|LESSON 5||*January 22 - 28|
|In the Shadow
|SABBATH AFTERNOON January 22|
Read for This Week's Study:
|Matt 17:1-9; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:28-36; 24:7; Acts 10:38, 39; 1 Cor. 15:13-18.|
| "John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, 'Behold! The Lamb
of God who takes away the sin of the world!"
In The Bridge of San Luis Rey, a monk heard about a bridge that collapsed and killed five people. He determined to find out why those particular five were killed. Because He believed in an all-powerful God, there had to be a rational explanation. Unfortunately, he took his notes, acquired over years of inquiry, and cast them into the sea. What he found disturbed him immenselyhe couldn't find a good reason for their deaths.
Someone might have told Brother Juniper that he would not find rational answers. This side of heaven we don't have them. What we have is the CrossGod suffering for the sin, evil, and hurt of this world. Here we find, if not answers to questions about suffering, hope that those answers exist and one day will be revealed.
The Week at a Glance:
|What was John the Baptist's role in the ministry of Jesus? Why should the Cross be the center of our beliefs? Why did the disciples respond as they did to Christ's warning about the Cross? How do we reflect the same attitude?|
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 29
John the BaptistChrist's Forerunner (John 1:29-34).
Though little is given in Scripture about John the Baptist, enough is given to show us his zeal, dedication, faith, and (most important) humanity. We have much to learn from this fiery, uncompromising preacher who heralded the first coming of Christ.
What foundational truth did God reveal to John about Jesus of Nazareth and what Jesus came to do? What do you think John meant by those words (John 1:29)?
Look up the following texts. What do they tell us about how crucial the death of Jesus was to the plan of salvation? Mark 8:31, Luke 24:7, 1 Cor 15:13-18.
"The sacrifice of Christ as an atonement for sin is the great truth around which all other truths cluster. In order to be rightly understood and appreciated, every truth in the Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, must be studied in the light which streams from the cross of Calvary, and in connection with the wondrous, central truth of the Saviour's atonement. Those who study the Redeemer's wonderful sacrifice grow in grace and knowledge."Ellen G. White, Sons and Daughters of God, p. 221.
|Why must the Cross and Christ's atonement at the Cross be central
to our message as Seventh-day Adventists? What can we do as a church to make
sure that we keep this great truth at the center? What will happen to us
if we ever lose this focus?
Christ's Life of Service, Suffering and Sacrifice (Acts 10:38, 39).
For about three and a half years, the Son of God toiled laboriously among fallen humanity. The Gospels are filled with account after account of the good deeds that Jesus accomplished through the power of God working through His humanity. Never did the world see such a Healer, such a Teacher, such a Lover of people! His life, from His earliest days, was dedicated to the service of fellow human beings.
Describe Christ's work and its effect. Matt. 4:23-25; 8:14-17; Acts 10:38, 39.
Read John 3:19-21, 15:17-25, and Romans 8:7. How do they help answer the questions posed in the above paragraph?
|Why do we sometimes feel anger, resentment, or guilt when placed around such people? What should those thoughts tell us about ourselves? What kind of warning signals are they? What's the only remedy?|
Warnings of the Cross
At what point in His ministry did Christ begin to make increasing references to His destined crucifixion? Why do you think He waited until this time? Matt. 16:13-21, Luke 9:18-22.
Many Bible scholars believe that it was in the summer before His crucifixion (August or September, A.D. 30) that Christ received Peter's great confession of His Messiahship at Caesarea-Philippi. (See The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 5, p. 231.) From that point on, Jesus wished to dispel the apostles' false concepts of His essential mission and brace them for His rapidly approaching ordeal and the attendant trials that they would bear for His sake.
Why was it so difficult for the disciples to accept or even understand Christ's explicit references to His impending sacrifice? Mark 9:31, 32; Luke 9:44, 45.
In both accounts, Mark and Luke say that the disciples feared to ask Jesus what He meant; that is, they didn't want to know. How human a character trait: not wanting to hear bad news, not wanting to hear something that would go against our own cherished notions and hopes.
In many ways, we can find the key to this attitude in Mark's account, a few verses later (vss. 33, 34), when they had been disputing among themselves who would be the greatest. In other words, those who were busy thinking about worldly honors weren't really ready for the shame and degradation of the Cross. No wonder Mark twice refers to the dullness of the disciples' comprehension of Christ's words and deeds, because their "hearts were hardened" (Mark 6:52, NRSV; 8:17). This hardening was from the deceitfulness of pride and vainglory that conflicted with the spirit of the Cross. His disciples, at this stage, viewed self-sacrificing love as a rare medallion to adorn the mantle of life's majestic moments, rather than as the proper spirit of everyday life. When they saw Christ turn aside in self-abnegation from opportunities to seize the reins of political power, they were offended by His apparent lack of gritty pragmatism and ambition.
|How, even in our local church or even in our own heart, do we see this same spirit manifested? It's only natural to want honor and glory, is it not? In what ways do you see it in yourself? Why, then, must we be broken at the foot of the cross?|
Falling Shadows and Radiant Glory
Read Matthew 17:1-9, Luke 9:28-36. Write down what things happened that should have increased the faith of those who witnessed this incredible divine manifestation.
