Small Group Lesson:
- If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be?
- If you could have dinner with anyone from the Bible, who would it be?
- What is the best dinner party you’ve ever been to?
Throughout the Bible, the invitation to God’s heavenly kingdom is described as a grand banquet with God and the people of God. On Sunday we looked at Matthew 8:5-13 and learned that the God of all the earth has called us all to a banquet and that we enter that banquet by faith.
Read Matthew 8:5-13
Engage the Bible:
- What did the centurion do that demonstrated such great faith?
- To what does “recline at the table… in the kingdom of heaven” refer in verse 11? (Answer: heaven.)
- To whom does “the sons of the kingdom” refer in verse 12? (Answer: Those who are ethnically Israelites but do not accept Jesus by faith.)
- To what does “darkness” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” refer in verse 12? (Answer: hell.)
- What is necessary to enter the kingdom of heaven? (Answer: faith in Jesus.)
Apply the Bible:
- In verse 11 Jesus says "many will come from east and west” to God’s banquet. Open a world map app on someone’s phone and position Israel in the center of the screen. Now look as far as you can to the east and to the west. God’s invitation to his banquet is for all these people! And there will be people from every nation and language in heaven (Revelation 7:9-10). Whom do you want to invite to this banquet who doesn’t yet know that they are invited? (This is another way to ask the question from God’s Mission below, so skip that question later.)
- Until Jesus came, many thought that God’s invitation to his heavenly banquet was only for the Jews. But we, who were once outsiders, have been brought into God’s family, and he has prepared a place for us at his table. Do you ever feel like an outsider in this world or society? What does it mean to you to be invited to God's banquet?
- Some Jews believed that they would enter God's banquet merely because they were descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Others believed they would enter because they kept the Law of God. Jesus says we must have faith in him in order to enter God's banquet. When you are tempted to put faith in your own qualifications instead of putting faith in Jesus, what do you put faith in?
- Read Psalm 23:5-6 & Psalm 73:25-26. The fullest understanding of God's banquet as revealed in the Bible is that God himself is the one who satisfies our hunger and is our reward (see also: Psalm 42:1-2, 63:1-8, 84:1-12, etc.). Do you regularly hope for and look forward to God's presence in grace? How do you seek to rejoice in God and enjoy his presence now?