Our Sunday School Class
Where we love the sinner, hate the sin, and seek His kingdom
Thought of the Week!
1 Peter 3 Be prepared.
Reminder of the Week ....
Memo to Satan....
Humor of the Week!
Yep! Technology can never replace experience and wisdom.
Notes From Today's Lesson (my version...feel free to disagree or correct me)
1 Peter 3
We have a God who loves us
We are blessed
Silence speaks louder then words
Next Week's Lesson (Let Doug know what you think of the new information.)
The Gospel Project® for Adults Personal Study Guide, Session 4
© 2013 LifeWay Christian Resources
Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser.
The Cross: The King’s Identity as Suffering Messiah
Devotions: Ready Your Heart
The identity of the Messiah has long been a puzzle for many people—from the first-century religious leaders and Jesus’ own disciples to those today who don’t believe God became man and cannot fathom how He could willingly suffer and die.
Paul addressed the challenge of accepting Jesus as the Messiah in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25. He said Christ crucified was a stumbling block to the Jews. It was a stumbling block because it was an impossible idea. Israel long anticipated the coming of the Messiah to overthrow their enemies and establish His kingdom. The Old Testament prophecies spoke of His power and how He would establish the throne of David forever (Isa. 9:6-7). Never would they imagine that His victory would be won through a cross.
Paul also said the cross was foolishness to the Greeks because a dying King is a display of weakness, not strength. How could the Greeks worship a man who had been crucified on a cross?
But God’s wisdom does not fit in our box. We want a powerful Messiah who serves our desires and overthrows the enemies that trouble us the most. Jesus has done so (Col. 2:15), but the Enemy He defeated is not always the enemy we are most concerned about. He has defeated Satan, sin, and death.
Being a disciple means boasting in the cross, no matter how bizarre it may seem to the world. It is what opens the door to the riches of God’s wisdom.
Pause and Reflect
• Are there times when you desire a different type of Messiah? Where are you tempted to look past Jesus’ greatest work for you and dwell on other things you would really like Him to do for you?
• Take a moment to boast in the cross. Thank God for freely giving us His Son. Ask Him to keep you from being deceived by desires for a different king.
On the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested, He made a startling claim to His disciples. He took the Passover meal and directed the disciples’ attention to Himself, claiming to be the One to whom the Passover pointed.
The author of the Book of Hebrews explained that Jesus’ blood established a new covenant (Heb. 9). The old covenant had to be fulfilled because it did not change the hearts of God’s people. They continued to sin and rebel against God.
But Jesus offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice. He lived a perfect life, gave His life for us as a sacrifice, and now sits at the right hand of God as our great High Priest. When we accept His sacrifice and give our lives to Him, our sins (past, present, and future) are remembered no more. We are changed by the Spirit of life.
This simple gospel message should give us great joy and peace as well as a heart bursting with thanksgiving toward God. He did what the old covenant was unable to do (Rom. 8:2-3).
This simple gospel message should make us want to follow Jesus even more faithfully. When we realize what it means for us to receive the benefits of the new covenant, we rest assured in all of God’s promises, and we desire to be obedient to Him. In short, through the message of the gospel, the Spirit forms us into the image of Jesus Christ.
Pause and Reflect
• How is the simple truth of the gospel affecting you during this time of your life? Where do you see growth in your life because of your faith in the simple message of the gospel?
• Spend time thanking Christ for what He did for us. Confess any sins that come to mind, and express again your full trust in Jesus. Praise God for the promises in the new covenant.
North by Northwest, a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie, is a tale of mistaken identity. Throughout the film, agents of a mysterious organization pursue an innocent man across the United States, assuming he is someone else. Because of one inopportune moment that takes place in a hotel lobby, the innocent man is mistaken for someone else, and the stage is set for a thrilling turn of events.
Previously we’ve looked at the message Jesus taught (the kingdom of God has come) and the way He demonstrated the truth of His teaching (through miracles and signs). Because of His message and work, many concluded He was the Messiah they had been waiting for. They were right about His identity but wrong about what that identity really meant. It wasn’t so much a case of mistaken identity (as in North by Northwest) as it was a case of misunderstanding the nature of His identity.
What kind of misconceptions and misunderstandings about Jesus’ person and work are common in our day? How do the Gospels correct these misconceptions?
Here we see Jesus revealing to His disciples that He was indeed the long-awaited Messiah who would suffer for His people. Though His disciples didn’t understand the idea of a suffering Messiah, Jesus linked His suffering with His mission. On the night before His death, He spoke of Himself as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises. The next day, Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, where He gave up His life and took upon Himself the punishment that we deserve for our rebellion against God. God’s kingdom comes through redemptive suffering.
