Discussion Guide: Jesus His Final Week Part 3


Moving Forward With Discipleship Groups

As we continue to pursue Christ together over the rest of this year, I want to encourage you to take what you have experienced over the last month and a half with your discipleship groups and let it continue on in these relationships. Continue to get together, reach out to the people in your group, and intentionally pursue one another and encourage one another towards Christ. This is how we will become the kind of multiethnic, multigenerational, Gospel-Centered community God is calling us to be.

Prayer

Take the first few minutes of your time together to listen to what God is doing in one another’s lives and pray for any specific needs people in your group may have.

For the next few weeks, leading up to Easter, we are going to be looking at the last week of Jesus’ life. Where did he go? What did he say? Why did he do the things he did? Could that last week have gone any other way? And what does it all mean? After all, at the heart of our faith is not an idea, but a person, so we’re going to take a look at that person together and see how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus impacts the way we do life together.

Discussion Questions

Why does it matter what we believe about who Jesus claimed to be and what He claimed to have come to do?

Matthew 26:62-67

And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?

What is Jesus claiming about Himself in His response to the hight priest?

Leader Notes

Jesus is quoting multiple Old Testament passages here in His response. He is referencing Daniel 7:13-14, which reads, “13″I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. 14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

He is also referencing Ezekiel 1 which gives a lengthy description of God seated among the clouds on His throne ruling, reigning and judging the nations. All through the gospel accounts we see Jesus using this kind of language and referencing to claim that not only is He Israel’s Messiah, but that He is also Israel’s God come in the flesh. The Pharisees and Sadducees and the High Priest have been following Jesus’ every step for 3 years, watching Him perform miracles, listening to Him teach and reinterpret Old Testament passages with a different kind of authority and revelation, and watching Him receive worship as God from other Jewish men and women. In the back of their minds, the Jewish leaders have a pretty good idea that Jesus thinks Himself to not only be the Messiah but to be some kind of divine being who is equal to YHWH, Israel’s One True God. So, when Jesus responds to Caiaphas’ question by quoting Daniel 7 and Ezekiel 1, that is all the evidence needed to accuse Jesus of claiming to be God.

Other scriptures were we see Jesus’ claims of divinity are: John 5:17-18, John 8:58, John 10:30-33, John 11:25-27, Luke 5:20, Luke 5:8, Luke 17:16, just to list a few.

Why do you think the people had such a strong, dramatic, and violent reaction to Jesus’ response?

If Jesus really is God in the flesh, and really did live the way the Bible tells us He lived, and treated people, even these His accusers, the way the Bible says He treated people, what does that mean about the way we ought to live and treat people?

What would you say most gets in the way of your ability to live like that?

When we see the injustice Jesus faced on His final night, how does that impact the way we handle injustices done towards us, and injustices done towards others?

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

”I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

These first century Jews had been waiting for the Messiah to come and set them free from the oppressive rule of the Romans for decades, why do you think Jesus’ claim made them want to kill Jesus rather than rally around Him and follow Him?

Leader Notes

If Jesus had only claimed to be the Messiah then He was simply claiming to be the one who had come to liberate Israel from the oppressive hands of the Roman government, to re-establish Israel as a great nation, to give the people what they had been waiting for, a way back into God’s good graces. No one would have really had a problem with that claim. Sure, they may have argued that Jesus wasn’t really the Messiah based on how He was acting, but they did not have a problem with someone in general claiming to be the Messiah. There had been numerous men in the preceding centuries who claimed to be Israel’s Messiah and none of them were crucified or killed for it, at least not by the Jewish leaders. The issue was with the fact that Jesus wasn’t just claiming to be Israel’s liberator, but He was claiming to be Israel’s God, the God they had rebelled against, the God who’s forgiveness of sins they needed in order to be brought back from exile, the God who had a claim on their lives individually and on the nation collectively. And in claiming to be their God, He was claiming to have authority and power and dominion over the men who were enjoying being in power, who were treating people unjustly, who were keeping the rich rich and the poor poor. And any time power like that is called into accountability men don’t tend to give it up very easily. So, in response to this claim, they felt they needed to get rid of Jesus.

When people look at Jesus even today, why do you think so many, even though they acknowledge Jesus was a good man and a good teacher and a model human, seek to tear apart His claim to be King of the Universe rather than rallying around him and following Him?

Matthew 26:69-75

69Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” 71And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” 72And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” 73After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” 74Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. 75And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

What do you think would motivate Peter, the disciple who promised to never abandon Jesus, to cower at the accusations of a teenage girl that He was a follower of Jesus?

Leader Notes

Fear is the great motivator of all cowards. In Peter’s case it was the fear that he too would be arrested and crucified. It was the fear of losing his life, his reputation, his control even. It was the fear that following Jesus was going to cost him more than he was willing to pay. At this point in his life, Peter was comfortable with being viewed as a revolutionary following a revolutionist Jesus, and he was even willing to die for the sake of the revolt against Rome. But, now the tide had turned and the stakes had risen, because Peter now sees that Jesus is not going to be the revolutionist Peter had anticipated Him being, a revolutionist that would take down the unjust systems of His day through force and killing, but rather by laying down His own life in loving sacrifice to disarm the powers of darkness. Peter was not yet willing to die for love.

In what areas of life do you tend to struggle the most with letting Jesus rule and reign and sit on the throne of your own heart? Why do you think that is?

Closing Thought

By all human accounts, Jesus was crucified because He claimed to be God come in the flesh, how can we as a community actually demonstrate that claim to be true to the world around us?



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