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Sabbath School Lessons on Discipleship
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: Following the Master: Discipleship in Action *
Introduction: Every morning we begin a new day during which we can
advance the Kingdom of God. Are you thinking of the possibilities for
"disciple work" each morning? What kinds of opportunities are
present? Is it enough to keep our eyes open to see what we can do to
promote God's work? Or, should we be more active and search out
opportunities? Is it possible that if we are already doing something,
it is the wrong thing? Let's dive into our lesson to observe some
disciples in action!
- The Paralytic and His Friends
- Read Luke 5:17. If this were you instead of Jesus, would
you be nervous? (All these important leaders from all
over had come to observe Jesus.)
- Why were they present? (Some commentaries I read said
they were present to be critical and to catch Jesus
doing something wrong. Another commentary said that
they had the right and obligation to be sure that
blasphemy and false teaching did not take place, so
they were just doing their jobs.)
- Whichever of the commentaries are correct, what
is the common element on which they agree? (That
these leaders were there to pay close attention
to what Jesus said. It was not a social visit.)
- How about you? Should you be alert to those who
want to do you harm because you promote the
gospel? (Yes. You should ask God to give you
wisdom and common sense in your work.)
- We discussed two weeks ago the issue of having
"authority" to perform miracles. When the text says
"the power of the Lord was present for Him to heal
the sick," does that mean that Jesus had to be given
"authority" to perform miracles and He did not have
that authority all the time? (The commentary "Word
Pictures in the New Testament" says the Greek is hard
to translate into English. The text does not mean
the power of Jesus to heal was intermittent. Instead,
it puts the terms "Jehovah" and "dynamite" together.
My thought is "Dynamite Jesus" was there in the face
of all of these powerful leaders. Jesus was
- Read Mark 2:2. Let's see what Mark adds to this story.
What do you think was Jesus' first priority: preaching or
healing? (Preaching. My feeling is that His healing arose
from this: 1)His heart for suffering people; 2)His desire
to attract people to His preaching; and, 3) The "proof" of
His authority as the Messiah to skeptical outsiders like
the Jewish leaders. His preaching of the gospel must have
been His first priority.)
- How about your work? Should you start with
preaching? Or, is helping those around you the best
way to start? (Imagine the harm done to the gospel if
you are a mean, grasping, unpleasant person and you
decide to share the gospel.)
- Read Luke 5:18-19. How do you like it when you are
interrupted in your speaking? How do you like it when
your first priority is interrupted by others?
- Imagine preaching and all of a sudden there is this
big noise of digging and scraping in the roof. This
is followed by junk falling down on the crowd and on
you. Then all of a sudden everyone is distracted by
this fellow being let down right between you and your
audience. Would you consider the people who were
breaking up the roof to be inconsiderate and rude?
- Put yourself in the place of the friends of the
paralyzed guy. Would you take one look at the crowd
and decide to come back tomorrow?
- What motivated them to persist?
- Do you consider them to be inconsiderate and
rude? Or, loving, caring and resourceful in
helping their friend?
- Read Luke 5:20. How did Jesus react? Was He irritated by
- Step back a minute and consider the digging and
Jesus' preaching. Is the digging a good thing for
what happens next? (Yes. It focused the attention of
the people on what Jesus said and did to the
paralyzed guy. The digging was an unexpected blessing
to Jesus' ministry. We should look for the positive
side of interruptions.)
- On what did Jesus base His conclusion about"their"
faith ( Luke 5:20)? (Their persistent faith was
manifest in digging - it was shown by their works!
Want to show your faith today? Do something!)
- Who is referred to when the Bible says "their" faith?
- Put yourself in the place of the paralyzed guy. You
can think, see and talk, but you have some major
limitation on your ability to move. So, you are about
to get lowered down through a roof. If someone makes
a mistake in rope-handling you could get dropped on
your head from the rafters. Would you vote for this?
- What if they dropped you? Would you have faith
Jesus could heal you anyway?