What did Moses and Elijah talk about with Christ? Luke 9:30, 31. Why do you think they discussed this topic?
|Imagine yourself having the privilege of some incredible divine manifestation of heavenly power that strongly affirmed your faith in Jesus, just as what Peter, James, and John had here. You would never doubt again, right? Your faith would remain solid, right? You'd never need any other affirmation, right? Why was this not the experience of the disciples, even after the Transfiguration? What was their problem, and what is ours?|
Law of the New Kingdom (Matt. 20:25-28).
Christ's ministry was moving toward its climax. He was leading His disciples on their last journey together. On the way, He told them plainly that at Jerusalem" 'all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished,'" for" 'the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again'" (Luke 18:31, NKJV; Matt. 20:18, 19, NKJV). This statement of coming events should have turned the disciples' interest to the teachings of the prophets concerning these matters. But "they understood none of these things;. . . and they did not know the things which were spoken" (Luke 18:34, NKJV), not because Jesus' words were unclear or enigmatic but because His purposes were so foreign to their aims and expectations. They simply didn't want to hear what He had to say. Christ had, after all, commissioned them to proclaim everywhere that "'the kingdom of heaven is at hand' " (Matt. 3:2, NKJV) and promised that they would be given positions of high honor in it, enthroned as judges of Israel (Matt. 19:27-30).
Stimulated by this promise, James and John, with their mother, Salome, asked Jesus for what special favor? What did His reply reveal about the path to the throne of glory in His kingdom and the nature of His government? Matt. 20:20-28, Mark 10:35-45.
Fyodor Dostoyevski once wrote a story about Jesus coming to earth in the flesh, as He had come the first time. Before long, Jesus was arrested and thrown into jail, where He faced interrogation by the Grand Inquisitor, who wanted to know why Jesus came back and interfered with them and their plans. Now suppose Jesus were, in the flesh, to step directly into your life. In what ways would He be interfering with you and your plans? What does your answer tell you about yourself and how you are living?
|See Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 359, 541-543;
The Desire of Ages, pp. 547-551, 644; Fundamentals of Christian
Education, p. 142; The Sanctified Life, pp. 56, 57; Testimonies
for the Church, vol. 4, p. 226.
"The cross of Calvary is to be lifted high above the people, absorbing their minds and concentrating their thoughts. Then all the spiritual faculties will be charged with divine power direct from God. Then there will be a concentration of the energies in genuine work for the Master. The workers will send forth to the world beams of light, as living agencies to enlighten the earth."Ellen G. White, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, p. 44.
| Christ, the world's best Teacher and Model of truth, consistently
demonstrated, in every act, that He came "not to be ministered unto, but
10:45). Why did His disciples have such difficulty grasping His
sacrificial, self-transcending mission and calling for their lives? What
does this say about humanity in its fallen state? How only can this spirit
If Christ had grumbled about humanity's lack of appreciation for His services and complained about His disciples' unperceptiveness with regard to His essential aims and character, how would that have affected His influence and mission? Do we have any more right to grumble and complain than Christ had? What is the antidote to this all-too-common spirit and behavior? John 15:11, 16:33, Heb. 12:1-5.
The disciples, followers of Christ, were unprepared for the Cross, despite being given much light beforehand about it. What parallels can you find between them and their spiritual state and ours as a people and a church as we await the Second Coming?
Discuss the question at the end of Thursday's section, though in the context of the church, as a whole, or in your local church setting. Would we welcome Jesus, or would He get in the way of our plans as a church?
|I N S I D E Story|
|God Is Faithful
by Dobrinka Nakova
Evgeny Nakov grew up in an Adventist home in Bulgaria. But after serving in the army, he was not satisfied to live in the village; he wanted to see more of the world and earn good money.
Evgeny found work driving a taxi in Sofia, the capital city. Some days he earned good money, but other days he barely made enough to buy fuel. He tried working longer hours, but he became tired and had an accident that cost him his savings. At times he wondered if his failure to get ahead financially was due to his lack of faithfulness to God.
He helped his family sell a house, but on the way to the bank, robbers stole the money. The money wasn't even his; how would he ever repay it? Why are so many bad things happening to me? he wondered.
Evgeny began examining his spiritual values. He realized he hardly knew God and promised himself to spend more time getting to know Him.
One night he drove until 3:00 A.M. looking for customers, but with no luck. Finally two men stopped him for a ride. He took them far outside the city. But when they arrived, the men said they had no money. Evgeny feared pushing them to pay him. Feeling like a failure, he turned around and started toward home. Why are things going so badly? he wondered. I've earned nothing today!
As he drove home, the car lights shone on some papers lying on the road. He stopped the car to investigate. He found money. Lots of money. He found no bag or wallet from which it could have fallen. He picked up the money and counted it: $250, three months' wages.
Evgeny knew that God had led him to the money, that God knows his needs and wants to be part of his life. Evgeny recommitted his life to God and asked God to lead him.
Soon Evgeny was offered an opportunity to study at an Adventist school outside Bulgaria. He had focused his life on making money, but God is refocusing his life on service. The peace that Evgeny feels assures him that he is on the right track.
EVGENY NAKOV (left) is studying theology in Villa Aurora Adventist College in Florence, Italy. DOBRINKA NAKOVA lives in Sofia, Bulgaria.
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