Sabbath School Lesson for July 11-17, 2020
Here are some of the people Jesus and others saw and reached out to this week…
- Sunday–blind people, like the blind man from Bethsaida whose eyesight came back in stages
- Monday–sinful people, like the Samaritan woman whose sins were hidden from the public
- Tuesday–needy people, like those Andrew brought to God
- Wednesday–difficult people, like the thief on the cross, religious leaders, and even some of the disciples
- Thursday–lost people, like those in Macedonia, where Paul was told to go and preach
There is much talk these days about the need for social and racial justice, but how many of us harbor at least some disdain for certain classes of people? It may be those who have been in prison, who are battling addictions, or even those with a different ethnicity, income level, or religion than our own.
The best way to know how Jesus saw people is to observe how He treated them. Invariably, He was respectful and caring to all He met, not just in words but in actions. Knowing that we are all created in His image and that He saw everyone as a candidate for heaven should help us treat people with the dignity they deserve.
Jesus could easily be called the Master at soul winning. So, this week we will explore some of the ways He witnessed and perhaps be able to establish some principles for our own ministry efforts. We will learn what it means to see people through heaven’s eyes.
We can develop the same divine compassion that Jesus modeled for us, when we allow His Spirit to guide our steps and open doors of opportunity for witnessing.
Sunday: The Second Touch
Only in Mark’s Gospel do we see an account of how Jesus healed a blind man of Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26). Some people brought him to Jesus and pleaded with Him to heal their blind friend, which He then proceeded to do.
In about half of the 25 times we read of Jesus’ healing miracles, it was a friend or relative who came to Jesus for help. This is a good description of witnessing. We are merely bringing someone to Jesus.
The curious way Jesus healed the blind man in this case might also hold some lessons for us. It was the only time Jesus didn’t heal someone right away, with just one touch. The first touch, in this case, only brought him partial vision. He saw people vaguely, as “trees, walking”, he said.
- This two-part healing, first of all, might tell us that sometimes we don’t see people as clearly as we should. Especially as clearly as Jesus sees them, as candidates for heaven.
- It might also remind us that people are sometimes won to Christ in stages. We shouldn’t expect an instant, complete transformation of people we are working and praying for.
Bible Verses to Consider:
- The word “begged” in this verse means “beseech, implore, or exhort”. How strongly should we ask Jesus for help as we witness to others?
- For what reasons might Jesus have had when He told some people not to speak of their miracle; and others, like the healed demoniac of Decapolis, were told to tell everyone?
Monday: A Lesson in Acceptance
Not all of Jesus’ miracles involved a physical healing. The Samaritan woman at the well felt God’s miraculous power when Jesus clearly indicated that He, a stranger to her, knew all about her past and present life. She became a great witness for God in her hometown after that brief encounter with the Messiah, which brought her spiritual healing and forgiveness.
The Jews and the Samaritans had many harsh feelings toward each other when this story occurred. They normally had no relations with each other. The woman at the well pointed this out to Jesus (John 4:9). It was also not customary for a single man to speak so boldly to a lone woman. But Jesus broke down such barriers and saw only the sad, lonely woman in front of Him.
Jesus’ measured, caring words to her showed that He saw her with different eyes than those with whom she normally interacted. He saw enormous potential for good that this woman could and did accomplish for God.
Bible Verses to Consider:
- How does our separating ourselves from others contribute to the misunderstandings of each other and the harshness we sometimes feel toward people different from us?
John 4:13, 14
- What did Jesus mean by the kind of water He has to offer?
- How does the Living Water take away our thirst? Our thirst for what?
Tuesday: Begin Where You Are
Not a lot is heard about Andrew in the Gospels. He was one of the disciples who wasn’t quite as boisterous or noticeable as his brother Peter and those “sons of thunder”. He chose rather to work unobtrusively behind the scenes to search out people and bring them to Jesus.
- He brought Peter to be introduced to Jesus, leading to their joining His band of followers. (John 1:40-41)
- He brought a boy with a small lunch to Jesus, resulting in a miraculous feeding of a multitude. (John 6:5-11)
- He brought some Greeks to Jesus, which helped lay the groundwork for future evangelism outside Jerusalem. (John 12:20-26)
In each case, Andrew sensed a need, knew of the cure, and acted on his Spirit-led impulses. Much the same as Jesus would have done.
