LEADERS’ CG Study Guide THE LIFE April 12, 2020 PDF Version
Leader’s Community Group Study Guide
For the week of April 12, 2020
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FOOD DROP OFF – Friday, April 10, 11:00am – 2:00pm
3 Ways to Give to the Food Drive:
Drop off donations at our Ballast Point Campus, 5101 Bayshore Blvd.
(Note: Hours have changed: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., Fridays only)
Ship Items from Amazon or from a local Tampa business to the Ballast Point Campus, 5101 Bayshore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33611
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1. This past weekend we experienced one of the most memorable Easters any of us will ever remember. What was Easter like in your household growing up? Has it changed over the years?
2. From this weekend’s teaching, was there a statement, point or insight that was particularly helpful, challenging or confusing to you personally?
- This past week, Pastor JJ dug into the life of Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy religious leader that was part of the Sanhedrin. Jesus addresses Joseph and the rest of the council in Matthew 23:13-32. Make a list of the seven charges Jesus made against the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law. How do they relate to what Jesus says in Matthew 23:2-7.
The first woe is, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13). Jesus cares for people. He desires for them to know Him and to enter into His kingdom (John 3:16–17; 10:10, 17; 2 Peter 3:9). After rebuking the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus lamented over rebellious Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37–39). Clearly, His heart is for people to find life in Him. It stands to reason, then, that He would have harsh words for those who prevented people from finding salvation. The teachers of the Law and Pharisees were not truly seeking after God, though they acted as if they were. Their religion was empty, and it was preventing others from following the Messiah.
In the second woe, Jesus condemns the scribes and Pharisees for making strenuous efforts to win converts and then leading those converts to be “twice as much” children of hell as the scribes and Pharisees were (Matthew 13:15). In other words, they were more intent on spreading their religion than on maintaining the truth.
The third woe Jesus pronounces against the scribes and Pharisees calls the religious leaders “blind guides” and “blind fools” (Matthew 23:16–17). Specifically, Jesus points out, they nit-picked about which oaths were binding and which were not, ignoring the sacred nature of all oaths and significance of the temple and God’s holiness (verses 15–22).
The fourth woe calls out the scribes and Pharisees for their practice of diligently paying the tithe while neglecting to actually care for people. While they were counting their mint leaves to make sure they gave one tenth to the temple, they “neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Once again, they focused on the letter of the Law and obeyed it with pride, but they missed the weightier things of God. Their religion was external; their hearts were not transformed.
Jesus elaborates on their hypocrisy in the fifth woe. He tells the religious leaders they appear clean on the outside, but they have neglected the inside. They perform religious acts but do not have God-honoring hearts. It does no good, Jesus says, to clean up the outside when the inside is “full of greed and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25). The Pharisees and scribes are blind and do not recognize that, when the inside is changed, the outside, too, will be transformed.
In the sixth woe, Jesus claims the scribes and Pharisees are “like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean” (Matthew 23:27). The deadness inside of tombs is likened to the “hypocrisy and wickedness” inside the religious leaders (verse 28). Once again, they appear to obey God, but their hearts are far from Him (see Matthew 15:7–9 and Isaiah 29:13).
Jesus concludes His seven-fold rebuke by telling the religious leaders that they are just like their fathers, who persecuted the prophets of old. In building monuments to the prophets, they testify against themselves, openly admitting that it was their ancestors who killed the prophets (Matthew 23:29–31). Although they arrogantly claim that they would not have done so, they are the ones who will soon plot the murder of the Son of God Himself (Matthew 26:4).
Jesus told His listeners to respect the scribes and Pharisees due to their position of authority but not to emulate them, “for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see” (Matthew 23:3–5). The scribes and Pharisees were supposed to know God and help others know Him and follow His ways. Instead, the religious leaders added to God’s Law, making it a cumbersome and onerous burden. And they did not follow God with a pure heart. Their religion was not true worship of God; rather, it was rooted in a prideful heart. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount emphasizes the true intent of the Law over the letter of the Law. The scribes and Pharisees emphasized the letter, completely missing its spirit.
