Tuesday, January 7, 2014

“How to Live as God’s People” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 12, 2014

Purpose: To ponder what it means to love one’s enemies in a world full of hatred and the potential for mass destruction

Bible Lesson
Background Scripture: Luke 6:17-26
Scripture: Luke 6:17-31

Luke 6:17-31 (CEB)
(17) Jesus came down from the mountain with them and stood on a large area of level ground. A great company of his disciples and a huge crowd of people from all around Judea and Jerusalem and the area around Tyre and Sidon joined him there. (18) They came to hear him and to be healed from their diseases, and those bothered by unclean spirits were healed. (19) The whole crowd wanted to touch him, because power was going out from him and he was healing everyone. (20) Jesus raised his eyes to his disciples and said: “Happy are you who are poor, because God’s kingdom is yours.

(21) Happy are you who hunger now, because you will be satisfied. Happy are you who weep now, because you will laugh. (22) Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and condemn your name as evil because of the Human One. (23) Rejoice when that happens! Leap for joy because you have a great reward in heaven. Their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.

(24) But how terrible for you who are rich, because you have already received your comfort. (25) How terrible for you who have plenty now, because you will be hungry. How terrible for you who laugh now, because you will mourn and weep. (26) How terrible for you when all speak well of you. Their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.

(27) “But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. (29) If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. (30) Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. (31) Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

As you study the scriptures you find many cases of tension between different passages. Today’s lesson is one of those times when we can see tension between what Luke writes and what Matthew writes. In the Book of Matthew (5-7) is recorded what is known as “The Sermon on the Mount.” The text that we are looking at today from Luke’s gospel is called the “Sermon on the Plain.” This contrasts with Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus taught from the mountain. Luke has Jesus coming down from the mountain and stopping on a flat area and there addressing the crowd.

No one is absolutely certain if this is two different incidents or not. But the writers record a slight difference in Jesus teaching. Matthew’s version is much longer, 107 verses. While Luke records only 27 verses.

If you are wondering why you are not familiar with the “Sermon on the Plain” it may be because the Sermon on the Plain is a harder lesson for us to embrace. It seems more palatable for us to hear about the “poor in spirit” than just “the poor.” Luke addresses, the poor, the hungry, the sad, and the hated.

Matthew’s writings seem much softer with “poor in spirit’ and those that “hunger and thirst after righteousness” or “the persecuted” and “mournful.”

Most of us do not feel threatened when we are told to mourn, or become meek or gentle. However, when we hear God offers a special blessing to the economically deprived it challenges our whole economic system.

I think God’s love for the poor is simply God being God, helping those that are helpless, loving the unlovely. It is not that they are better individuals, they are just more helpless than those that have means.

I think one of the lesson for us today is found in the closing verses of our text. Today we seem to be in the middle of class warfare, the rich cannot stand the poor and the poor despise the wealthy. We have become enemies of each other. Jesus offers a solution to the problem, Love those that hate you, bless those that curse you, pray for those that mistreat you. Give more than you are ask to give, do not expect anything back, and “do unto others.”

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