< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: October 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mark 1: 32 – 45

Our pastor, Kurt Gebhards, of Harvest Bible Chapel, gave another inspiring sermon from the book of Mark that I wanted to share.

Mark 1:32-45 32That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
38Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.
40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." 41Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. 43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44"See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." 45Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere.

Ministry is for everyone who has been saved by Christ. These verses tell us how to be a minister like Jesus.

In verses 32 – 34 the crowd was mobbing Jesus for what He could do for them, not for Who He was or to know Him better. But it’s important to see that some of the people couldn’t come to Jesus on their own. The passage says “they” brought them. What we can learn from this is to be a “they”. We need to bring people close to Christ. One thing we can do is memorize scripture so we are ready to share with them in their need. We must bring the truth to others and to do this we need to stop thinking about ourselves and our own needs.

From verses 35 – 39 we learn the importance of setting aside time for prayer. The core of prayer isn’t our wish list; it’s just being with God. Jesus had been up late the night before, but He got up while it was still dark so He could talk to His Father. Prayer brings us into fellowship with God. This probably also strengthened Him to go on to the next town to preach the gospel. If He had just wanted to be popular with the people He would have stayed and healed more, but His mission was to preach the gospel.

From verses 40 – 45 we learn about His compassion. Leprosy was especially bad back in those days because the Jews believed it was the evil within coming out. So not only was it a physical disease and highly contagious, it was thought to be a spiritual disease too. The leper was desperate. He beseeched Jesus. He had no other hope. But he wasn’t doubtful that Jesus could heal him if He wanted to. And Jesus did.

As a minister, Jesus gave and served and cared, even though He had no time for Himself. People were asking Him to do things constantly and He was always gracious. We can learn a lot from Him.

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Jesus’ Family Tree

Matthew begins his gospel and story of Christ’s life with a genealogy that is 17 verses long. He did this because his main aim in writing his gospel was first to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. The Jews required the proof of a man’s ancestry before they could even consider his credentials for royalty or priesthood. Or even his place among the people of God.

For example to be a priest, one would have to produce an unbroken line of ancestry all the way back to Aaron. Genealogies were very important to the Jews. Therefore, it was imperative that before beginning the story of the birth of the Messiah, His direct line to the throne of David (and therefore His link with Old Testament prophecies concerning that line) should be fully traced.

David Baron, a distinguished Jewish rabbi who also was a Christian, stated that if the claim of Jesus of Nazareth to the throne of David had not been well-known in Jerusalem to be flawless, the Jews would never have gone so far as to crucify Him. Instead they would have just denounced Him as an imposter on the day He entered Jerusalem and was received by the people shouting “Son of David” at Him. But no voice was raised to dispute His legal title.

Until the destruction of the Temple in AD 70, the genealogical records were stored in the Temple and were accessible to all. But when Titus destroyed the Temple all the records were destroyed and only the genealogies in Matthew and Luke remain to give the lineal descent from David. There is no other documentary proof that someone else could prove He is of the tribe of Judah and the lineage of David and rightful heir to the throne. No other man can now come along and prove He could be the Messiah.

Before Christ these genealogies were carefully guarded because they were the authentic records of the continuing fulfillment of God’s ancient promises through a particular line and through a particular people. They contained the carefully traced family line through which the promise of Genesis 3:15 was transmitted and thousands of years before. As early as Genesis 49:10 it was prophesized that Judah’s family line would produce the Messiah.

All Bible genealogies culminate in this final one, which ends with Christ’s birth. After that genealogies completely disappear from scripture. Peter’s ancestors aren’t mentioned, Paul’s mother and father aren’t mentioned…

Matthew’s genealogy ends and in Matthew 1:21 it says that Jesus came to save His people from their sins. Once Christ was born the only family line that God recognizes now is that which has its direct source in Christ. Whether we are reborn in Him and therefore a child of God. This is all the genealogy we need!

John 1:12-13 12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

Galatians 4:5-7 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father." 7So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Matthew’s genealogy is abridged, omitting several names contained in Old Testament genealogies. It includes 42 generations over 2000 years. It is carefully arranged into 3 cycles of 14 generations, each concerning a specific period in Israel’s history.

Matthew 1:1-5 concerns the first period of Israel’s patriarchal history of about 1000 years: namely Abraham to David.

The second cycle of 14 names Matthew 1: 6-11 concerns Israel’s kingdom period of about 400 years from David until the nation went into captivity to Babylon.

