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Sabbath School Lessons on The Wonder of Jesus
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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 6: The Challenge of His Sayings *
Introduction: Do you ever wish that God would sit down with
you and explain exactly what He thinks you should and should
not do? No need to be in doubt. Now you can know! I've had
those thoughts many times. Sometimes Jesus' teachings are
confusing. On the other hand, I know myself well enough
that sometimes I like a little ambiguity. That way I can do
what I want and still hold on to my self-deception that I'm
doing God's will. This week we look at some sayings of Jesus
that, if we understand them correctly, challenge us to a
very high level of obedience and a very high level of trust.
Let's dive into our lesson and learn more!
- Read Matthew 19:3. Why do you think this is a test
for Jesus? Wouldn't it be natural for Him to say,
"Of course, you can't divorce your wife for any
reason!" (There were two schools of thought among
the Pharisees. The liberal school of Hillel taught
that a man might divorce his wife for trivial
reasons: such as burning breakfast. The
conservative school of Shammai thought you could
only divorce your wife for immodest or indecent
- Read Matthew 19:4-6. Did Jesus endorse either of
the two prevailing views among the Jewish leaders?
(Jesus says that the model is marriage for life.)
- Read Matthew 19:7. Did Moses, being lead by God,
allow divorce? (Read Deuteronomy 24:1-4. This is
the source of the two schools of Jewish thought.
Logically, the "indecent" conduct would be
something less than pre-marriage fornication or
adultery, because death, not divorce, was the
penalty for fornication or adultery. Deuteronomy
- Read Matthew 19:8. Moses is not off on an
adventure of his own. He wrote under the
inspiration of God. How does Jesus explain the
difference between what He (God) is saying directly
and what God said through Moses? (He says God
accommodated the sinful hearts of the people. The
Wycliffe Bible Commentary says that Moses'
regulation was "a protection of wives from men's
caprice, not an authorization for husbands to
divorce at will.")
- Let's stop and consider this a moment. Are the
rules against sin subject to being bent? Will
a righteous God compromise on sin?
- If hardness of heart is an excuse, are those
who are hardhearted today excused?
- Read Matthew 19:9. What does Jesus say about
divorce apart from "marital unfaithfulness?"
("Sexual immorality" is the way this Greek word is
often translated.) (Jesus says it is adultery!)
- As we have seen, the penalty for adultery was
death. It is one of the Ten Commandments
( Exodus 20:14). Jesus confirms casual divorce
is a major moral problem. Isn't sin, sin for
all times? Why was divorce "okay" in Moses
time and not "okay" in Jesus time?(What I see
in this is grace. Jesus does not equivocate on
the standard, the ideal. But God showed grace
to His people.)
- I'm sure some of you are saying, "Wait a
minute! What about grace to the women who
were divorced for trivial reasons?" (In
Jewish culture only men could divorce. God
shows grace to sinners. These women were
not sinners in this context. God's ideal
was that they not be divorced by their
- Read Matthew 19:10. How would you summarize the
disciples reaction? (They were shocked. If the
rules are going to be that strict, it is best not
- What does this tell you about the state of
marriage in those days?
- Read Matthew 19:11-12. What you think this means?
To which "word" is Jesus referring?
- Is Jesus teaching that those who cannot accept
His strict teachings on divorce are released
- Or, is Jesus teaching that only those who can
follow the rules should get married?(If you
look at the context, Jesus is saying the
second - don't get married if you cannot
follow the rules. The disciples just got
through saying "It is better not to marry."
Jesus then goes through a list of reasons why
a person might choose or be forced to refrain
- Is there a logical application of Jesus'
statements to the argument that homosexuals
are born that way and therefore homosexual
marriage is a natural right? (Yes, although
the logic is not perfect. Jesus says that some
were born with barriers to marriage, some were
made that way by others, and some make that
decision to please God. There are a number of
reasons, some involuntary, why some people
should not marry.)
- Let's turn to another difficult subject. Read
Matthew 19:16-17. So much for righteousness by
faith! Do you think that Jesus meant what He said?
- Read Matthew 19:18-19. What is odd about this list
of commandments? (It lists only five of the Ten
Commandments and throws in an extra "summary"
- What is left out? (All of the Ten Commandments
that have to do with our obligations to God.)
- Read Matthew 19:20-22. Do you think that this man
would have gone to heaven if he had sold all he
had? Would he then have become "perfect?"
- Where does Jesus find this "command" to become
perfect through yard sales? (This summarizes
the missing Ten Commandments about our
obligations to God. This young man relied on
his wealth for his safety and his reputation.
Jesus invites him to simply rely upon God.)
- How about you? On who or what do you rely?
- Read Matthew 19:23-25. The disciples are having a
hard day. They find out they are supposed to be
married for life and money is a bad thing. Why were
the disciples astonished about Jesus' statements
about wealth? (Read Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 12 and
Ecclesiastes 10:19. The disciples knew their
Bible, wealth was a blessing from God! It was the
answer to everything. Jesus was contradicting their
understanding of wealth.)
- If wealth is a blessing from God, why is it
difficult for a rich man to enter heaven?
Should we not expect that all who enter heaven
will be rich because that reflects the
blessings of God? (I think this is a very long
discourse on salvation. We are not saved by
keeping the commandments. Obeying God does
bring blessings and wealth. But what brings
salvation is trust and reliance on God. Wealth
is a temptation, because it inspires us to
trust it instead of God. Why? As King Solomon
pointed out, "money is the answer for
everything." Just don't make it your answer!)
- Read Matthew 19:27. Peter says, "Lord, we passed
that test!" "What do we get?" What do we get for
reliance on God? (Read Matthew 19:28-29. Jesus
responds you get heaven, thrones, glory and a 100
fold increase on your investment!)
- Read Matthew 19:30. What does this mean? Does it
mean that the man who had wealth, and appeared to
be first on this earth, would now be last?
- Let's move on to the next story. Read Matthew 20:1-2, 9-15. Is Jesus now advocating unfair wages?
- Read Matthew 20:16. What is the punch line to this
- Have we seen this point before? (Yes. Matthew
- If so, how does it apply here? Why does
mere failure to get up early mean you get
rewarded? What about "early birds" and
- Let's review these last two stories:
- Did the rich man think that he could get to
heaven by doing something? (Yes. Matthew 19:16
"What ... must I do....")
- Jesus showed him that he couldn't do enough.
- Did the disciples think that they could get to
heaven by what they did? (Yes. Matthew 19:27:
We have done everything, what is our reward?)
- What does the parable of the laborers tell us
about the relationship between our work and
our reward? (There is no relationship!)
- What did all the workers do in common? (Agreed
to work when asked.)
- Does this shed light on God's historic
teaching on marriage? (God's ideal is plain:
Marriage for life, no divorce. But, a life-long marriage does not get you into heaven.)
- What does get you into heaven?(Your response to
Jesus' invitation to come. Repent and come. Heaven
is Jesus' gift.)
- What does it take to accept this gift? (This is the
meaning to the "first shall be last" statement. The
rich ruler was used to being "better" because of
his money. The workers were used to getting paid
more because of their diligence. This is not the
operating system for the Kingdom of God. The less
you trust yourself, the more you are likely to
- Friend, will you accept the challenge of trusting
God? Will you strive for the ideal of holiness in
- Next week: The Puzzle of His Conduct.
* 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.