TEACHING WITH EXCELLENCE
Bible Study Lesson Schedule and Weekly Essentials
Spring Quarter, 2017
Lesson Passage: Matthew 16:13-28
- This lesson revolves around Jesus' identity and the question He asked His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" (verse 15) Background: since Chapter 12, opposition to Jesus and His ministry was gaining momentum. The religious leaders had "officially" rejected Him as Messiah. So, Jesus was on a mission to confirm those who were His true disciples and to prepare them for what was to come. It would take total commitment to be His follower, and it would be a difficult journey. In 16:1-4 the religious leaders asked Jesus for a sign, seeking to test Him; in 16:5-12 Jesus warned His disciples to beware of the religious leaders.
- 16:13-15 - Jesus, as the Master Teacher, was a Master at asking questions. He asked two questions: (1) "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" The disciples gave the various answers of the day. (2) "But who do you say that I am?" This is the most profound question that anyone could be asked: "who is Jesus Christ?" APPLICATION: Your answer could determine your eternal destiny. Because Jesus claimed to be God, there are only three possible answers to His question: (1) He was a liar, that is, He knew He was not God. (2) He was a lunatic - Jesus thought He was God but He was deluded, or (3) He was and is who He claimed to be - the Lord! (see C.S.Lewis, Mere Christianity)
- 16:16-17 - Peter's answer and Jesus' response confirming His identity. Jesus is the Messiah, and God revealed this to Peter. Peter didn't figure it out on his own.
- 16:18 - The Rock. Jesus' statement has caused discussion and misinformation for centuries. The Greek language can help clarify the issue. "Petros" is Peter's name. The word also means "a movable rock or stone." "Petra," the second term Jesus used, is a different word. It means a "rock in which a tomb is hewn," "rocky ground," which is a suitable foundation for the building of a house. [Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, page 660] POINT: Jesus used a play on words to say that Peter's confession of the identity of Jesus - "...the Christ, the Son of the living God," is the bedrock, foundational truth on which Jesus will build His church.
- 16:19 - The Keys of the Kingdom. Jesus is using a symbol of authority. A trusted steward had the keys to the owner's house. POINT: By sharing the Gospel, Peter and the disciples opened heaven to some and closed it to others.
- 16:21-23 - Jesus predicted His death and resurrection. Peter had the audacity to rebuke Jesus. Jesus rebuked Peter indicating that he was being influenced by Satan.
- 16:24-26 - Discipleship, being a follower of Jesus, will be costly. It involves denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Jesus no matter what. It means trading your life for His. He has a claim on our lives! Deitrich Bonhoeffer said, "When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die."
March 11-12 (Daylight Savings Time begins on Sunday - spring forward!)
Lesson Passage: Matthew 17:1-13
Background/context - The last two verses of Chapter 16 set up this great event in Chapter 17. In 16:24-26, Jesus told His disciples what it would cost to follow Him. They would have to give up everything, and the journey would be difficult. Then, in 16:27-28, He gives them encouragement and hope. He predicts His Second Coming as well as promising them an event which would preview His coming in glory - His transfiguration. The transfiguration also proves that He was and is fully God!
17:1 - This is six days after His prediction in 16:28. Jesus took His inner circle - Peter, James, and John - as eye-witnesses, up on the mountain. Peter referred to this event in 2 Peter 1:16-18, as did John in John 1:14 - "...we beheld His glory..."
17:2 - He was "transfigured" before them. The word in Greek gives us our English word "metamorphosis." The Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament states, "...a transformation that is outwardly visible: of Jesus, who took on the form of His heavenly glory..." (page 513) "Glory radiated from within Christ's Person. It was a revelation of the inner glory of Christ." (Carl Laney, Dallas Theological Seminary Class Notes, page 20.)
17:3-9 - Moses, the lawgiver, and Elijah, the prophet, appeared as well. All of the Law and the prophets point to Christ (Luke 24:27). Luke tells us what Moses and Elijah discussed with Jesus: "His departure which He was about to accomplish at Jerusalem."(Luke 9:30-31) His "departure" from this earth was His crucifixion and resurrection. Peter, as usual, speaks first - but, to stay on the mountain was not the present plan. They needed to listen to Jesus, go down the mountain and be about the work of fulfilling the Great Commission.(Matthew 28:16-20) They not only saw Jesus, but they heard the Father speak(v. 5). Then, Jesus touched them (v. 7) which proved to them that what they experienced was real - it was not a dream or vision. Jesus warned them to tell no one. Had they spread the word about what they had seen and heard, the people would have tried to force Jesus to assume the role of King so He could rescue Israel from Roman oppression.
