1) What does this passage tell me about God?2) What does this passage tell me about myself?3) How can I apply what I've learned about myself and about God?
Although not every passage lends itself to a clear cut answer, ie Matthew 1 with all the "begats," every discussion brings out some real gems. For example, when we discussed Matthew 1, the boys said they learned that God was interested in families, that God has a plan for our lives, and that God chose which family (mom and dad) that He would have Jesus be born into. Then we talked about how knowing those things helped them trust what God had chosen for their lives (even which Mom and Dad had been chosen for them). I'll remind them of this very thing the next time they're upset with our decision.
When we reached Matthew 2 and had to discuss how Herod had all those boys killed, I was a little anxious about their questions on this. They had all ready mentioned how God had protected Jesus by warning Joseph in the dream, and how God would protect them. To get an idea of what they were thinking about Herod's terrible cruelty and where was God's protection, I asked, "Why do you think God allowed Herod to kill those children?" Pele answered, "To show Herod's wickedness." I said, "Why would God have Herod show his wickedness?" He replied, "For His own glory."
Wow! I wish I had known that, or at least heard this, when I was nine years old. I lived for so long under the idea that if I was good (subjectively), then good (subjectively again) things would happen to me. It was all a bargaining deal, on my end towards God. So when my first son became sick, I railed at God on how "good" I had been and why would He let this happen to me. I bought into wrong theology about why "bad" things happened, and I swallowed wrong theology about God's righteous purpose in my life. The result was shattering when my son died.
God's grace renewed and restored me to a right and sweet understanding that God does all His holy will for His own glory. It is a truth that supports, chastens, and humbles me to this day. I'm thankful that Herod's cruelty, wicked as it was, still reveals to this day, in the heart, mind and mouth of my nine year old that God alone is good, and His ways are perfect. May this be the truth that helps them when "bad" things happen.