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Sabbath School Lessons on Missionaries in the Bible
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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 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!
- Getting Our Priorities Straight
- Read Mark 5:21-23. If you were a missionary, and Jairus
came to you for help, would you help him?
- Would you move him to the front of the line?
- 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
- 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?
- 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.)
- Read Mark 5:33-35. Should a missionary have priorities?
- 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.)
- Why does Jesus seem to have no priorities here?
- Or, does Jesus have a different set of
- 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
- Does Jesus have a different view of time
than we do - even when He lived here on
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Getting Attention
- Read Mark 12:35-37. Why was the crowd delighted in
listening to Jesus?
- 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).)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Having Compassion
- Read John 9:1-2. What is the assumption behind the
disciples' question? (That some human was at fault for
this fellow being blind.)
- Were the disciples a bunch of nuts? Were they
- 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
- Read John 9:3. Let's discuss Jesus' answer. Is it
compassionate? (It lifts the load of guilt from this
fellow or his parents.)
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.)
- Why did Jesus allow this? (For the glory of
- Does this sound harsh? Could a person ever
forgive God for letting their little child
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.