Monday, March 30, 2009

"Suffering Unto Death" Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending April 5, 2009

Purpose: To discover through Jesus' suffering and death what true victory is.

Scripture Text: Luke 23:32-46(NRSV)

Luke 23:32-46
(32) Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. (33)When they came to the place that is called The Skull,they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. (34)Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’And they cast lots to divide his clothing.(35)And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’

(36)The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, (37)and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ (38)There was also an inscription over him, ‘This is the King of the Jews.’(39)One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’ (40)But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? (41)And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.’ (42)Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ (43)He replied, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’

(44) It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, (45)while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. (46)Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.’ Having said this, he breathed his last.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Our lesson from Luke describes the events that took place on that Good Friday almost 2000 years ago. The prophet Isaiah had written about 600 years earlier (Isaiah 53:8-9) “By a perversion of justice He was taken away. Who could imagine his future? For he was cut off from the land of the living...... They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich”.

It is important to point out that Jesus was not murdered; he was a willing participant in this charade. Jesus had on several occasions escaped from those that would do Him harm, and if He would have chosen to so, He could have escaped again. He knew the reason God had sent Him to earth and decided by His own will, that this would be the time for God's plan to be executed, not the execution of Jesus. Imagine the jubilation in the devils camp, for they knew who Jesus was. Jesus would be executed by the Roman government, at the request of the Jewish leadership.Those that were crucified with Christ are often referred to as thieves, but Rome did not execute thieves, more likely they were followers of Barabbas, the criminal that was released, or other Zealots that were threatening to overthrow the Roman rule in Palestine.

It appears from Luke's account that everybody knew this whole trial and execution was a sham, even Pilate could find no fault. The very thing that Jesus was accused of by the mob, and the plaque placed over His head, and meant to mock Him, was in fact true, Jesus was the “King of the Jews”. And He was the Son of God.

Jesus continued to rule even from the cross, when he said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”. He showed His power to forgive, and became the victor not the victim. Jesus died willingly, and He also granted one of the others, that were also being crucified, salvation, Jesus was in control of heaven and earth even as the mob of Jewish leaders and Satan thought they had won.

The power of the resurrection is an awesome power that we can tap into in our own lives. Saturday Satan thinks he has finally defeated God, and I can imagine he gathered his entire band of fallen angels and declared he had won the victory. He had been thrown out of heaven, and Jesus says in Luke 10:18 “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lighting”. Satan wanted to be God or at least His Son. Now he thought he had won the greatest of all battles he had seen the Son of God die. All of Satan's strength would focus on one thing, keeping Jesus dead and buried.

What a difference a day makes, come Sunday morning and an empty tomb and Satan victory turns into defeat. Because Christ lives we know Satan can be defeated, we too have the power of the resurrection in us through Jesus. What wonderful power is available to all of us, the power of the resurrection.

How can we use the power of the resurrection in our own lives? Why is it important that Jesus went willingly to the cross? What three things did Jesus do while on the cross that proves His sovereignty?

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