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: 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!

  1. Jesus and Healing

    1. 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.")

      1. Notice the text explains Jesus' compassion. How are sick people "harassed" and without a protector?

    2. 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?

    3. 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.)

      1. Do you think that Satan and his minions are still creating disease and sickness?

        1. If so, why are we not still curing disease and sickness as part of our preaching of the good news?

  2. Jesus and Raising the Dead

    1. 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.)

    2. Read Luke 7:13. Have we any reason to believe that Jesus' attitude toward death is the same today?

      1. 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?

        1. Tell me how you would talk about the attitude of Jesus towards death?

    3. 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?

      1. 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?

        1. What if the person who died is unlikely to be saved? What do you say then?

    4. 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?

      1. If we cannot explain the reason why something happened, should we try? Or, could that make things worse?

      2. 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.)

    5. 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.)

  3. Jesus' Conflict

    1. Read John 11:1-6, John 11:21, John 11:32 and John 11:37. Are the complaints about Jesus' delay valid?

      1. How many people had Mary and Martha seen Jesus heal?

      2. Is this the same complaint that we have today: "Jesus, if you were willing, you could have saved my loved one?"

    2. 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?

    3. Read John 11:41-44. Now that you know this, what do you think was Jesus' reason for delay? (He planned to resurrect Lazarus.)

      1. 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 decisions.)

        1. 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.)

  4. Holy Spirit

    1. 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.)

    2. 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 should help?

      1. 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.)

    3. 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.)

      1. 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?"

        1. 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 hearts?

    4. 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 with others.)

    5. 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.)

    6. 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?

  5. 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.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
Back to Top | Home