STUDY | Spend the week studying Matthew 17:24–27. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
DETERMINE | Which discussion points and study questions will work best for your group.
PRAY | Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their openness to God’s Word.
LANDING POINT | Fill my heart with Your love so that I don’t offend others unnecessarily.
Remember the 4 Rules for Small Group Discussion
- Confidentiality. What’s said in the group stays in the group.
- No cross-talk. Be considerate of others as they share. Refrain from side conversations and texting during group time.
- No fixing. We are not in the group to fix each other. Jesus does that part.
- Sharing. Be sensitive to the amount of time you share. Don’t talk too much or too little. Every person brings something valuable to the group.
As your group time begins, use this section to introduce the topic of discussion.
GOING OUT OF YOUR WAY
Earlier in this series we talked about the fact that, as Christians, we are different. Our beliefs and lifestyle go against our culture in many ways. Because of this, many find us offensive. This should not surprise us. Jesus promised that the world would hate His followers because they hated Him (John 15:18–27).
There are times when, despite your best efforts to do otherwise, you will offend others. When you take a stand for Christ and the truth of God’s Word, it can cause offense. However, you should never go out of our way to offend. You should go out of your way to express God’s love by your attitude and actions.
This week your group will discuss an episode in Matthew when Jesus went out of His way not to offend. There is a right way to offend, and it begins with love for God and others.
Q: What’s one thing that others might find offensive about you as a Christian?
Q: Recall a time when you had to take a stand for Christ. What happened?
Select 2-3 questions to discuss as a group.
THE TEMPLE TAX
One day, Jesus and His followers came to Capernaum, a city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. This city was Jesus’s home base for a time during His earthly ministry. Not long after they arrived in Capernaum, religious tax collectors approached Peter with a question: “Does your teacher not pay the temple tax?” Peter simply answered,“Yes,” and left to join Jesus and the other disciples.
On the surface, Peter’s exchange with the tax collectors didn’t seem like that big of a deal. When you understand the context, however, you see that this was a potentially offensive situation. In that day, every Jew between the ages of twenty and fifty was required to pay a two-drachma tax to support the temple and its services.1 To not pay the tax would have been a great offense to the Jews.
READ: Matthew 17:24–27. Split into pairs and retell the story in your own words.
Q: When was the last time you encountered a potentially offensive situation? How did you respond?
A CREATIVE SOLUTION
When Peter met up with Jesus and the other disciples, Jesus asked him a question. “What do you think, Peter? Does a king collect taxes from his sons or from his citizens?” Peter thought for a moment and said, “From his citizens.”Jesus replied, “Yes. That means that the sons of a king are free. However, in order to not offend, go to the sea and cast a hook into the water. Take the first fish you catch and open its mouth. There you’ll find a shekel, which will be enough to pay the tax for me and yourself.”
Q: What is the main point of Jesus’s statement to Peter?
Q: How could offense undermine your ministry?
Select 2-3 questions from this section to answer.
HOW TO AVOID OFFENSE
Jesus didn’t have to pay the temple tax. The temple was His Father’s house, after all. As a Son of the Father (the King), He was exempt from paying the tax. The disciples He brought into the Father’s family were also exempt.2 Nevertheless, Jesus went out of his way not to offend those in the Jewish community.
How do you avoid being offensive? Let’s explore three important principles that make us salt and light (see Matthew 5:13–16) for Jesus in potentially offensive situations:
- Love boldly. John tells us that we ought to love others because God has loved us (1 John 4:11). You find your motivation to love others in God’s love for you. When you love boldly, you build bridges inrelationships rather than walls.
- Give freely. We have freedom in Christ. However, we should not use our freedom to hurt others or cause them to stumble (Romans 14:21; 1 Corinthians 8:13). There are times when God will ask you to give up your freedoms in the faith for the sake of others. To give freely is to say, “I am more concerned about winning others to Christ than exercising my freedom in Christ, or demanding my rights in a given situation.”
- Suffer willingly. Jesus willingly suffered the offense of others in order to bring us back into relationship with God. Jesus was oppressed and afflicted and, yet, He didn’t object or complain about it (Isaiah 53:7). To suffer willingly is to accept your suffering—and any hardship—for Christ as a joy and testimony to the love of God in you (Acts 5:41).
Q: Name someone in your life who loves boldly. What are they like?
Q: Why is it difficult not to demand your rights when you’ve been wronged or offended?
Q: Why is suffering for Christ such a powerful witness to the gospel?
Q: What’s one thing you can do this week to be salt and light for others in your home, workplace or community?
Select 1 question from this section to ask your group.
YOUR GREATEST DESIRE
In 1 Corinthians 10:31–33, Paul tells us:
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.
In every situation, your greatest desire should be for God’s glory. Use every opportunity as a way to manifest the love of God for others to see and experience. In your attitude and actions, let others see the hope of the gospel in you. Let them see that His love changes you from the inside out. Let them see that they too can have a relationship with God like you have through Christ.
Q: What does it mean to glorify God in your life? Give practical examples.
Q: Real change goes deeper than behavior. It happens at the heart level. How does God change your heart? What are you responsible to do?
Ask God to give you a heart that seeks to love others in every way possible. Pray that you would love boldly, give freely and suffer willingly for the sake of Christ and the glory of God in every situation.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
- Read 1 Corinthians 13 and reflect on what it means to truly love another person like God loves you.
- Ask the group to share any stories or lessons learned where they see God at work in their lives.
How Much Was a Drachma?
“A drachma, like a denarius, was one day’s minimum wage.”3
More on the Temple Tax
“This tax had its origin in the days of Moses (Exod. 30:11ff). The original tax money was used to make the silver sockets on which the tabernacle poles were erected (Exod. 38:25–27). Subsequent taxes were used to support the ministry of the tabernacle and then the temple. The money was to be a reminder to the Jews that they had been redeemed from Egyptian slavery. We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18–19).”4
“Jesus gave up the privilege [of being exempt from the temple tax as the Son of God] for a higher value. The miraculous means by which God provided the tax money makes two points: (1) it underscored Jesus’ point that the children of God are free from this kind of obligation; and (2) it testified again to the Father’s faithfulness to provide for His children (Matt. 6:19–34).”5
1. D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition), ed. Tremper Longman III and David E. Garland, vol. 9 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 446.
2. Crossway Bibles, The ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2008), 1858.
3. D. A. Carson, “The Gospels and Acts,” in NIV Zondervan Study Bible: Built on the Truth of Scripture and Centered on the Gospel Message, ed. D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 1967.
4. Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 63.
5. Stuart K. Weber, Matthew, vol. 1, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 275.