their mother, who made the request on their behalf?
What do you suppose Jesus meant when he compared the cup he would drink and the cup his disciples would drink?
Reflecting on your personal experiences, is it still true today that people in high ranking positions “lord it over” their underlings, and “exercise authority over them” (v. 25)?
What benefits have you actually witnessed from well-conceived servant leadership? Can you recall any good examples? (If so, offer a quick prayer of gratitude.)
How did the healing of the blind men demonstrate Jesus’ articulated value of servant leadership?
Did you catch the Messianic implications in the title used by the blind men to address Jesus?
What kind of emotional dynamic drives servant leadership such as Jesus demonstrates?
Saturday, October 31, 2020 Matthew 21:1-17
To what degree do you think Jesus was in control of the events leading into and playing out in his triumphal entry into Jerusalem?
Do you think Jesus planned in advance to drive out the buyers and sellers and upend the tables of money changers in the temple courts, or do you think it was more of a spontaneous reaction to what he witnessed there?
How much actual loss of property or money do you think Jesus caused by his action (don’t consider loss of potential earnings)?
Based on the information given in this section, what various opinions about the identity of Jesus were represented among the people on the day of Jesus’ parade entrance into Jerusalem?
Which of Jesus’ actions or words do you think made for the strongest claim about his true identity?
When Jesus returned to Bethphage do you suppose he had any follow-up conversation with the owner of the donkey he had borrowed?
What would you identify about Jesus from this section that is worth imitating or emulating?
Sunday, November 1, 2020 Matthew 21:13
How would this statement be interpreted if Jesus were only a prophet? How would it be interpreted if he were identified as the embodied presence of the LORD, God of Israel? Is the difference significant?
Does Jesus’ stress on God’s temple being a house of prayer add anything significant to his prior teaching about prayer (praying secretly in a closet and following his set pattern, Matthew 6:5-13)?
How important is it for God’s people to have a place for everyone to gather for public prayer?
How important a role does public prayer play in what happens when you see God’s people gathering together today?
Monday, November 2, 2020 Matthew 21:18-21:46
Considering Jesus’ cursing of the fig tree, which of these interpretations makes the most sense to you: [a] This was a simple (and perhaps somewhat impulsive) exercise of miraculous power intended by Jesus as an example for his disciples to follow when they would attain greater faith; [b] this was a deliberately enacted parable or object lesson by Jesus to get his disciples to reflect on everything John the Baptist and Jesus had taught earlier about a tree and its fruit (Matthew 3:8-10; 7:15-20; 12:33-35); [c] this was a challenge for the disciples to make other meaningful connections with Scriptures that dealt with figs or fig trees, and perhaps gain greater insight into their position within God’s greater plan (e.g. Genesis 3:7; Jeremiah 24:1-10); [d] who knows?
Do you suppose the money changers and animal sellers had returned to the temple courts by the time Jesus returned the next day? If so, what do you suppose they might have been thinking when they saw him back again?
Considering that Jesus mentions the ministry of John the Baptist twice during the disputations at the temple courts, what seems to Jesus to be the most important thing about John’s preparatory role?
How does Jesus model here what he had taught about loving one’s enemies and doing for others what you would have them do for you?
Wednesday, November 4, 2020 Matthew 23:1-39
Can you think of any situations where you have been called upon to honor persons in positions of responsibility, or their policies, while disagreeing with their approach or personal character? How does that kind of situation test your own personal integrity?
Based on this section, how might you summarize Jesus’ definition of ‘hypocrite’?
Considering “the important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (23:23), how would you grade your own church and American churches in general with regard to keeping these values central and living them out?
What can you learn from Jesus’ example here about how to love your enemies?
Thursday, November 5, 2020 Matthew 22:37-39
To what degree do you think it is possible to quantify the extent of a person’s love? In other words, is love more of a qualitative or quantitative thing, or both?
How important do you think it is to understand the distinctions between heart, soul, and mind, in order to keep the greatest commandment?
How do you interpret and apply the qualification, “as yourself,” in the command to “love your neighbor as yourself?”
Do you agree or disagree with Dallas Willard’s main test of Christian character: whether you spontaneously respond with love to someone who is acting like your enemy?