Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
(Feel free to withhold names in this exercise if you wish.)
1. Who is the best boss you’ve ever had? What made this boss the best?
2. Who is the worst boss you’ve ever had? What made this boss the worst?
Read Matthew 23:1-4.
1. When a poor leader is in a position of power, you may have been told to respect the position even though the person is less than perfect. Compare that advice to the words of Jesus in verses 1-3. How can you tell if you’re respecting the position when the person in that position is a poor role model?
2. What’s the difference between being the boss and being bossy? Try to describe the difference by referring to Jesus’ words in verse 4.
Read Matthew 23:23, 24.
3. Hebrew prophets often spoke in two-part oracles. One part typically began with “blessed are” and the second began with “woe to.” Contrast the blessings pronounced on disciples of Jesus in Matthew 5:6, 7 with the woes described in these verses.
4. What do we mean when we say someone is “majoring in the minors?” How were the religious leaders of Jesus’ day doing just that? How are Christians today tempted to ignore important commands of God and focus on much less significant practices?
Read Matthew 23:25, 26.
5. The religious leaders criticized Jesus’ disciples for ignoring rules about ceremonial washing (Mark 7:1-4). Using Mark 7:20-23 as a reference, what “inside the cup” attitudes did Jesus refer to in Matthew 23:25, 26?
6. Jesus was using a metaphor with the command to clean the inside of the cup to make the outside of the cup clean. Try to say what Jesus meant, using straightforward language instead of symbolic imagery.
7. Poor leaders are control freaks (vv. 1-4), nit pickers (vv. 23, 24), and phonies (vv. 25, 26)! Have you ever been described as one of these? How can we avoid the pitfalls of poor leadership?