The third cycle of 14 names Matthew 1:12-16 covers the 600 years of Israel’s history from their return from Babylon to the land of Palestine until the birth of Jesus.

The difference between Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew and the one in Luke is – in Matthew; Joseph’s family tree is given. In Luke it’s Mary’s. I’ve heard it suggested that both are in the Bible to show that either way you trace it – Christ traces back to King David and beyond.

Some people are thrown in Mary’s family because in Luke 3:23 it records Heli as the father of Joseph. But Heli was actually Mary’s father. Jewish custom is a man becomes his wife’s father’s son by marriage. In Matthew 1:16 Jacob is listed as Joseph’s father.

Another difference between the 2 genealogies is that Luke’s ascends to Adam (so it starts with Jesus and works its way all the way back.) Matthew’s descends and only from Abraham. This is because Luke’s gospel presents Christ as the Son of Man who as Savior of the world belongs to all humanity. His gospel has been called the Gentile gospel. While Matthew wrote primarily to the Jews, who were the first people to accept Christ and be converted and therefore the first to need a record of His life.

So Matthew, who was only concerned with convincing the Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah, began where Jewish history begins: with Abraham the first great patriarch and David the greatest of their kings. The Messiah is shown by ancestry to be connected with the covenant promises made to Abraham. He is the seed of Galatians:

Galatians 3:13-16 13Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." 14He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit. 15Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ.

One thing that’s kind of amazing about Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is that it includes the names of 5 women. Almost none of the Old Testament genealogies ever mention women, only the father’s names. Before Christ, Jewish women had no legal status. Check out Matthew 19:8 8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.

In spite of the fact that God had included certain merciful clauses in the Law of Moses for a woman’s protection, the Jew still regarded a woman merely as the possession of her father or husband who could do as he would with her. In his morning prayer he thanked God that he was not born a gentile, a slave or a woman! So it really is something that 5 women are listed in Christ’s genealogy.

Even more surprising is the kind of women! 3 of them: Rahab, Tamar and Ruth were from non-Jewish backgrounds. 3 had pretty big sins in their lives: Rahab, Tamar and Bathsheba. Since this is a departure from Jewish tradition, we need to look at the reason for including women at all and these 5 in particular for the great honor of being listed in Christ’s pedigree.

Tamar’s story is in Genesis 38. She was a heathen girl when Judah’s eldest son, Er, married her. Genesis 38:7 says he died because “he was wicked in the Lord’s sight, so the Lord put him to death.” In that day the dead man’s brother was supposed to marry the widow to insure the continuance of his brother’s line. Well, the next son, Onan did that, but he died for the same reason, according to Genesis 38:8-10.

Tamar’s father-in-law out of superstition blamed his innocent daughter-in-law Tamar for the deaths of his two sons. He didn’t allow the 3rd son to marry her leaving her without legal inheritance or a share in the birthright of God’s people.

She wanted her place in God’s people and to experience His promises to them. So instead of going back to her pagan people and seeking a husband from them she stayed put. This required faith, which is probably one of the reasons her name is included. Faith in the promises of God. Christ came in order that all sinners who believe, Gentile or Jew, should be brought into God’s own family.

Rahab was also a heathen. The Bible says she was a harlot. However when she heard of God’s miraculous leading of His people and of His greatness, Rahab chose to believe this and chose to identify with His people, believing that God would also deliver her. She acted in several specific ways to prove her faith in God. Even risking her own life for her faith. Rahab was notorious for her former sinful life. She was just the kind of person Jesus came into the world to save.

Matthew 9:13 8Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.
God called her to believe in Him, and then He honored her faith in Him and in grace gave Rahab a position in the direct line of descent of the Messiah.

Ruth. The Bible presents her as a morally pure woman. However she also was a Gentile, but she chose to leave her heathen nation and be identified with God’s people through her mother-in-law Naomi even though it might mean she would never remarry and have children. God also rewarded her faith. She became the great-grandmother of King David.

She thought she had given everything up – but looked what she gained!

Bathsheba. She’s mentioned here as Uriah’s wife – he was an honorable man treated unjustly – so has a place of honor in this list. David and Bathsheba’s first child of adultery dies. Their 2nd, Solomon was born after God’s forgiveness. This is a wonderful example of how God in Christ removes our sin as far as east is from the west and blesses a repentant spirit. When God forgives, He not only forgets, but blesses us far beyond anything we could ever imagine by causing us to be caught up into His redemptive purpose for the world.

The last woman mentioned in this genealogy is Mary. All it says here is “of whom was born Jesus” since Jesus was born of her alone. Jesus was the unique Son of God.

