It is ironic that Christmas is known as a religious holiday when in reality the first Christmas marked the beginning of a brand new non-religion. The followers of Jesus functioned without a temple, a priesthood, or animal sacrifices. Jesus didn't sound, look, or act like any religious leader of his day. This is why many loved him and others hated him. If anyone understood that Christmas ushered something other than religion into the world it was Matthew. He tells the Christmas story through the lens of his own story as a tax collector, one of the ones who were left out and left behind by religion. Matthew was told he was unloveable, unforgivable, and irredeemable until He met Jesus.
1. Jesus told his disciples that if they wanted to know what God was like, they should simply look to Him (John 14:9). Have you ever learned things about or from Jesus that seem different than the God you were first introduced to? How did it make you feel?
2. Jesus said the Pharisees would not have condemned the innocent if they realized that God desired mercy rather than sacrifice. Jesus seems to be saying that there is something more important than law. Why was this such a difficult thing for the Pharisees to accept?
3. Jesus told the story about David and his men breaking the law and eating consecrated bread. What do we learn about God in that example?
4. Why is it important to distinguish that God created the law for the people rather than the people for the law?
5. Matthew quotes Isaiah when he says that Jesus will not break the bruised reed or quench the smoldering wick. Religion’s reflex is to discard the people who are hurt and broken, but Jesus enters into the brokenness and gently begins to put the pieces back together. Why is this an important way to think about God?
6. Do most people truly believe that God cares more about sinners than their sin? Do you really believe that? How does that statement make you feel?
Begin to actively reject any feelings and thoughts that say that you are unlovable, unforgivable, irredeemable. You are not. Begin to reprogram your conscience by understanding that the most important thing to God isn't His law, YOU are.
Matthew 12:20 “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he has brought justice through to victory.”