February 9 - 15
Jesus Models Victory
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:16-28; John 6:1-15.
MEMORY TEXT: "When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children" (Galatians 4:4, 5, NRSV).
KEY QUESTIONS: In what ways did Satan tempt Christ? How did Christ resist? How can we apply Christ's responses to our lives?
THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS. In Lesson 1, we discussed how, in heaven, Lucifer desired to be first (Isa. 14:13, 14). To gain this position, he systematically attempted to discredit God's law and character.
After Lucifer was cast out of heaven he successfully spread his lies about God throughout the earth. So how was God to prove that Lucifer was wrong? Because He is a God of love, He could not use force. One solution was to somehow contrast His character with Lucifer's. "This work only one Being in all the universe could do. Only He who knew the height and depth of the love of God could make it known. Upon the world's dark night the Sun of Righteousness [Christ] must rise, 'with healing in His wings.' Mal. 2:2."The Desire of Ages, p. 22.
Satan unleashed his most relentless attacks against our Savior. If he was to win the great controversy, he knew he needed to occupy the ground upon which the Cross would stand. But Christ's victory against Satan is ours, and how He won remains a model for us.
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, February 16.)
Sunday February 10
"When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law" (Gal. 4:4).
What does the phrase "the fullness of the time" mean in the context of Christ's first coming? Did Jesus have to come when He did? Of course, we say that the prophecies (such as Daniel 9:24-27) pointed to that time, which is true. But the prophecies did so only because God planned for Him to come then. Why at that specific time, as opposed to some other one?
Not only did the Messiah come at the time indicated in Daniel's prophecy, He came at the most favorable time in all history. The world was at peace, under one government. Travel by land and sea was relatively safe and expeditious. There was a universal language, Greek. The Scriptures had been available in Greekthe LXXfor about two hundred years. Men were dissatisfied with their religious beliefs and were longing for the truth about life and human destiny. The Jews were dispersed everywhere, and in spite of themselves, bore witness to the true God. From all parts of the world they came to attend the feasts at Jerusalem, and could carry with them, as they returned, news of the Messiah's coming. . . . Providence could have appointed no place and time more auspicious for launching the gospel message to the world than Palestine at this period of history."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 965.
Satan, too, was aware of the significance of time. Under his leadership, "sin had become a science, and vice was consecrated as a part of religion. . . . It was demonstrated before the universe that, apart from God, humanity could not be uplifted. A new element of life and power must be imparted by Him who made the world."The Desire of Ages, p. 37.
|In what ways do the conditions of the world today match those at the time of Christ's first advent? Suppose Christ's first advent had been in our day and age. Try to picture the scenario, perhaps, of Baby Jesus being born outside Berlin or Manhattan, Seoul, or even Bethlehem. Would His reception have been any better? Would a modern-day Herod have found it easier to dispose of Him? Hypothetical questions, for sure, but they lead to one important point worth remembering: Whatever the human foibles involved, God's ultimate plan will be consummated.|
We often talk about the great controversy between Christ and Satan as the background motif for what happens in our world. Of course, we never see the actual battle between them itself; we see it, instead, in various secondary manifestations, such as what happens even in our own hearts.
In the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness, however, we see the great controversy between Christ and Satan literally, in the purest formChrist against Satan, Satan against Christ, no proxies involved. Here, some of the fundamental issues in the great controversy are played out in about as clear a manner as possible. No symbols, no hidden codes to interpret, no guess as to who is on which side. What we are privileged to see is the essence of the great controversy, Christ against Satan, period.
Notice what Satan says to Christ in Matthew 4:3:" 'If you are the son of God'" (NIV). What is Satan trying to do here that reflects what he tried to do in heaven? What issue is at stake in these words, and how does it fit in with the whole great controversy theme?
Another important point regarding the great controversy as it is manifested here is the subtlety of Satan. Ellen White says that he appeared as an angel of light; his purpose was, of course, to try and trick Jesus, just as he tried, and succeeded, to trick Eve in Eden. In other words, Satan did not attempt to use violence or force against Christ. He didn't threaten Him with violence, jail, or anything that could have given him or his purposes away. Instead, he worked subtly, smoothly, even quoting Scripture in response to Christ's quoting Scripture, though Satan purposely twisted the Word. He quoted a divine promise from Psalm 91:11, 12 and challenged Christ to rely on that promise (Matt. 4:5-7). Notice, however, that he omitted the words "to guard you in all your ways" (NIV). "In order to set forth the true meaning of the words quoted from Ps. 91 and to prove that the devil had misapplied them, Jesus quoted another passage (Deut. 6:16), whose context sets forth the circumstances under which one may claim the blessing of God (see vs. 17-25)."The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 313.
|In what similar ways, in your own life, are you facing the same type of struggle with Satan that Christ did in the wilderness? Even if the exact manifestations are different, can you discern similar principles behind what you are experiencing? What are they, and what is your only hope not to be snared by them?|
List the characteristics of the third temptation. Matt. 4:8-10.
