Catch up on how things have been since the last time your Impact Group met. Allow anyone new to introduce themselves. Then ask group members:
Ask for a volunteer to read Matthew 13:1-23 to the group, praying a short prayer that – however much they’ve come to know Jesus, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
If you’re not gathered in person, the leader should project the video for the group through sharing their screen. If you’re using Zoom, make sure you have optimized your screen share for video.
Suggested questions to help your discussion.
Note to leaders: don’t feel you need to spend ages on the first few questions. They’re just making sure everyone in the group understands the main point of the parable.
Your discussion may run into difficulty as you talk about “the evil one” (verse 19), who comes and snatches away what was sown. How are we to understand this?
Jesus says that this group is best signified by a path – land which is hard. Some responded to Jesus’ teaching in his own day with hardness of heart. The more Jesus spoke, the more he healed, the more he taught, the harder their hearts got. Essentially these people were uninterested in hearing Jesus and therefore unable to hear him. What happens to this kind of heart? When they hear, says Jesus, the evil one immediately comes and takes the word away.
The Bible is clear throughout that there are malevolent spiritual forces, which wage war against Jesus and his people. Their normal pattern of work is to take something evil and to amplify it many times over. Here, people are already disinclined to listen to Jesus, and the evil one turns this into outright disregard for him.
C.S. Lewis picks up on this theme in his great fictional book The Screwtape Letters. It’s a series of letters from one senior demon, Screwtape, to a junior demon, Wormwood. Wormwood has been assigned a man to keep from coming to faith in Jesus. In one letter, Screwtape says, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”
We might most instinctively associate evil powers with the occult, but the evil one has a million methods of drawing us away from Jesus. Perhaps one of the key methods in our day is simply through distracting us.
Take time to allow group members to take in what they’ve heard. You might find these further questions helpful:
You might also like to share any requests for personal prayer at this point, and for those who’d like to lead the group in prayer.
Central to Jesus’ parable is the idea of listening. We honour people through paying them attention. This sort of listening can transform us.
It’s not only listening to Jesus that is important. Listening is how we go deeper in relationships and beyond superficial conversation. You might enjoy watching this somewhat cheesy video to explore more.
Come ready next week to talk about what you’ve learned about listening.
You may have people in your Impact Group who are less familiar with Jesus and his teaching.
Confirm the time that you’ll meet next week, and ask someone to close your time together in prayer.
Taking it further – links you might like to share with your Impact Group
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