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Lesson 6: The Compassionate Savior *

Introduction: What kind of an attitude should we have as missionaries to the world? It would seem this is an easy question. The answer to is be kind and loving and share the gospel message, right? But, perhaps this issue is a bit more complex. When I was growing up, I learned about a problem in the church mission program. It seems that American missionaries had trouble realizing where their American culture left off and the gospel message began. To combat that potential problem, the suggestion was to have American missionaries go to foreign lands, train the locals in the gospel, and then let them push forward with American financial support. Imagine how those conceptions from my youth disappeared when I was approached this summer about having missionaries from Brazil and Europe come to my area to share the gospel. They were coming to share with English-speaking Americans! So much for the idea of leaving it to the natives. I was now the native! Our lesson is not about this specific issue, but it is about some of the complexities of how we approach our work as missionaries for Jesus. Let's jump right into our study of the Bible!

  1. Getting Our Priorities Straight

    1. Read Mark 5:21-23. If you were a missionary, and Jairus came to you for help, would you help him?

      1. Would you move him to the front of the line?

        1. Remember that others are there to hear Jesus. Would you go with Jairus anyway and temporarily ignore the crowd for practical reasons? (Jesus is not generally ignoring the crowd, but Jairus is an important man. I might think I could gain an advantage by healing the daughter of an important man.)

    2. Read Mark 5:24-32. Having agreed to help Jairus, is Jesus now risking the wrath of an important man by delaying over such a small matter?

      1. Would it have been better not to have agreed to heal Jairus daughter, than to agree and then get sidetracked? (It would seem foolish to delay if the reason that Jesus agreed to help Jairus was because he was an important man. Jesus' actions bring into question whether that was Jesus' motive at all. Maybe Jesus just agreed to help someone who showed faith.)

    3. Read Mark 5:33-35. Should a missionary have priorities?

      1. What potential priorities are involved here? (First, helping an person of influence versus helping part of the "rabble." (I'm not being unkind by saying rabble. This woman was unclean by the religious standards of the day.) Second, helping the emergency case versus the non-emergency case.)

        1. Why does Jesus seem to have no priorities here?

        2. Or, does Jesus have a different set of priorities?

          1. If you say "yes" to the last question, tell me what you think they are?(Jesus is operating from a different play book than most of us. We would help the important person first on the idea that he could help us, and we would logically help the emergency case first. I think it is clear that Jesus did not help Jairus because he was important. He helped Jairus because he had faith. In that sense, the woman with the issue of blood had an equal faith claim.)

          2. Does Jesus have a different view of time than we do - even when He lived here on earth?

          3. If you know the rest of the story (Mark 5:36-42) what do we learn about God's sense of time? (That time does not matter. Whether or not the child died because time ran out for her, Jesus could bring about the exact same result.)

    4. What lessons do we learn from this for our missionary activities? Should we give preference to those in places of authority? Should we make the world's time priorities our priority? (One thing is generally different: we need to share the gospel before the person dies! I'm not sure how many people are miraculously raised to life and then converted. I suspect the number is small.)

  2. Getting Attention

    1. Read Mark 12:35-37. Why was the crowd delighted in listening to Jesus?

      1. Were they entertained? (I think Jesus captured their imagination with His unusual question. We know that He also taught using stories ( Mark 4:2) and He taught with authority ( Mark 1:22).)

    2. What lesson should we take from Jesus' approach to the crowds for our missionary activities? (There is no room for boring. There is no room for dull. There is no room for uncertainty on foundational matters. There is room for the unique, the captivating and the certain.)

      1. Should this approach apply to teaching this lesson? (It may not be easy, but whenever we are presenting the gospel to groups, we should strive to make it unique, captivating and confidence inspiring.)

      2. Are all three elements required? Desired? (I've been in Bible classes in which the teacher comes up with a controversial topic and then just lets the class run with it. That is better than dull and boring, because people are thinking about the issues. However, that is an unfinished job. If you are the teacher, then you need to teach. You should have a defensible position, what you understand to be the truth, when it comes to foundational matters of the gospel.)

  3. Having Compassion

    1. Read John 9:1-2. What is the assumption behind the disciples' question? (That some human was at fault for this fellow being blind.)

      1. Were the disciples a bunch of nuts? Were they crackpots?

        1. If you say, "no," what does that teach us about the life of this blind fellow? (The disciples no doubt reflected mainstream views. Thus, the fellow, in addition to being blind, was saddled with the guilt that he or his parents did someone so terrible that he was blind from birth.)

    2. Read John 9:3. Let's discuss Jesus' answer. Is it compassionate? (It lifts the load of guilt from this fellow or his parents.)

      1. Let me ask you again, is it really compassionate? What does it suggest about God (and Jesus was God)? (It suggests that this fellow was blind to give glory to God.)

        1. So, this fellow was blind since birth to allow God to look good? (That is a very crude way to put it, but I think it is on target.)

        2. What lesson for missionaries follows from this point? (We live our life for the glory of God. It is not about us, it is all about Him.)

    3. Read John 9:4-7. Now that we learned that the quality of our life does not matter, what do we learn from these verses? (That the quality of our life does matter to God. Jesus was the Light of the World by showing the character of God. God wants us to be blessed. He wants us to be healthy. He wants us to see. That is His desire. But, sometimes things happen to us for reasons which God allows.)

      1. Let's go back to our first story about the daughter of Jairus. Did Jesus make a conscious decision to allow her to die? (Yes. He understood the emergency nature of her illness.)

        1. Why did Jesus allow this? (For the glory of God.)

          1. Does this sound harsh? Could a person ever forgive God for letting their little child die?

          2. Did Jairus "forgive" Jesus? (Jairus story is a compressed example of God's plan for our life. The fact that the little girl died did not matter to Jairus and his wife when Jesus brought her to life a few minutes later. When God brings our loved ones to life, when He cures all of the ills of this sin-sick world, when He finally destroys all evil, sadness and death, then we will be like Jairus. The delay will not matter.)

    4. Friend, can you make a compelling and interesting case for the love and mercy of God based on the actions of Jesus? If so, will you?

  4. Next week: The Apostle John.
* 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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