Our Creator knows by experience what it means to be in need. Not only was he counted with the poor and knows of life’s hardships, but he also knows the evil of injustice, the horror of hate and the cruelty of the hearts of men. The sinless Savior showed by contrast what God is really like, demonstrating the complete opposite of every trace of evil and sin, demonstrating love and justice as the true character of God. Today's lesson will give us a clear picture of what His character is like.
Read Luke 4:18,19. What was the purpose of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus? (The anointment for a multi-purpose ministry and mission.) Discuss how this passage shows the needs of man and the answers from the Lord for each specific need. Why are we not seeing this multi-purpose mission being carried out in our lives, in our church? (Answers will vary.)
Read Matthew 11:5. Compare the six results of Jesus’ ministry to the six multi-purpose mission of Luke 4:18,19. Does each one of these have a correlation to each other? (Yes. Discuss how they each relate one to another.) How can we apply these same solutions to the world today? (Answers will vary.)
Read Psalm 45:7. How does this verse express the anointment of the Holy Spirit? (It is called the oil of gladness.) Is this text only applicable to Jesus, or can those who receive the Holy Spirit have a similar experience? (Answer will vary.)
Read the following quote and then discuss why it is so important today for each of us and the church to remember that Christ came as a poor man:
When the plan of redemption was laid, it was decided that Christ should not appear in accordance with His divine character; for then He could not associate with the distressed and the suffering. He must come as a poor man. He could have appeared in accordance with His exalted station in the heavenly courts; but no, He must reach to the very lowest depths of human suffering and poverty, that His voice might be heard by the burdened and disappointed, that to the weary, sin-sick soul He might reveal Himself as the Restorer, the desire of all nations, the Rest-giver. And to those who are longing for rest and peace today just as truly as to those who listened to His words in Judea, He is saying, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Manuscript 14, 1897)
Mary’s song presents a beautiful paean of praise and gratitude toward God for sending the Messiah and for choosing her to be the mother of the Messiah. In today’s lesson we will explore the twin themes of Christ’s humiliation and identification with those in need, and His exaltation and greatness.
Read Luke 1:26-27. What clues are contained in these versions that foreshadowed Jesus’ identification with “those in need”? (Jesus was to grow up in Mary’s hometown of Nazareth, and it was a town of ill repute [compare John 1:45,46]. He also was born to a virgin, which led to many accusations of an illegitimate birth.)
Read Luke 1:32-35. What clues are contained in these verses that foretell Christ’s greatness? (He would be the “Son of the Highest,” sit on the throne of David, reign over the house of Jacob, have no end to His kingdom, and be filled with the Holy Spirit.)
Read Luke 1:46-55. How do these two elements of Christ’s life—His identification with those in need and His exaltation and greatness—combine in Mary’s song? What implications does this have for each of us in our acceptance and trust in Jesus as Savior? (Answers will vary.)
Read the following quote and then discuss why it is so important today for each of us, and the church, to remember that Christ is the Savior of the whole world:
Yet Mary did not understand Christ’s mission. Simeon had prophesied of Him as a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as a glory to Israel. Thus the angels had announced the Saviour’s birth as tidings of joy to all peoples. God was seeking to correct the narrow, Jewish conception of the Messiah’s work. He desired men to behold Him, not merely as the deliverer of Israel, but as the Redeemer of the world. But many years must pass before even the mother of Jesus would understand His mission. (DA 56.3)
If you think of a Bible motto for your life, which one would it be? Would it be “I can do all things”, or “if God is for us, who can be against us?” How about “all things work together for good.” Or maybe this one, “the Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.” Whichever one you choose, the likely scenario is that when we think of a personal goal, (even when biblical) we are likely to pick something in relation to “me.” Yet, Christ came to show us that His life motto, His life goal was about "others.” In today’s lesson we will see what was Christ’s life purpose.
Read Luke 4:16-21. What does this passage say about the mission of Christ and when that mission was fulfilled? (Answers will vary.) Is this passage exclusively applicable to Jesus’ ministry and mission? (No as the anointment of the Holy Spirit upon us promises exactly the same purpose). Comparing this passage for us today, how close or how far are we from making His mission our own mission? (Answers will vary.)