17:10-13 - The question concerning Elijah. Was Elijah's presence on the mountain the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6? In the future, Elijah would come but spiritually speaking, Elijah already preceded the Messiah in the form of John the Baptist.[see Warren Wiersbe's commentary on Matthew Be Loyal, page 119]
APPLICATIONS: (1) This event gives us a foretaste of the glory of the Kingdom which is to come. All that we see now is not the end of the story! (2) We must trust Jesus Christ as the King of our lives now, anticipating the time when He will rule in His Kingdom on earth. (3) Jesus died and rose again NOT to give us political freedom and a comfortable life, but to provide spiritual freedom and an abundant, meaningful life (John 10:10).
Lesson Passage: Matthew 19:16-26
- Verse 16 - Someone approached Jesus with a question which gave Him an opportunity to teach concerning eternal life and earthly wealth. This young man demonstrated the opposite of what Jesus had just taught regarding how one obtains eternal life: childlike faith and humility (19:13-15). He wanted to know what act, "what good thing," he could perform in addition to the Law that would earn him eternal life.
- Verse 20 - He feels that he has kept all of those commandments. But, if he is so confident about keeping the Law, why is he asking the question? He knows he still lacks something.
- Verse 21 - Jesus' answer. Notice His qualifying statement - "If you wish to be complete," - meaning "fully mature, perfect," which is what God requires. Was Jesus teaching salvation by works? No. Jesus was saying, "Trust in Me." As William Hendricksen states, "'Trust completely in Me,' was exactly what the Lord was telling him, for certainly without complete confidence and self-surrender to the One who was issuing the order the rich young ruler could not be expected to sell all he had (Luke 18:22) and give the proceeds to the poor."[Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew, page 726] Jesus is hitting the young man at his weakest point: his wealth!
- Verse 22 - The young man went away sad because he was wealthy and wanted to keep his wealth as well as perform an act which would gain him eternal life. He wanted to go to heaven on his terms. Given a choice, he went with wealth. He trusted in his assets rather than in Jesus alone for his salvation.
- Verses 23-26 - This passage has been the subject of some false interpretations. One is that the "needle's eye" was a small gate in the city wall of Jerusalem. If a camel got on his knees, and his baggage was removed, he could wriggle through the little gate. This interpretation is wrong on several levels the greatest of which is that it tries to make something possible which Jesus clearly teaches is impossible (verse 26). Apart from God's grace, it is impossible for anyone to be saved. Verse 25 shows that the disciples understood this when they asked, "Then who can be saved?" It was a common belief that wealthy people enjoyed God's special favor. So, if a rich man couldn't go to heaven, then who could? Answer: nobody apart from God's grace.
Lesson Passage: Matthew 21:1-11
- This passage is the account of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at the beginning of Passover week, which became Passion week, because, on Friday, Jesus was crucified. In the Christian calendar, it is Palm Sunday.
- Verses 1-7 - The preparation. This is the only record of Jesus ever riding an animal. He was preparing to recreate the return of King David to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 19-20), and the entrance of Solomon for his enthronement (1 Kings 1:38-40). A king riding either a donkey or a mule meant that he came in peace. A king riding a horse, usually a white horse, indicated that he came as a warrior. [see Dr. Constable's Notes on Matthew, page 332] In verses 4-5, Matthew refers to Isaiah and Zechariah which referred to the Messiah. Dr. C.I. Scofield, in the New Scofield Reference Bible, states, "Here was the King's final and official offer of Himself, in accord with the prophecy of Zech. 9:9."(footnote on page 1027) One last time, Jesus was offering Himself to Israel as the Messiah.
- Verse 8 - According to several commentators, during Passover Jerusalem would swell in population by at least 10-fold; some estimate that there were as many as two million people in and around Jerusalem. So, the entry by Jesus, with a parade atmosphere, would have been seen by tens of thousands of people. In those days, it was common for people to recognize royalty by spreading their coats on the road ahead of Him - see 2 Kings 9:13. In the same way, people would throw palm branches on the ground ahead of the procession, hence the name "Palm Sunday."
