matthew

Access Granted - Matthew 13:1-23

1.      How many of you love a good story, especially one that teaches a good moral or a life altering lesson?

2.      What is one of your favorite stories that fall into this category?

3.      One of Jesus’ favorite teaching methods was storytelling. The Bible calls these stories parables. Does anyone know about how many parables Jesus told in the Gospels? (At least 30.)

Parable is defined as a short illustrative story drawn from nature or ordinary life that has a spiritual application. Someone has said a parable is “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”

4.      What do you think are some reasons Jesus was so popular among the common people? (He talked in terms they understood and dealt with on a daily basis.)

 

The setting for our study today is by the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum where a large crowd had gathered to hear Jesus teach. The inspiration for the parable Jesus told is a farmer who sowed seed in his field and the crop that was produced.

 

A Crowd! Read Matthew 13:1-3a

 

Jesus left the house where He was teaching to go to the sea. Even if His motive was to be alone, Jesus still attracted a huge crowd that necessitated Him getting into a boat and addressing the crowd.

1.      It seems that large crowds followed Jesus everywhere He went. What viewpoints about Jesus were likely represented in this crowd?

2.      What are some viewpoints people who attend church today have about Jesus?

3.      How can we help people better understand the Bible and the truth about Jesus?

4.      What do these verses reveal about Jesus’ heart for people then and now? (Jesus saw a great crowd gathered and wanted to share with them God’s truth and the realities of the kingdom. We, as Christians, should cultivate the same desire for all people to know God’s truth.)

 

A Parable! Read Matthew 13:3b-9 and 18-23

(Note: Teacher, consider pairing up the verses in 3b-9 with Jesus’ explanation of these verses in 18-23.)

 

1.      What were the four different types of soil where seed fell? (Path, Rocky soil, Thorns and Good soil.)

2.      What does each of the four different types of soil represent? (Path—the birds represent Satan taking the Word away as soon as it is spread. Rocky soil—they receive the Word, but a lack of depth of their faith leads them to fall. These may also be those people who run after the latest “fad” and never staying with any teaching very long. Thorns—they hear the Word, but the worries of the world and desire for wealth and things choke out the Word in their lives and they are unfruitful. See         1 Cor. 3:15. Good ground—those who hear and welcome the Word produce much fruit.)

The path, rocky soil and thorns illustration is the very reason it is so important for new believers to be involved in Bible study and discipleship training. It is important to break up the soil and get deep roots as quickly as possible.

3.      How does Jesus’ teaching about the seed spread on the path and warning about the rocky soil apply to our discipleship? (Given the activity of Satan, our own evangelistic activity must be at a high priority.)

Being a follower of Christ is more than an emotional experience. It is a life-long commitment to growing spiritually so we will be able to withstand the attacks of Satan.

4.      How can we guard against the thorns of the world in your own lives? (We should be aware of that which causes us to take our eyes off of Christ and resist these things. Worry, wealth, and the desires of other worldly things threaten to keep us from fruitfulness and may choke out our desire for a deeper walk with Jesus.)

5.      What should we make of the varying amounts listed in verse 8? (There are approximately 50 kernels-seeds in a head of wheat.)

6.      Do our specific amounts of fruitfulness affect our value before God? (Our value before God is based on who Jesus is and our union with Him by faith. The point is not that more is better, but that the desire should be fruit. We can’t always control how fruitful our efforts will be, but we should desire to be fruitful. If our faith is genuine, fruit will be produced for God’s glory.)

7.      What principles for sharing spiritual truth can be found in this parable? (The more we spread the gospel, the more likely we are to see fruit. We shouldn’t worry about the soil where we sow the Word. We don’t really know a person’s heart, that is God’s area of expertise. Our job is to simply sow the Word!)

8.      How can believers follow these principles in today’s world?

9.      How did Jesus experience the truth of this parable in this setting?

10.  Generally what has the farmer done prior to sowing the seed? (He has prepared the soil to receive the seed.)

11.  How can we prepare a person’s heart to receive the Word?

 

A Reason! Read Matthew 13:10-13

 

In a sense, the Truth of the Gospel had been hidden in the Old Testament writings all along but now Jesus had come to reveal them. Some of the people and leaders had closed minds to the Truth Jesus taught.

1.      How was Jesus’ use of parables fair for all who heard them? (Jesus explained that those who were willing to believe could understand the truth—while at the same time, those who were unwilling to believe might have the truth concealed.)

2.      What do you understand to be the meaning of verse 12? (Those who are willing to hear with faith will receive more faith and will grow in their understanding. Those unwilling to hear with faith will continue to wallow in their unbelief, their blindness ever increasing. Faith even as small as a grain of mustard seed will grow, but you must have faith to start with.)

