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Sabbath School Lessons on The Forgiven
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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 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 4: How Jesus Forgave *
Introduction: This past week I went to a wonderful Easter play at a
local Assemblies Church. The production was what you would expect
from a professional company - really first class. The quality of the
play allowed me to imagine being present during Jesus' life and
crucifixion. It gave me better insights into those events. Not only
did the final scenes break my heart, but they impressed me again with
the incomprehensible nature of Jesus' forgiving spirit. The
crucifixion, like nothing else, shows the depth of the evil of Satan,
the importance of God's law and the incredible love and forgiveness
that God extended to us. Let's get into our study this week and focus
on how Jesus treated sinful Peter!
- Peter - Unworthy I
- Read Luke 5:1-3. Why would Jesus want to get into a boat?
(He was pressed by the crowd, and He wanted them all to be
able to see Him and hear His teaching.)
- Was Simon (Peter) part of the crowd who came to hear
Jesus? (It does not appear that he was. He was
washing his nets.)
- Put yourself in Peter's place. What would your
initial reaction be to the crowd heading your way?
(I see annoyance. You are trying to get some work
done, trying to wash and dry your nets, and a crowd
comes tramping through.)
- Does it seem that at this point Peter is a disciple?
(No. Verse 2 tells us that "fishermen" left some
boats on the shore. One boat belonged to Peter.
Matthew 4:18-20 and Mark 1:16-18 have an abbreviated
account of Jesus' call to Peter. However, this seems
to be the initial contact.)
- Now, the cause of the crowd asks to borrow your boat
and you. You are Peter, what is your reaction?
(Washing nets is boring. My feeling is that Peter had
heard of Jesus and his initial annoyance with the
crowd heading his way is now replaced by curiosity
about Jesus. He probably likes being in the
- Read Luke 5:4-5. Tell me why Jesus told Peter to go
fishing again - after Peter had fished all night? (I see
several reasons. Jesus borrowed his boat. He is paying
Peter back. Peter is a fisherman, Jesus is not. Jesus'
approach to Peter is on Peter's own business terms.
Finally, Jesus had in mind proving to Peter that He is no
- Why did Peter do what Jesus asked?
- What would be going through your mind if you were
Peter? (An odd thing I have observed in life is that
people will credit the statements of someone who is
well-educated, but who speaks outside of his area of
education. For example, a medical doctor who opines
on politics. What does he know about politics? No
more than anyone else. Peter could have logically
said to himself, "I'm the fisherman here, what does
this guy know about fishing? We just finished washing
our nets. Why would I want to go out so I will have
to wash my nets again?" Something about Jesus as an
authority caused Peter to do as Jesus asked.)
- Read Luke 5:6-8. Turns out that Jesus was right. Why would
Peter say, "Go away from me?" Why not say, "How would you
like to go fishing with me every day?"
- Why would Peter start talking about his sins? (Peter
knew this was a miracle and not a smart fishing tip.
Since this was a miracle, Peter knew he was in the
presence of someone who had a special relationship
with God. Hence, Peter's statement about being
unworthy to be near Jesus.)
- Was Peter right? Was he unworthy to be by Jesus?
- Read Luke 5:9-11. Did Peter say he was afraid of Jesus?
- If you were in Jesus' sandals, and Peter just got
through kneeling and saying, "Go away from me, I'm
sinful," what would you have logically said to Peter?
- "You don't need to kneel?"
- "Your sins are forgiven?" (Peter was really
saying to Jesus, "I'm unworthy to be by you.
Jesus responds, "You are not only worthy to be
near, you are worthy to help Me in My work.")
- What does this say about Jesus forgiveness
of sins? His approach towards sinners?
- How could Peter be worthy of helping Jesus?
(Worthiness was not a question of Peter's
station in life (which was low), but rather his
acknowledgment of sin.)
- Did Peter actually repent of his sins?
(Remember we learned last week that
repentance means to "change your mind,"
change your attitude. Verse 11 tells us
that they left everything (including the
big catch) and followed Jesus. Clearly an
- Peter - Unworthy II
- Read John 21:1-3. Let's stop a moment and place this in
time. The fishing story we just finished was when Peter
was first called to become a disciple of Jesus. This new
story takes place after Peter denied Jesus at his trial
(see Luke 22:31-34, 54-62), after Jesus was crucified, and
after Jesus rose to life again. How was the fishing now?
- Read John 21:4-6. Why would Peter take this stranger's
advice about fishing? (I'm beginning to believe that Peter
would take fishing advice from anyone. It must have been
an easy thing to throw the net on the other side, so they
did it to humor this stranger.)
- Read John 21:7-8. Why did John (the disciple whom Jesus
loved) recognize Jesus? (Something clicked in John's mind.
John had been at the first fishing miracle ( Luke 5:9-10)
and this sure seemed similar.)
- When John announced Jesus was on the shore, what was
Peter's reaction? (He put his clothes on and jumped
into the water to go to Jesus.)
- Why did Peter react the way he did? Remember he has
denied Jesus, denied he even knew Jesus, right after
boasting to Jesus that he was willing to die with Him
or go to prison with Him. Why didn't Peter say, "Go
away, I'm a sinful man?" Instead, he came swimming to
Jesus. (This shows how Peter's attitude had changed
over the years he had spent with Jesus. Peter
realized that despite his terrible denial, Jesus
still loved him and had unconditionally forgiven
- Read John 21:15-17. Why did Jesus ask Peter if he loved
Jesus MORE than the others? (In Matthew 26:33 we read that
when Peter promised Jesus that he would never deny Jesus.
He said "Even if all fall away ... I never will." Peter
was really saying that he loved Jesus more than the other
disciples. Jesus is testing Peter's presumption, and Peter
passes the test by simply saying ( John 21:15) "I love you"
-- not, I love you more than the others love you.)
- Why does Jesus ask Peter this question three times?
(In part because Peter denied Jesus three times.)
- Why did Jesus say to Peter three times to help take
care of His flock [the believers]? (Jesus was
publically restoring Peter to an important gospel
- Do you feel that you have denied Jesus in the
past through your actions or your words? What
does this story of Peter teach you about Jesus'
- Jesus Ultimate Forgiveness
- Read Luke 23:32-37. How do you feel when people make fun
of you and laugh at you? How do you feel when people do
not show you respect? How do you feel when people
deliberately hurt you?
- How do you react if you have done nothing to deserve
this bad treatment?
- When these things happen to you (or, if just one of
these things happens to you) and you have the power
to stop it or take revenge, what do you do?
- In verse 34 Jesus says to forgive these people. Do we
read that they have asked for forgiveness?
- Do you agree with Jesus that His tormentors did not
know what they were doing? (They certainly knew they
were torturing and mocking Jesus. However, if they
had known this was God, then I feel certain they
would not have done this.)
- Is it a satisfactory answer to say they did not
know that Jesus was God, and therefore this
should be forgiven? What changes if they knew
Jesus was God? (What changes is that they would
refrain from mocking because of fear, not
because of principle. I have a hard time seeing
a reason to forgive based on the fact they were
bullies - willing to mock and torture someone
who they thought could not take revenge.)
- Can you imagine yourself in Jesus' place and saying,
without anyone asking you for forgiveness, "Father,
forgive them?" (No. I am (you are) a million miles
away from the incomprehensible love and mercy that
Jesus showed to those bullies that hurt Him that
- Friend, have you hurt Jesus? Have you denied Him? Have you
turned away from Him? If Jesus was willing to forgive
those who mocked, tortured and killed Him, then He is
willing to forgive you of your sins!
- Next week: Forgiveness and Guilt.
* Copr. 2003, 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.