- Verse 9 - People were walking ahead of Him as well as others following behind Him. Their words of praise came from Psalm 118:25-26. The Jews used this psalm at Passover as part of "the great Hallel," one of the series of Psalms 113-118. "Hosanna" means "Save us now!" "Son of David" is the messianic title stressing the kingly role Messiah would play. "Hosanna in the highest" probably meant "Glory to God in the highest." The people were praising God for sending the Messiah and cried out to Him for deliverance. [this paragraph is based on Dr. Constable's Notes on Matthew, pages 334-335]
William Hendriksen, in his commentary on Matthew, states, "Psalm 118 is distinctly Messianic." (page 766)
A.T. Robertson, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, says, "They were proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah and He let them do it." (Vol. 1, page 167) All of the components of Jesus' triumphal entry point to the fact that He was and is the Messiah!
- Verses 10-11 - Note, the entire city was stirred up and shaken over this scene and asked the natural question: "Who is this?" In other words, "who is causing all of this commotion?" The answer in verse 11 is revealing: "prophet," not "Messiah." The reference to Nazareth in Galilee is a put-down because proud Judeans looked down on Galileans. These descriptions of Jesus reflect the popular disbelief that He was the Messiah.
Lesson Passage: Matthew 21:33-45
- This parable has been called The Parable of the Landowner. Some sources refer to it as The Wicked Husbandmen. It is one of three parables which Jesus taught in Matthew 21-22. A parable is a simple story to illustrate a profound spiritual point. The other two parables in this section are The Parable of the Two Sons (21:28-32) and The Parable of the Wedding Feast (22:1-14). All three parables were in response to the rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders, and they stood condemned.
- Verse 33 - Jesus told of a landowner who went to much care and expense to make a vineyard productive. Some of the wording is directly from Isaiah 5:1-7. A common figure of the nation of Israel was a vineyard carefully prepared by God. Another term for vine-growers is tenant farmers. They did not own the vineyard, but they were entrusted with working the vineyard. God entrusted the care His vineyard Israel to the religious leaders.
- Verses 34-36 - The owner sent his slaves to receive his produce at harvest time, and the vine-growers beat, stoned and killed the slaves. God's messengers to Israel were the prophets, who were mistreated, beaten and killed by Israel's leaders.
- Verses 37-39 - The owner then sent his son. The vine-growers threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. The son in the parable is Jesus Christ. The son being thrown out of the vineyard represents what the religious leaders would do to Jesus - kill him outside of Jerusalem. The place of crucifixion in Jesus' day was outside the city walls - Golgotha, Place of a Skull. The Latin term was "Calvarius," or "Calvary."
- Verses 40-41 - To drive home the point of the parable, Jesus asked His listeners a question, "what will the owner do to those vine-growers?" The people answered correctly - he would bring them to a "wretched end" and rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who would obey the owner. No doubt, the religious leaders were listening to the parable.
- Verses 42-44 - Jesus quoted Psalm 118:22-23, changing the figure from a vineyard to a building. Israel's leaders had rejected Jesus, but God would make Him the chief cornerstone or capstone of His building. Dr. Constable states, "Jesus made another strong messianic claim when He applied this passage to Himself." (page 346) Israel's leaders had refused to produce the fruit God desired - they had stumbled over Jesus, rejecting Him as Messiah. They lost the privilege of preparing the people for the coming kingdom. It was given to another group, namely, believers in the church - Jesus' apostles became the core leadership of the church. Verse 44 speaks of judgment on those who had rejected Him.
- Verses 45-46 - The religious leaders got the message loud and clear. They wanted to arrest Jesus at that point but were afraid of the people.
Lesson Passage: Matthew 22:1-14
- The Parable of the Wedding Feast is the third of the three parables taught by Jesus in response to the rejection of Him by the religious leaders. This parable reveals, among other things, that those who reject Jesus as Messiah have no excuse. The main lesson of this parable: "For many are called but few are chosen." (verse 14)
- Three primary elements to the parable: (1) The declined invitations; (2) The filled wedding hall; (3) The missing wedding garment.
