|LESSON 6||*August 2 - 8|
Read for This Week's Study:
"When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36, NIV).
|Jesus ever ministered to the needs of the people. What can we take
away from His example that can help us do the same?
These lines from "The New Colossus," by poet Emma Lazarus, sit on the bottom of the Statue of Liberty: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." Her words echo the ministry of Jesus, who said, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls" (Matt. 11:28, 29).
Compassion motivated every aspect of Christ's ministry. He ministered to all types of people, regardless of their social class, gender, or race. He demonstrated unconditional love and forgiveness in His life and, most powerfully, in His death on the cross, paying in Himself the penalty for our sins.
This week we will look more at Jesus and how He ministered, learning what we can that will help us as we minster, as well.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 9.
Reaching the Masses
Read Matthew 4:25 and Luke 6:17. What two specific points do the texts make about how people responded to Jesus' ministry? Also, what do those points tell us about the effectiveness of Christ's ministry?
There was no mass transit back then; no one jumped on a plane, in a car, or even on a bicycle to come and see Jesus. Travel back then was, in contrast to our day, painfully slow and exceedingly treacherous. Nonetheless, that did not stop "a great multitude" from coming to hear Jesus.
What do the following texts tell us about the motives of some of those who came to hear Jesus? Mark 5:25-29, John 12:9, 6:15.
The crowds who followed Jesus had mixed motives. Some had heard that He had the words of life that He spoke with authority, and they hungered after spiritual food. Others were looking for physical healing for themselves or for friends or family. Some wanted to see for themselves if He was the promised One who would liberate them from Roman rule. Still others were mere curiosity seekers. One time the crowd was so large and pressing against Him that He had to get into a boat and teach them from a distance (Matt. 13:2). The crowds grew so big that the Pharisees commented, " 'Look how the whole world has gone after him!' " (John 12:19, NIV).
|Write out a paragraph answering this question, What is my motive for following Jesus? Bring your answer to class on Sabbath.|
The Personal Touch
People were attracted to Jesus. Mark says they listened to him "with delight" (Mark 12:37, NIV) and were "amazed at his teaching" (Mark 1:22, 11:18, NIV). He often spoke and ministered to large crowds. There was, however, another whole aspect of Christ's ministry.
Look up the following texts. What is the one thing they all have in common? What important message does this send to us regarding ministry? John 3; 4; 9:1-7.
The foundation of Jesus' ministry was personal contact. "He went journeying from town to town and village to village, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God" (Luke 8:1, NEB).
Within decades His message had spread throughout the then-known world. But it happened for one reason-the Master's hand had personally touched lives, and those lives, particularly His 12 disciples, went on to touch others personally.
The 12 disciples had seen Jesus interact with people. They had seen the way He spoke words of comfort and encouragement to those who were "harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matt. 9:36, NIV). They heard Jesus say, " 'Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light' " (Matt. 11:28-30, NIV).
What more attractive message could there be for people today who are stressed, burned out, and looking for comfort and peace?
|Why is the personal touch so important? How have you been blessed by those taking time to minister to you, personally, one on one? Think about ways you can use your gifts and time to minister directly, one on one, to the needs of someone else.|
Compassion drove everything Jesus said and did. Note how often the Gospel writers say He was "filled with compassion" or "had compassion." Sometimes this meant strongly condemning sin. At times Jesus did speak harshly to the religious leaders, but He always did it in love.
And central to that expression of compassion was forgiveness. So often Jesus taught and revealed forgiveness. Considering the essence of Christian theology, that we are sinners in need of God's forgiveness, no wonder it is such a powerful theme in Jesus' life and teachings.
What do these texts reveal to us about forgiveness? Matt. 18:21, 22; Luke 23:34; John 8:1-11; Eph. 4:32; 1 John 2:12.
Jesus often likens His grace to being forgiven a great debt. Imagine you owed someone one million dollars, and they canceled the debt. Imagine how you would feel. That is what God's grace is like. And the reason that debt has been canceled is that Jesus, Himself, paid it for us.
Also, again and again, Jesus taught that those who have been forgiven must forgive others. An unforgiving Christian is a contradiction in terms. Think of the parable of the ungrateful servant (Matt. 18:21-34), the story of Mary and Simon the Pharisee (Luke 7:36-50), and even the Lord's Prayer" 'Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us' " (Luke 11:4, NIV). When we consider what happened at the Cross, and what it cost God in order to be able to justly forgive us our sins, it is not that hard to understand why such an emphasis is placed on our learning to forgive others. Think about our world and how different a place it would be if we learned how to forgive others. Think about the difference not only in world politics but in our own personal relations, our families, our homes, etc.
|How much resentment, anger, and bitterness resides in you because you still refuse to forgive? How can you better learn to forgive those who have done you wrong?|
God With Us
Read John 1:14. What is the amazing implications of that text? What does it tell us about the character of God?
Think about the size and complexity of the universe as you contemplate your answer.
In the 1700s and the 1800s, an idea arose, an outgrowth of the scientific revolution, called deism. Though it taught that God created us, this Godfar from being involved in our everyday liveshas left us on our own, basically to fend for ourselves. According to this view, the world was like a clock that God wound up and then left. God created His natural laws, and we here have to live within those laws the best we can. It is like a parent who raises a child until that child is 18, and then says, "OK, Sonny, you're on your own. I'll never see you again. Good luck."
But that god is not the God of the Bible, that is not Jesus Christ, who became one of us, who lived among us, who took upon Himself our humanity and in that humanity died for our sins, the God depicted in John 1:14.
The Greek word translated "dwelt," skenoo, in John 1:14 means to "pitch one's tent" or "live in a tent." When Jesus came to this world, He did not live at a distance from the people to whom He ministered. He "pitched His tent" among them, living and working among them-relating to them at their level.
