“Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” MATTHEW 22:36-40 NLT
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. MATTHEW 28:18-20 NLT
The Love of God changes me
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” LUKE 7:36-50 ESV
The Love of God inspires me to change
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. PHILIPPIANS 1:6 NLT
God’s love doesn’t just challenge me, it empowers me to change
The Love of God points me to Jesus
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 1 JOHN 4:9-10 NLT
Jesus points me to baptism
Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” MATTHEW 3:13-17 NLT
Baptism is an essential step as I begin my journey with Jesus
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. MATTHEW 28:19 NLT
Baptism announces my faith publicly
Baptism symbolizes my cleansing spiritually
Baptism unites me with other believers powerfully
Personal Reflection Guide
Spend a few moments clearing your mind and letting God calm your heart. Consider going for a walk or finding a quiet place where you can be alone with God. Pay attention to your breathing and see if you can align it with your head and heart. When you are ready, begin a conversation with God about how much He loves you. Read the story in Luke 7:36-50. Imagine yourself as either the sinful woman or the Pharisee. With which one do you most connect? In what way have you experienced the love of God in your own life as it relates to how much you have experienced God’s forgiveness? Reflect on how your thoughts, feelings, and actions have been changed by trusting in God’s love for you. What helps you to trust that God loves you without reservation and that He always will? What causes you to doubt His love for you? Finally, ask God to reveal to you how you can live in greater obedience to Him so that you can experience His love for you in a deeper way. As you close your time, take a moment to thank God for ways in which you have experienced His love for you.
p.s. Have you been baptized? If not, what’s keeping you from taking that step of obedience in following Jesus?
Group Leader Note: Check in with each person about their baptism. Find out if they have or haven’t been baptized. If they have been baptized, ask them to share something meaningful from their baptism. If they’ve not been baptized, ask them to share what’s keeping them from taking that next step of obedience in following Jesus.
- What keeps people from following the essential commands of Jesus: love God, love others, live on mission (Matthew 23:36-40; Matthew 28:18-20)?
- Describe what the world would be like if followers of Jesus consistently loved God, loved people and lived on mission.
- Read Luke 7:36-50 and put yourself in the position of Simon the Pharisee. What was it about his life that caused him to miss out on the love of God?
- Read the story again and put yourself in the position of the woman. In what way does the love of God inspire her to love God more?
- In what way has your experience of God’s love for you changed your life?
- What could happen in your life if—instead of choosing disobedience—you chose obedience to Jesus? What is one step you can take today to live in greater obedience to God?