Sabbath School Lesson Begins
Lesson 8 August 15-21
Read for This Week’s Study: John 4:4-30; Matt. 8:5-13; Mark 5:1-20; Matt. 15:21-28; Luke 17:11-19; John 12:20-32.
(Matthew 12:18, NKJV).
My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well
pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to
How interesting that Jesus spent so much of His
earlier years in Galilee, known as
Galilee of the Gentiles
(Matt. 4:15), no doubt named because of the non-Jewish influence in the
province. In this region, in Nazareth, Jesus spent the majority of His
years before starting His public ministry. Thanks to its position,
Nazareth was near major routes traveled by Roman army units, as well as
merchant caravans. As a result, Jesus must have been in contact with
non-Jews His whole early life (not to mention the time in Egypt).
After His rejection in Nazareth (see Luke 4:16-31), Jesus centered His ministry in the cosmopolitan Galilean city of Capernaum. Contacts with Gentiles and their world significantly impacted His ministry and teaching. Even though He focused on Israel, the wider world was His concern. During the more than three years of His ministry between His baptism and ascension, on at least six occasions Jesus had direct contact with persons from Gentile nations. We will look this week at the gospel accounts of these contacts.
Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, August 22.
In the time of Jesus, ancient Israel was divided into three provinces: Galilee, Samaria, and Judea. Samaria was situated between Galilee and Judea. The Samaritans worshiped the God of Israel, but not in the same way the Jews did. As an initial mission field, Samaria was ideal for the apostles because it was close to Israel geographically.
Read John 4:4-30. What can we learn from this story about how Jesus witnessed to non-Jews? In what ways did Jesus step outside the bounds of tradition in order to reach out to this woman?
The Samaritan woman was alert, was well-informed about the history of her people, and she asked intelligent questions. She led the conversation with her questions. Jesus, however, responded to her questions and statements with the things that would benefit the woman spiritually. The only point where Jesus changed the conversation was when He told her to bring her husband, knowing that she wasn’t married but had been with several men. Of course, asking her to do this opened the way for Him to reach out to her, however uncomfortable she had become. Nevertheless, by doing this, He was able to witness to her in a powerful way.
Also, we shouldn’t miss what happened in John 4:27. The disciples were surprised because Jesus was talking with this foreign woman. Jesus transgressed a few Jewish customs: first, asking a Samaritan woman to give Him a drink; second, being alone with her. In Israel a man could not be seen alone with a woman unless she was a family member. Jesus followed Jewish customs when in Israel. However, in Samaria He was outside Jewish territory and not bound by Jewish traditions, even though as we have seen elsewhere, Jesus distinguished between human-made traditions and the commands and precepts of God.
How far out of your own
comfort zone are you
willing to go in order to minister to others? How far should
Read Matthew 8:5-13 (see also Luke 7:1-10). What does this story teach us about how even the largest cultural divides can be breached for the sake of the gospel?
In Capernaum a Roman officer of centurion rank (commander of 100 men) sought out Jesus. The Jews resented the occupying Roman army, and many Romans hated the Jews. Despite this vast cultural and political divide, we can see the close relationship here between this Roman and the Jews.
In Luke’s account, he said that the centurion went to the
of the Jews (Luke 7:3 NIV) to ask them to
bring Jesus. And, fascinatingly enough, they did just that, asking
Jesus to come heal the man’s servant. Who were these elders? The texts
don’t say, but they seemed to have related to Jesus differently than
did some of the other leaders.
Meanwhile, the centurion was obviously a man of faith; his words to
speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed,
(Matt. 8:8), were an incredible testimony to his belief in Jesus. The
did not wait to see whether the Jews themselves would
receive the One who claimed to be their Messiah. As the —Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages,
which lighteth every man that cometh into the world (John 1:9) had
shone upon him, he had, though afar off, discerned the glory of the Son
The centurion understood and respected Jewish religious sensitivities. He knew that according to law a Jew was not allowed to enter a Gentile’s house; so, he requested that Jesus minister from a distance. The servant was healed. The faith of the Gentile centurion was rewarded. Jesus pointed out that the centurion was a prototype of the great day when people from all over the world would join the Jewish patriarchs at the Messianic banquet.
