Pray: To open your time together.
Read: Matthew 4:1-11
Consider: Some thoughts for your group
“In going to the cross, Jesus was not being practical; he was being faithful. Jesus didn’t take a pragmatic approach to the problem of evil; Jesus took the aesthetic approach to the problem of evil. Jesus chose to absorb the ugliness of evil and turn it into something beautiful – the beauty of forgiveness.” – Brian Zahnd, Beauty Will Save The World
“The ends justify the means” is a refrain we hear often in our cultural climate. Doing whatever it takes to “win” is not only accepted, but often encouraged. The life lived under this moto leads us into a race to the bottom where we lose sight of the meaning and beauty in our lives in exchange for practical outcomes. But in the life of Jesus, we see someone who rejects the pragmatic, short-term gains because of the greater glory set before Him, and in choosing the long game, ignites a revolution of beautiful redemption in the world.
In our scripture reading today we see the opportunity offered to Jesus to rule all the kingdoms of earth in an instant, just by kneeling and worshiping the enemy. There surely would be some, at the time, who would’ve said that Jesus missed a great opportunity for such a small thing as kneeling. As in so many other examples, Jesus turns the world upside down by abandoning immediate outcomes and choosing a life of faith through love that sacrifices, beauty that transforms, and forgiveness that redeems.
- What would it mean to “abandon outcomes” in our lives? How would it be possible to live our life immersed in faithful process instead of a preoccupation with outcomes?
- What are some places in your faith life in which you were convinced the distorted painting was the genuine article — only to discover a greater truth. Can you describe your emotions at that time of discovery?
- As we read about Jesus being tempted to abandon His calling for the trappings of this world, think about the ways you and I are tempted to trade away what God has for us.
As you read the story of Jesus in the desert, what most resonates with you about Jesus’ experience?
Spend some time praying for one another. Some in the group may feel like they are in their own “desert” season. Pray that God would be near to them and attend to their needs, just as Jesus was attended to in His struggle. Some may be in a circumstance that is tempting them to abandon God’s plan in exchange for immediate fulfillment. Pray for courage, wisdom, and faith to hold onto God and His promises for every area of our life.