Matthew quotes Isaiah's prophecy about a virgin giving birth to a son named Immanuel and directly applies it to Jesus. He even translates the meaning of Immanuel-"God with us" (Matt. 1:23).
Besides coming to die as a substitute for us, Jesus came to earth to show us exactly what God is like. On one occasion Philip asked Jesus, " 'Show us the Father.' "
|How did Jesus respond to Phillip's request (John 14:8-11)? What does Jesus' answer tell us about what God is like? What aspects of that character come through very clearly? Are there some that you find disturbing? If so, what are they? Bring your concerns, if any, to class.|
Speaking in Parables
Jesus knew how to communicate with people. His speech was aimed at their level. He did not use deep philosophical and theological language, although He spoke the most profound truth. He spoke in simple, practical terms that everyone could understand. He spoke of things that people could apply to their lives.
Jesus illustrated His teaching with objects from nature and common household items. He spoke about coins (Luke 15:8-10); farmers sowing seed (Mark 4:26-29); yeast and flour (Matt. 13:33); sheep (Matt. 18:12-14); fig trees (Mark 13:28-32)and numerous other items to which the people could relate.
Pick a few of the parables listed above. Read them. What was the point Jesus was making in each case? Why were those images so appropriate? Ask yourself this: Were Jesus walking among us today, in the flesh, what images might He have used to make those same points?
As you read those parables, perhaps you noticed something about them, and that was how most, if not all, of those images would be just as appropriate today. That is, there was a timelessness, a universality, of those images that in a way paralleled the timelessness of His message.
How does that fact help us understand why, perhaps, Jesus used those specific images?
Matthew records several mini-parables Jesus used to try to describe what the kingdom of heaven is like. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like "a grain of mustard seed" (Matt. 13:31); "leaven" (vs. 33); "treasure hid in a field" (vs. 44); "a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls" (vs. 45); "a net" (vs. 47); "a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old" (vs. 52); "a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard" (Matt. 20:1); "a certain king, which made a marriage for his son" (Matt. 22:2).
Which one of those images works best for you? Why would Jesus use so many different images to make the same point? What message could the Lord be sending us through this deliberate use of different images that could help us learn how to witness to others?
|Read Ellen G. White, "Go Teach All Nations,"
pp. 818-828, in The Desire of
"In all true teaching the personal element is essential. Christ in His teaching dealt with men individually. It was by personal contact and association that He trained the Twelve. It was in private, often to but one listener, that He gave His most precious instruction. To the honored rabbi at the night conference on the Mount of Olives, to the despised woman at the well of Sychar, He opened His richest treasures; for in these hearers He discerned the impressible heart, the open mind, the receptive spirit. Even the crowd that so often thronged His steps was not to Christ an indiscriminate mass of human beings. He spoke directly to every mind and appealed to every heart. He watched the faces of His hearers, marked the lighting up of the countenance, the quick, responsive glance, which told that truth had reached the soul; and there vibrated in His heart the answering chord of sympathetic joy."Ellen G. White, Education, p. 231.
| Since 1983, the majority of new Adventist congregations
around the world have been established by Global Mission pioneers (for more
information, visit www.adventistmission.org. These Adventist lay people live
among the people to whom they are ministering at the same socioeconomic level.
Why do you think they have had so much success?
As we saw, it was the personal touch that was so central to Jesus' ministry. In what ways did someone's personal touch influence you to accept Jesus? Share your stories and then ask yourselves, How can we as a local church work better to minister to people's needs on the personal level?
Jesus the compassionate Savior hated sin and loved sinners. His method of ministering to people in crowds and individually should be the model for our witness today. Because of the salvation we have received through Him, we can extend His love and forgiveness to others.
|I N S I D E Story|
|Homes of Hope: Part 2
by LESLEY DAVIDSON
Robin and I spent our time at the spa talking about issues that interested her. God is so wonderful. He cemented our friendship and drew Robin into His circle of friendship at the same time.
Robin continued to attend church, continued to grow and ask lots of questions. When I couldn't answer her questions, my husband did. By this time Robin was a part of our family.
We invited Robin to camp meeting, where she spent ten days growing in God's love and being loved by other Christians. By the time we returned home, Robin was hooked on God. She believed, and she accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior. But she wasn't interested in being baptized.
Then Robin was diagnosed with cancer. She had battled cancer two years earlier, had undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy, alone. I was determined that this time she would not be alone. I went to her doctor's appointments with her and to every test and appointment after that. She was given just months to live.
Robin grew weaker before our eyes and was in constant pain. She lost her ability to walk. We all knew that she was deteriorating fast. Before long she was seeing double and couldn't read. I read to her a lot. She loved the book of James, and we read it often.
The pastor anointed Robin, and her spirit soared, even as her body grew weaker by the day. She asked to be baptized. But she was growing weaker and was hospitalized. We knew Robin had just days to live. But in spite of her weakening body, she was determined to be baptized.
The pastor arranged for a baptism in a hospital bathtub. Her church friends gathered to witness the beautiful ceremony. Robin, though in pain, was fully alert and had a peaceful countenance during the ceremony. She glowed when she received her baptismal certificate, but the rest of us cried.
Three days later Robin fell asleep in Jesus. Her last words were, "I am saved, I am forgiven."
If it had not been for Homes of Hope to give me the kick I needed, I might never have gotten to know my wonderful friend Robin, and she might never have met the Savior who wanted to be her best Friend. God gave me the words to nurture her, and my church family loved her and gave her the affirmation she so desperately needed. I can't wait to see Robin again, to talk for eternity about our wonderful Lord.
LESLEY DAVIDSON lives in Kariong, New South Wales.
For more information on Homes of Hope, visit their Web site at
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