This is the material I have written for our Bible Group tonight:
What are the qualities that make for a good leader?
John the Baptist was puzzled. He had known from earliest times that his mission was to prepare the people for the coming Messiah. He had no doubt heard all the stories about the birth of his cousin Jesus and knew from his own experience that Jesus was no ordinary person. He had faithfully gone out into the desert preaching a baptism of repentance and he had witnessed the coming of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at His baptism in the river Jordan.
But John had not actually witnessed Jesus’ public ministry. Herod had locked John up in prison because John had denounced the king’s marriage to his sister-in-law (Luke 3:19-20). So what John learnt about Jesus came from reports delivered to him in his prison cell. And what he heard confused him. On the one hand, he learnt of the wonderful new preaching and the amazing miracles. On the other, the Romans and the Jewish authorities were still firmly in charge, and there seemed to be no change to the political situation at all. So if Jesus was the Messiah, as he had believed all along, where was the deliverance? Why had the government remained the same?
It’s with these questions in mind that John sends his disciples to Jesus.
So let’s take a moment to read Luke 7:18-35
1. Look at Jesus’ reply to John in verse 22. How did Jesus’ words answer John’s question? What point is Jesus making about the type of Messiah He is called to be, and why would anyone take offence at what He is saying (v.23)?
2. Should we expect to see and hear similar things happening today? If so, how should Jesus’ words shape our mission as a church?
3. Is there a political dimension to what Jesus is saying? Can we identify from His words the sort of priorities that we as Christians would want to see adopted by our leaders?
4. The crowds who were listening to Jesus had already owned John to be a great moral leader who had brought the people back to God. But, looking at Jesus’ words in verses 24-26, how was John’s leadership different from that offered by the political and religious leaders of the day? What can we learn here about the type of leadership God expects from those who seek to serve Him?
5. Look at verse 28. In what way is the least in the kingdom of God greater than John the Baptist? What do Jesus’ words tell us about the kind of kingdom God has come to establish through Him? (You may want to refer to 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 at this point.)
6. Look at verses 29-30. Why did those in authority refuse to be baptised by John the Baptist? Is there a warning here for those who claim religious or political leadership today?
7. Look at verses 31-34. Why did the people of Jesus’ generation refuse to accept either John’s ministry or His own? What stops people today from understanding and acting upon the good news of Jesus Christ?
8. What is this wisdom that Jesus talks about in verse 35? How do we demonstrate our wisdom as believers, especially when it comes to thinking about political and social engagement?