- The Declined Invitations, verses 1-7. This deals with the patience and persistence of the king in sending out invitations to guests, which illustrates the patience of God the Father. The invitation in Jesus' day was the call to the Jews to believe in Him as Messiah. For us, it is the call to believe the Gospel. In the parable, the king issued three invitations by his slaves: (1) He sent out a general call. (2) Then, he called those who had been invited (v. 3); they were indifferent and unwilling to come. (3) He sent out a more urgent call explaining that the feast was ready (v. 4); they paid no attention, were actively hostile, mistreating and killing his slaves. The king's patience ran out. He destroyed them and set their city on fire (v. 7).
- The Filled Wedding Hall, verses 8-10. The king sent his servants to issue an even wider invitation - to go to the highways and byways and invite all people regardless of race, nationality, social standing, "both evil and good."(v. 10) Hence the phrase "many are called," verse 14.
- The Missing Wedding Garment, verses 11-14. It was customary that at wedding banquets and other similar events, guests were offered a suitable garment at the door. All except one guest had accepted the robe; he refused, having an attitude of self-satisfaction and defiance. When confronted, the man was speechless - he had no excuse. He was bound and cast out of the banquet in the outer darkness, away from the lights of the festivities.
- Interpretation of the parable. The Gospel and the Kingdom of Heaven are compared to a wedding feast. Invitations of the Gospel are wide, full, broad and unlimited. The Great Commission of Jesus to His disciples and us: we are to be His witness to our world as well as to "...all the nations"(Matthew 28:19); "...even to the remotest part of the earth."(Acts 1:8) The Gospel is rejected by many to whom it is offered. The servants of the king are the prophets, John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. These made the offer to Israel and were officially rejected. Later, the servants were the Apostles and the writers of the New Testament. The man with no wedding garment represents those who profess Christ but are not true believers. See Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43 - the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. In this present age, both exist in the church.
April 15-16 - EASTER WEEKEND - NO BIBLE STUDY CLASSES
Lesson Passage: Matthew 24:36-51
- All of Matthew 24 is critical to understanding Jesus' teaching on His Second Coming. Verse 3 contains the question the disciples asked Jesus which prompted Him to teach on the subject of His return.
- Context: there are several key components leading up to His Second Coming. (1) Many false christs and false prophets will come and try to lead many astray. (2) Wars and rumors of wars. (3) Gospel proclamation and persecution would occur. (4) There will be severe tribulation, unlike anything which has happened before.
- Beginning in verse 32, Jesus is exhorting His disciples, including us, to be alert and aware - to watch for the signs. He used the illustration of the fig tree: when it begins to sprout leaves, you know summer is near.
- Verse 36 is a caution: no one knows of the day or the hour of His return. We cannot be dogmatic about all of these events, and we certainly are not to engage in predictions. No one knows!
- Verses 37-39 - Jesus teaches that the period leading up to His Second Coming will be like the days of Noah - people were enjoying the usual ebb and flow of life with no thought of imminent judgment. But, the flood took them all away, except for Noah and his family. Peter refers to the flood in 2 Peter 3:3-6. Noah preached, calling people to repentance but he was ignored. Peter also mentions the skeptics who doubt the Second Coming. The skeptics say that all will continue just as it has from creation. In the same way, people questioned the flood in Noah's day. In other words, they do not believe that God will intervene in history.
- Verses 40-41 - Jesus is saying that when He returns, people will be going about their daily activities such as work. Those "taken" in Noah's day were taken away in judgment by the flood; those "left," like Noah and his family, were left safely on the earth in the ark. It will be the same at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Louis Barbieri, Jr. states, "...the wicked will be judged and removed when Christ returns, and the righteous will be left behind to become His subjects in the kingdom."[The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, p. 79]
- Verses 42-44 - The emphasis here is: be alert and be ready because Jesus could return at any time. Jesus uses the illustration of a thief - be prepared, because a thief does not announce when he is coming!
- Verses 45-51 - This parable answers the question: in light of the certainty of the Second Coming of Jesus, how should we live? Jesus contrasted the faithful and the wicked servant. It is pretty simple: the faithful servant obeys the Master until He returns; the wicked servant does not. The behavior of the wicked servant reveals his heart - he doesn't believe the Master is coming back at all. Warning: the faithful servant will be rewarded; the wicked will be judged, eternally separated from the Master for eternity.