For those willing to hear with faith, the truth will be open to them; for those who refuse to hear with faith, the truth will become even more obscure.

3.      What explanations might be given for why some hearers of the Word of God do not give evidence of understanding it and letting it make a difference in their lives? (What will I have to give up? I could never live up to those standards. How can salvation be free, there must be something I have to do!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      What are some stories used to make the gospel clearer to those who are seeking a relationship with Jesus Christ?

2.      Why are these stories effective in teaching spiritual truths?

3.      What role does your personal story (testimony) play in pointing others to the gospel of Jesus?

4.      Who around you might represent the various types of soil that Jesus mentioned in His parable of the sower?

5.      How are you responding to the Word of God you hear?

Even after we’ve accepted Christ there are areas of our lives that God seeks further surrender to Him on our part. We must be careful that we don’t allow Satan to steal the Word of God away from us, or accept it temporarily only to fall away from our commitment, or allow the cares of this world to choke out our commitment.

6.      How can we hold each other accountable for sharing spiritual truth with others?

7.      How can we hold each other accountable for growing deeper in our faith and God’s Word?

 

Pray that God will make us better hearers and doers of the Word of God!

 

 

The Parable of the Sower

Matthew 13:1-23 (HCSB)

 

1 On that day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. 2 Such large crowds gathered around Him that he got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore.

3Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “Consider the sower who went out to sow. 4As he was sowing, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and ate them up.”

…19 “When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the one sown along the path.”

            5 “Others fell on rocky ground, where there wasn’t much soil, and they sprang up quickly since the soil wasn’t deep. 6But when the sun came up they were scorched, ands since they had no root, they withered.”

…20 “And the one sown on rocky ground—this is one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy. 21Yet he has no root in himself, but is short-lived. When pressure or persecution comes because of the word, immediately he stumbles.”

            7 “Others fell among thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them.”

…22 “Now the one sown among the thorns—this is one who hears the word, but the worries of this age and the seduction of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

             8 “Still others fell on good ground and produced a crop: some 100, some 60, and some 30 times what was sown.”

…23 “But the one sown on the good ground—this is one who hears and understands the word, who does bear fruit and yields: some 100, some 60, some 30 times what was sown.”

            9 “Anyone who has ears should listen!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s The Sign? - Matthew 12:38-42

1.      When you are going to a place you have never been before, in the days before you had a “GPS”, how did you get there? (You followed a map then looked for a sign or an address for the location.)

When you are on a road trip and approaching a town where you are planning stop to eat you look for signs of familiar places. On the interstate highways there are signs before each exit indicating what eating places may be there or lodging that is available.

We are used to following signs. What about in our spiritual lives?

2.      What kinds of signs do we look for in our spiritual lives? (Should I move; should I change jobs; should I go on this mission trip; should I marry this person; should I retire; for whom should I vote; should I take that Sunday School job; etc.)

3.      Is it good or bad to seek a sign? (That all depends on your motivation, relationship with God, what has already been revealed to you, etc. That is very difficult to determine for someone else.)

As we talked about several weeks ago, John the Baptist sent a messenger to Jesus asking Him if He was the Messiah or should he be looking for another. Jesus told the messenger to tell John about the miracles Jesus had performed. In essence, Jesus told John to look at the signs that had already been given. Evidently it was enough for John.

The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the proof of who Jesus was. There are numerous prophecies fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew and the prophecy about His crucifixion, death and resurrection is but one.

Because people witnessed miracles of Jesus, they were seeking some sign to help them determine His identity and His mission.

 

Seeking A Sign! Read Matthew 12:38

 

Look back a few verses to Matthew 12:9-14.

1.      What was the motivation in these verses for the Scribes and Pharisee’s question to Jesus?

Note that seeing the miracle and trusting in Jesus, the Pharisees plotted how they might kill Him. The effort to get rid of Jesus intensified from this point forward.

2.      Why do you think the Pharisees needed a further sign?

3.      Jesus had healed the sick, given sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, wholeness to the lame, a right mind to the possessed and new life to the dead. What could He have done to convince them that He was the Messiah? (As we studied last week, there is none so blind as those who will not see. They were wise in their own eyes and blind to the truth of who Jesus really was. Jeremiah 5:21 “Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.”)

4.      What are some reasons that the reality of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is not enough for some to believe in Him?

5.      What are some conditions that people want to see or experience before believing God?

6.      How is waiting for a “certain feeling” comparable to waiting for a sign?

 

The Pharisees should have already seen enough that they would believe in Jesus. They had witnessed His power and miracles. However, Jesus would give them a sign anyway, and that sign would be identified in the next two verses.

Identifying The Sign! Read Matthew 12:39-40

 

1.      Why do you think Jesus called them “an evil and adulterous generation” based upon their request for a sign?

2.      What is the difference between an honest inquiry and demanding confirmation?

Recount the story of Jonah briefly.