As stated in lesson 2, worship is the sole prerogative of God. It is the one factor that forever separates the creature from the Creator, and as the great controversy draws to a close, the issue of worship will be brought to the surface in a very dramatic, universal manner.
Here Satan takes the Creator of the universe to a mountaintop and shows Him all the kingdoms of the earth. He no longer baits Jesus with the phrase " 'If You are the Son of God' " but offers Him instead a crown without a cross. In essence he is urging, "Why go through the struggle? Why die a criminal's death on an instrument of capital punishment? What assurance do You really have that doing so will benefit anyone? Doesn't the fact that God the Father sent You here to do this prove what I've been saying all along-that He is unfair and selfish?" So Satan presses in on the tired, starving, and lonesome Jesus for the final thrust with the promise of something for nothing.
Of course, Jesus didn't worship Satan; to have done so would have, in effect, done what Satan, even in heaven, wanted all along. What was Satan looking for in this temptation, and why didn't Christ give it to him?
Notice, too, Christ's manner here as opposed to the other temptations. Christ's final dismissal of Satan is one of contempt. Basically, He is saying, "I have come to do My Father's bidding. And I will do so." Absolute resolve to obey God is the ultimate answer to Satan's lies and tricks. He must know that our obedience to God is not for sale, not even for all the kingdoms of the world.
|Most of us aren't offered all the kingdoms of the world. We're offered, instead, only a slice (30 pieces of silver, perhaps), often a paltry one at that. Yet so many people grab that slice, even with gusto, though it means (at least symbolically) bowing down and worshiping Satan to get it. What can wethose who have publicly proclaimed our refusal to accept Satan's offerdo to show those who have made the wrong choice just how wrong that choice has been? What hope can we offer them that it is not too late to turn around and make a decision to serve Christ?|
At the time of Christ, what reputation did Nazareth have? John 1:45, 46.
A despised and wicked city, Nazareth was the unseen battleground of Satan against the Son of God before He began His public ministry at the age of 30. But what Satan could not accomplish when Jesus lived in Nazareth, he would attempt to do when He visited His hometown for the first time nearly two years after leaving. Notice how different Satan's approach was here, as opposed to what he tried to do to Christ in the wilderness.
Think how painful it must have been for Jesus, the Son of man, to have been rejected by those in His own hometown (Luke 4:16-30). For those who have faced something similar, perhaps rejection by family or friends because of their faith, in what ways can comfort be drawn from Christ's experience here? After all, if Jesus Himself faced it, why should any of His followers expect less?
As long as Jesus was honoring God's law (vs. 16), declaring His allegiance to God's Word by reading from it (vss. 16, 17) and affirming the work and anointing of the Messiah (vss. 18, 19) and proclaiming the fulfillment of the prophecy He had just read (vs. 21), the religious leaders were delighted (vs. 22). As soon, however, as He asserted that God's kingdom would not be limited to just this people (vs. 27), the religious leaders became enraged, especially when He implied that not all of those who professed to have the truth would be saved by it.
"Satan was determined that blind eyes should not that day be opened, nor souls bound in slavery be set at liberty. With intense energy he worked to fasten them in unbelief." The Desire of Ages, p. 238.
|Considering the purpose of the Jewish nation, which was to proclaim the gospel to the world, why should the leaders have gotten so upset at what Jesus said about the gospel going to others, as well? What does their reaction tell us about how even those who have the "truth" can so twist it until their own concept of the truth makes them, in fact, enemies of the truth? What other examples of this principle have we seen in either biblical or secular history? What lessons do these incidents hold for us as Seventh-day Adventists?|
"This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone" (John 6:14, 15).
It's not surprising that the Jewish people wanted to make Jesus a king in the hope that He would overthrow the Romans. The general climate of the times supported an arrogant, violent nationalism. The historian Josephus tells of two self-proclaimed prophets who sought to overthrow Roman tyranny (Antiquities, 20. 5. 1; 8. 6). Theudas swayed thousands of Jews to follow him to the Jordan River, where he vowed to divide the waters. The Romans crushed him. The other was an Egyptian who led a crowd to the Mount of Olives. There he claimed that at his word the walls of Jerusalem would collapse, and he would establish a kingdom. Romans quelled this uprising too.
Against this background, and within the context of the miracle of feeding the five thousand (John 6:5-13), it is no wonder the crowd exclaimed," 'Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world' " (vs. 14, NIV). What did they plan to do next? John 6:15.
