Community Group Questions 3/18/12

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Main Text:  Jonah 1:4-17, Matthew 12:28-41

Topics:

  • Jonah was called by God to leave his home and go preach to Nineveh. He, out of hatred of them fled the other way.
  • While Jonah was on the boat sailing in the opposite direction, God sent a storm. The men on the boat found Jonah sleeping during the storm, and asked for his help.  They asked him to pray to his God.
  • They cast lots, and the lot falls on Jonah. It appears he is the reason for the storm.  Jonah confirms that He is the guilty party.
  • Jonah tells them that if they would just throw him into the sea, his death will save their lives.  If they sacrifice Jonah, God’s wrath will be satisfied, and the storm will not continue to rage.
  • The men tried to row to the shore, but couldn’t.
  • Reluctantly, they decided to throw Jonah in the sea, but they asked that God not lay his blood on them, if he is innocent.
  • Jonah goes into the sea, and the storm instantly stopped. and the men feared greatly.
  • Jonah was in the whale for three days and three nights.  Then he came up from the deep and was put on dry land.
  • He then preached the news to Nineveh.
  • Jesus said, that the sign the Jews would see that He is the Messiah, is the sign of Jonah.  He says, just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and nights, so will He be in heart of the earth.  Jesus said the difference is, the Ninevites will condemn those of His generation because they believed Jonah’s preaching, but many in Jesus’ generation will not believe His.
  • Jesus says to them something greater than Jonah was there.  And it is true, He is greater than Jonah:
    • Jesus did not resist coming down from heaven to us - who are technically enemies of God.  Jonah fled and ran the other way.
    • Humanity is feeling the consequence of our sin.  Our storm is all the evil and hurt our sin causes.  But Jesus chose to be the one to be sacrificed and die, so we don’t die.
    • Jonah was guilty, and the sailors that threw Jonah in the water were innocent. But Jesus was innocent and those that killed him were guilty.
    • The sailors asked that Jonah’s innocent blood not be held against them - though he was actually guilty.  The people in Jerusalem wanted him to be crucified as a guilty criminal and said, “let His blood be on our shoulders,” even though He was innocent (Matthew 27:25).
    • Jonah’s executioners cast lots to discern his guilt. Jesus’ executioners cast lots over Jesus, even though he was innocent.
    • When Jonah was back from the belly of the whale after three days, God’s wrath was satisfied against him.  When Jesus was back from the heart of the earth on the third day, he had satisfied God’s wrath against us.
  • The third day is a day of reckoning. It’s a day foreshadowed to be a day when one comes up from the “grave” having satisfied God’s wrath.
  • The third day says God is no longer angry with us.  The third day is a day when we too will say what Jonah says while he is in the fish, “salvation belongs to the Lord.”
  • If God’s wrath is satisfied then:
    • a Christian has no room to succumb to guilt or shame or penance
    • a Christian has no room for being judgmental or condemning
    • a Christian has no room for bitterness or unforgiveness
  • The third day means we live in a state of forgiveness
  • Sometimes we succumb to things that no longer apply to us because of the third day.  When we do that, we have to return to what the third day accomplished for us.

Key Questions:

  1. How would you have felt if you were one of the soldiers throwing Jonah overboard?
  2. How does the story of Jonah have similarities to Jesus?
    1. he left his home to bring God’s message to his enemies
    2. he was once asleep on the boat while a storm raged (Matthew 8:23-27)
    3. lots were cast over him
    4. Jonah’s death saved theirs
    5. His death meant God was no longer angry with them
    6. He went down into the deep, which he refers to as death
    7. The sailors asked that Jonah’s blood not be on their shoulders, Jesus’ executioners asked that His blood be on their shoulders
    8. Jonah came up from the deep, like Jesus rose from the dead
    9. he brought a message to those who didn’t know God
  3. In what ways is Jesus greater than Jonah?
    1. he was obedient to the call to leave heaven and go to his enemies
    2. the storm was calmed because of him, but he simply spoke to it
    3. He was innocent but gave his life for the guilty
    4. Jonah preached but had hatred towards the Ninevites (Jonah 4:2-3). Jesus preached out of love.
  4. How should what happened on the third day eliminate feelings of shame, guilt, and condemnation?
  5. How should what happened on the third day effect how we forgive?
  6. All of us have moments when we don’t operate as if we’ve been totally forgiven. How do those moments effect you?
  7. When do you feel most vulnerable to those moments?
  8. What should we do when we are not acting or thinking like God’s wrath was satisfied on the third day?
  9. How can we encourage each other, when we sense a Christian friend has reverted back to operating as if God’s wrath is still on them?

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