SYNOPSIS OF THE SERMON
Freedom is a great biblical word; it is a Christian word! The letter to the Galatians is Paul’s warning to the Galatians, and to us, that we must look to Christ to set us free rather than looking to law or rule-keeping. The means of freedom is not legalism; but rather, it is faith and hope!
GETTING THE CONVERSATION STARTED
These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.
1. Growing up, were you a good rule keeper? What about now?
2. How do you usually relate to others? Would people who know you say that you are someone who models grace? Briefly share.
3. In your own words, define “legalism.” Why do you think legalism can be so attractive?
4. Have you ever personally pursued freedom but found yourself in greater bondage? Briefly explain.
5. In your own words, define “addiction.” Why do you think addictions are so difficult to break? Have you ever struggled with an addiction? Briefly share.
INTERACTING WITH THE SERMON
1. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Briefly explain.
2. Read Matthew 23:1-32
1 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: 2 “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. 4 They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. 5 “Everything they do is done for people to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; 6 they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; 7 they love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and to have people call them ‘Rabbi.’ 8 “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. 9 And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. 10 Nor are you to be called ‘teacher,’ for you have one Teacher, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you will be your servant. 12 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
13-14 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. 15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and then you make that convert twice as much a child of hell as you are. 16 “Woe to you, blind guides! You say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it means nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is bound by the oath.’ 17 You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred? 18 You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but whoever swears by the gift on the altar is bound by the oath.’ 19 You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Therefore, anyone who swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple swears by it and by the one who dwells in it. 22 And anyone who swears by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it. 23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. 27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness. 29 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. 30 And you say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your ancestors!
• What is the setting of this passage? (see end of chapter 22) Who is Jesus speaking to here? (v. 1)
• What does Jesus mean when he says, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat”? (v. 2)
• What is the charge that Jesus makes against the teachers of the law and the Pharisees? (v. 3) Does Jesus condemn what they are teaching? If not, what is he actually condemning? What analogy does Jesus use to explain what they are doing? (v. 4)
• Jesus says in verse 5, “Everything they do is done for people to see.” Why is this bad?
• What are “phylacteries”? What are “tassels”? (v. 6)
• According to verses 6 and 7, what do these teachers of the law and the Pharisees “love”? Do you think it is really that wrong to love these things? Why or why not?
• Read verses 8-10. What does Jesus say about calling someone “Rabbi,” “father,” or “teacher”? Why would he bring this up?
• Read verses 11-12. Have you ever actually witnessed these statements to be true? Briefly explain.
• Read verses 13-32, paying particular attention to the 7 sections that begin with “woe to you.” As you come to one of these sections, take time to discuss what Jesus is speaking out against, and see how they apply to us today.
3. In the sermon, Rich said that Jesus sets us free from yesterday; that through the cross, we are set free from our past mistakes, failures, hurts, and pain. And Jesus also sets us free from tomorrow; that we can be free from anxiety and fear about what tomorrow may bring.
• What are the things in your past from which you need to find freedom?
• What about tomorrow causes you fear and anxiety?
• Take time in your small group to share and pray for each other.