Lesson Passage: Matthew 26:17-30
- This passage describes Jesus' establishment of what we call the Lord's Supper. Background: It was Passover, which meant that Jerusalem swelled to 10 times its normal population, as many as 2 million people; a crowded, festive atmosphere. Verses 1-5: Jesus predicted His crucifixion; His enemies plotted to kill Him; Verses 6-13: the woman poured perfume on His head; He referred to His burial. Verses 14-16: Judas strikes the deal to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
- Verses 17-19 - The preparation of the Passover meal - the room, food, etc; it was Thursday of what we call Passion week, the first day of Passover. The statement, "My time..."(v. 18), was a common Jewish phrase for death.
- Verses 20-25 - the betrayal dialogue: "...one of you will betray Me." It must have been shocking for the group to hear this! Why did Jesus need to be betrayed? Because with 2 million Jews, all wearing similar clothes, it would have been impossible for the authorities to find and arrest Jesus. Verse 23: Jesus was vague so that each disciple would examine himself; it is also a warning to Judas that Jesus knows what he's about to do. Verse 24: This shows God's responsibility in the plan - "...just as it is written of Him" and man's responsibility: "...woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!" Verse 25: the hypocrisy of Judas in asking; Jesus, in effect said, "Judas, you have answered your own question." John 13:30 tells us that at this point, Judas left. Now, Jesus can institute the Lord's Supper with those who truly believe in Him and are His followers.
- Verse 26 - Out with the old (Passover) and in with the new (Lord's Supper). The Passover looked forward to this - Jesus' sacrifice on the cross; the Lord's Supper looks back to His sacrifice. Thus, it is an act of remembrance. The bread represents His body being broken for you and me.
- Verses 27-28 - The cup represents His blood shed and poured out for us for the forgiveness of sins. "All," - stresses the unity of all believers. A covenant is a special friendship agreement between two parties. God and man come together in covenant relationship by Jesus' death on the cross. Forgiveness of sin comes only through Jesus Christ.
- Verse 29-30 - The Lord's Supper has a future aspect: looking forward to when Jesus will return and set up His millennial kingdom on earth. See 1 Corinthians 11:26, which answers the question of how long we as believers are to continue to celebrate the Lord's Supper: "...until He comes."
- The Baptist Faith and Message states: "The Lord's Supper is a symbolic act of obedience whereby members of the church, through partaking of the bread and fruit of the vine, memorialize the death of the Redeemer and anticipate His second coming."(page 14)
Lesson Passage: Matthew 26:36-46
- Background: following the Lord's Supper, Jesus led His men to the Mount of Olives. Along the way, He told them that all of them would fall away and scatter when things got tough. He also predicted that after it was over, He would be raised from the dead and He would join them in Galilee. Peter, displaying his usual bravado, said that he would never fall away; Jesus predicts that Peter will deny Him three times. NOTE: Skeptics often present Jesus as a confused individual who had no idea what was happening. Here, we see that He knew exactly what was going to happen every step of the way.
- Verses 36-38 - They came to Gethsemane; Jesus separates Himself with His inner circle of men: Peter, James, and John. Knowing what He is about to endure (betrayal, trial, scourging, and crucifixion), He expresses His deep grief and asks them to keep watch with Him.
- Verse 39 - This is an incredibly moving scene. Jesus wishes to be alone, praying to His Father. We are allowed to eavesdrop and hear the prayer. He mentions "this cup." Some commentators explain the cup as an assignment or a mission given to Jesus by the Father. It was certainly that, but the term has a deeper significance. As Dr. Constable explains, "The 'cup' is an Old Testament figure for suffering and death under the wrath of God."[Dr. Constable's Notes on Matthew, page 443] The cup of God's wrath against sin was poured out on Jesus on the cross, instead of on us! It would not only be physically painful for Jesus but spiritually painful - fellowship with His Father would be broken while He took on our sin. Thus, He desired that the cup would pass from Him. But, in a supreme act of obedience and submission, Jesus says, "yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt."(NASB) APPLICATION: Jesus gives us a model prayer of submission to the Lord's will in our lives.