- Perhaps Jesus' faith experience for you today
requires you to step outside your comfort zone,
expose yourself to getting "dropped on your
- Let's look at Luke 5:20 again. Wait a minute! The problem
is that this fellow is paralyzed. Put yourself in the
place of the friends. You just got through the work and
embarrassment of digging through the roof in front of this
big crowd. Instead of healing your friend, Jesus says
"Your sins are forgiven." How do you feel?
- Why would Jesus be talking about sins? (Read John
9:1-3. The common perception was that sickness was
caused by sin. Some, obviously, was. Whether the
paralytic's sickness was caused by sin or whether he
merely thought it came from his sin, apparently his
sin was his first concern. Jesus addressed his first
- Read Luke 5:21. The authorities are paying attention to
this! Are their thoughts correct? (Yes. Only God can
- What point is Luke making to us? (Jesus is God.)
- Read Luke 5:22-23. What is the answer to Jesus' question?
Which is easier to say?
- If you answered "Your sins are forgiven," are you
- Read Luke 5:24-25. If the teachers of the law had not been
thinking critical thoughts, would this paralyzed guy have
been healed? (Don't miss the fact that Jesus knows your
- Compare what the teachers of the law are doing to promote
the gospel compared to the friends of the paralyzed guy?
Which are you more like in your daily discipleship?
- If you were in the crowd, would you be convinced by Jesus'
logic? Is it logical to believe that everyone who heals
can also forgive sins? (It is true that healing comes from
the power of God. But not everyone who heals is God. I
think Jesus was making a different argument. The critics
were saying, "This is just hot (and blasphemous) air.
Anyone can say anything." Jesus shows that His words have
power. When He says I can forgive sins, they need to take
His words seriously.)
- Read Luke 5:26. Notice the people praised God. Why didn't
they praise Jesus? (They believed that Jesus was the
Messiah. They believed Jesus was God.)
- Is praising God part of our work as disciples?
- Fire and Friends
- Read Luke 12:47-48. Aren't you glad that you are reading
this lesson? Now, if you do nothing, you get more badly
beaten up! Is that Jesus' point? (That is part of it. I
think Jesus has something deeper in mind. How many of us
look around and feel good about ourselves because of the
pagan slugs around us? Jesus is warning us against that
kind of attitude. The true disciple is working to advance
the kingdom and not smirking at the less faithful.)
- Read Luke 12:49-51. And here I am singing about the
"Prince of Peace!" Is this an example for us? To bring
about division wherever we go?
- Compare John 14:27. How can Jesus say that He is
bringing division and peace?
- Compare Matthew 17:27. Why would Jesus want to avoid
offending people that He wants to divide?
- Let's continue reading Luke 12:52-53. Why will Jesus bring
division within families?
- Let's go back and look again at Luke 12:49-50. Why should
Jesus talk about His own "baptism" in this context? (I
think what Jesus faced is an example for us. Jesus was not
trying to create enemies. His goal was peace. But, he had
a difficult road ahead of Him in His goal of bringing
peace (with God) to us and bringing peace (in the triumph
against sin) to the universe. We are not to try to create
division. But until our goal is reached, the gospel
creates division. I have a co-worker who I do not know
well. He is Jewish and he converted to Christianity. His
father recently died and I saw the service was in a
synagogue. That told me a great deal about the division
issue in his life.)
- Final Instructions
- Read Matthew 28:18-20. Why does Jesus begin this
instruction by saying that all authority has been given to
Him? (The disciples have something astonishing to talk
about. Jesus won the victory over sin. He now has all
authority. He is worthy of being followed.)
- What are we to do in response to Jesus' victory?
(Make other disciples.)
- What do we do with these disciples? (Baptize
them and then teach them.)
- What assurance do we have in this mission? (That
Jesus will be with us until His Second Coming when He
takes us home with Him.)
- Friend, I started out asking you how you should approach
each day. It seems we should keep our eyes open for what
we can do, but we should also be deliberate in promoting
the gospel. We should be like the friends helping the
paralyzed guy rather than the leaders looking for faults
in Jesus. We should make disciples, not critique them.
Will you commit to doing that today?
- Next week: Discipleship Under Pressure.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.