The Life of Christ
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On Palm Sunday, the crowd “praised God for all the mighty works they had seen.” For this activity, the use of a whiteboard or other display board might come in handy. Have the group create a list of miracles and teachings from the life of Christ that are especially meaningful to them. Limit each person to 1-2 choices, depending on your group’s size. Discuss how these miracles or teachings from Christ’s life have impacted you in your faith and spiritual journey. Take time to pray and give thanks and praise for Christ’s life.
(A few choices to get you started: The Prodigal Son parable, Feeding of the 5000, Sermon on the Mount, turning water into wine, Jesus speaking of child-like faith, the Lost Coin, Sower, Mustard Seed, Jesus’s prayer life, Jesus healing the leper, Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, teaching on forgiveness.)
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Contrast Isaiah 53—which prophetically describes the events of Good Friday— with what happened five days earlier on Palm Sunday. Read this chapter out loud. Have each person read one verse and then stop after each verse for 5-10 seconds while the group thinks about what was read. After the chapter has been completely read, have the group discuss what they liked about the experience or what verse particularly spoke to them. Take time to pray and thank Jesus for His willingness to take our sin upon Himself and to die for us so that we might live.
1. Was there anything specific in this week’s message that caused you to think differently about the Triumphal Entry than what you might have in the past?
2. Read Luke 19:28-36 and Zechariah 9:9. Why did Jesus ride on a donkey?
(Intent: This fulfilled the prophecy, and at the same time, gave a visible demonstration of humility, gentleness, and coming in peace by riding on a lowly steed in the midst of triumph.)
3. Read Luke 19:37-40. A. Take a look at the conquering king of Psalm 2:4-9. How can this and the humble entry of Zechariah 9:9 both be prophecies of the Messiah? B. Why do you think First Century Jews concentrated on the Psalms prophesy and others like it?
(Intent: A. There are OT prophecies of both the first coming of Christ marked by suffering and humility and His second coming as the conquering King. At the time of the entry, the Jews, and even Christ’s disciples, did not comprehend this. B. The conquering king passages fit their expectations and desire to be set free from Roman oppression. The existence of divergent Messianic prophecies is an example of an apparent paradox in the Bible. It is a human tendency to choose between rather than accepting all.)
4. Refer to Matthew 27:20-23. A. How did it happen that only five days after praising Jesus, the crowd shouted for His crucifixion? B. What’s the lesson here for us?
(Intent: Some thoughts may be: Crowds breed anonymity, which can cloud individual responsibility. Groups or individuals, especially those who lack conviction, can be fickle and easily persuaded by the crowd or an authority figure. We, on the other hand, are to follow the One, rather than the many.)
5. A. Share a time when your preconceived notions changed. B. How do you know when to be open to changing your views?
(Intent: A. Possible responses: Some may have had experiences or new information shift their thinking. Others may recall having their understanding of Scripture changed by deeper study or a particular message or teaching. B. It’s been said that in the Bible, “the main things are the plain things.” When an issue is clearly addressed in the Bible, we should stand firm on that teaching. The less clear an issue is in the Bible, the less adamant we should be on how we view that issue. John 16:13 reminds us that it is the Holy Spirit who guides us “into all the truth.” We lean first on prayer, knowledge of Scripture, and the Holy Spirit, above intellectual reason and cultural norms.)
6. A. What are some examples of Biblical essentials and non-essentials? B. What are some American cultural values that have found their way into the Church that might shade how the world around us views Christ and the Church? C. Do you think people generally follow truth or their own ideas of truth?
(Intent: A. Some examples of Biblical essentials are the deity of Christ, His death as atonement for sins, His resurrection, the inerrancy of the Bible, and Christ’s return. The non-essentials may include debatable doctrinal issues such as the nature and timing of the Rapture. B. Every nation brings its culture into the Church, but we are citizens of a heavenly country, Phil. 3:20. Those who don’t know Christ should see a Biblical, not worldly, value system reflected in the Church. We are to speak the truth in love, remembering that our enemy is Satan, not other people. Our societal position, race, or a host of other stumbling blocks should not inhibit others coming to Christ.)
Take a look at times in your past when you've easily been able to recognize God's greatness and the miracle that Jesus is in your life. Now also consider the times that you've doubted, become angry, or simply drifted away from daily living in Christ. What influences the condition of your heart? Is it circumstances, the people you spend time with, or something else? Challenge yourself to spend time in God's Word every day this week, looking for His greatness and thanking Him.
Spend time praying together as a crowd would praise their savior -- individually, out loud, and if desired, simultaneously. Name the attributes of God as well as corporately lift up thanks for all the miracles the Lord has done in your lives and ask Him to help you recognize His gifts and provision.