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

    1. Other men led me in a 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, so I may need a do-over.
    5. 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.

Except for Jesus escaping to Egypt with his parents as a baby (Matthew 2:13-17) and the story of twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple (Luke 2:41-51), we know little about the lives of John and Jesus from birth until this moment. This is the moment of initiation when John’s work is coming to an end, and Jesus’ public ministry is just beginning. Thirty years of anticipation culminate here when Jesus submits to John’s baptism.

God’s Story

Have one person read Matthew 3: 13-17. Put yourself into the pomp and circumstance of the story.

Finding My Story in God’s Story

  1. If you were Jesus’ cousin John, what would you be experiencing as Jesus approached?
    1. Excitement- this is what I was born for!
    2. Confusion- what does he have to confess?
    3. Relief- finally my work is coming to a close!
    4. Fear- I’m not ready for my work to draw to a close!
    5. Other __________.

  1. What might Jesus be realizing when he sees the Spirit and hears the voice?
    1. I am ready, but a good dunk in the river was all I was expecting!
    2. Now the things I’ve heard through the years are beginning to make sense.
    3. What’s ahead for me that I need this special initiation?
    4. What am I being prepared for?
    5. Other __________.

  1. What did your dad say or do (or what do you wish he would have said and done) that gave you a sense of acceptance and confidence as a man?

  1. 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 ________.

  1. Describe the most meaningful part of your own “coming of age” or ritual initiation.
    1. When _________ set me apart with special recognition by …
    2. During a “trial by fire” when…
    3. “Angels in disguise” ministered to me by when
    4. On a memorable retreat, I experienced…
    5. Other ________.

Our Story


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

  1. Suppose you were asked to initiate someone younger or less experienced than you. Name three things you have learned through the “School of Hard Knocks” that you want the “uninitiated” to know well.

  1. Identify some men in your life that might benefit from such initiation.

  1. Ask the men in this group to pray for you about a setback experience you’ve described earlier. OR ask the men to pray about NEXT STEPS you need to take in helping other men.