Sermon On The Mount Discussion Guide
16 ‘When you fast, do not look sombre as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Which of the following statements best describes your response to hearing a sermon on fasting?
– A sense of guilt about past attempts at fasting
– Confusion about what that should look like
– Ignorance of fasting as something that Christians practise as a spiritual discipline
– A sense of defeatism
1. Which words or phrases stand out to you?
2. What is the link between fasting and the pursuit of God’s kingdom? How does Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount fulfil this description of the kingdom?
- Do you, or people you know, fast for physical reasons? How is that type of fasting different from biblical fasting?
- It’s stating the obvious, but Matthew 6:16-18 comes in the context of Jesus’s other teaching in the chapter (on giving and prayer). John Stott points out in his commentary on The Sermon on the Mount, that to give is to serve others, to pray is to seek God and to fast is to deny self.
- What makes these three practices different from the teaching in chapter 5? And what similarities does Jesus point to when he teaches about them?
- “It’s not about making me feel better. It’s not about making me more spiritual. Fasting is about sharpening my appetite for the presence of God.”
- How do you think we can help each other in community to sharpen our appetite for God?
Scripture Reading: Here is a 90 day reading plan through all four Gospels. Download the YouVersion app and select to do this plan “with friends.” Once you invite members from your community to join you, you can all track together with the plan and save notes, questions, and comments on passages – why not take turns in adding a short commentary each day?
If you’re not there already, break into small groups and pray for what the Holy Spirit is putting on your heart. Don’t rush, but enjoy being in His presence together. Pray encouragement and blessing on one another, as you ponder what God is saying.