This genealogy tells us that Christ is the promised Messiah and that He came into the world to save ALL sinners- male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and freeman. Those who He has cleansed are clean and fit to be included with the greatest of His saints.

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Real Meaning

I don’t know where I found this, but I’ve had it filed away for quite awhile:

Because He emptied Himself of all but love, you can be filled
Because His body was broken, your life can be whole
Because His blood was shed, your sin can be forgiven
Because He submitted to injustice, you can forgive
Because He finished His Father’s work, your life has worth
Because He was forsaken, you will never be alone
Because He was buried, you can be raised
Because He lives, you don’t have to be afraid
Because He was raised, you can be strong
Because He reached down to you, you don’t have to work your way up to Him
Because His promises are always true, you can have hope
The Creator became your Redeemer.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Jesus, The Final Sacrifice

There are 350 references to blood in the Bible. There are almost 300 uses for the word sacrifice. Blood sacrifice is central in God’s plan to forgive His people for their sins. All of this points to the final sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

At the very beginning God had perfect fellowship with Adam and Eve. He gave them only one boundary: do not eat the fruit of one specific tree in the garden. He told them if they ate this fruit, they would die. This is important – the wages of sin is death.

They didn’t need to eat the fruit. Everything they needed was provided for them. But they did, and then were embarrassed when they looked at each other and realized they were naked. And the sin changed their relationship with God too. When He came into the garden, instead of running to Him, they hid.

God slaughtered innocent animals to make clothing to cover their nakedness and shame. Adam and Eve had never seen death before this. Never seen blood. This was a foreshadowing of an innocent third party killed for someone else. They saw that sin was very serious. Sin is a violation of the holiness of God.

The Jews made all kinds of sacrifices over and over and over.

Even pagan people used animal sacrifices to placate an angry god. They figured if they did something bad and a god had any concern for what was right or just, that sooner or later they were going to get in trouble for what they had done. To stop the god from being angry with them they decided they needed to offer him or her a sacrifice. If it was a small sin, it would be a small sacrifice. If it was a big sin it would be a big sacrifice.

So ancient religions understood sacrifice. Later they should have been able to understand the concept of Jesus as a sacrifice when it was presented to them.
But in pagan rituals, sacrifices were made by the people trying to placate a god and this was their error. In Christianity it is never the people who take the initiative or make the sacrifice. It is God who makes the way by which His wrath may be averted. And He did it because He loves us so much. “For God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.”

What trips people up in understanding this, is it’s not the act (the sacrifice) that wipes out our sins. It’s the fact that God said that the act would do this and we BELIEVE Him.

We were told about the perfect sacrifice in Isaiah 53:1-7. The sacrifice would not be a lamb, but a person. And he would free people from their sins and save them from judgment. Hundreds of years later when John the Baptist saw Jesus in the crowd, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” He was telling us that Jesus is the ultimate Lamb, the innocent third party who would shed His blood as the payment for sinful people.

Jesus’ crucifixion was no accident. It was planned since the beginning of time. He went willingly. And He did it for us. He paid a great price. Anytime we think we have to do something to get saved, we take away from what Jesus did.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Knowing Christ

Mark 1:21-31 21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil[a] spirit cried out, 24"What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!"
25"Be quiet!" said Jesus sternly. "Come out of him!" 26The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
27The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, "What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to evil spirits and they obey him." 28News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon's mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told Jesus about her. 31So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

Our Pastor, Kurt Gebhards, is preaching on the Gospel of Mark this year and yesterday's sermon on 1:21-31 had some especially interesting thoughts.

In verses 23 – 28 Jesus commands the demon out of a man. The demon knew who Jesus was and he feared him and then he obeyed him! We need to know who He is, fear Him and obey Him! The difference is, the demon does this grudgingly and with great frustration, while we need to do it with great joy! Just “knowing” is useless! The demons know! Our knowledge is unto salvation! Our faith is of the heart, not just with the head. Demons say He is the Savior. We say He is MY Savior!

And in verses 29 – 31: what we take from these verses is when Peter’s mother-in-law got sick; they immediately turned to Jesus, even though He hadn’t healed anyone yet. When we are in trouble or sick, the first thing WE need to do is turn to Jesus. Through prayer and through the resources in His Word.

And when she was healed, she got up to serve Him. We are saved to serve. Jesus brings healing not as an end in itself, but as our beginning to serve. Our freedom from sin is for us to bear fruit. Being born again is the start of our ministry. The strength He gives us isn’t for us, but to glorify Him!

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