Read Isaiah 11:2-5. How does this passage relate to the mission of Christ found in Mathew 4:18,19 and Isaiah 61:1,2? (This passage shows the continuation of His mission that started on earth and how it will continue throughout eternity). Why is it crucial for us to understand that His mission is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow? (It gives us assurance of mercy, love and justice while we are in judgment.) Based on this passage, what attributes of the Holy Spirit upon Christ are available to us? (Answers will vary.)
Read Matthew 25:31-40. How does this passage connect us to the mission statement of Jesus’ ministry? (The redeemed will have the same type of life and have the same results of Jesus’ ministry on earth while living only toward others.) What is the result of His mission becoming our own personal mission? (A selfless life.) How are each one of use responsible before the Lord to make His mission our own personal mission? (Christ makes it clear that He expects nothing less from his followers, but to love Him and others as He showed us. See 1 John 4:7)
The gospels, of course, contain numerous accounts of Christ’s acts of healing, which formed a major—perhaps the major—portion of His ministry. In today’s lesson we will investigate for what purposes Christ performed these healings, and what this means for us today.
Read Matthew 12:9-13. For what reasons did Jesus perform this healing miracle on the Sabbath? (Possible answers include: to reveal the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders, to demonstrate the value and worth of human life, to reinforce the sanctity and blessing of the Sabbath, and to improve the life of this unfortunate man.)
Read Matthew 12:14-18. What additional reason for Christ’s acts of healing are explained in verse 18? (To “show judgment to the Gentiles.”) What do you think this means? (Some versions translate this as “to proclaim justice.”) Why do you think the Gentiles are mentioned here? Wouldn’t the Jews also need to see God’s justice? (A prophetic picture is being given here of the eventual worldwide impact of Christ’s life and the extent of His kingdom. Compare Isaiah 42:4, which predicts that the Messiah will “not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law,” and verse 21, which predicts that the Gentiles will trust in His name. God’s work of salvation is intended for every person on earth!)
Read Matthew 12:19,20. What do these verses reveal about the character of the Redeemer? (The “bruised reed” and “smoking flax” are metaphors for the weakest of the week and those most in need of restoration and redemption. Christ sees value in humanity’s most wretched and pitiful situations, and He will not rest so long as there is the slightest hope of restoration in such cases.)
Read John 5:14 and 8:11, and Mark 2:9-12. What was an additional reason that Christ performed miracles of healing? (To reveal His power to forgive sins, and to enable those healed to “go and sin no more.”) While it is important to believe that Christ has the power to forgive sin, it is another thing to actively claim that power in our lives. What secrets have you learned from your own experience, or seen in others’ lives, that have helped to develop an active and life-changing faith in Christ and His power over sin? (Answers will vary.)
When we think of people in need we often think of those who lack clothing, food, shelter or health. We also see people in need who are living sinful lives away from God. And even those who are followers of Christ many times realize their need and thus seek the Lord. However, there is a group who are the hardest to see their need. This is why it is so dangerous to be in a position of authority in the church. It can be very easy to lose sight of the humble Savior and His life of service to others, and instead be proud of the position and love the structure and not the people. Today we'll look at the reason the Lord cleansed the Temple.
Read John 2:13-16. This is the first time He cleansed the temple. How was Christ serving the needs of the people and the leaders by cleansing the temple? (Removing the making of money out of religious requirements that were given as symbols of grace and the plan of salvation; reproving wrong practices contrary to scriptures and perverting the true biblical principles of worship and adoration to the Lord, etc.)
Read John 2:17 and compare to Psalm 69:9. What does it mean where it says, “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up?” (Answers will vary.) Read Psalm 119:139. What does this verse tell us about “the zeal” for holy things? (When those who knew forget or forsake the word of God.) What can we learn from these verses that can be applied today? (Answers will vary.)
Read Matthew 21:12-17. Why did Christ need to cleanse the temple again? (The message of reform and revival was not accepted by the majority of the leadership. The love of money was more important than honoring God, the people had not been willing to stand for what was right and were submissive to human tradition and authority over God’s authority.) What important point is Christ making after the cleaning which shows how He was serving the needs of both leaders and the people? (He healed many sick and as the children recognized him as the Messiah, he pointed the leaders to the word, hoping for the last time they will recognize him as Messiah.)
