Tuesday, March 30, 2010

“The Community Faces Pain and Joy” Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending April 4, 2010

Purpose: To celebrate together the victory of faith over fear, of life over death

Scripture Text: John 16:16-24; John 20:11-16 (NRSV)

John 16:16-24
(16) ‘A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me.’ (17)Then some of his disciples said to one another, ‘What does he mean by saying to us, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”; and “Because I am going to the Father”?’ (18)They said, ‘What does he mean by this “a little while”? We do not know what he is talking about.’(19)Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, ‘Are you discussing among yourselves what I meant when I said, “A little while, and you will no longer see me, and again a little while, and you will see me”? (20)Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy. (21)When a woman is in labour, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. (22)So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (23)On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. (24)Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

John 20:11-16
(11) But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; (12)and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. (13)They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ (14)When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.(15)Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ (16)Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Our study for this quarter continues our emphasis on community, but we move from the Old Testament to the New Testament. We will focus for the next few weeks on the teachings of Jesus within the community.

This lesson comes from the Gospel of John, and it presents a unique emphasis when compared to the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Synoptic Gospels tell us much about Jesus’ life and ministry while on earth, and all three relate very similar stories. John on the other hand offers a different perspective, an eternal Jesus that was from the beginning the “Uncaused Cause of Everything.” As John puts it (1:1-3) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.” 

There are a few other differences. While the Synoptic Gospels tell of Jesus teaching through parables, John does not record one parable. John's report of what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane is also recorded from a different perspective. John says, (John 12:27-28) “Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say—“Father, save me from this hour”? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.’ Then a voice came from heaven, ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” John is also the only Gospel writer to record the foot washing after the Passover Meal, and does not record the Lord's Supper or Communion that is found in the Synoptic Gospels.

In our text we get a sense of how confused the disciples and others were about the mission of Jesus, they never understood He came to die. And John records a passage at the “last supper” that highlights that in John 13:36; Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. An act that showed honor and trust, it comes off as Judas is doing God's will rather that betraying him. An act that again left the Disciples confused. Jesus then uses the example of childbirth to try and teach the disciples about what was going to happen, there would be great pain followed by an even greater joy.

We should not lose sight of verses 23-24, if we ask, we will receive and now we can ask in His name. Don't you think Jesus has more influence than us, when we ask?

The last part of our text from John 20:11-16 points out the very problem almost everyone had with Jesus, from the Samaritan women at the well to Mary Magdalene in the garden. They did not recognize Jesus for who he was, a few days before a crowd saw him as a liberator, or a new king, but they did not see him as a savior.

Do you ever fail to recognize Jesus in your life? When you compare the agony of the cross and the joy of the resurrection, how does it make you feel?

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