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Sabbath School Lessons on The Role of the Church in the Community
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 8: Jesus Showed Sympathy *
Introduction: My wife thinks that I need to improve when it comes to
sympathy. Whenever someone in the house is sick, she knows my first
thought is "I hope I don't get that!" When I see some tragedy in the
life of another, my mind goes to what that person did or failed to do
to avoid that tragedy. Why? That allows me to believe that tragedy
won't befall me. Then there is the problem of memory. A member of my
church will tell me of the sickness or death of a relative. Next week
it is likely that if I don't personally know the relative, I've
forgotten! A number of years ago, I started working with a remarkable
man who modeled sympathy and compassion. I have learned a great deal
from him and today I'm much better than I used to be. Our lesson
today is about the greatest model of compassion and sympathy - our
Lord. Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!
- Jesus and Healing
- Read Matthew 9:35-36. We have yet another reference to
Jesus' "church centered" preaching. Why did Jesus also
heal? ("He had compassion on them.")
- Notice the text explains Jesus' compassion. How are
sick people "harassed" and without a protector?
- Let's continue with the way Matthew presents this. Read
Matthew 9:37-38. How are diseases and sickness related to
a lack of workers?
- Read Matthew 10:1. How does this text help solve the
problem we have been discussing? (First, Jesus authorizes
some new workers to fight illness and disease. Second,
Jesus refers to the "evil spirits": the workers on the
other side who are creating disease and sickness. When
Jesus reveals that the ill are ( Matthew 9:36) "harassed
and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd," He shows us
that Satan and his minions are harassing us with disease.
Jesus wants us to work to heal disease and sickness.)
- Do you think that Satan and his minions are still
creating disease and sickness?
- If so, why are we not still curing disease and
sickness as part of our preaching of the good
- Jesus and Raising the Dead
- Read Luke 7:11-12. Why is this mother a special case?
(Three reasons. She has lost her husband. She has lost her
son. She has lost support in her old age because she has
no other sons.)
- Read Luke 7:13. Have we any reason to believe that Jesus'
attitude toward death is the same today?
- A number of years ago I visited a church in
California and taught a lesson on the story of Job. A
member invited me to her home after church so I could
talk with a couple who was suffering. It turned out
that the couple's parents and children were driving
on a freeway very close to where I lived in Virginia.
An accident occurred, and all were killed. They lost
their parents and their children all at once. Put
yourself in my place, what would you say to them?
- Tell me how you would talk about the attitude
of Jesus towards death?
- Read Luke 7:14-15. I would have loved to raise this
couple's parents and children to life. The problem is that
Jesus let them die. In this story about the widow of
Nain, Jesus intervenes and reverses death. How do you
explain that? Why are only some people immediately raised
from the dead?
- I have a sermon about timing. It argues that whether
Jesus raises your loved one to life now, or waits
until the resurrection, it will not matter - the
other side of the resurrection. Is that a reasonable
way to look at this?
- What if the person who died is unlikely to be
saved? What do you say then?
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:12-13. What does this say about our
ability to understand the ways of God? To understand the
conflict between good and evil?
- If we cannot explain the reason why something
happened, should we try? Or, could that make things
- What does 1 Corinthians 13:13 say we can know? (That
God loves us. Of all of the complexities about God's
ways, the clearest of His attributes is love. He died
to save us.)
- Read Colossians 3:12-14. Notice the five characteristics:
"compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
How is humility involved in our discussion of sympathy?
(We need to acknowledge what we do not know. The fact
that our understanding now is like that of a child, the
fact that we see a "poor reflection" now, should cause us
to be cautious about what we say about the will of God to
those suffering grief.)
- Jesus' Conflict
- Read John 11:1-6, John 11:21, John 11:32 and John 11:37.
Are the complaints about Jesus' delay valid?
- How many people had Mary and Martha seen Jesus heal?
- Is this the same complaint that we have today:
"Jesus, if you were willing, you could have saved my
- Read John 11:33-35. How do you explain this? Since Jesus
could have come in time and saved Lazarus, why does Jesus
weep at his death?
- Read John 11:41-44. Now that you know this, what do you
think was Jesus' reason for delay? (He planned to
- If Jesus knew all along that He planned to resurrect
Lazarus, why did He weep? (He not only loved Lazarus,
but He has compassion on us. This says volumes about
Jesus' attitude toward suffering that He could
prevent but does not. It also shows that God has a
"master plan" when it comes to making these kinds of
- What appears to be God's "master plan" here?
(Notice that John 11:42 says "that they may
believe that You sent Me." See also John 11:4.)
- Holy Spirit
- Read John 14:25-27. Why does Jesus speak of peace and not
being afraid just after He says the Holy Spirit is coming?
(The idea is that the Holy Spirit will continue Jesus'
work. The "God is with us" idea will not change.)
- Read 1 John 3:17-20. We have discussed in earlier lessons
in this series God's plan for the poor to work - work is a
part of almost all Biblical programs to aid the poor. When
you see a "brother" in need, how do you decide whether you
- What do you think the verses mean which refer to our
"hearts" either being "at rest" or "condemn[ing]" us?
(We will know if we are doing the right thing because
of the reaction of our hearts. "God is greater than
our hearts." God will influence our hearts to know
the right thing to do.)
- Read 1 John 3:21-24. How can we know our "hearts" are
sending us the right signals? (God says the Holy Spirit
will guide us. We are likely to have naturally "hard"
hearts. But, the Holy Spirit working in us is greater
than our hard hearts.)
- Re-read 1 John 3:21-22. The subject in 1 John 3:17 is
"material possessions." Recall that we started out
asking why we are not today countering Satan and his
minions by healing diseases and casting out evil
spirits. What does 1 John 3:22 mean when it speaks of
receiving "anything we ask?"
- If "anything" includes the power to heal, is it
because we are not pleasing God and we are not
following the Holy Spirit's impress on our
- Read 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. How does this say that we can
comfort others? (By the suffering in our lives. This says
that Jesus suffered, and we will suffer. But the comfort
that we receive from God is something that we can share
- If you ask me, I prefer the healing side of this rather
than the "share the comfort from my sufferings" side.
Think again about the story of Lazarus. How does it fit
both sides of the picture of comfort? (Mary and Martha
(and Jesus) suffered when Lazarus died. But, when Jesus
raised Lazarus from the dead, He gave comfort and hope to
all who suffer when a loved one dies.)
- Friend, I've shared with you that sympathy and comfort are
an area in which I am on the path to improvement. Will you
determine today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to show
kindness, sympathy to those in need of comfort?
- Jesus Ministered to Their Needs.
* Copr. 2016, 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.