Jesus Faces Temptation (Matthew 4:1 – 11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1 – 13)

Scripture Text:

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Matthew 4:1 – 11

Mark 1:12, 13

Luke 4:1 – 13

Questions:

1. What is the longest you ever went without eating? How did it feel?

2. If you were emperor of the world, what would you first decree?

3. Why were the temptations directed at Jesus immediately after He was affirmed by God at His baptism?

4. For each of the three temptations:

  • What is its nature?
  • What potentially might appeal to Jesus?
  • What price would there be were He to yield?
  • How does Jesus respond?

5. Of these three, which temptation appears most legitimate? Which one is most shrewd?

6. In quoting Psalm 91, what truth did the Devil pervert or omit?

7. How would you describe the power struggle going on in this story?

  • This is the ultimate struggle between good and evil.
  • Satan is trying to conquer Jesus when He seems weak.
  • Jesus is tempted to use His power as God’s Son for Himself.
  • The power struggle is no different that those we face daily.
  • The power struggle is greater than anything we could face.

8. What human need is at the heart of each temptation? How are these needs evident in your life? How does Satan use these to tempt you?

9. What does it mean to you that all the authority and splendor of the kingdoms of the world has been given to Satan?

10. What does Jesus’ encounter with temptation teach us?

  • Fasting and prayer makes us vulnerable to temptation.
  • Fasting and prayer enables us to overcome temptation.
  • It’s best to be armed with Scripture when temptation comes.
  • Satan know Scripture too.
  • We need to tell Satan to get lost.
  • When you resist, God sends help.

11. When do you find yourself most vulnerable to the Tempter?

  • when I’m tired or under stress
  • when I’m alone or away from home
  • after a spiritual high
  • when I’m not expecting it
  • when I let my mind dwell on certain things

12. If the Devil had three shots at you, what three temptation would he use?

13. What has helped you overcome temptation when it comes?

  • Scripture (such as ___________)
  • Prayer
  • Telling someone about it
  • Talking myself out of it
  • Running away

14. When have you been alone in the “desert”? How can it help to know Jesus has been there? What’s the difference between being lonely and being alone?

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John the Baptist Prepares the Way; The Baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:1 – 17; Mark 1:1 – 13; Luke 3:1 – 22)

Scripture Text:

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Matthew 3:1 – 17

Mark 1:1 – 13

Luke 3:1 – 22

Questions:

1. You are producing a play, with someone from your family or small group in the role of a fiery street preacher. Who would you cast in that role and why?

2. What is the most unusual religious service you ever attended?

3. When the mail comes, what do you open and read first?

4. What is the strangest thing you have ever eaten?

5. What was the longest period of time you spent in the wilderness or away from civilization? What was it like?

6. What do the contexts of the quotes (Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3 – 5) teach about the “coming one”?

7. What was John the Baptist like? Why would anyone go out of their way to hear this radical preacher? Who did they think he was (see 2 Kings 1:8)?

8. Why does Luke list all the political and religious leader of the time?

9. How would you describe John’s message and style?

10. How would you paraphrase John’s message for people today? What is the “kingdom of heaven”?

11. What angered John so much about the Pharisees and Sadducees? Who are today’s Pharisees and Sadducees?

12. What do the images of judgment mean: the coming wrath? the ax? the fire? the winnowing fork?

13. What’s radical about John’s message? What does the “root” and “fruit” signify? Is he advocating social upheaval? Or inner transformation? Is he preaching or meddling? Why?

14. In the minds and hearts of the people, why is John confused with Christ? By contrast, how does John differentiate himself and his ministry? What does the “chaff” and “wheat” signify?

15. John began his ministry by “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. Why make a big deal about repentance? Why not just forgive everybody?

16. The Jewish people anxiously awaited a kingdom ruled by the Messiah, but John was saying that they had to repent (turn away from their sins) before they could enter this new kingdom. How do you think they felt about that?

17. How might people respond if John the Baptist showed up at your place of worship to preach a message and attend a potluck dinner? What do you think John would say?

18. John lashed out at the religious leaders – calling them snakes and knocking their traditional claim to the kingdom as descendants of Abraham. If these leaders had defended themselves in the local paper or on social media, what might they have written?

19. Eventually John’s direct approach to truth got him in trouble (Luke 3:19, 20). What would you have done in his place: been completely honest no matter what? Or backed off a little because it was the leader of the land who was sinning? Why?

20. What was the purpose of Jesus coming to John to be baptized?

  • to commit Himself to God
  • to get God’s approval
  • to kick off His public ministry
  • to be free of sin
  • to identify with our sin
  • to set an example for His followers
  • to be equipped by the Holy Spirit

21. What do you think the doves and voice mean to Jesus as He came out of the water? As He entered the desert? During His temptations? How would all this prepare Him?

