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Sabbath School Lessons on The Atonement and the Cross of Christ
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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 37 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 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!
- 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
- 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.)
- Have you ever felt such a deep sadness - that you
thought you might die?
- Have you ever felt overwhelmed with terror about the
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.")
- What did Jesus pray that we should always pray? (I
want God's will to prevail.)
- Does that sometimes mean terrible things will
- 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
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Read Matthew 26:50-53. Why doesn't Jesus call for twelve
legions of angels? (This shows that Jesus voluntarily
accepted what was coming.)
- 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.)
- 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.)
- How do we know when to pull out a sword and when to
- 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.)
- 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
- What happened to the promise ( Matthew 26:35) that all
the disciples made that they would die before they
would disown Jesus?
- What is the result? (Jesus goes alone into the
- 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.)
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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?
- What if the people making the allegations are
- 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.)
- 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?
- Consider the psychological aspect of this. These people
are being urged on by Satan to do this. Does Satan doubt
who Jesus is? (No.)
- 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.")
- 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
- 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
- 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?
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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
- 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.