Whatever else one can take from the accounts of this healing, we can see that vast cultural divides were not able to keep the Jews and this Roman apart. What lessons can we take from this about how we must learn to transcend whatever cultural differences we can (in good conscience) in order to reach out to others?
Read Luke 8:26-39 and
Matthew 15:21-28. How do these stories help us understand how Jesus
related to non-Jews? How do we understand Jesus’ words to the Canaanite
woman? Also, what lessons should the disciples have picked up, seeing
Jesus minster to those who were not part of the
The region of the Gadarenes was an area formerly dominated by Greece, but it had become part of the Roman province of Judea. The man in the tombs was obviously possessed, and his possession manifested itself in horrific ways. He truly needed divine aid, which he got.
That this liberation took place in Gentile territory is confirmed by the presence of the pigs. It is interesting to notice the reaction to this economic loss when the pigs drowned; the townspeople asked Jesus to leave their territory. Jesus in turn asked the healed man to stay. He was to witness to his own people about Jesus; no doubt, too, his changed life, even more than his words, would be a powerful testimony.
In the next incident, the child from the region of Tyre and Sidon
(Matt. 15:22 NIV). Her mother, a Canaanite,
illustrated the cultural melting pot of that region. Her Canaanite
ancestors were displaced from their land when Israel inherited it under
the leadership of Joshua. Here, again, we see Jesus reaching out to
those who weren’t of Israel proper.
demon-possessed and suffering terribly
In talking to her, Jesus used somewhat harsh language, likening her people to dogs, but it tested her faith and showed her humble willingness to get the help she needed.
The Saviour is satisfied. He has tested her faith in Him. By His
dealings with her, He has shown that she who has been regarded as an
outcast from Israel is no longer an alien, but a child in God’s
household. As a child it is her privilege to share in the Father’s
gifts. Christ now grants her request, and finishes the lesson to the
disciples.—Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages,
The lesson was that, contrary to their understanding, the work of the gospel is not just for the Jews but is to go to other nations, as well.
Read Luke 17:11-19. What lessons are here for us, regardless of our nationality or origins?
Notice first that the unfortunate men all knew Jesus. They called Him by both name and title, pleading for intervention. What’s fascinating, too, is that they were not cleansed right then and there. They were told simply to go and present themselves to the priests, as specified in Leviticus 14:2. The fact that they just turned around and went showed that they believed in Him and His power to heal them.
Only the Samaritan, though, expressed appreciation for what Jesus
had done. The nine did not forget to go to the priests, but they
neglected to give thanks to their Healer. The Samaritan, as the text
reads, turned around even before he got to the priests. Though the text
doesn’t say that the other nine were Jews, the location makes it very
likely; besides, the fact that Luke specifically mentioned that he was
a Samaritan, and that Jesus called him
this stranger (Luke 17:18), makes it likely that the other nine were, indeed, Jews.
Although Jews normally had no dealings with the Samaritans, their
malady transcended those barriers. Common misfortune and tragedy, what
Albert Schweitzer termed
the fellowship of suffering, had
broken down an ethnic divide. Their common need for cleansing, healing,
and saving had brought them, collectively, to Jesus.
Nevertheless, Samaritans and other foreigners were not the immediate
goal for Jesus’ ministry—
(Matt. 15:24 NIV). He planned
first to establish a strong mission base among the Jews. Throughout His
ministry, however, He gave His followers evidence that the gospel
should go to the whole world. Although this point became clear only
after His resurrection, even before then Jesus did things that were to
open the minds of the disciples to the idea that world mission would
become their main task.
I was sent only to the lost sheep of
Though all these men showed faith, only one turned around and thanked the Lord for what he had received. What does this tell us about why praise and thanksgiving are so important for faith? What are the things you have to be thankful for? Think about how much happier you’d be if you constantly kept them before you, and what better way than by thanking God for all that you have to be thankful for?