The idea of Christ as an earthly king remained all through His ministry. Even Pilate asked Jesus," 'Are You the King of the Jews?'
(John 18:33, NKJV). Jesus never denied that He was, even if His kingdom was "not of this world" (John 18:36). He drew a line between the political and the spiritual kingdoms, the economic and the moral, the temporal and the eternal, the visible and the not-yet-visible. The great controversy is a conflict between these two. While Satan offered Jesus the first, He persistently focused on the Cross- the basis of the true kingdom.
"Not by the decisions of courts or councils or legislative assemblies, not by the patronage of worldly great men, is the kingdom of Christ established, but by the implanting of Christ's nature in humanity through the work of the Holy Spirit."The Desire of Ages, p. 509.
|What dangers do modern Christians pose, both to themselves and others, when they attempt to use the forces of humanity to establish the kingdom of God on earth? In what ways can we, even as individuals, on a smaller scale be tempted to do the same thing?|
FURTHER STUDY: In Monday's and Tuesday's lessons we studied how Christ met Satan's temptations in the wilderness. We can rely on the following promises when Satan tempts us. Choose one or two to memorize: Ps. 121:2; Luke 1:37; Rom. 8:37; 1 Cor. 10:13; 15:57; 2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:13; Heb. 2:18; 4:16; James 4:7, 8; 2 Pet. 2:9.
"In our own strength it is impossible for us to deny the clamors of our fallen nature. Through this channel Satan will bring temptation upon us. Christ knew that the enemy would come to every human being, to take advantage of hereditary weakness, and by his false insinuations to ensnare all whose trust is not in God. And by passing over the ground which man must travel, our Lord has prepared the way for us to overcome. It is not His will that we should be placed at a disadvantage in the conflict with Satan. He would not have us intimidated and discouraged by the assaults of the serpent. 'Be of good cheer,' He says; 'I have overcome the world.' John 16:33."The Desire of Ages, pp. 122, 123.
To learn more about the topics in this week's lesson, read any or all of the following: The Desire of Ages, " 'The Fullness of the Time,' "pp. 31-38; " 'We Have Seen His Star,' "pp. 59-67; "The Temptation," pp. 114-123; "The Victory," pp. 124-131.
SUMMARY: Jesus is our model in every aspect of Christian life, not the least in how we may obtain victory over Satan. Satan always was ready and willing to attack Him when He was most vulnerable, but Jesus met his assaults in ways that are available to each of us. He met Satan head on with God's Word and power, prayer, personal resolve, angels, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Alice Sukua had resisted Adventists who tried to convert her. Then shortly after the Adventist missionaries left for their new post, Alice became sick and was hospitalized. She lay helpless in bed as nurses tried desperately to find a vein and insert an IV. Alice, who had fought God's convicting voice, finally gave in. "OK, God," she said. "I will keep the Sabbath!" Just then the nurses located a vein and started the IV. Alice slipped into unconsciousness.
When she regained consciousness, she turned to her husband who was standing by her bed and said, "I am going to keep the Sabbath." As soon as she was able, she sought out two Adventist families in the area. The tiny group had ceased meeting regularly when the missionaries moved away, but when they learned that Alice wanted to worship with them, they began meeting again.
Alice took her twin daughters to the services and tried to convince her husband to attend too. But he had not set foot in a church for 30 years, and Saturday was his drinking day. The more Alice tried to get him to stop drinking and straighten out his life, the more he resisted. Seeing that her plan was not working, Alice stopped nagging and began praying for him. She treated her husband with kindness and told only God her desires for her husband.
Several months passed, and one Sabbath Alice and her daughters were waiting impatiently for their father to come out of the bathroom so they could prepare for church. When he walked out of the bathroom, the twin girls stared in amazement. "Daddy, why are you dressed in your best clothes to go drinking?" one of them asked.
"I'm not going drinking; I'm going to church," he answered. The girls hugged their father, and the entire family, including two teenage boys, went to church together.
Today some 50 to 70 people gather in Joseph and Alice's home to worship God on Sabbath. God used many Adventist organizations and individuals to reach the hearts of Alice and Joseph and their family:
Adventist World Radio broadcast the programs that Alice heard; Adventist Frontier Missions sent the Bishops to minister in Papua New Guinea; an Adventist colporteur provided the literature for Alice; and an Adventist Aviation plane and pilot delivered the books to her. But the Holy Spirit sent the dreams that had awakened in Alice questions that led to the family's conversion and eventual baptism.
Jeff Bishop and his family serve with Adventist Frontier Missions in Kotale, Papua New Guinea.
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