New Testament Timeline
Date: circa 30
Place: Caesarea Philippi, Jerusalem
Important People: Jesus, Judas, Peter, Pilate, Sanhedrin
Important Events: Triumphal entry; cleansing of temple; Judas’ betrayal; Passover supper; Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion
Books that cover this period of history: Matthew; Mark; Luke; John
1. Jesus is the Messiah-King who suffers for His people (Matt. 16:13-16,21-24).
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But you,” He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”
21 From then on Jesus began to point out to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, chief priests, and scribes, be killed, and be raised the third day. 22 Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!”
23 But He turned and told Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.”
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.
The setting of a story matters. It not only gives you a picture of the place where the story happened, it also helps you envision the events, connect with the characters involved, and understand the story’s significance.
In Matthew 16:13-28, we witness one of the most important conversations Jesus had with His disciples. And the setting (Caesarea Philippi) served to intensify the moment. This place had a well-known temple to Caesar and a shrine to one of the gods. It was here that Jesus affirmed the announcement that He was the King whom God had promised to send to Israel, the Messiah who would rule the whole world (Ps. 2:8). What a setting for such an announcement!
Jesus’ first question to His disciples was general and impersonal: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” His second question was direct and personal: “Who do you say that I am?” Peter spoke first, announcing, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!” With this, Peter confessed that Jesus is the anointed King whom God promised to Israel. As the Son, Jesus is the rightful Heir of God’s kingdom (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7).
Why is it important not only to understand how other people view Jesus but also to come to our own conclusion about His identity?
Peter got the answer right. But it quickly became clear that he didn’t understand all his answer entailed. Merely stating that Jesus is the Messiah is not enough. We must also know why He came and how He planned to accomplish His mission. In addition to recognizing the Messiah, we also must accept the mission of the Messiah.
Acknowledging Jesus as Messiah has major implications for our lives. First, we must remember that we are confessing Him as King. He has the prerogative to declare what kind of King He is and how He will accomplish His purposes. It is His authority, not ours.
Second, we must remember that the gospel message is incomplete without the cross. It is not enough to confess that Jesus is the Messiah (16:16) if we do not also understand that His mission involves suffering and death (vv. 21-23).
Third, if Jesus’ mission involved the cross, then those who would follow Him must embrace the same. We are called to take up our cross and follow Him (v. 24). We are called to lose our lives for Him in exchange for life everlasting (v. 25).
How central is the cross to your understanding of who Jesus is? In what ways is taking up one’s cross connected to following Jesus in His mission?
Voices from Church History
“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die…Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master.” 1
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
2. Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb who brings about the new covenant (Matt. 26:26-29).
26 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27 Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.”
Think about the meals we share together. We never gather just to eat but also to share time at the table. We celebrate birthdays, holidays, and special occasions, usually by sharing a meal. These moments at the table communicate something about an event’s importance, and they connect us to each other in a way that other activities do not. So it’s no surprise that on the night before His death, Jesus chose to explain the significance of His suffering with a meal.
God had established the Passover meal in order to remind His people of how He released them from slavery in Egypt. In preparation for their escape from Egypt, God laid out steps for the Israelites to express their faith. They were instructed to take an unblemished lamb or goat and spread its blood on the doorpost. Moses told the Israelites that as the Lord executed the tenth plague in the land of Egypt, He would pass over all the households that put their faith in Him by honoring the Passover. The sign of faith would be the blood of the unblemished lamb smeared on the doorposts.
More than a thousand years later, Jesus used the Passover as the setting for His final meal with His disciples. Jesus not only proclaimed that He was the Messiah who would suffer, but He also explained the purpose of His death. He was suffering the punishment due His people.
What might be some reasons for the Passover celebration being the time for Jesus’ suffering and death? In what ways was the Passover event a picture pointing forward to Christ?
Jesus took the Passover meal and demonstrated to His disciples how the promises of God’s covenant with His people are fulfilled in Him. In breaking the bread and declaring that it is His body and in holding up the cup and declaring that it is His blood, He proclaimed His identity as the ultimate Passover Lamb who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
But Jesus not only pointed back to the old covenant. He also pointed forward to the new. Moses (Deut. 30:6) and Jeremiah (Jer. 31:33) had spoken of a day to come in which a process of transformation would take place in the hearts of God’s people. The old covenant celebrated the work God did for His people, but the new covenant celebrated His work in them. In Jeremiah 31, quoted in Hebrews 8, God promised that He would give His people new hearts.
What are some differences between the old covenant and the new covenant? Why are the new covenant promises considered better? How might these better promises produce in us joy, peace, and assurance?
Voices from Church History
“The other gods were strong, but Thou wast weak; They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne; But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak, And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone.” 2
–Edward Shillito (1872-1948)
3. Jesus is the self-giving King who brings salvation to His people (Matt. 27:45-50).
45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over the whole land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Elí, Elí, lemá sabachtháni?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling for Elijah!”
48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, fixed it on a reed, and offered Him a drink. 49 But the rest said, “Let’s see if Elijah comes to save Him!”