We, too, no doubt, have those directly in our sphere of influence whom we can lead to Jesus. It doesn’t have to be with fancy words or great accomplishments for them. Just a gentle introduction and invitation to know Jesus will often be all that is needed.
Bible Verses to Consider:
- Notice Andrew said, “We have found the Messiah.” How did this careful wording show Andrew’s humility and faith?
- What were the indications that Andrew was not outspoken, but more trusting than Philip in this passage?
- What part do you think Andrew had in arranging for these Greeks to meet Jesus?
- How might the seeds of faith they got from Jesus later help when the disciples went to evangelize other parts of the Greek world?
Wednesday: Dealing With Difficult People
We should never feel alone when we meet people who are difficult to reach with God’s love. Some may never accept our invitations to know Jesus…and some eventually will.
Jesus Himself, as He ministered, was confronted with some pretty harsh and unruly people. Consider these individuals that Jesus worked with…
- Simon Peter–His outspoken, overly-confident, impulsive disciple
- the religious leaders of His day–proud, stubborn, and often just plain hard-hearted
- the unrepentant thief beside Him on the cross–thoughtlessly cruel, mocking, and defiant
His efforts to win their love, however, show mixed results.
- After denying His Lord and especially after Pentecost, Peter became a steadfast, dependable, humble church leader.
- A significant number of religious leaders, including Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, ended up openly accepting Jesus as the Messiah.
- One of the two thieves at Calvary did receive forgiveness and a promise of eternal life from the Savior.
The methods Jesus used were ones we should try to develop in order to enhance our own witnessing skills to difficult people. He accepted everyone, listened carefully to their concerns, thoughtfully answered their questions, and expressed His truth in ways they could understand at the time.
Bible Verses to Consider:
Matthew 16:22, 23 and John 18:10, 11
- How do these situations show how difficult it was to work with Peter?
Mark 10:21, 22 and Luke 18:11, 12
- What were some of the reasons that the leaders had a hard time accepting Jesus’ message?
- Why was one of the thieves saved and not the other one?
Thursday: Sensing Providential Opportunities
We often saw the Holy Spirit equip those in the early Christian church to do their work. Two examples seem to stand out though, when it comes to directing who they should reach out to:
- when Paul was directed by the Spirit to go to Macedonia in northern Greece, where he was much needed by the people (2 Corinthians 2:12, 13).
- when Philip was told to take a certain road and ended up meeting an Ethiopian, who needed help in understanding God’s word (Acts 8:26-28).
Both seemingly chance events were recognized as Spirit-driven evidences of providential oversight. We, too, should consider the many times God has opened and closed doors for us, pointing us to the way He desires us to follow.
Here’s how one author described how and why this works:
“The angel sent to Philip could himself have done the work for the Ethiopian, but this is not God’s way of working. It is His plan that men are to work for their fellow man.” ~Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 109
God in His wisdom seems to understand that His followers need the experience of witnessing. It gives us a chance to work with God, and thus develop a closer relationship with each other. It enhances and grows our Christian experience in a way that can’t be matched by other methods.
Although prayer and Bible study also help us grow closer to God, witnessing is putting these communication tools to work. It ensures that we become doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).
Bible Verses to Consider:
2 Corinthians 2:12, 13
- How important is it that we recognize that it is God who opens doors for us?
- Why is it sometimes easier to see open doors, rather than closed ones, as providential?
- How can we be sure it is God directing us, and not Satan?
- Why didn’t the angel, who spoke to Philip, go and speak to the Ethiopian himself and give him understanding of the Scriptures?
- How did Philip’s help to the Ethiopian benefit them both?
Knowing how Jesus treated people informs us how He saw them. Our feelings and actions toward others should reflect the same loving compassion that He modeled for us. Through the Holy Spirit’s prompting, we, too, can see people as God sees them–as candidates for His Kingdom. Remember that God never sees a person He doesn’t love and wants to see in heaven.
Whether we call it seeing through Jesus’ eyes, salvation’s eyes, or heaven’s eyes, the easiest one to remember is to see them with eyes of love. Only with that kind of eyesight will we be able to witness to those around us of the God of love. The God who IS love (1 John 4:8).
Next Week’s Lesson: Prayer Power–Interceding for Others
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