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Biblical References: Luke 8:4-15; Luke 11:37-54; Luke 12:4-21; Luke 12:35-53; Luke 22:24-27

Jesus was a “friend of sinners,” but was also rather direct in his criticism of the Pharisees. At the time, the common people looked up to the Pharisees as examples of piety and goodness.

1. Notice how pointed Jesus was in Luke 11:37-12:1. The Pharisees and the teachers of the law felt insulted at what Jesus said (“Teacher, when you say these things, you insult us also,” said the expert in the law in Luke 11:45).

A. Why was Jesus so critical of these spiritual leaders? What were his main complaints against them? (See Luke 11:37-12:1)

B. Is there a time when it is appropriate to say insulting things to other people?

C. It is easy to see Pharisees around us. It is more difficult to recognize a Pharisee when we see one in the mirror. If we were honest, what are the “Pharisee tendencies” we most struggle with?

D. Is it possible to be a popular and powerful spiritual leader without becoming a “Pharisee”?

2. In Luke 12:13-21, Jesus warns against “all kinds of greed” and tells the parable of the rich fool. What are the different “kinds of greed” that Jesus may have been referring to? What kind of greed is most dangerous? Was the farmer a fool for storing up grain and goods in his barns? Shouldn’t we save resources for the future?

3. A few verses later, in Luke 12:35-53, Jesus calls for watchfulness as one waits for the return of the master. This is typically (and I think correctly) understood as a parable dealing with the second coming of Jesus. What is the point of this parable? How much effort does the servant expend in trying to figure out the timing of the master’s return? What is the difference between waiting and watching?

4. Look again at Jesus’ parable of the sower in Luke 8:4-15. This parable is often used to encourage us to “be fruitful.” This is then understood to mean that we ought to be missionary-minded and share the gospel with the world. Is this the point of the parable? (See Luke 8:15 for a hint!) According to Jesus, how is a “crop” produced? Do we produce fruit by gritting our teeth and trying to produce fruit? What should we learn, then, from this parable?

5. In Luke 22:24-27, we discover that even after 3 1⁄2 years of following Jesus, the disciples still fought for positions of power. They argued about who would be greatest in the kingdom.

A. According to Jesus, there ought to be a fundamental difference between “worldly” leadership and leadership among his followers. What was this fundamental difference?

B. Jesus used himself as an example. He said, “I am among you as one who serves.” The word for serve, here, is the same word that is translated as “minister” in other passages. The word is especially associated with service at a table—in other words, service provided by what we might call a waiter or waitress. If we took Jesus’ words seriously, how might this impact our view of the role of a pastor or minister? What sort of “authority” does a pastor or minister exert over their local church?

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