[Thought questions for Christ, Our Sacrifice November 13, 2013]
1. Substitution. Have you ever been a teacher or held another position where your work was essential that if you couldn’t be there, a substitute had to be found? Does that substitute sometimes prove to be of lesser ability? By contrast, in what ways is Jesus the infinitely superior substitute? What part do humility and obedience play in the substitution of His death for ours? What concept of Christ’s substitutionary death is most dear to you? See Hebrews 2:15-18 and share your thoughts. How was Jesus ‘born to die’? What are benefits of suffering, especially, the suffering of Jesus to bear the sins of many? See Luke 24:26 How can we express this tender care on the part of Jesus as we comfort one another in sickness and in death? See Thessalonians 4:14.
2. Jesus in Isaiah 53. Have you ever read the Old Testament through and felt your heart pounding when you reached the beautiful descriptions of Jesus and His sacrifice for us presented by the prophet Isaiah? The lesson authors point out that Jesus’ death as described in these verses is penal substitution. What does that phrase, penal substitution, mean? In real life, do you ever ache for a person caught in sin? How does Jesus feel when you and I stumble and misrepresent His character? Why did real people who knew of His loving deeds insist on hurting Jesus and causing Him to suffer? Was it because they didn’t recognize his loving ways? or was it because they had another agenda in direct conflict with Christ’s? If so, what was that agenda? Do you and I ever get caught up in our own agenda and lose sight of Jesus?
3. Blood. How do we understand the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice as seen in the physical death of the sacrificial animals? Why is the symbol of the physical blood of the sacrifice most especially suited to represent the substitutionary death of Christ? How does His death provide us a closer connection with God? How did the rituals of the daily and sacrifices provide reminders for a personal connection with God for everyone? See Ephesians 2:13 and Hebrews 10:19. What are the spiritual “things” that human beings need in order to gain access to God by means of the multi-functional blood? See Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 1:7, Collossians. 1:20, Romans 5:9. Can you think of others? How is Christ’s death a reason for the resurrection? Why is the blood of Jesus more ‘precious’ than any other blood? How does Christ’s sacrificial death ultimately solve the problem of evil? See. Revelation 12:11
4. Spotless sacrifice. Why was such great care taken in the Old Testament times to select animals used for sacrifice? If the whole sacrificial system was symbolic, why wouldn’t any animal work to fill that role? What about Jesus? Would His sacrifice have meant anything if He were tainted with sin? What is the source of the righteousness that Jesus bestows on His followers? Is it man-made and blessed by God? Or is it God-made and allowed to cover us? Some people believe there will be a group of God’s followers who are without sin when Jesus comes. Do you think this is the way it will be? Can you and I live without sin? Why or why not?
5. The danger of apathy. Remember the words of the familiar hymn: “Without Him, I would be drifting, like a ship without a sail.” Do you and I ever float along with the church to the point that we can listen to services by another denomination and not sense a difference? Has Sabbath keeping and church attendance become a habit with us? If that is bad, should we take off every week or so to keep it from being a habit? Does Sabbath end when church is dismissed? What, if anything, can keep friendly Sabbath conversation from becoming every-day chatter? Or should we care so much about each other that we want to know what the concerns of our fellow believers may be?
6. Sing about it. Can we use songs, prayers, and other verbal expressions to meditate on the cross, the central theme of the Christian faith? How does appreciation and gratitude of His sacrifice help us in our daily lives? Have you ever written a psalm of gratitude? If you did, what would i t say? Why do you think ‘sacrifice’ is a more descriptive word of God’s gift to us than ‘rescuer’ or ‘hero’? How do you see good deeds? Are they requirements for our salvation, an expression of gratitude to God, or a way to measure our spiritual progress?