3.      What was Jesus’ point in recalling for them the story of Jonah? (As Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights so Jesus would be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. On the third day He would be resurrected from the dead! Not resuscitated, raised with a new body!)

4.      In what way does God’s grace permeate verse 39? (While they didn’t deserve a sign, God did not abandon them. The sign of Jonah was Jesus’ way of referring to His coming death, burial, and resurrection. Through this act of unparalleled grace to mankind, this and every adulterous generation has the opportunity for salvation.)

5.      How does Jesus’ pointing to Jonah give us confidence in the Scriptures? (Jesus clearly affirmed the reliability of the account of Jonah. When we read our Scriptures, we can trust in their inspiration and inerrancy, knowing that Jesus believed the same thing.)

The prediction Jesus made here gives us confidence that whatever happens to us will not catch Jesus off guard. He knows what will happen tomorrow and will be there with us no matter what it is.

 

A Warning Sign! Read Matthew 12:41-42

 

1.      What did the “men of Nineveh” and the “queen of the south” have in common? (They were gentiles.)

2.      What kind of attitude might the Pharisees have had about them? (Much the same attitude that Jonah had—they were looked down on because they were not Jews.)

3.      What groups of people might we not want to receive God’s grace and forgiveness? Be honest with yourself!

The people of Nineveh responded favorably to Jonah’s escape from three days in the fish’s belly, while the religious leaders did not respond favorably to Jesus’ resurrection from the tomb. The queen of the south, also known as the Queen of Sheba, responded favorably to the wealth of Solomon.

Jesus is once again showing that faith is not just for one ethnic group, but for all people.

4.      How would you compare your generation to the generation addressed by Jesus in this passage?

5.      What advantages do people today have that would make them face greater judgment for failure to believe in and live for Christ?

6.      How should we view Jesus, as compared to Jonah, Solomon, and other biblical characters? (Jesus is greater than all of them. Jesus is greater than these prophets because Jesus is whom they were pointing toward and waiting on. He is the salvation they were waiting on.)

Jesus, as the Son of God, didn’t just teach about salvation, but He was and is salvation. He can redeem man and forgive sin and, as such, He is immeasurably greater!

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      In reaction to this text, how should we balance our human desires for proof with Jesus’ call to faith? (While the desire for proof may be natural, Jesus assured us here that God has given us all we need and more to make an informed faith decision.)

There is a difference in wanting a sign to give us direction in our lives for decisions we must make and a sign to prove Jesus is who He says He is.

The sign requested by the scribes and Pharisees originated in their hearts of unbelief. They were disposed to reject Jesus’ message and saving mission. By contrast, sincere Christians who put out fleeces or ask for confirming witnesses have their requests originating in hearts of faith that are disposed to do God’s will.

We can approach Jesus with honest questions without demanding a sign from Him. In fact, simply investigating the likelihood of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection can point people to Him and, in the end, bring about their salvation.

 

Take a few minutes to consider for yourself whether you are placing your faith in Jesus based on the sign He provided, or whether you are demanding that Jesus conform to your terms.

 

Anytime you have a doubt if God is really there for you or really loves you, look to the cross and the resurrection.

 

2.      Who are the people in your life who refuse to heed the sign of the resurrection?

 Pray for them this week and seek opportunities to point them to Jesus.

An Open Invitation - Matthew 11:1-30

1.      We all receive numerous invitations. How do you decide which ones to accept and which ones to decline?

2.      What are some reasons we ignore or decline certain invitations?

3.      How does the invitation to follow Jesus include both good news and bad news based on one’s response to the invitation?

4.      Why might people ignore the invitation that Jesus gave to follow Him?

 

Matthew 11 represents a great invitation that Jesus gave to people to follow Him. The invitation began with a warning for those who did not choose to follow Him, and then it ended with a call to the weak and weary to follow Him.

 

Promised Judgement! Read Matthew 11:20-24

 

(Locate each town mentioned on a map for the class or they could circle the towns in the Personal Study Guide.)

 

1.      Why do you think Jesus said it would be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom than the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum?

2.      How does Jesus’ teaching in theses verses line up with the image of Jesus that you have in your head or that is popular in our culture? (Jesus promised judgment for those who won’t repent. This is contrary to the image of “gentle Jesus” that is popular. While Jesus is kind, merciful, and loving, He is also holy and righteous.)

3.      What sins would you list as the five most grievous and destructive contemporary sins? (Murder, sexual immorality, pride, injustice, and lying are among the top.)

4.      Based on Jesus’ teaching here, where should rejection of Jesus rank on the list? (Number ONE! With great revelation comes great accountability!)

