The Invading Kingdom
- How does the “way by the sea” in verse 15 connect historically with the return from bondage and exile? Why was this area called “Galilee of the Gentiles”? And…what did most people from Jerusalem think of this area? (Leaders: the “way by the sea” was the road that connected Syria with northern Israel, and would have been used by Israelites returning from the Assyrian exile. Re: Galilee, Brad said that the leaders of the nation despised Galilee, and that ever since the Kingdom split after the death of Solomon, the north was seen as a false kingdom with a false king, which promoted animosity between the tribes in the south and those in the north).
- Considering who made up the region of Galilee (vs. 12), how does this showcase God’s heart and Christ’s mission to usher in His kingdom? By extension, how are we a part of that mission? How do we reflect God’s heart to the world? (Leaders: Brad talked about how by spreading the gospel, praying for the sick, and comforting the hurting, we are delivering a foretaste of the kingdom to the world – perhaps discuss how members of your group are involved in this).
- Jesus began his ministry with a very straightforward message: “Repent” and Mark’s gospel adds “and believe.” What does it mean to repent, and how is it different than simply “feeling bad” or “feeling guilty” for sin? What is the connection between light and darkness/truth and lies? Perhaps describe how these analogies make sense in your own words. (Leaders: Brad differentiated Biblical concepts from eastern/other religions in his sermon, saying that, “In the Bible light is something that shine on us from the outside, something that dawns on us rather than is developed by us! And this morning Matthew tells us that we are seeing the light that all other light is just an analogy for!”)
- In verse 16, Matthew describes the people in Galilee as a “people dwelling in darkness.” In John 3:17-21, John talks about the darkness as well – how does John describe people’s feelings about darkness? Why do you think we naturally feel this way? What is the anecdote to the darkness in our world and our lives?
- Leaders, maybe review 1 Peter 2:9 and Colossians 1:13-14 which tell of Christ’s calling us out of darkness)
- Pulling back a bit, think about how Jesus started His ministry among a people in Galilee who were back in the land after years of exile, yet, like the people in Isaiah’s time, were still lingering in self-reliance, fear, and idolatry. How similar or different are our neighborhoods/country today?
- In the sermon, Brad introduced the idea of “the upside-down kingdom”, which is a phrase used to describe Jesus’ kingdom. What is meant by this phrase?
- Takeaway: This week, spend some time in prayer, asking God to reveal areas of your life that are still lingering in the darkness – things you don’t want anyone to know about, yet need exposure to the light of the gospel and repentance. Are there people in your community group or circle of influence who are discouraged from encroaching darkness and difficulties? Consider reaching out to them with some encouragement – perhaps sharing some of the scripture we studied this week.