March 2 - 8
READ FOR THIS WEEK'S STUDY: Mark 10:29-34; 14:17-25, 32-42; 1 Cor. 15:1-28; Col. 1:19, 20.
MEMORY TEXT: '"I [Jesus] have glorified You [God] on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do'" ( John 17:4, NKJV).
KEY QUESTIONS: What is the main part of God's plan to crush the revolt Satan began in heaven? How does it shed light on the issues of the great controversy, and what does it mean for each one of us personally?
THE FATHER'S WILL provided the motivating force behind all that Jesus did while He lived on this earth. He was fully aware that the Father's will involved not only His death as an atonement for sin but triumph over all death through His resurrection (Mark 8:31, 32). With the vision of this atonement and triumph ever before Him, Jesus anticipated fulfilling the promise in Genesis 3:15 that He would crush the head of Satan.
The outcome of the cosmic conflict between the forces of good and evil, between Christ and Satan, would be decided on the cross. Toward that objective, Jesus walked alone but steadfastly through the perils of His journey, for at the end there would be a victor!
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, March 9.)
Sunday March 3
"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again" (Mark 8:31).
"The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again" (Luke 24:7).
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (John 3:14).
Notice that one word these three verses have in common is the word must. The Son of man "must" be delivered and crucified, the Son of man "must" suffer many things.
Why "must" the Son of man go through all this? Because only through Christ's perfect life and atoning death could fallen humanity have any hope of being spared the doom that sin inevitably brings (Rom. 6:23)that's why.
God has a law, that law has been violated, and a just God, to be just, has to punish those violators. But this same just God is also a merciful God, and out of that mercy He gave Jesus, equal with Himself, to die that death for the human race, to suffer vicariously, in our place, the righteous wrath of a Holy God against sin. That's why Jesus "must" die. At the Cross, God's justice was met, fully and completely. Without the Cross, our fate would be no different than the animals; in fact, it would have been worse, because unlike the beasts, we can envision something like eternity or heaven, something greater than what we experience now, and that realization of something that is greater but out of our reach makes the little we have that much more unsatisfying. No wonder the Son of man "must" suffer and die. If He didn't, we'd have nothing but the capacity to envision eternity but no hope of ever inhabiting it.
|Imagine if you had only two minutes to give someone the essence of
the Cross. Write down something you could say in that period of time
that explains the Cross, why Jesus died there, what He did for the human
race there, what the Cross promises us, and what our fate would be without
What instructions did Jesus give for the future at the Last Supper? 1 Cor. 11:24, 25.
These instructions have an important purpose: "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death till He comes" (1 Cor. 11:26, NKJV). In other words, when we celebrate the Lord's Supper, we proclaim our faith in God's power against Satana power based on His redemptive activity through Jesus' death.
Jesus established the Lord's Supper within the historic framework of the Passover (Exodus 12), which recalls Satan's bondage of the Jews, human helplessness, and God's grace as the only hope for anyone to be free from that bondage. Just as Israel's freedom was rooted in history by God's redeeming act, so our freedom from sin is grounded in the historic event of the Cross. Jesus is our "Passover" Lamb, "sacrificed for us" (1 Cor. 5:7, NKJV). Because of that sacrifice, we share Christ's victory in the great controversy.
Jesus' claim that His broken body and shed blood establish a new covenant (Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 11:25) confronts the core issue of the great controversy. Satan charges that God's law is arbitrary, unjust, and impossible to keep. Through His death, however, Jesus established a new covenant by which the law could be written in the hearts of God's people (Jer. 31:31-34). This new covenant enables us, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, to love the Lord and obey the commandments of Him "who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age" (Gal. 1:4, NKJV).
It is to this new-covenant experience that Jesus calls us when He says," 'He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him' "(John 6:56, NKJV).
"As faith contemplates our Lord's great sacrifice, the soul assimilates the spiritual life of Christ. That soul will receive spiritual strength from every Communion. The service forms a living connection by which the believer is bound up with Christ, and thus bound up with the Father. In a special sense it forms a connection between dependent human beings and God."The Desire of Ages, p. 661.
|However important the corporate practice of Communion, why is it so important for us personally today by daypartake of "the blood and body" of Christ? How does that practice fortify us in the battle against Satan's wiles?|
"And he said, Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt" (Mark 14:36, emphasis supplied).
"Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared" (Heb. 5:7).
Once again a lush garden becomes a battleground upon which rages the war between truth and falsehood, righteousness and sin. What a contrast, however, between the Garden of Eden and the Garden of Gethsemane.
What are some of the parallels and some of the differences between what happened in Eden and what happened in Gethsemane?
Read through the story of Jesus in Gethsemane. In what ways do we see just how human the Son of God was? How do you understand His prayer for the cup to be taken away from Him, if possible? Why was it not possible? Or was it?
In Mark 14:37-50, Jesus, facing the greatest test of His earthly ministry, found His disciples sleeping, unable to stay awake long enough to pray for Him. And then, when awake, they didn't provide much comfort either, for, as Mark wrote, "They all forsook him, and fled" (vs. 50).
What do we see here, in this whole scene, other than the utter depravity and corruption of humanity in contrast to the perfection and love of God? Judas betrays Him, the disciples fall asleep on Him only to awake and flee, the mob takes Him by night (including the religious leaders); in short, this is a dramatic example of what is basic to Christian theology: the decrepit moral state of sinful, weak, sleepy, greedy, fleeing humankind.
All this, of course, in contrast to the holiness and self-sacrificing love of Jesus.
|In the story of Gethsemane, Satan seems to have triumphed (at least temporarily for some) over all the characters representedexcept, of course, Jesus. In what ways did Satan exploit the weakness of all these people, and why did he fail when it came to Jesus? What can we learn from this contrast that could help us better withstand personal trials?|
What did Jesus mean by the following statements, one made in His high-priestly prayer, the other from the cross? The first is" 'I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do' " (John 17:4, NKJV). The second, "'It is finished!' "(John 19:30, NKJV). What exactly did Jesus finish?
The Cross is central to God's plan for defeating Satan in the great controversy because, without it, the universe would not have learned the true nature of Satan's rebellion. Three words help us summarize Christ's work on the cross. These words are revelation, redemption, and resolution.
Revelation. The Cross reveals God's character. Lucifer argues that God is an arbitrary ruler. The Cross, however, shows the universe just how great His love really is (Rom. 5:8). The Cross is His love in action (see John 3:16).
The Cross also reveals the unchangeable nature of God's law. If the law could have been changed, there would have been no sin, and, consequently, Christ need not have died (Rom. 3:25, 26).
Redemption. Sin has brought us under Satan's dominion, and he claims this world as his own. But God "has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood" (Col. 1:13, 14, NKJV). That blood was shed when Jesus bore our "sins in His own body on the tree" (1 Pet. 2:24, NKJV). Through the Cross, then, God has reconciled "the world to Himself" "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:19, 21, NKJV). When Jesus said that He came to " 'give His life a ransom for many' " (Mark 10:45, NKJV), He was affirming that the Cross would accomplish the redemption of the human race.
Resolution. The sin problem must be resolved once and for all in order for God to be victorious in the great controversy. Calvary dethroned Satan as prince of this world and will "bring to nought" (1 Cor. 1:28) "him that had the power of death, that is, the devil" (Heb. 2:14). At the end of time, he will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:10).
|Revelation. Redemption. Resolution. Review what they mean and then apply them to your own life. How has the knowledge of what these words mean, in the context of the Cross, changed you? In what ways should they change you?|
As you read 1 Corinthians 15:12-28, list in sequence Paul's explanation of his belief in Christ's resurrection. Then explain how he connects his belief with God's plan for the defeat of death and Satan.
Satan and his allies hoped that the Roman seal affixed to Jesus' tomb would put an end to His mission. But the devil's hope was only an outrageous wish. What right does the tomb, a place for sinners, have over One "'who committed no sin' "? (1 Pet. 2:22, NKJV). "It was not possible that He should be held" by the grave (Acts 2:24, NKJV). Satan could no more hold Jesus in the grave than a cork could hold back an erupting volcano.
Satan, however, is a determined fighter. He knew that the Cross made his work null and void. He also knew that the Resurrection sealed his fate. Yet, he continued his deception. List below how Satan began to sow doubts regarding the Resurrection.