50 Jesus shouted again with a loud voice and gave up His spirit.
In this passage that describes Jesus’ sacrifice, we discover again how the setting helps us understand the story’s message. Matthew records how darkness came over the whole land from noon until three in the afternoon. It was midday, and it was dark at the time the sun usually shines brightest.
It must have been an ominous moment, right? Something unmistakable was occurring. Everyone present must have had a clear sense that it was not supposed to be this way. As God’s judgment for sin came down upon His innocent Son, even the weather was affected.
Then Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (27:46). This was the key moment in Jesus’ life—the moment for which He came. This was the moment He anticipated in Gethsemane when He prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will” (26:39). This was the moment when He drank the cup of His Father’s wrath for all of us and became the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus knew He would suffer the curse of sin. So why did He ask God why He had forsaken Him? What might be the reasons for such a piercing question?
What did Jesus’ cry signify? For sure, it indicated the physical and emotional agony Jesus experienced on the cross. It also indicated His feeling of separation from God as He experienced the curse of sin. Interestingly enough, this is the only time in the New Testament where Jesus did not address God as “Father.”
But through it all, this cry demonstrated Jesus’ confidence in the midst of His agony. His cry was the first verse of Psalm 22, a psalm that begins with despair yet ends in victory (Ps. 22:24). Even while Jesus faced the wrath of God, He did so with confidence and peace, trusting God’s righteous protection (1 Pet. 2:23).
That’s why Jesus gave up His own life. It was not taken from Him. Matthew 27:50 says He “gave up His spirit.” Emphasizing the same point, Luke records, “And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit.’ ” (Luke 23:46). John underscores Jesus’ authority over His own life as well when he recounts Jesus’ last words—“It is finished!” (John 19:30).
The Gospels call us to believe in a suffering Messiah. But the Gospels do not present a Messiah overcome by His suffering. Yes, He was afflicted, accused, and hung on a tree at the hands of sinful people. But Jesus showed throughout His life that He was in control. When the time came, He left with the Roman guards, stood before Pilate without defense, and declared that He would give His life in love. It would not be taken from Him.
What do we learn about our salvation from Jesus’ last words on the cross? How can these words strengthen our faith?
Voices from Church History
“It was the earth’s saddest hour and it was humanity’s deepest, darkest day…The Lord of life bowed His head and the light of the world flickered out.” 3
–W. A. Criswell (1909-2002)
In response to His death and resurrection, Jesus invites us to follow Him in His mission. He wants us to trust in His identity as the Messiah and in the work He accomplished on the cross.
It’s in accepting that He is the Suffering Servant who gave His life for us that we find the courage to sacrifice for His mission. Only then do we have the assurance to lose our life for His sake, knowing that we can obtain true life in Him (Matt. 16:25). If we want our lives to be marked by following Jesus in His mission, we must put our faith in Jesus as the self-giving King who laid down His life for us.
In what ways does Christ’s sacrifice for us compel us to sacrifice our comfort in order to reach others with the good news of forgiveness?
Devotion: Respond in Your Life
The True Hero
John 13:35: “By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
When reenacting battle scenes in the backyard, boys rarely leap at the role of “sacrificial friend.” When playing Cinderella in their rooms, little girls aspire to the beautiful, dancing princess and not the lowly servant girl constantly under the woes of her family.
Likewise, when it comes to living as a disciple of Christ, we usually choose to resemble the triumphant, judge, warrior-King Jesus and not the meek, lowly, humble, serving, sacrificial Christ. However, time and again, Scripture tells us to do good to “the least of these” (Matt. 25:40) and to serve one another (John 13:14).
Jesus tells us that it isn’t our victories or our power that validate our union with Him but rather our love for others (John 13:34-35).
We tend to aspire to the role of hero, not servant. But when we have a true encounter with the Hero of creation’s story, we are freed to make much of Him and not ourselves. We are free to show others love because we’ve been shown love in Christ. We are free to show others mercy because we’ve received great mercy from God.
Our love for others is the evidence that the love of God abides in us. Our service for others is fueled by the unimaginable way Jesus served us. His great love for us energizes our love for others (1 John 4:19).
Pause and Reflect
• In your relationships to others, do you tend to take the posture of the “warrior-King” or the “humble servant”?
• Do you more often use others for your purposes or seek ways you might make much of them even at great sacrifice to yourself?
• Do you tend to promote your good deeds to others or do you tend to promote the welfare of others?
1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959), 89, 91.
2. Edward Shillito, “Jesus of the Scars,” in Jesus of the Scars and Other Poems (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1919), quoted in The God Who Is There (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2010), 162.
3. W. A. Criswell, Basic Bible Sermons on the Cross (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1990), 40.
Calendar (We did not talk about the Come-See-Me activities.)
I added the items in bold about community activities that could be used at outreach opportunities
- 9:00 April 27, Service project at Children's Attention Home
- Dec. 14 Soup Kitchen