Summer on the Mount: Week 6
By: Reality SF
Welcome and Opening Prayer:
Welcome the group and open in a quick prayer.
Following Jesus as Lovers of Enemies:
This week focuses on Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:38-48, which is about the way people of God’s Kingdom treat enemies and persecutors. This teaching acutely challenges Jesus’ disciples not to act out in retaliation or hatred from a place of self-righteousness. Rather, Jesus calls His disciples to extravagant generosity and sacrificial love in the face of adversity.
Praying with the Scripture:
Read Matthew 5:38-48 aloud, and then take 5 minutes of silent prayerful reflection. In particular, consider your personal attachments to these Scriptures—for example, what is your normal heart reaction when faced with an enemy?
Understanding an Eye for an Eye:
Jesus quotes the Old Testament teaching, “an eye for an eye,” from Deuteronomy 19:16-21. The passage has to do with legal standards for dealing with witnesses giving false testimony. As setup for understanding Jesus’ teaching, read the Deuteronomy passage and then answer the following questions.
- To understand the passage, imagine a hypothetical situation in ancient Israel where this law would be employed. What kind of dispute would there be? Who would be involved? What would the application of this law look like?
- What is the point of this law? What does it aim to protect or create in Israelite society?
Reframing an Eye for an Eye:
Jesus seeks to interpret the Law first by giving further commands of the types of behaviors expected in the Kingdom—such as going the extra mile. Read Matthew 5:38-42, take note of the ways Jesus understands and extends the prior law, and then discuss:
- What is the connection between the Deuteronomy passage and Jesus’ command “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” in regards to a person’s heart or inward character?
- What is Jesus saying about the Kingdom of God in this passage? How do disciples live in this Kingdom?
Love Your Enemies:
As a capstone to Jesus’ teaching on enemies and retaliation, Jesus gets to the heart of the matter in a call for His disciples to love their enemies in Matthew 5:43-48.
- How would you define an enemy? Who are your enemies?
- If you were to pray for an enemy of yours, what do you believe would be the result? How is this a picture of God’s Kingdom?
Read Matthew 7:24-27:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
Jesus culminates His Sermon on the Mount with this parable about the importance of practically applying His teaching. Split into pairs and discuss, support, and then pray.
- What stood out to you from today’s discussion and from Sunday’s sermon?
- What are practical ways you can apply what you noticed? (For example, is there a conversation to have, a commitment to make, or request for help you need to make?)
The sermon next Sunday, July 16th, will be on Matthew 6:1-4. In order to be prepared for Sunday’s sermon and CG next week, try to read these four verses daily and take note of how they resonate with you.