2. Read Luke 23:50-51. What do you learn about Joseph in this passage? Read Matthew 27:45-61. In asking for the body of Jesus what risks is Joseph taking with Pilate and the Sanhedrin?
“(Joseph) who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God” (Luke 50:51). After Jesus’ death on the cross, Joseph, at great risk to himself and his reputation, went to the Roman governor Pilate to request Jesus’ body. Nicodemus, the Pharisee who had visited Jesus at night to ask questions about God’s Kingdom (John 19:39; cf. John 3), accompanied Joseph. The two men were granted custody of Jesus’ body, and they immediately began to prepare the body for burial. Following Jewish custom, they wrapped the body in strips of linen and mixed in myrrh and aloe. However, it was the Day of Preparation—the sixth day of the week, just before the Jewish Sabbath—and it was late in the day. So Joseph and Nicodemus hurriedly placed Jesus in Joseph’s own tomb, located in a garden near the place of Jesus’ crucifixion.
Unbeknownst to Joseph and Nicodemus, their choice to put Jesus in Joseph’s tomb fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy spoken hundreds of years before Jesus’ death: “He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:9, emphasis added). This is one of the many prophecies that have confirmed Jesus’ identity as the Messiah and Son of God.
3. Pastor JJ pointed out that Joseph went from curious about who Jesus was to being convicted which led to his conversion. What is your story of how you met Jesus? Are you still curious? If converted, take a moment to share your story.
An effective testimony is one that conveys both your own experience and the Gospel of Christ so that someone else has the information about the process of salvation. (1) Start by writing down the details of how you came to trust in Christ to save you. Answering the following questions to help you: a) Who told me about Christ? b) What events led up to me trusting or believing in Christ? c) When did I trust in Christ? d) Where was I when I first believed? e) How has faith in Christ been a blessing to me?
TAKING IT HOME
1. Pastor JJ likened a man on his wedding day asking his bride not to tell anyone of the commitment made to her is the same as if we didn’t let others know that we have a committed relationship with Jesus Christ. On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the highest, how committed to Jesus are you?
Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38). Jesus is telling us that every fiber of our being, every facet of our lives must be committed to loving and serving God. This means that we must hold nothing back from Him because God holds nothing back from us (John 3:16). Furthermore, Jesus tells us that our commitment to Him must supersede our commitment to even our families: “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). Such commitment means our family relationships may be severed. It means our commitment to Christ demands, if given an “either/or” situation, we turn away from them and continue on with Jesus (Luke 12:51-53). The bottom line is that those who cannot make that kind of commitment cannot be His disciple. Total commitment to God means that Jesus is our sole authority, our guiding light, and our unerring compass. Being committed to Christ means being fruitful; it means being a servant. Our axiom is simple and succinct: “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).
2. Read Matthew 28:16-20. In what ways can you fulfill the Great Commission in the context of your family? Work? Community?
It is interesting that, in the original Greek, the only direct command in Matthew 28:19–20 is “make disciples.” The Great Commission instructs us to make disciples while we are going throughout the world. The instructions to “go,” “baptize,” and “teach” are indirect commands—participles in the original. How are we to make disciples? By baptizing them and teaching them all that Jesus commanded. “Make disciples” is the primary command of the Great Commission. “Going,” “baptizing,” and “teaching” are the means by which we fulfill the command to “make disciples.”
A disciple is someone who receives instruction from another person; a Christian disciple is a baptized follower of Christ, one who believes the teaching of Christ. A disciple of Christ imitates Jesus’ example, clings to His sacrifice, believes in His resurrection, possesses the Holy Spirit, and lives to do His work. The command in the Great Commission to “make disciples” means to teach or train people to follow and obey Christ.
3. What can you do to stand by Jesus even when it’s unpopular?
As Christians, the two things we can do to stand up for Christ are to live according to His Word and grow our own knowledge of Him. Christ said, “Let your light shine before men…” (Matthew 5:16). This means that we should live and act in a way that supports the gospel. We should also arm ourselves with knowledge, both of the gospel (Ephesians 6:10-17) and of the world around us. First Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” All we can do is live and teach as Christ would and let Him take care of the rest.