In today’s lesson we will take a brief yet penetrating look at the cross, and what was achieved there for humanity. As we study, let us remember that because of His infinite sacrifice for us, God has been able not only to save us from sin, but to also bring us closer to Him than if we had never fallen:
By His life and His death, Christ has achieved even more than recovery from the ruin wrought through sin. It was Satan’s purpose to bring about an eternal separation between God and man; but in Christ we become more closely united to God than if we had never fallen. In taking our nature, the Saviour has bound Himself to humanity by a tie that is never to be broken. Through the eternal ages He is linked with us. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son.” John 3:16. He gave Him not only to bear our sins, and to die as our sacrifice; He gave Him to the fallen race. To assure us of His immutable counsel of peace, God gave His only-begotten Son to become one of the human family, forever to retain His human nature. This is the pledge that God will fulfill His word. (DA 25)
Read John 10:17,18. What did Christ say was the reason that He died? (He said that He died of His own choice. While the hatred, jealousy, and injustice of His enemies did lead to His arrest and trial, His death resulted from His own choice to lay down His life.) Why is this so important to remember? (Christ’s life did not begin like any other person’s, nor did it end like any other person’s. Through His whole life we see the working out of a Divine plan of redemption and salvation.) Because Jesus was despised and rejected of men, many claimed that He must also be stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God. Do we sometimes make the same mistake today in our evaluation of others? If so, how? (Answers will vary.)
Read Isaiah 53:3,4. For what reasons was Christ despised, rejected, and acquainted with grief? (His life of purity revealed the sin and wickedness of unconverted human hearts.) For what reasons do you think Christ was a “man of sorrows”? (Answers will vary. His rejection by so many of Israel’s leaders, and the ruin and destruction from sin that He daily witnessed certainly contributed to His sorrows.)
Read Isaiah 53:5,6. According to these verses, what did Christ’s death accomplish? (Because of His death, many will live, and because of His sufferings many will find peace and joy eternal.) Does the result of Christ’s sufferings and death justify the sacrifice necessary to achieve it? (God believed that it did!)
Read Isaiah 53:10. For what reason did Jesus Christ, and the Father, carry out the difficult and painful plan of salvation? (The Bible says that God was “pleased” to be bruised for us. It’s not that the Father was pleased to see His Son suffer, but rather that this suffering was required for the plan of salvation to be carried out [compare Acts 2:23]. This verse also states that He would “see his seed” and be satisfied with His sacrifice [compare Hebrews 12:2].) Who makes up the seed of Christ? (We do!)
In today's lesson, we will look at perhaps another reason why the story of the cross is important to behold, to be shared, to be preached. It is absolutely important to contemplate His love in dying for us and to realize that Jesus gave all for us. There is no love story in the universe that can compare to what our loving Savior did for us. Yet, the cross is also a reminder that there is a problem with sin. It took God everything to be able to redeem men, and in this love story there is a part that has an incredible and also terrifying end.
Read Hebrews 10:12-18. What did the sacrifice of the cross accomplish for us? (It made the new covenant possible which the Lord had always wanted to do for his people). What is the purpose of this covenant? (To write His law in our hearts and minds. There has to be full remission for our sins. He has promised that we may live according to His will by the power of the Holy Spirit.)
Read Hebrews 10:26-31. What happens when we reject the message of the cross, and choose to live in sin? (The cross becomes the witness against us as the penalty for sin is death, and the price that Christ paid will not cover the willful disobedient, including those who knew the truth but did not surrender to the Lord. These are those that did not keep a new birth experience, but chose to live continually in sin rather than surrender their life to Christ and have victory over sin in Jesus.)
“God has given in His word decisive evidence that He will punish the transgressors of His law. Those who flatter themselves that He is too merciful to execute justice upon the sinner, have only to look to the cross of Calvary. The death of the spotless Son of God testifies that ‘the wages of sin is death,’ that every violation of God’s law must receive its just retribution. Christ the sinless became sin for man. He bore the guilt of transgression, and the hiding of His Father’s face, until His heart was broken and His life crushed out. All this sacrifice was made that sinners might be redeemed. In no other way could man be freed from the penalty of sin. And every soul that refuses to become a partaker of the atonement provided at such a cost must bear in his own person the guilt and punishment of transgression.” (Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, pp. 539, 540)
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