- Verses 40-41 - The disciples were asleep. Jesus encourages them to stay awake and alert both physically and spiritually: "...that you may not enter into temptation." He then adds that well-known phrase, "The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak."
- Verses 42-44 - Again Jesus got alone to pray; again He prayed, "Thy will be done." And, again He came back and found His disciples asleep. He went away a third time, praying the same thing.
- Verses 45-46 - Jesus is prayed up and ready to go do the Father's will. Even though they had slept and were weak, Jesus wanted His men with Him as He would be betrayed into the hands of the mob. Jesus Christ was and is the Redeemer - it was time for Him to redeem mankind!
May 13-14 (Sunday is Mother's Day)
Lesson Passage: Matthew 26:63-75
- Background: Jesus had been betrayed by Judas and arrested by the authorities. His arrest was carried out by "...a great multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people."(NASB, verse 47) It was a ridiculous scene, for as Jesus said in verse 55, "Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as against a robber? I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me."(NASB) With this statement, Jesus not only made them look foolish, but He showed once again that He was in total control of the situation. All of these events must take place so that the Scriptures may be fulfilled. Verse 56 ends with the statement, "Then all the disciples left Him and fled." All had promised loyalty, but all fled as Jesus had predicted in verse 31.
- Verses 57-62 - Jesus was taken to the high priest, Caiaphas, with Peter following Him at a distance. Thus began the mockery of Jesus' trials, which amounted to a search for false witnesses.
- Verses 63-64 - Up until now, Jesus had been silent, but when Caiaphas demanded that He answer "by the living God," it was like putting Jesus under oath - the weightiest oath of all. He must answer and answer He did! He replied in the affirmative and added a statement about His Second Coming.
- Verses 65-68 - Their verdict was that Jesus had committed blasphemy and He deserved to die. They then mocked and beat Him.
- Verses 69-70 - Peter was nearby, just outside the courtyard - his first denial.
- Verses 71-72 - Peter's second denial in front of a little servant-girl.
- Verses 73-75 - Peter's third denial, as someone recognized his Galilean accent. The cock crowed; Peter remembered Jesus' prediction which happened just as He stated in verse 34. Peter showed his sensitivity when he went out and wept bitterly. Historical/cultural note: The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, "Cock-crowing is an indefinite hour between midnight and morning, referred to in all four Gospels in their account of Peter's denials; it is derived from the habit of the cock to crow especially toward morning." [from article in Bible Hub]
- APPLICATION: The key factor in Peter's life with which we can identify is his overconfidence in relying on his human ability rather than on the Lord. So, this was a bitter but necessary lesson for him and us to learn. Jesus referred to Peter's denial in Luke 22:31-34 adding that He had prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail and that once he returned, he would encourage his brothers.
Lesson Passage: Matthew 27:41-52
- This lesson covers the crucifixion of Jesus. TEACHERS: Seek a balance - on the one hand, our people need to know that Jesus suffered physical agony on our behalf. However, some of the details of crucifixion are so gruesome and shocking, we need not dwell on those aspects. Background: Matthew does not give the details of crucifixion because people living in the First Century knew all about them. Briefly: By the time of Jesus, the Romans were using crucifixion as the death penalty for the worst criminals and most despised people: slaves, the poor, and Roman citizens convicted of high treason. The victim was attached to the cross using either ropes or nails. It was a hideous, painful death which took anywhere from several hours to several days. The pain was due partly because the victim slowly suffocated - they could not support their body weight and struggled to breathe.
- Verses 41-44 - In addition to the pain Jesus suffered on the cross, He had to endure mocking by the crowd, which was common in crucifixions. Crucifixions were public events in which passers-by would stop, watch the victim, hurl insults, and then move on. Matthew mentions the different groups who ridiculed Him, including the two robbers who were being crucified with Him. Verbal abuse was coming at Him from every side.
- Verses 45-49 - Darkness fell over the land from noon until 3:00 p.m. Because of the time and extent of the darkness (three hours), it is safe to say that this was a supernatural event brought on by God and not an eclipse. As to how or why it became dark, we are not told in the text. It has been suggested that it was at this time that the sin of humanity came upon Jesus Christ as He died for us.(Lifeway Leader's Guide, page 127) Dr. Constable says, "This was a time of judgment on Jesus for the sins of all humanity."(Notes on Matthew, page 468) Jesus' statement in the Aramaic language meant "My God, My God, why has Thou forsaken me?" It was a quote from Psalm 22.
