Introduction: When I first started driving a car, I was concerned
about how to stay in my own lane. This was important because 99% of
the roads in my area only had two lanes. People in the adjacent lane
would be driving towards me at a high rate of speed! I came up with
the theoretical idea that I should line up the hood ornament with the
dividing line on the road. (This can only work from the passenger-side seat or the back seat – which is no doubt where I was when
working out this great theory.) Any experienced driver knows this is
foolishness. Experienced drivers automatically “know” when they are
in their own lane. Driving is like the Christian life, except a whole
lot of people seem to be off in the weeds or at least on the wrong
side of the road. One area in which people seem to get “off in the
weeds” has to do with Jesus’ love. It seems they have one of two
extremes. Either they cannot trust Him to love them, or they know
Jesus so little that they are shocked to hear that He is also the
Judge in a final judgment in which the penalty is eternal death. This
week we look at Jesus’ attitude of love. Let’s see if we can get the
feel for the right side of the road!

  1. Feeding the Healed

    1. Read Matthew 15:29-30. Have you heard the phrase “time on
      task?” What does it mean? (It means the time you spend
      accomplishing your work, as opposed to the time you spend
      on matters which distract you from your work.)

      1. What was Jesus’ primary task during His three years
        of ministry on earth? (Showing that He was the
        Messiah and explaining how He fulfilled the plan of
        salvation had to be a big part of it.)

      2. Do you think healing the people who keep coming was
        “on task” work for Jesus?

    2. Read Matthew 15:31. What lesson did the people learn from
      this? (The text says that they praised “the God of

      1. Do you think they were calling Jesus “the God of
        Israel?” (I don’t think they were making that
        explicit connection. Assuming they were not, praising
        God is a good thing, but it does not seem to be
        directly “on task” work. The healing showed that
        Jesus had special power, or access to special power,
        but it did not explain His special mission.)

      2. If the time available is short, and this is not
        directly “on task” work for Jesus, why did He do it?

    3. Read Matthew 15:32. What insight does this give us into
      Jesus’ motive for the healing? (He healed them because He
      cared about them. See Matthew 14:14. They could take care
      of the simple task of feeding themselves. Jesus not only
      has the compassion to heal their diseases and infirmities,
      He is concerned about them going hungry.)

      1. How do you explain people going hungry today? Did
        Jesus stop having compassion after He returned to
        heaven? (Notice that Jesus did not heal everyone on
        earth. He did not feed everyone on earth. He healed
        and feed those who came to Him in faith.)

      2. Why did Jesus share His concern with His disciples?
        What were they supposed to do about it?

    1. Read Matthew 15:33-34. What is the obvious answer to the
      disciples’ question? (Jesus had been giving sight to the
      blind, would it be more difficult to make bread? Worse, if
      you look at Matthew 14:14-21 you will see that Jesus had
      recently fed the 5,000 in a very similar way. The
      disciples knew Jesus had the power to make food for these

      1. Consider what is going on. If the disciples showed
        proper faith in Jesus they would have turned to Him
        to feed the people. But, Jesus starts them off on
        the wrong path by turning to them for a solution and
        then even discussing the number of loaves of bread
        available. Why does Jesus seem to lead His disciples
        into self-reliance?

        1. Do you think He ever does this to you?
          (Realizing that they could not do it themselves
          made the disciples more clearly understand the
          power of God. Sometimes we just have to flounder
          to get a full view of God’s love and power.)

    2. Read Matthew 15:35-38. Did the disciples have a role in
      this miracle?

      1. What lesson do you find in this for your life? (We
        need to rely on Jesus as the loving miracle-worker,
        but He has a role for us. Our role is to believe in
        Him and to work with Him in showing compassion to

  1. Care For Children

    1. Read Matthew 18:1-3. Does this mean the disciples asked
      the wrong question? (They ask who leads in heaven. Jesus
      responds by saying “Let’s talk first about how you get
      into heaven.”)

      1. Let’s look at this a minute. We have all sorts of
        formulations about being saved. Matthew 24:13 tells
        us to “stand firm to the end” and we will be saved.
        Luke 13:23-24 tells us those who enter the “narrow
        door” will be saved. John 10:9 tells us that if we
        enter through the Jesus’ “gate” we will be saved.
        Acts 2:21 and Romans 10:13 tell us that if we call on
        the name of the Lord we will be saved. Now we are
        told that we must become like little children to be
        saved. What is Jesus talking about here?

        1. Do you see a consistent thread of logic in these
          texts about salvation?

    2. Read Matthew 18:4. What is your experience with little
      children – here a child old enough to walk, talk and be
      standing around? Don’t you find them to be immature and
      selfish? (Any parent realizes that children have serious
      character flaws that are directly related to a lack of
      maturity. Surely, Jesus is not talking about that.
      Instead, when He speaks about being “humble,” He is
      talking about dependency. From Matthew 15 (our last story)
      through this story we see Jesus teaching reliance on God.
      The question “Who is greatest” means “Who will rule?”
      Jesus says “forget ruling,” instead develop dependence on
      Me. Working on humility means to work on being dependent
      on God, not working on ruling over others.)

        1. What has this to do with the topic of Jesus’
          love? (We might love others more if we were less
          concerned about ruling over them.)

    3. Let’s read on. Read Matthew 18:5-6. What comes with
      dependence? (For children, dependence means they are
      easily led or influenced. If you are teaching children,
      your obligation is very great. As an adult, make sure you
      are led and dependent on God.)

    4. Read Matthew 18:7. What does this say about Hugh Hefner?
      What does this say about drug-dealers who sell around
      playgrounds? What does this say about you passing your bad
      habits on to your children? (We cannot say “Everyone is
      doing it.” We cannot say, “If I don’t supply this need,
      someone else will.” Every one of us must carefully look at
      our influence and ask “Am I causing others to sin?” Is my
      influence positive or negative?)

  2. Loving Pagans

    1. Read Matthew 5:43-44. How many enemies do you have? (If
      you have more than just a few, you need to examine your
      Christian walk!)

      1. Can you find a parallel between exercise and loving
        your enemies? (Consider the opportunity for character
        building by loving and praying for your enemies. You
        get bigger muscles when you strain, when you work at
        it. You get bigger character “muscles” when you have
        to work at it.)

    2. Read Matthew 5:45-47. How is “love” to our enemies defined
      in these verses? Is it “hug” love? (Jesus’ example is
      even-handed treatment of those who are God’s “enemies.”
      If you would do something for your friend, do it for your

    3. Read Matthew 5:48. Why should we be better than pagans
      when it comes to our enemies? (Because we have a higher
      standard. Perfection is our goal. It is not to gain
      salvation, but because we are sons and daughters of God!)

    4. Friend, picture your worst enemy. What will you do today,
      this coming week, for that person to show you are a son or
      daughter of God?

  3. Next week: The Meaning of His Death.