5.      Based on these verses, how could these cities have avoided God’s judgment? (It is simple, repent and accept Jesus.)

That same truth applies to each of us as individuals today! We will be held accountable for what we do with Jesus—accept or reject.

 

Promised Revelation! Read Matthew 11:25-26

 

The doctrines of “divine sovereignty” and “human responsibility” are two of the most difficult doctrines to bring into resolution. While they are both truths found in Scripture they are not contradictory. It is like looking down a railroad track that disappears in the distance. Although they are parallel they come together in the distance.

1.      What elements of “divine sovereignty” and “human responsibility” are found in these verses? (Only those whom God calls can receive the message. And yet repeatedly Jesus invited His audiences to have ears to hear. It is a glorious mystery of God’s wisdom how these doctrines are a work in salvation. There is no contradiction between the sovereign purposes of God and the need for personal, volitional faith in Christ.)

2.      What is the connection between those who arrogantly think themselves wise and those who are blinded to God’s wisdom? (They can’t hear because they refuse to hear.)

The theme of wisdom hidden from those who think themselves wise appears frequently in the Old Testament—Job 12:2; Isa. 19:11-12; Jer. 8:8-9; Ezek. 28:3-12.

3.      What is the meaning of “infants” in verse 25? (Those with child-like faith.)

4.      How does God react to those who come to Him by faith? (It’s His “good pleasure” to grant us wisdom into the truth of the gospel. God loves to save people, and our attitudes should reflect His!)

5.      Do you consider yourself “wise” or are you an “infant”?

 

Promised Relationship! Read Matthew 11:27

 

1.      What role does Jesus play in our relationship to the Father?

2.      How do we come to know God the Father? (Jesus reveals Him to us. He knows the Father and will lead us into a deep intimacy with the Father like He experiences.)

In putting our faith in Jesus, we are promised that we will know the Father and be brought into a relationship with Him. This is important because we will face periods of doubt and worry, especially when we are struggling with temptation. Here we are given hope and assurance for those times.

3.      What did Jesus reveal to us about God the Father as He lived on this earth?

4.      How do you respond when people label Christians as narrow minded and uncharitable for asserting that Jesus is the only way to the Father, with no other alternative?

5.      What implication does the truth that Jesus is the only way, have on our view of evangelism and missions?

People who don’t have Christ don’t have a relationship with God and are lost. Therefore, we must be intentional about sharing the gospel of Jesus with people who have no faith, and with people of other faiths, as Jesus is the only way to God and eternal life.

 

Promised Rest! Read Matthew 11:28-30

 

While verse 27 heavily emphasizes the sovereignty of God, these verses emphasize human responsibility, as Jesus invited all the weak and weary to come to Him.

 

1.      How did the description of Jesus in these verses contrast with other religious leaders of His day, including the scribes and Pharisees? (The Jews had expanded the Ten Commandments into 613 laws or rules you had to follow to be accepted by God. No one could be totally accepted by their rules. They overburdened the people rather than helping them.)

2.      What comes to your mind when you think of putting on a “Yoke”? (Work. Restriction.)

3.      What did Jesus tell the people about His yoke?

4.      Jesus promises that following Him is a life of rest, serving Him is an easy yoke, and bearing His burden is light. What factors make this true? (Usually a yoke was for two animals, so they could pull together. When we are in the yoke Jesus is on the other side. We are operating under his guidance and strength. Yes it is work but it brings joy, peace and contentment.)

5.      How does the character and promise of Jesus contrast with what the world offers us? (In Jesus’ day, the Pharisees heaped difficult rules and burdens on the people as they thought this was the way to salvation. Today, our world encourages us to achieve salvation ourselves, but this leaves us burdened because there is no way it can be attained apart from the grace of Jesus. Jesus on the other hand, shows us that the gospel is concerned not with our effort, but with faith in Jesus’ righteousness on our behalf.)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      In light of Jesus’ invitation, how might you explain to a nonbeliever or a person who has been “burnt” by religion, that Jesus’ message and promise is different?

·         Explain that Jesus calls us to come to Him and rest in Him. He has done the work on our behalf.

·         Jesus asks for faith, while man-made religion demands that we do things to earn God’s favor. This is Satan’s ploy to convince us that it is useless to try.

·         The difference is that we can never do enough to earn God’s favor. Jesus instead asks us to stop, come to Him, rest in Him, and follow Him.

2.      In light of the truth that Jesus offers salvation to all who trust Him as Savior and Lord, what might we do that we are not doing now in efforts to bring others to a saving knowledge of Jesus?

 

There is a person in your life that needs a relationship with Jesus. Be intentional by making a conscious decision to pray for His or her salvation and needs every day this week. Also, make an opportunity to personally share the gospel with him or her.