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Lesson 10: Atonement at the Cross *

Introduction: Have you considered engaging in a serious sin? If so, you weighed the consequences: would you get caught? How serious would the punishment be? Even if you were not caught, how would it affect you? I recall one friend saying (about a serious sin) "If I do it God will forgive me." When it comes to sin, our primary concern is how it will affect us. This week we look at how our sins affected Jesus. God paid a terrible price for our sins. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and take a close and personal look at what our sin did to our loving Savior!

  1. Gethsemane

    1. Read Matthew 26:1-2. Crucifixion was the worst kind of death imposed by the government. If you were to be crucified, would you want to know in advance? Why or why not? (I remember my mother saying "When dad gets home he will spank you." Contemplating my fate did not make things any easier.)

    2. Read Matthew 26:36-38. Look carefully at the words spoken by Jesus. How would you describe His mental attitude in today's terms? (He is sad and upset - deeply disturbed - so much that He feels overwhelmed to the point where He could just die.)

      1. Have you ever felt such a deep sadness - that you thought you might die?

      2. Have you ever felt overwhelmed with terror about the future?

      3. Do you think this was fear of physical pain or a fear of death? (I would have feared the physical pain and death, but I don't think that is what Jesus is saying. Remember that our sins are now being laid on Him( Galatians 3:13; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Imagine the burden of a sinless God being weighted with the sins of all humanity.)

    3. Read Matthew 26:39. What did Jesus want? (He wanted to avoid what was ahead of Him. He hoped that God the Father had worked out "Plan B" that would allow Him to escape the increasing weight of sin and torture that lay ahead of Him.)

      1. Could Jesus have avoided it? (Yes. Notice that Jesus says "this cup to be taken away." Jesus did not have to "drink" this cup. Jesus could have gone back to heaven. He could have taken a "time out." He could have said "I've seen these people up close and personal and, frankly, they are not worth saving.")

      2. What did Jesus pray that we should always pray? (I want God's will to prevail.)

        1. Does that sometimes mean terrible things will happen? (Yes.)

    4. Read Matthew 26:40-41. Have you ever gone through terrible problems and it seemed your friends did not care? They were more concerned about their comfort than about your needs?

    5. Read Matthew 26:42. Is Jesus still looking for a way out? What does this reveal about His human nature?(We see His human side, how He would like to avoid what is coming, but He accepts God's will.)

    6. Jesus goes back to Peter, James and John, and they have again failed Jesus by falling asleep. An armed crowd comes into the garden to arrest Jesus. It is led by Judas. Why would Judas do this? (Only two reasons make sense: 1)Judas decided that Jesus is not the Christ, or 2)Judas thinks Jesus needs a little prod to declare His kingdom. Jesus is surrounded by friends who it seems don't care enough, who don't believe Him or who think they are smarter than Him. What a sad picture.)

    7. Read Matthew 26:50-53. Why doesn't Jesus call for twelve legions of angels? (This shows that Jesus voluntarily accepted what was coming.)

      1. Why did Jesus mention twelve legions, as opposed to one hundred legions? (Jesus had twelve disciples. One just pulled out a sword. Jesus points out that He could have had 6,000 angels (a legion) for every disciple. He had real fire-power at His disposal - instead of His weak followers.)

    8. When the enemy comes close, Peter, the formerly sleeping disciple, pulls his sword ( John 18:11) to fulfill his promise that he would die before he would disown Jesus ( Matthew 26:33-35). Has Peter been faithful or not? Don't we make fun of people who say they will "pray for us," but don't give any practical help? (Read Ephesians 6:12. Jesus was in the middle of a horrendous spiritual battle over the fate of the world. Peter thought the fight was against humans, not demons. Peter failed Jesus because he was not fighting at the point of conflict - the spiritual war.)

      1. How do we know when to pull out a sword and when to pray?

    9. Read Matthew 26:54. Was it really God's will that His Son be tortured and crucified? Could Jesus have reasonably said, "My Father in heaven is a loving God, it would never be His will that I be tortured, much less killed!" (After our last three lessons where we looked at how the sanctuary service prophesied how Jesus would die for our sins, we can see the "big picture." When bad things happen to us we need to have confidence that God has the "big picture" in mind and we need to just trust Him.)

  2. Humiliation

    1. Read Matthew 26:55-56. Why would Jesus care how they arrested Him? (This is the beginning of the humiliation. He was a respected teacher, not a dangerous thief or hiding thug.)

      1. What happened to the promise ( Matthew 26:35) that all the disciples made that they would die before they would disown Jesus?

      2. What is the result? (Jesus goes alone into the terrible battle.)

    2. Read Matthew 26:63 and Matthew 27:37. What is the official charge against Jesus? (That He is the Messiah, the King of the Jews, the Son of God.)

    3. Read Matthew 26:64-65. Put yourself in Jesus' place. The High Priest, a man of the highest social standing, publicly calls you a liar about being the Messiah. How would you react?

    4. Read Matthew 26:66-68. How does the mob treat Jesus' statement that He is God? (They spit in his face, beat Him with their fists and slapped Him in the face.)

      1. What point is the mob making when they say, "Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?" (They are mocking Jesus' statement that He is God.)

      2. If you are worthy of respect, if you have accomplished certain things in your life, how do you react to people who deny those things in an effort to make you look bad?

        1. What if the people making the allegations are true low-lives?

    5. Read Matthew 27:27-29. Imagine standing naked before those who are making fun of you. What is the purpose of the robe, the crown and the staff? (These are all to mock Jesus' claim to be God.)

    6. Read Matthew 27:30-31. How do you react to being hit on the head? Imagine being hit on the head with a wooden rod when your head is covered with thorns?

    7. Consider the psychological aspect of this. These people are being urged on by Satan to do this. Does Satan doubt who Jesus is? (No.)

      1. So, what is the point? (Remember two weeks ago (Lesson 8) we discussed Satan's first wilderness temptation of Jesus? We decided that the underlying issue was pride and trust in God. We recalled these were the same temptations presented to Eve. This is the most extreme form of the temptation "If you are the Son of God.")

      2. How can it be a temptation or a sin for Jesus to prove He was God? (Jesus would use His own divine power to prove the truth - thus, He would fail to trust God.)

      3. How do you feel when you struggle with sin? How do you feel when you fail? Imagine feeling the dirtiness of the sin of all humanity at the same time as people deny your true nature while hurting you and laughing at you?

      4. Forget the times when you deserved to be embarrassed. Have you ever had a temptation even remotely like this? If so, did you think you did the right thing by defending yourself?

    8. Jesus is nailed to the cross and the base of the cross is dropped roughly into a hole. Read Matthew 27:39-43. "If He wants Him." With the weight of the sin on humanity, did Jesus know whether His Father wanted Him? Can the temptation to distrust God get any stronger? (Read Matthew 27:46. It feels as if God has left Him. But, Jesus still does not summon His own power. A side note: this shows the truth of the Bible. From beginning to end we have Satan's suggestion that we should not trust God. If a human were just writing a sympathetic story, he would focus on the physical pain Jesus suffered.)

    9. Read John 19:30. What was finished? (The battle. Jesus had come as the second Adam and He lived a perfect life and died for our sins. We died with Him and in this (and the later resurrection) Satan and his demons were doomed.)

    10. Friend, when you are tempted to sin think about the terrible experience our sins inflicted on Jesus. Think about how Satan humiliated Jesus and how Satan, though doomed, would like to use your sins to humiliate you and doom you. Will you decide today to never again treat sin lightly?

  3. Next week: Benefits of Christ's Atoning Sacrifice.
* 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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