We must beat the rap of religion or risk ruining everything.
Tell the group about a physical injury/hurt you have had and how you recovered.
This week we conclude our series Religious People Ruin Everything. Pastor Chris preached on the story of Jesus healing the man with the withered hand in the synagogue. As you read the story, think about it from the perspective of the man with the withered hand. Then read it again, and consider the Pharisees’ point of view. Last, consider the story from Jesus’ perspective.
Here are some highlights from Pastor’s message:
Religion watches people to ruin them, while the gospel watches people to redeem them.
Religion corrects; the gospel connects.
Religion creates hierarchy, while the gospel creates harmony.
Read Luke 6:6-11.
1. Consider verse 6. Why do you think the man with the withered hand was in the synagogue? What do you think the Pharisees thought about the man? What do you think Jesus thought about the man?
2. Consider verse 7. What was the Pharisees motivation in watching Jesus? In what situations are you tempted to watch people, hoping that they will fail?
3. The man’s hand was “withered,” meaning dry, deprived of natural juices. Pastor Chris suggested that religion (in contrast to the gospel) can cause our hearts to become withered. How have you experienced this?
4. Consider verses 8-10. Jesus knew what they were thinking. How can this motivate us to be pure in our thoughts and actions?
5. Jesus healed the man knowing that the Pharisees would use this as evidence against him. What does this tell you about Jesus? How do you think the man felt?
Read the same story in the Gospel of Mark: Mark 3:1-6.
6. Consider verse 4. How did the Pharisees respond to Jesus’ question? Why do you think this was their response?
7. In verse 5, Jesus was grieved at their hardness of heart. It is so easy to move from being saved and redeemed to judging others with hardness of heart. Where is your heart hard? In other words: who do you find it difficult to love? Whom do you find it difficult to forgive?
8. Pastor Chris said “Religion creates hierarchy, while the gospel creates harmony.” What hierarchies do you see in your perspective of others?
9. How can our hearts be softened?
10. How do you see the gospel creating harmony in your life? What unity do you see in your family? In your small group? At Faith Promise?
1. See also John 9:1-3. From the disciples’ reaction in this passage, it seems that it was common to assume that illness or deformity was a result of sin. Do we sometimes act like this is the case today?
2. The Pharisees were looking for a reason to accuse Jesus. Pastor Chris said, “Religion watches people to ruin them while the gospel watches people to redeem them.” Discuss how sometimes it makes us feel better about ourselves if we see others fail. Discuss how we can change this thinking and behavior in ourselves.
3. Allow group members to open up about past hurts, but do not let this descend into gossip or pointing fingers.
4. It can be easy to sin and think that no one knows or no one will find out, but God knows. Remembering that God sees and knows should motivate us to try to be holy.
5. Jesus did what is right in spite of danger to himself. The Good News and restoring people was more important than the law.
6. The Pharisees were silent. Their motivation was to trap Jesus. If they truly cared about what was right (believing that the law was more important than one man’s restoration), then they could have discussed the matter. The synagogue and temple were places to read and discuss the scriptures. See Luke 2:46-47 and Acts 17:2.
8. We may create hierarchies based on economic status (what people drive, what they wear, where they live). We may create them based on intelligence (grades in school, their alma mater, academic or work awards). We may create them based on looks (race, ethnicity).
9. Only God can soften our hearts. Sometimes our hearts are softened by being broken. See Ezekiel 11:19, Ezekiel 36:26, Jeremiah 24:7, Psalm 51:17.
10. Encourage each other and build each other up. Share with group members how you see them living in harmony and unity with each other.