The references to Elijah (vv. 47 & 49) reflects a belief that because Elijah did not experience physical death, he would rescue the righteous in their troubles. This view has no Biblical basis. In fact, verse 49 was a sarcastic statement by the soldiers. In verse 48, the soldiers offered Him sour wine, which sometimes was done to ease the pain of victims on the cross.
- Verses 50-52 - This was the moment of Jesus' death, but Matthew's statement shows that even in death, He was in complete control. Dr. C. I. Scofield says, "The death of Jesus was different from that of any other man. No one could take His life from Him except as He was willing to permit it (John 10:18). Christ chose to die so that we might live." [The New Scofield Reference Bible, footnote on page 1044] Verse 51a - The veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom. The veil was a huge thick curtain in the temple which separated the holy place from the holy of holies. Significance: the fact that it was torn top to bottom signified that God did it. Through the death of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the way was now open for any believer to have access and fellowship with God. Verse 51b - Earthquakes often were part of God's judgment in the Old Testament. The earthquake could have caused the veil to be torn, the rocks to split and the tombs to open (v. 52). Matthew also mentions the earthquake in 28:2. Dr. Constable states, "The supernatural occurences that accompanied Jesus' crucifixion hinted at its spiritual implications."(page 472) Verses 52-53 - Nowhere in Scripture is this event explained. Dr. John Walvoord, in his commentary on Matthew states, "The resurrection of these saints, occurring after Jesus Himself was raised, is a token of the coming harvest when all the saints will be raised."[Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, page 236]
May 27-28 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Lesson Passage: Matthew 28:16-20
- This passage has been called The Great Commission and is the mission statement of our church.
- The setting: after the Resurrection of Jesus; in Galilee where Jesus had instructed His men to meet Him (28:10). A good way to organize this lesson is around five crucial questions.
- Verses 16-17 - What is a commission and to whom was it given? A commission is a mission given to someone to act on the authority of the one who gave it. The commission was given to the eleven Disciples of Jesus. Verse 17 says that some were doubtful. They were ordinary individuals who had weaknesses; all had abandoned Jesus when He was arrested; Peter denied three times that he knew Jesus. So, they were just like us. They did not doubt who Jesus was, they doubted themselves. APPLICATION: This commission applies to every believer in Jesus Christ.
- Verse 18 - Who gave the commission? The commission was given by the Risen Christ, Who has all authority in heaven and on earth. There is no higher authority than Him! The disciples, including us, are to carry out His commission in His authority. We do not go timidly into the world with His message. We go boldly, but not arrogantly, in His authority - we are the King's kids! We are His emissaries.
- Verses 19-20a - What is the commission? If we are given a mission in the authority of Jesus Christ to represent Him, the natural thing is to "go"! It means to proceed, to travel, to move out into our world as influencers, as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16). The only command in these verses is "make disciples." A "disciple" is a pupil, a learner or a follower. It involves both knowledge and conduct. A disciple is an apprentice learning the skill of Christlikeness. To paraphrase the commission: "When you go, as you go, make disciples." What is involved in making disciples? (1) Sharing the Gospel and winning men and women to Christ, but it doesn't end there. (2) Baptizing, a public profession by the new convert to Christ representing his break with the the old life and identification with a new community, the local church. (3) Teaching the new converts to observe, to obey, all that Jesus commanded.
- Verse 20b - What is the promise? Jesus vows to be with us all the way. We go at His command, in His authority and He is with us! See Acts 18:9-10 and Hebrews 13:5.
- Acts 1:8 - What is the power? This verse is a parallel verse to the Great Commission passage in Matthew. The supernatural ability to carry out the mission is provided by the Holy Spirit. We are to be His witnesses. It is not something we do but something we are 24/7.
- Application/Suggestions: (1) Get some training in evangelism and discipleship - New Member Ministry is a good place to start. (2) Volunteer. (3) Get information on short term mission trips sponsored by our church. FYI - we have 12 trips planned for 2017!