22. Who had been a John the Baptist in your life? How did he or she prepare you to meet Jesus?

23. How is repentance linked to your experience of salvation: in the past? now? Where does repentance, to God and/or others, still need to happen in your life?

24. What one action will you take this week to produce fruit in keeping with your repentance?

25. If you asked John, “what should we do?” how would he answer?

26. How has God affirmed you as His child in Christ?

27. How has Jesus been like a “new Adam”for you – giving you a fresh start at life? How does Jesus’ sonship (Luke 3:22) form the basis for the way the Father sees you? What kinship do you sense with Jesus?

28. What means the most to you about your own baptism?

29. When in your life have you felt God’s special touch, as if something were beginning for you? What happened?

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The Boy Jesus At The Temple (Luke 2:41 – 52)

Scripture Text:

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Luke 2:41 – 52

Questions:

1. What was your best family trip?

2. Ever get lost as a child? What happened?

3. What was the significance of this feast, which was an annual tradition with Jesus’ parents’ (see Deuteronomy 16:1 – 6)?

4. How much does Jesus seem to know about His mission? How much do His parents know?

5. Why do you think Luke included this episode of Jesus’ life?

6. Has your hunger for God ever been misunderstood by your family? How?

7. How do you maintain a balance between daily responsibilities and serving God?

8. Jesus was a well-rounded person as He grew up. He developed in all four of these areas:

  • wisdom – ability to apply knowledge to make right choices
  • stature – physical development
  • favor with God – having a close, obedient relationship with Him
  • favor with men –  having a good reputation, relating well to people

In what ways are you growing “in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men”? How are you doing in keeping these four areas balanced? Which are you strongest in? Weakest? What can you do in the next year to strengthen your weakest area?

9. What does this story say to you about your relationships? 

  • I need to do what God wants regardless of what other think.
  • Like Mary, if I am upset with someone I should voice my concerns.
  • Like Jesus, if I know I am doing what’s right I shouldn’t apologize.
  • In all my relationships, I have to be at peace with myself.

10. What do you think Jesus’ behavior in this story?

  • He disobeyed His parents.
  • He was oblivious to His parents.
  • He behaved like any 12-year old.
  • He put His heavenly Father’s concerns over His parents’ concerns.

11. What do you think of Mary and Joseph’s behavior in this story?

  • They were negligent parents.
  • They behaved like any parent would.
  • They gave Jesus more freedom than parents can today.
  • They were confused about who Jesus really was.

12. If you had been Mary or Joseph, what would you have said to Jesus?

  • “Why did you run off like that?!”
  • “You had us worried sick!”
  • “I’m sorry we forgot you!”
  • “You’re grounded for a month!”
  • “I understand why you are here.”

13. This event was important in Jesus’ development because it showed He:

  • had become independent
  • was choosing to honor His Father
  • could now teach His elders
  • knew He was God’s Son

14. This question is specifically for my teen followers/readers. What similar tension have you experienced with your parents? (How can you reduce it?)

  • My parents don’t understand me.
  • I probably confuse my parents too.
  • My parents don’t like some of the places I hang out.
  • I go through hassles about what time I have to come home.

15. (If you are a parent) How can you relate to this story?

  • This sounds like my teenage.
  • My child is a lot like Jesus, except for the “obedient” part.
  • Like Mary, I often ask or think “Why have you treated us like this?”
  • It reminds me that my strong-willed child is full of potential.
  • It illustrates how perplexing my “gifted” child can be.
  • Like Joseph and Mary must have felt, I feel like nobody else can understand what I go through.

16. (If you are a parent) What are your biggest anxieties about parenting teens or adolescent-age children?

17. (If you are a parent) How much stress have you experienced due to the changes in your children’s lives? How do you deal with that stress?

18. (If you are a parent) How does this story give you comfort or insight?

  • Even Jesus’ parents had to go through stress and challenges.
  • Even Jesus did things that disturbed His parents.
  • Developing independence is necessary in growing up.
  • Sometimes we misjudge children.
  • Sometimes children mature without us really noticing.

Little more is known of Jesus’ first 30 years. It is known that Jesus has at least four brothers – James, Joses, Judas (Jude), and Simon – and some sisters, who are not named. Because there is no further reference to Joseph, it seems that he probably died while Jesus was still a relatively young man. The support of the family would naturally fall upon Jesus as the firstborn. For many years, then, Jesus evidently has provided for His family by working as a carpenter, having learned the trade from His father. At the approximate age of 30 – the Jewish age of spiritual leadership – Jesus turns from the work of supporting His earthly family to the task of spiritually feeding the whole family of humanity.

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