Matt. 28:12, 13 _____________________________________________________________________
Matt. 28:17 ________________________________________________________________________
Luke 24:9-11 ________________________________________________________________
Since Calvary, Satan relentlessly tempts people to question the reality of the Cross and the Resurrection. Intellect defies these divine events; reason is too crude, too coarse to grasp these events; and science cannot prove (or disprove) them. However, as Jesus said to Thomas: " 'Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed' "(John 20:29, NKJV).
Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Genuine faith reaches beyond what we can touch and see to comprehend the fact that the One who said "It is finished" is also the One who is risen.
"The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Him, above all principalities, above all powers, above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in the world to come."The Desire of Ages, p. 787.
|Write down what you think Paul means when he says, "So we also should
walk in newness of life"
6:4). Can you honestly say that since accepting Christ, you have
had this "newness of life"?
FURTHER STUDY: Spend time this Friday evening reviewing the closing scenes of Christ's ministry on earth as they relate to the great controversy. You might want to use the following texts and references as a basis for your study: Matthew 26:14-28:15; Mark 14-16:15; Luke 22-24:12; John 13-20:29; The Desire of Ages, beginning with the chapter "A Servant of Servants"[, "In Remembrance of Me", "Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled", Gethsemane, Before Annas and the Court of Caiaphas, Judas, In Pilate's Judgment Hall, Calvary, "It Is Finished", In Joseph's Tomb, "The Lord Is Risen", "Why Weepest Thou?", The Walk to Emmaus,] and ending with the chapter "Peace Be Unto You," pp. 642-808.
"Christ did not yield up His life till He had accomplished the work which He came to do, and with His parting breath He exclaimed, 'It is finished.' John 19:30. The battle had been won. His right hand and His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. As a Conqueror He planted His banner on the eternal heights. Was there not joy among the angels? All heaven triumphed in the Saviour's victory. Satan was defeated, and knew that his kingdom was lost."The Desire of Ages, p. 758.
SUMMARY: As the mainstay of Heaven's strategy in the great controversy, the final events of Christ's life on earth ensured that Satan's attempts to discredit God's character would themselves be discredited. No other event could prove Divine love as surely as Divine love dying on the Cross. No other event could prove God's power over sin as the resurrection of Him who knew no sin. With this same love and power living in our hearts, the victory gained over sin and death can becomes ours.
Determination showed on Zhang's face as this humble man told of his long search for God, how God led him to Adventists, and how eventually he established a church in his home.
As a university student Zhang studied English with a teacher who taught him about Christ. Zhang watched this man and his wife as they lived out their faith. Their testimonies made a deep impression on Zhang, and he began longing for a deeper knowledge of God.
Then the teacher retired and moved away, leaving Zhang feeling like a sheep without a shepherd. He would not be satisfied until knew the deeper truths of God. However, he had no idea where to look for spiritual help.
Unable to find spiritual truth in his own city, he began traveling to other cities in search of God. His financial situation was not good, and he had no money to travel by bus or train, so he rode his bicycle long distances, even pedaling over high mountains. Because he had no money to stay in local inns, he was forced to sleep in the hay along the roadside. Often he was turned away from hostels because of his appearance. Still he kept going. Through the years he wore out several bicycles traveling in search of Christ.
But God was not hiding from Zhang. Eventually Zhang found the Adventist believers in a large city in western China. There he learned about the Sabbath and the Lord's soon return. At last Zhang's hungry heart was filled. Rejoicing, he returned home with the good news. Zhang traveled on business, and wherever he went he sought out Adventist believers. Zhang felt a burden to share the truths he treasured with others in his home town.
He began visiting his family members and sharing the truths he loved. He met resistance, but he did not give up. Eventually his wife and her parents agreed to let him convert a storage room in their home to a church. People began coming to worship, some from as far away as 25 miles (40 km) or more.
Today some 30 people worship with Zhang in his home. The storeroom-turned-church is too small to accommodate further growth, so Zhang plans to expand it so others can attend. He remembers how long he had to search to find God's truth, and he is determined that others shall find it as well.
Zhao Mu is a Field Director of the Chinese Union.
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