Read: Matthew Chapter 3:1-12 and your notes from Sunday morning’s sermon.
Intro: As we continue in Matthew chapter 3, we learn that Jesus’ ministry was preceded by John the Baptist’s. In the first few verses we see John preaching about the Kingdom of Heaven, or the “rule/reign” of heaven. He’s letting his audience know that Jesus is coming soon! Starting in verse 4 matthew describes John’s clothes and food, and we can clearly see that he is a simple man, living a humble life. But even though he was a poor man eating free food, people still came out to the wilderness to listen to what he had to say. He baptised them as they also repented and that was the hallmark of his ministry – calling everyone, including the jews and the jewish leaders to repentance. Even religious leaders of the day, who we learned in the last series viewed themselves above all others, came to be baptized. John calls them out though and believes they’ve come only to escape the wrath that they deserve, as the kingdom of heaven draws nearer. John wants everyone to know that simply being seen at a religious gathering is not enough, and coming from a religious lineage isn’t either. They (we) have to actually turn away from sin and evil, and make a life change. After telling everyone about the judgement that is coming, John tells them about the savior who will come and do much more than John ever could. John says that He will not only give the gift of the Holy Spirit, but also be the one to harvest the righteous.
- John the Baptist foreshadows what is required to follow Jesus when he talks about needing to repent. This is a complete life change. In what ways has your life changed since deciding to follow Jesus? (Or if you have not yet made that decision, in what ways do you expect that it would need to?)
2. John calls out the religious leaders, who are very good at follwing all kinds of rules, for not truly repenting. What does this reveal about repentance. Is it simply an outward show, an inward change, or both?
3. John puts a lot of emphasis on the coming judgement. Why do you think this talk about judgement is important to include, before we go on to learn about Jesus ministry in the rest of the Gospel of Matthew?
Feel free to discuss or ask additional questions as they arise
Spiritual Practice: We are currently practicing the spiritual discipline of Meditation. Last week we introduced the practice and this week we are diving a bit deeper. How do we start? First know that we can meditate anywhere and any time. But in order to accomplish this, we do have to make room for rest. We have to make room to notice the beauty around us. We have to be able to do things slowly. And we need to be able to be at peace in all of the chaos of our daily lives. We need to create schedules where we are not so hurried from one thing to the next that we miss opportunities to slow down, be contemplative, and hear God speak. We also need to reduce distractions. Some suggestions here would be to go to a quiet place, with no phone, and no distractions, and then get into a comfortable position. Sitting in your favorite outdoor chair while you listen only to the birds chirping might be a good place to start. This week, evaluate your schedule and your habits. Is there any place in your schedule that would allow you to go to a quiet, distraction free place? If not, could you make room for that in some part of your day? Get creative and think of places and times that you could have a quiet moment alone and ditraction free. Next week we will talk about what to do with that quiet moment.
Closing verse: Romans 12:2 – “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord”