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 Luke 18:9-14 to the group, praying a short prayer that – however much they’ve come to know Jesus, they’d get to 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.
Here’s a further optional question:
Given the Pharisee and the tax collector are in the temple at the same time, they were probably there for public worship. Twice a day, a lamb was offered in the temple to atone for the sins of Israel (see Numbers 28:3-4).
The tax collector cries out that God would ‘have mercy’ on him – literally that God would ‘make atonement’ for him. He is probably at that very moment watching the atonement sacrifice of the lamb, asking that the sacrifice might be applied to him so that he would be shown mercy. The parable’s conclusion confirms that he is indeed made righteous through casting himself upon God’s provision.
The Bible makes it clear that the animal sacrifices ultimately pointed to the greatest sacrifice of all: the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross (see Romans 3:21-26). Animal sacrifices could not ultimately deal with human sin (Hebrews 10:4) but picture the death Jesus would die in our place.
As a like-for-like substitute, Jesus’ death on the cross is credited to all who look to him for mercy. Regardless of our moral performance, we too can be justified – legally declared innocent – on this basis.
Watch Andy Bannister answering ‘Do all good people go to heaven?
What difference does it make to you knowing we are not made right with God through the things we do, but because of the death of Jesus for us?
Pray together in the light of your discussions. Share any other prayer needs among you.
You may have people in your Impact Group who are less familiar with Jesus and his teaching. They may have heard more clearly today than ever before that we’re made right with God not through what we do but through Jesus’ death for us.
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
Let Lucy Grimble’s performance of the hymn Nothing but the blood of Jesus move your heart to worship!
Jennie Pollock at Salt has been watching Netflix’s The Good Place and asks in her article: would you make it in?
In his blog, Zach Nielsen confesses to being a Pharisee – and thinks you’re probably one too.
Watch Mike Reeves preach the very sermon word-for-word that Martin Luther the Reformer preached on Luke 18:9-14 nearly five hundred years ago! (35 minutes)
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