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Lesson 8: Jesus in the Writings of Peter *

Introduction: A number of years ago I read a horrible book by Dan Brown called "The Da Vinci Code." The writing and suspense were not bad, what was horrible was that it argued that the gospels had been rigged by the Catholic Church to suppress those which said that Jesus was merely a good man. Instead, the Church had aided the publication of those gospels that announced that Jesus was God. I thought this was extremely harmful because for the average person, who knows nothing about ancient history and little about the Bible, this would be hard to disprove. The epistles of Peter that we are studying are not part of the gospels. Let's dig into our study of Peter's letters and see what Peter (and others) say about the nature of Jesus!

  1. Founded on Jesus


    1. Read 1 Peter 1:1 and 2 Peter 1:1. What is consistent about how Peter identifies himself? (He says that he is an "apostle of Jesus Christ.")


      1. When you hear speakers introduced, how do you think the introducer decides what to say about the speaker?


      2. When you introduce yourself to others, and you explain a little bit about yourself, how do you choose what to say? (In both situations, you are either stating the things that are most important about your life, or at least most important with regard to the audience.)


        1. What does this say about Peter's view of Jesus? (That Jesus is the most important thing that happened to him.)


          1. Is that also true for you?


    2. Re-read the second half of 2 Peter 1:1. How is Jesus described? ("Our God and Savior Jesus Christ.")


      1. How does Peter help us against the lies in the Da Vinci Code? (This is the good news. Dan Brown, and those that accept these lies, do not know the New Testament very well. The claim that Jesus is God is not simply in the gospels, it is in the entire New Testament. What we are reading in Peter is an example of this.)


    3. Read 1 Peter 1:18-21. What does this tell us was the reason why God instituted the sacrificial system found in the Old Testament? (It all pointed to Jesus.)


      1. How long has God had the plan to use Jesus to save us from our sins? ("Before the creation of the world!")


      2. What does it mean that God "glorified" Jesus? (Read Colossians 1:13-19. Jesus has the "supremacy" above all things. Jesus created "all things" and through His power "all things hold together." The "fullness" of God dwells in Jesus. Clearly, Jesus was not merely a good person.)


      3. Read Philippians 2:9-11. How does this explain that Jesus was glorified? (He is exalted to the highest place. "Jesus Christ is Lord.")


  2. Honesty in Suffering


    1. Read 1 Peter 2:21-22. Another lie in the Da Vinci Code is that Jesus had sex with Mary and they raised a family. If you were going to lie about Jesus, is that a reasonable lie given the people that you know? (It sounds like what humans do.)


      1. Is what Peter writes in these verses a likely lie? Especially, if you wanted to convince someone that Jesus was God, is this the lie you would pick? (A suffering God is not the kind of lie I would make up. If I were going to make up a god, I would make up a triumphant god.)


      2. Consider this. If you wanted to trick people into following a false god, would you entice them by saying "you were called" to suffering? (No! This tends to prove the honesty of what Peter writes about Jesus.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 2:23-24. When Peter writes "his body on the tree," to what does he refer? (Jesus' crucifixion.)


      1. Is that a great way to entice followers? (This entire approach speaks to us of honesty. This is not how you would make up a story about a false god.)


  3. Messiah - New Testament


    1. Read 1 Peter 1:3-4. What remarkable claims does Peter make that distinguish Jesus from a mere man? (That He was resurrected from the dead, and that His death creates a reward for you in heaven.)


    2. Read 1 Peter 3:21-22. Who is in heaven, at "God's right hand," with "angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him?" (Jesus. This is another clear statement, outside the gospels, that Jesus is in authority in heaven.)


    3. Read Revelation 20:6. What does this say about Jesus' future? (It bolsters the statement that Jesus is an authority in heaven.)


    4. Read John 11:25-27. This is a gospel statement that, according to Dan Brown, was manipulated by the Catholic Church. How closely does it parallel the text in Revelation that we just read? How closely does it parallel what Peter is writing about Jesus in his letters?


  4. Messiah - Old Testament


    1. Read Psalms 2:2-4 and compare it with Acts 4:25-27. How does Acts interpret this prophecy in Psalms? (It says it is a prophecy about Jesus.)


    2. Read Daniel 9:25-26. I won't get into the calculations here, but here we have another reference to the "Anointed One" as coming during a specific time. That time coincides with the time in which Jesus lived on earth. Did the Catholic Church exist during the time of the Babylonian kingdom ( Daniel 9:1-2)to manipulate the prophecies of Daniel? (Of course not!)


    3. Read Psalms 16:8-11 and compare Acts 13:35-38. How does Acts understand the text in Psalms 16? (It is yet another prophecy about Jesus.)


    4. Read Daniel 7:13-14 and compare Matthew 9:6. What authority was prophesied for Jesus to wield? (All authority. In Matthew 9 Jesus demonstrates to the people that He has authority to forgive sin.)


    5. Read Micah 5:2 and compare Matthew 2:1-6. Where did the Old Testament say that Jesus would be born?


    6. Let's explore Dan Brown's lie a bit further. If Brown is right that Jesus did not die, but rather got married and had many children, what should we conclude about these Old Testament prophecies? (Someone, born during the same time as Jesus, was supposed to be the Messiah. Where is that person?)


      1. What must be Brown's explanation about the Old Testament prophecies about an "Anointed One" who did the same things as Jesus did? (Brown's thesis, as I understand it, is not that the Catholic Church wrote the gospels, but rather that it suppressed those that reported Jesus was merely a human. If this is true, it means that the accounts of Jesus that the Church supported coincidentally recorded actions of Jesus that matched the prophecies. That is, as they say, a bridge too far to cross. How would a false messiah do the same things as predicted in the Old Testament? This would only work if the current gospels were complete fabrications - made by people who had a clear understanding of the Old Testament prophecies. Why would anyone sincerely looking for the true Messiah fabricate a false messiah?)


  5. Your Spirit


    1. Read John 16:7-10. Would it be hard for pagans to fake this kind of instruction and prediction?


    2. Read Romans 8:5-9. What does this tell us about the experience of the believer that does not rely on the accuracy of the gospels? (It tells us that the Holy Spirit confirms our understanding of Jesus. It confirms Jesus' statement (in the gospels) that the Holy Spirit will come and work with us. This is independent proof that Jesus is God, He was not a mere man who lived and died like everyone else.)


    3. Friend, will you place your trust in Jesus as your Messiah and Redeemer? Dan Brown is not the first to argue that Jesus was not the Messiah. But, the proof for Jesus as Messiah comes from the Old Testament, is supported by the rest of the New Testament (outside the gospels), and is consistent with the accounts of Jesus' life. In addition, if you have been a follower of Jesus, you have felt the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your life.


  6. Next week: Be Who You Are.
* Copr. 2017, 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.

© 2017 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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