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Sabbath School Lessons on The Wonder of Jesus
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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 1: Who Was Jesus? *
Introduction: When a potential client first tells me his story, I
often feel like I am looking at a purse being dumped out on my desk.
There are so many facts to consider, but just a few of them have any
relevance to the client's legal claim. My job is to sift through the
facts, and focus on which ones are legally important. Often, clients
want to focus on facts that are important to them, but have little to
do with winning the case. This week we look at what I consider to be
the most important fact in the world: Who was Jesus? If you want to
win in this life and the life hereafter, there is no more important
fact upon which to focus. So, let's jump right into our study of the
Bible and do that right now!
- Weather Thinking
- Read Matthew 16:1. The text says the Jewish leaders are
"testing" Jesus. Is this school? Are they asking Him
questions about astronomy? (The real question is: "Are you
the Messiah?" They are looking for Jesus to prove He is
- Read Matthew 16:2-4. What kind of a score would you give
Jesus based on His answer? (This is not the kind of answer
students generally give.)
- What kind of answer is this? (He says that if
they had been paying attention, the answer
should be obvious.)
- Other than not paying attention, what else
creates an obstacle to their understanding of
the truth? (Jesus calls them a "wicked and
adulterous generation." Their sins get in the
way of their understanding.)
- We are all "wicked." Is there no hope for us?
(Jesus says that they have the wrong attitude.
They are not truly looking for truth. They are
looking to stay just the way they are - wicked
- Read Matthew 16:6 and Matthew 16:12 for instructions Jesus
gave to His disciples. Since the Jewish leaders had
questions and not answers, why would Jesus say they were
teaching something? (They were teaching that a "sign" was
necessary to prove that Jesus was the Messiah. They wanted
- Let's contemplate this series of verses just a minute. Is
Jesus really saying that the answer to the question "Who
are You?" is obvious? (We observe in this exchange a clash
that has been going on for two thousand years. The answer
is not math. It is not hard science. If you require
absolute scientific proof to turn away from the sin you
enjoy, then you will never turn away. On the other hand,
Jesus offers logic and reason. He says that there are
patterns in life that give you a good idea of what is
happening. You can generally know what the weather will be
based on what you see in the sky. Looking at Jesus' life
and works gives us powerful (but not scientific) evidence
of who He is. Considering life in general, we know that
His way is the best.)
- Read Matthew 16:13. Since they were on the topic, Jesus
asks His disciples what answers they have heard from the
public about the question: "Who is Jesus?" What have they
heard? (John the Baptist, Elijah, Jeremiah or some other
- In the abstract, are those pretty flattering answers?
- What is the common denominator among these answers?
(They were important "God-men." The public thinks
that Jesus is something special. He has a
relationship with God.)
- Why would Jesus ask this question? Is He taking a
poll? (Remember that the Jewish leaders just
challenged Jesus on this point. His response was that
this should be as obvious to them as predicting the
- Is the answer less obvious than Jesus thought it
should be? (Perhaps. The disciples report that
no one has the correct answer. However, the
people have their "eye on the sky." They know
Jesus is something special in a religious way.
Predicting the weather with precision is a time-honored problem.)
- The Insiders
- Read Matthew 16:15-16. Peter has a different answer. Why?
(Read Matthew 16:17. God gave Peter the correct answer.)
- How can the idea that God gave Peter the answer be
reconciled with Jesus' statement that knowing who He
is should be as obvious as reading the weather signs?
(If people are looking, if they have an open mind, if
they understand the things of life, they have
evidence that Jesus is God. However, the final answer
comes from inspiration - the conviction of God. The
Holy Spirit is essential to religious conviction.)
- After reading this series of texts, who does Jesus
say that He is? (He says He is the Son of the Living
- In light of Jesus' answer to this question, do
you still think the public's views are
flattering? (No. They are searching. But, they
have not yet found the truth.)
- Read Matthew 16:18-19. How important is the answer to
Jesus' question about who He is? (The identity of Jesus as
the Son of the Living God is the rock on which the church
- What is the "key" to heaven? (I believe the key to
the Kingdom of Heaven is understanding the identity
of Jesus. The church has an obligation to share with
humans the knowledge that will open the Kingdom of
God to them. If I ever decide I am wrong about this,
I should join the Catholic Church. If Jesus is
talking about a literal church, as opposed to an
understanding that He is God, then the Church has the
right to change the law. There is some evidence for
this in the authority of the early church to annul
the circumcision requirement (Acts 15)- even though
it had nothing to do with the sacrificial system
fulfilled by Jesus.)
- Read Matthew 16:20. With confusion all around, why would
Jesus tell His disciples to keep this critical answer a
secret? (It had to be because of the timing. Commentaries
suggest that if Jesus' disciples boldly proclaimed at that
time that He was the Messiah, it would have incited great
opposition to Jesus' ministry.)
- Jesus is God
- Jesus was confronted with another "test" by the Jewish
leaders, so He decided to return the favor. Read Matthew
22:41-42. Does that sound right to you? (Jesus was called
the "Son of David" by His followers ( Matthew 21:9)because
they believed the Messiah was to follow in King David's
steps and conquer the surrounding nations ( Isaiah 9:6-7).
Matthew shows that Jesus was literally descended from King
David (Matthew 1).)
- Read Matthew 22:43-46. Other than stopping the Jewish
leaders from diverting His attention with pesky questions,
why would Jesus ask about the relationship between King
David and the Messiah?
- What does Matthew 22:44 suggest about the nature of
the Messiah? (That the Messiah sits at the right hand
of God! At a minimum that means He is a heavenly
figure. He has extraordinary power in heaven.)
- If this is obvious to us, why were the Jewish
- Did they not understand that Jesus was God?(They
looked for the Messiah to be an earthly ruler.
Isaiah 9:6-7 calls Him "Mighty God," but the
focus is on His government on earth. The Jewish
leaders lost sight of Jesus being God.
Otherwise, the answer to this question would
have been obvious.)
- So, why did Jesus ask this question? (To
show that He was God. Messiah came first
and foremost to be our Savior. He came to
be the Lamb of God. He came to be the
Mediator of His sacrifice on our behalf in
the temple in heaven(Hebrews 8).)
- Friend, who is Jesus? He claims to be God. If you agree,
then give Him your allegiance as your God. If he is not
God, he is not a "God-man," he is not a good man, he is
not a prophet, and he is not a spiritual man - he is a
liar and a fraud. The decision is yours, and the choice is
clear and distinct for those who read the Bible and have a
little common sense.
- Next week: The Mystery of His Deity.
* 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.