Adult Sabbath School Lesson Study Outlines

Skip Navigation
Get these Sabbath School lessons by e-mail! Subscribe to the Bible Study of the Week mailing list:

 Subscribe in a reader

Lesson 8: Cross-Cultural Missions *

Introduction: How good are you when dealing with cross-cultural issues? I'm not very good because I have not had much practice. Two cross-cultural events stand out in my mind. When I started law school about a third of my fellow students were Jewish. I thought Jews were Biblical characters. It was surprising to have them in my class competing with me for grades! One time when I was traveling in Canada, a French-Canadian demanded to know why I did not speak French. French? I replied that I lived in the United States and that the alternative language to know was Spanish. I'm doubtful that I made a friend. How do we deal with cultural differences in sharing the gospel? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!

  1. The Samaritan

    1. Read John 4:3-4. If you have GPS it generally gives you a choice between the shortest way and other ways you might prefer. This sounds like Jesus was forced to go through Samaria. What is the problem with that? (The Jews and the Samaritans did not like each other. The main problem was that, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary, "the Samaritans, both in blood and religion were mongrel Jews." That kind of attitude is obviously not the basis for a strong friendship.)

    2. Read John 4:5-8. Put yourself in Jesus' place. How are you feeling? (He was tired, hungry and thirsty.)

    3. Read John 4:9. In the United States we have a term, "political correctness." It means that you have to be aware of your circumstances and not say anything that would insult anyone. Is this woman telling Jesus that He is not being politically correct? (Exactly. She is essentially saying, "You know about the problem between Jews and Gentiles, between males and females, you would not be asking me for a favor if you were following accepted patterns of behavior.)

    4. Read John 4:10. Is this a politically correct response? What do you think that this woman thought Jesus was saying? (Recall that Samaritans were considered religiously and racially inferior. Jesus now says that she lacks knowledge about God and lacks knowledge about the importance of Jesus. Both of these points would increase the friction because they are consistent with the existing stereotypes that Jews had of Samaritans.)

    5. Read John 4:11-12. What kind of response does the Samaritan woman make? Is she hurling insults back, is she challenging Jesus' logic, or is she agreeing that Samaritans are inferior people? (Her response is mostly aimed at Jesus' logic. She points out that He is in no position to be offering water because He cannot reach the water in the well. She calls Jacob "our father" thus pointing out that she is as racially important as Jesus.)

    6. Read John 4:13-14. Put yourself in the place of the Samaritan woman. What is going through your mind? What are your options in responding to Jesus? (The first option is to conclude that He is a lunatic. The second option is to believe that Jesus is someone special.)

    7. Read John 4:15. Which option has the woman chosen? (She certainly has not decided that Jesus is a lunatic. But, her response may either be a test of what Jesus is offering, or indicate that she believes Jesus. She may not understand Jesus, but she has crossed the line into believing He is someone special.)

    8. Read John 4:16-19. What has happened here? (She is now fully on board. When Jesus told her about her family situation, that convinced her that He was someone special, a prophet.)

    9. Read John 4:20. Is she looking for spiritual advice? (I think so. This is likely the first time she has encountered a prophet. She asks who is right - her people or the Jews about the proper place of worship?)

    10. Read John 4:21-24. Is this a politically correct response? Is Jesus insulting her? (She asks "Who is right about the place of worship?" Jesus responds, "Neither the Jews nor the Samaritans are right when it comes to the long view of things. However, salvation is from the Jews.")

      1. What lesson should we learn from Jesus in sharing the gospel with hostile people? (Jesus does not shy away from telling the truth. However, He is not trying to insult her.)

    11. Read John 4:25-26. The Samaritan woman says that she understands the long view of worship. What new bombshell does Jesus drop? (He is the Messiah! Now this woman is facing another leap of faith.)

    12. Read John 4:27-30. Has the woman accepted Jesus as the Messiah? (She thinks it is a possibility. Imagine if you had been speaking to the Messiah!)

    13. Read John 4:39-42. Think back over Jesus' conversation with the Samaritan woman. How does He change cross-cultural hostility into belief that He is the Messiah?

  2. The Centurion

    1. Read Matthew 8:5-6. What cross-cultural issues are present here? (A centurion would be a Roman, and the Romans dominated the Jewish nation.)

    2. Read Matthew 8:7-9. What does the centurion teach us about bridging cultural differences? (He dispenses with any claim of cultural superiority. He acknowledges that Jesus is the true authority.)

    3. Read Matthew 8:10-12. What does Jesus say about the superiority of His culture? (He says that faith is the important question, not culture.)

    4. Read Matthew 8:13. Consider how faith changed Jesus' plan. Will our faith change God's plan for us? (Jesus planned to "go and heal" ( Matthew 8:7), instead He spoke the servant back to health.)

  3. The Woman

    1. Read Matthew 15:21-23. Put yourself in this scene. Is this woman making life unpleasant for Jesus and the disciples? (Apparently, she keeps following them and crying out.)

      1. Why does Jesus not answer her? Does it seem sometimes that Jesus does not answer you?

    2. Read Matthew 15:24. Is this true? (We just read the stories of the Samaritan woman and the Roman centurion.)

      1. If it is not true, why does Jesus say it?

    3. Read Matthew 15:25-26. Put yourself in the place of the woman. How would you have reacted to Jesus calling your daughter a "dog" because of her race?

      1. What lesson are we being taught about cross-cultural relationships?

    4. Read Matthew 15:27-28. What is more important than culture and race? (Faith!)

      1. Should you take the same approach as Jesus took to this woman? (Jesus was testing her faith. I don't think we are called to test faith by insulting people.)

      2. In the United States we have people who like to talk about being "offended," as if they have some right to keep others from saying or doing anything they considered to be "offensive." What lesson does this mother teach us on the subject of being offended? (We need to keep focused on what is important, saving our children and keeping faith.)

  4. The Lepers

    1. Read Luke 17:11-13. We will learn later that one of the ten is a Samaritan. Why do the nine Jews associate with the Samaritan? (Read Leviticus 13:45-46. Because they have a far worse issue - they have leprosy and no one wants to be with them.)

    2. Read Luke 17:14. How were they healed? (They believed Jesus, headed to the priests for a certificate they were free of leprosy, and on their way they were healed. They acted on Jesus' words.)

    3. Read Luke 17:15-16. Would you return and thank Jesus, or would you be telling your friends and family that you could now live with them and be a normal of part society?

    4. Read Luke 17:17-19. Notice that Jesus calls him a "foreigner." Should we be blind to racial and cultural differences? (Jesus was annoyed that none of the Jews had returned to thank Him. He noted the racial/cultural issue.)

      1. Do you remember to thank God for what He has done for you?

      2. What do you think Jesus' words "your faith has made you well" mean? (I think Jesus means that his spirit, not just his body are healed.)

    5. Friend, faith is more important than culture or race. Will you determine to put faith first in your dealings with others?

  5. Next week: Peter and the Gentiles.
* Copr. 2015, 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.
Back to Top | Home