Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bible Study - Warnings and Woes (Matthew 23)

With the fall upon us we jump back into the Gospel of Matthew where we again find ourselves in Jesus' last week in Jersusalem. Having met the challenges from the various religious groups in the city, Jesus now turns back to address his followers and the crowds with a series of prophetic warnings and woes.
  • Read Matthew 23:1-36. Do we take these hard words from Jesus as words to us (as warnings and an invitation to examine ourselves), or do we just take them as an opportunity to feel superior to the scribes and Pharisees?
  • Jesus says a number of things that should cause us to think carefully about how we practice our faith. There are many points in our reading but here are few thoughts that came to me:
    • Consider verses 2-3. Elsewere (Matthew 15:1-20) Jesus rejects much of what the Pharisees teach, but here he tells the crowds to listen to them. How might we still manage to learn from those who we usually disagree with, or seem hypocritical? Can we still hear the truth when it comes from an unexpected source?
    • Consider verses 4 and 13. What are some of the ways that Christians make faith oppressive and burdensome, rather than liberating and joyful? What are some of the ways that Christians might cause others to stumble and turn them away from the kingdom?
    • Consider verses 5-12. What are some of the ways that we get caught up in external signs of religious devotion, or in status and titles? How can we seek to be more authentic and humble?
    • Consider vereses 23-24. What are some the ways that we major on the minors, and get distracted from the "weightier matters of God's Torah; justice and mercy and faithfulness"?
  • Read Matthew 23:37-39. What are some of the ways that we reject God's attempts to reach out to us? How well do we respond to prophets?

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