“Mental Health, Jesus and Grace” – Ian France – 14.1.2024
Matthew 3:13-17
Open your mind and heart as you read the passage of Scripture aloud and then again quietly to yourself. Listen for God’s word to you.

Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus’ baptism was a significant moment which initiated His ministry. He went to John at the Jordan River of His own volition. John’s objection stated Jesus’ lack of sin, and John’s own need for the baptism Jesus would offer rather than any need of Jesus for the water baptism John offered. But Jesus insisted that John baptise Him. Jesus’ identifying with ordinary men and women was an important step in His overall mission which would be fulfilled on the cross.

Whilst taking part in baptism may be misunderstood by some as it linked Him with ordinary, often marginalised, people, Jesus was prepared to be misunderstood. The confession He would have made resulting from His love for humanity was for the sin of all people rather than any sin of His own (for He was sinless). The undertaking signified a new beginning for Jesus as He turned from His secluded previous life and stepped towards His public Messianic ministry.

At once the Father affirmed Jesus’ identification – as His Son and as a member of the human race. God the Father was pleased with what Jesus had done.

The Holy Spirit descending like a dove was witnessed by John the Baptist, who understood the significance of the event. At the start of His earthly ministry, Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit. This, together with the Father’s voice stating Jesus’ Son-ship meant everyone present knew Jesus was different to ordinary men and women. God declared His approval of the life Jesus had lived up to that point in time and the action He had taken at that moment. The Father’s love for the Son is made evident by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

When people ask you who you are, how do you describe yourself? Who (or what) gives you your sense of identity? Why does this have such an important impact on your life?

What is your area of ministry/service within the Church? What sustains you in your ministry/service?
How long have you been fulfilling this calling on your life? On a scale of 1-10 at the beginning of 2024 what score would you give your enthusiasm for this ministry and/or service you are called to do?
How do you feel about the score you have given? What have you been doing to replenish your energy in this regard? Has it helped? Why/why not?
How much time do you spend replenishing your Cycle of Grace? Do you ever go alone to a quiet place (even if it is your bedroom or the bottom of the garden) and spend time with God? How do you feel about doing this? What stops you from doing it – or encourages you to do it?
Where do you find your identity?
Do you believe God accepts you as you are? Why/why not? What difference would it/does it make to you if you had been brought up to believe this? If you have children or grandchildren or are connected to children in some way, how can you help them to believe it for themselves?
If you were anointed with oil; shared communion; or lit a candle on Sunday; what did that mean to you? How did it change you? If you were not able to do this, consider doing it as a group as part of next week’s session.
How can the group help you with the struggles you have mentioned during this session?
Pray for one another in regard to the issues that have been raised during your discussion time, and in regard to other needs of the group.

As you go through this week, ask God for an awareness that He loves you no matter what. What difference does that make to your willingness to serve Him, your work ethic, your relationships, your integrity etc? How do others respond to you in the light of this awareness? How do you respond to them? Be prepared to share your discoveries with the group next week.

*Notes from the video clip:
It was realised that those in ministry could learn from the way Jesus lived His life. Where they lost momentum and the sense of their call, Jesus did not. He lived in a balanced way of input and output. He could give because He received; and He knew who He was. God’s affirmation of Jesus’ Sonship at the beginning of His earthly ministry gave Him His identity and a deep sense of acceptance by God the Father.


Matthew Chapter 3

Matthew Chapter 11

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