Now there were some
Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to
Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. (John 12:20-23 NIV). How does this incident help us
to understand the heartfelt cry of people everywhere for salvation, for
hope, for answers that can be found only in Jesus?
we would like to see Jesus. Philip went to tell
Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus. Jesus replied,
hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified
These Greeks were probably converts to Judaism, since they came to Jerusalem to worship at the feast. Commentators have noted that these Greeks went to Philip, who, though Jewish, had a Greek name, which might have attracted them to him. Thus, while pioneering Christian work can be accomplished by foreign missionaries who have cultural sensitivity and a sympathetic understanding of the people they want to win for Christ, the most effective groundbreaking work is done by people with the same background as the target people.
The Greeks came only days before Jesus’ crucifixion. They no doubt
were amazed by His words about His suffering, death, and final victory.
(The voice from heaven gave them something to think about, as well.)
Jesus would have been encouraged by their desire to
Their approach signaled the beginning of world evangelization. It was
acknowledged even by the Pharisees, who had exclaimed,
(John 12:19, NKJV).
has gone after Him
What we see here are men, outside of Judaism, wanting to come to Jesus. What a sign that the world was ready for His atoning death! These Greeks, representing the nations, tribes, and peoples of the world, were being drawn to Him. Soon the Savior’s cross would draw the people of all lands and in all subsequent times to Him (John 12:32). The disciples would find the world ready to receive the gospel.
Read John 12:20-32. What is Jesus saying about losing your life in order to keep it? Why would He say that in this immediate context? How have you experienced just what He is talking about?
I say to you that many will come from the east
and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the
kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be
weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt. 8:11-12 NIV).
Though these words were spoken in a particular context, in reference to
a particular people, we shouldn’t miss the principle. Those who have
been given great privileges, great advantages in terms of spiritual and
theological truths, need to be careful. It’s easy to become complacent
about truths that we have been given, truths that in some cases no one
else is preaching and teaching. First, we need to make sure that we
keep ourselves grounded in these truths; then, second, we need to be
willing to teach these to those who don’t know them.
When her pranks no longer worked, Shanti’s mother-in-law turned to her other daughter-in-law for help in breaking the spirit of Shanti and Bhudroy. This daughter-in-law was selfish and often bickered and fought. She made life bitter for everyone.
A year after Bhudroy became an Adventist Christian, his elder brother died. Then Shanti because seriously ill with malaria. She didn’t respond to medicines, and she became increasingly ill. When the fever left, the mother-in-law accused Shanti of pretending to be ill. Shanti pleaded with God,
Why are You allowing me to suffer so in this family? Even her husband was becoming discouraged, and blaming God for their troubles
Shanti’s mother learned of her daughter’s grave illness from some other villagers, so she set out to see her daughter. Shanti’s mother-in-law greeted Shanti’s mother with a demand:
Take her home with you. She is no good to us. Shanti’s mother took her daughter home, but Baby Reena remained with Shanti’s husband and mother-in-law.
Shanti’s mother took her to the hospital, where doctors could treat her properly. Meanwhile Shanti’s mother-in-law was sure that Shanti would die and began looking for a new wife for Bhudroy. But Bhudroy told them he was not interested in marrying someone else.
In time Shanti recovered from her illness, but instead of returning to her mother-in-law=s home, she stayed with her mother.
Meanwhile her sister-in-law, whose husband had died, demanded that she be given her share of the family’s land for her three sons. While she had a right to the family land, her demand put her parents-in-law into crisis, because they could not survive without their land. The selfish daughter-in-law wanted everything she could get for herself and her sons. Slowly Shanti’s mother-in-law realized that Shanti had been a faithful daughter-in-law while her other daughter-in-law had been selfish and demanding. She asked Bhudroy to go bring Shanti home.
Bhudroy went to visit Shanti. He told her of his mother’s change of heart and invited her to return home with him. Shanti was eager to see her little girl again. She packed her things and returned with her husband.
She was overjoyed to find that her mother-in-law had changed so much. The older woman welcomed Shanti back into the home and treated her with respect and kindness. Shanti was determined to be the best Christian she could, hoping that her once-cruel mother-in-law would give her life to Jesus. Several years later Shanti’s mother-in-law gave her life to Christ before she died.
Bhudroy also renewed his commitment to Christ, and now the family lives together in peace as Christians. The faithful young bride had survived trials and taunting and led her husband and parents-in-law to Jesus.
Reena Murmu is the eldest daughter of Shanti and Bhudroy. She would like to become a physician.
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