Share a time you have had the experience of initiation.

  1. Boot camp in the military
  2. Joining a college fraternity
  3. Hunting or fishing with Dad for the first time
  4. Pledging a gang or a prestigious club
  5. Joining a professional society
  6. Affiliating with a local church
  7. Other 



For followers of Jesus, baptism replaced circumcision (a Jewish practice) as the ceremonial rite that initiated people of faith into God’s covenant community. Baptism was accompanied by repentance of sin and confession of allegiance to God. In Jesus’ baptism, he had no sin to confess, yet was baptized along with others, by John the Baptist, in solidarity with sinful humanity. Jesus was held to be the Beloved Son of God, yet that identity and mission would be sorely tested by a period of Temptation—in Jesus’ case, 40 days in the wilderness.


God’s Story

Have one person read Matthew 3:13-4:11. Put yourself into the pomp and circumstance of the story.


Finding My Story in God’s Story

When, if ever, have you been initiated into manhood? If so, what was it like?

  1. Other men led me in formal rite of passage, and …
  2. My buddies and I went out together and …
  3. My dad and I had “the talk” and … 
  4. I missed out or need a do-over. 
  5. Other ________.


If you missed initiation into one stage of manhood or another, or you welcome a do-over, where and how could you use a good “coming of age” ceremony or experience now?


In Jesus’ baptism, what do you suppose was the most difficult part? 

  1. Submitting to family: “Not by you, John; we’re cousins.”
  2. Seeing the need for it: “Who me, a sinner?
  3. Getting dunked: “Wait, I forgot a towel and change of clothes!”
  4. Wondering: “What’s the buzz, tell me what’s happening.”
  5. Other ________.


Baptism and Temptation was the initiation process for Jesus entering public ministry.   How, specifically, was Jesus being tested?

  1. In terms of his trust, Jesus…
  2. In terms of his identity or ego, Jesus… 
  3. In terms of his agenda or priorities, Jesus…


Imagine being tempted as Jesus was. What, for you, would be most difficult? And why?

  1. The 40 days of fasting–“Gotta have comfort food.”
  2. Harassment by the Devil–“Man, he makes me squirm.”
  3. Who needs the Devil–I am bothered by my own private thoughts?
  4. Saying “No” to good things like bread, popularity, power.
  5. Other ________.


Describe your own “coming of age” or ritual initiation.

  1. When _________ set me apart with special recognition for… 
  2. I faced a difficult “trial by fire” when… 
  3. “Angels in disguise” ministered to me when…
  4. On this memorable retreat experience, I…
  5. Other ________.


Trust, ego, priorities—how have you been tested in these areas of your life? Choose one such test and describe how you came through it.


Our Story

Brainstorm ways to initiate someone older or with more experience than yourself. If you doubt a younger man has a role to play initiating an older man, address those doubts as a group.


Suppose you were asked to initiate someone younger or less experienced than you. 

  1. Name three things you have learned through the “School of Hard Knocks” that you want the “uninitiated” to know well. 
  2. Identify some men in your life that might benefit from such initiation.


Ask the men to pray for you about a setback experience. OR ask the men to pray about NEXT STEPS you need to take in helping other men.