Welcome to week three of our fall sermon series called A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus. This week we take a look at the substitutionary work of Jesus as the perfect Israel. We examine how Jesus fulfilled the very things that the people of Israel failed to do. By doing so, he provided a way for us to have a restored relationship with God.
Building healthy and life-giving relationships.
What has been new or challenging in your life since last time the group met? Spend 20–30 minutes checking in with each other.
Share Part of Your Story
What is the most expensive repair you’ve ever had to make?
What are some things that make a small group a safe place to talk about life’s joys and struggles? How can you make sure your small group is a safe environment?
Taking next steps toward Christ together.
Chapter 5 of John Dickson’s book A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus is called “Israel: A Nation on His Shoulders.” Flip back through the chapter and share with your group what stuck out to you.
Work together to take turns reading aloud through Matthew 4:1-11. Recap the passage.
How is the desert setting significant to the original Jewish audience? What story might it bring to mind for the Israelites?
The Temptation to Complain
Read Exodus16:2-3. What was Israel complaining about? How is the first temptation of Jesus similar to what the Israelites were going through? How did Jesus handle this same temptation to complain (Matthew 4:3-4)?
Discuss this idea in your group. During times of testing our character can be strengthened or it can be exposed. Do you agree or disagree? What else can complaining show us about our hearts?
What are some things people complain about today? What do you find yourself complaining about?
How are complaining and trust related? What’s an area you need to trust God more in and stop complaining about?
The Temptation to Demand
Jesus is tempted to demand God rescue him. How does he respond? How did Jesus’ display of trust for the Father enable him to respond the way he did to this temptation (Matthew 4:7)?
Complaining is often related to being unsatisfied with the present set of circumstances. Demanding is telling God how you want the future to go. How can both of these things be destructive to our relationship with God?
What kinds of demands do people place on God today? How does demanding things of God make us feel and do you think it helps?
God wants to hear from us. What might be a better way to take something to God than demanding things of him?
The Temptation to Replace
Think through the history of Israel in the Bible. What are some ways the Israelites tried to replace God? How does it work out for them? How did Jesus respond to this same temptation (Matthew 4:10)?
What things do people in our culture today replace God with? What are some of the feelings they are looking for?
Sometimes the things we are tempted to replace God with might be good things. What are some ways you can identify when you are starting to replace God in your life?
Pastor Jeff Manion said our hearts are idol factories. From the very beginning of the Bible, we all have been tempted to replace God in our lives. Where do you struggle with this? What are some things we can do to help guard our hearts against the temptation to replace God in our life?
Pastor Manion described Jesus’ experience in the desert as a reenactment of Israel’s experience. How did his defeat over these temptations replace the failure of the Israelites?
What does it mean for you that Jesus is a substitute?
No matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect. We need someone to do what we couldn’t do and wouldn’t do. Jesus did that for us. What questions do you have about trusting Jesus as your substitute?
This week’s conversation was about complaining, demanding or replacing. What area do you struggle in the most? What is one next step you can take this week to begin to grow in this area?
INVEST IN OTHERS
Valuing people outside the group and outside the faith.
Discuss how you and your group can better engage the people in your life outside your small group.
With the launch of A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus series, consider as a group if there is someone who needs what your group has? Maybe a friend, co-worker, or someone you volunteer with? Consider who you could invite to go through the fall series with your group.
Download a printable PDF here.