Lesson 1 For
April 4th 2015.
THE COMING OF JESUS.
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First Quatter 2015
March 28-April 3
The Coming of Jesus
Read for This Week's
2 Tim. 3:16;
For with God nothing will be impossible (Luke
The Gospel of Luke was written primarily to the
Gentiles. Luke himself was a Gentile (implied in the context of
Colossians 4:10-14), as was Theophilus, to whom the Gospel is
In addition to being a physician, Luke was a meticulous historian. In
introducing the Gospel, Luke places Jesus in real history; that is, he
puts the story in the historical context of its times: Herod was the
king of Judea (Luke
1:5), Augustus reigned over the Roman Empire
2:1), and a priest by the name of Zacharias was exercising
his turn in the temple in Jerusalem (Luke
In chapter 3, Luke mentions six contemporary dates related to the
ministry of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus.
Thus, Luke places the story of Jesus in history-real people, real
times-in order to dismiss any idea of mythology with his narrative. His
readers must stand in awe and wonder at the fact that Jesus is real and
that through Him God has invaded history with the
Savior, who is
Christ the Lord (Luke
Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, April
An Orderly Account (Luke 1:1-3, Acts
Acts 1:1 tells us that before Acts was written, its author wrote a
former account. This, and the fact that both accounts were
addressed to Theophilus, helps lead us to conclude that one author was
responsible for both books. The two accounts can be viewed as Part 1 and
Origin and History of the Christian Church. Part 1 is a
narrative of the life and work of Jesus (the Gospel of Luke) and Part 2
(Acts of the Apostles) is an account of the spread of the message of
Jesus and of the early church.
How was the Gospel
Luke 1:2-3 and
2 Timothy 3:16.
Luke was aware of many who had written about the events that have
shaken the city of Jerusalem and beyond-the events concerning Jesus
Christ. The sources for such literary works included many
eyewitnesses and ministers of the word (Luke
1:2, NKJV)-a clear reference to the disciples and other
contemporaries of Jesus. Luke himself had an exposure to these witnesses
and ministers (such as Paul and other apostolic leaders) and possibly
also to the Gospels written by Mark and Matthew. Luke, obviously, was
not an eyewitness to the Jesus story, but he was a credible and
authentic convert to Christ.
Matthew wrote to a Jewish audience, presenting Jesus as the Great
Teacher, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the King of the Jews. He often
referred to Old Testament prophecies being fulfilled in Christ. Mark
wrote to a Roman audience about Jesus, the person of action. Luke, a
doctor and a Gentile, wrote to the Greeks and the Gentiles about the
universal Jesus-the Savior of the world. Luke mentions that the purpose
of his writing is twofold: to present an
1:3, NKJV) and to provide certainty to the great teachings of
the new era. Certainty about truth, as in Jesus, is one goal of his
Luke, an inspired author of Scripture, used other material in his
writings. Very interesting. Obviously that use of other sources doesn't
negate the inspiration or authority of what he wrote. What lessons
should that have for us as Seventh-day Adventists regarding the question
of how inspiration, either canonical or noncanonical, works on inspired
Call His Name John
For nearly four hundred years after Malachi divine silence marked the
history of Israel. With the birth announcements of John the Baptist and
Jesus the divine silence was about to be broken.
The birth stories of John and Jesus have parallels. Both are
miracles: in the case of John, Elizabeth had gone well past the
child-bearing age; in the case of Jesus, a virgin was to bear the child.
The angel Gabriel announced both birth promises. Both announcements were
received in a spirit of wonder, joy, and surrender to God's will. Both
babies were to grow and become strong in the Spirit (Luke
But the mission and the ministry of the two miracle babies were
distinct and different. John was to be a preparer of the way to Jesus
1:13-17). Jesus is
the Son of God (Luke
1:35) and the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies
Luke 1:5-22. Though Zacharias is depicted as
lack of faith at the angel's announcement brought a rebuke. How does
this help us to understand what the concept of
for a believer in Jesus?
The birth of a son to Zacharias, like the birth of the child of
Abraham, and that of Mary, was to teach a great spiritual truth, a truth
that we are slow to learn and ready to forget. In ourselves we are
incapable of doing any good thing; but that which we cannot do will be
wrought by the power of God in every submissive and believing soul. It
was through faith that the child of promise was given. It is through
faith that spiritual life is begotten, and we are enabled to do the
works of righteousness.-Ellen G. White,
The Desire of Ages, p. 98.
The miracle of John had a decisive purpose in God's dealing with His
people. After 400 years of prophetic absence in the history of Israel,
John did break forth into that history with a specific message and with
a decisive power. John's mission and message was
to make ready a
people prepared for the Lord (Luke
1:17, NKJV). He was to be the forerunner of the Messiah, the
one to prepare the way for the mission of Jesus.
Call His Name Jesus
The birth of Jesus Christ was no normal event. It was marked in God's
eternal calendar, and
when the fullness of the time had come, God
sent forth His Son, born of a woman (Gal.
4:4, NKJV). It is the fulfillment of the first promise God
made after the entrance of sin in Eden (Gen.
Read the following pairs of texts. In each one, how was the birth
of Jesus an amazing fulfillment of prophecy? What does this tell us
about why we must learn to trust all of God's promises?
Six months after Gabriel announced to Zacharias the coming birth of
John, he announced to Mary of Nazareth an even greater miracle: that a
conceive . . . and bring forth a Son, and shall call His
name Jesus (Luke
The virgin birth of Jesus goes against all nature, and it cannot be
explained by nature or naturalistic philosophy. Even Mary had her
How can this be, since I do not know a man?
1:34, NKJV). The angel assured her that this would be the
work of the Holy Spirit (Luke
with God nothing will be impossible
1:37, NKJV). Mary's immediate and faithful submission was
Let it be to me according to your word
1:38, NKJV). Every human question, no matter how natural or
logical, must give way to the divine answer. Be it Creation or the
Cross, the Incarnation or the Resurrection, the downpour of manna or the
outpouring of Pentecost-the divine initiative demands human surrender
While Mary answered her own question by submission and surrender to
God's sovereignty and eternal purpose, Gabriel assured her with another
The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of
the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is
to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke
Some secular cultures have been browbeaten into
believing that everything, ultimately, has a naturalistic and scientific
explanation. Why is this such a narrow, even superficial, view of the
grandeur and greatness of reality?
The Manger of Bethlehem
Luke begins the story of the Bethlehem manger with a note of history.
Joseph and Mary left their home in Nazareth to travel to their ancestral
town of Bethlehem as a result of a census decree of Caesar Augustus, the
emperor of Rome, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Such historical
details must lead Bible students to appreciate Luke's submission to the
Holy Spirit, so that he would record the details of the Incarnation
within the framework of history.
Reflect on the poverty
of Jesus as seen in
Luke 2:7. Compare the image of
swaddling clothes, the
no room . . . in the inn, with Paul's description
of the condescension of Jesus in
Philippians 2:5-8. What kind of a road did Jesus walk on our behalf?
The story of the poor circumstances in which the Lord of heaven
incarnated Himself continues with the first visitors the manger had: the
shepherds. Not to the rich or the powerful, not to the scribes or the
priests, not to rulers and the powers that held sway over the land did
good tidings of great joy (Luke
2:10, NKJV) come, but to humble and despised shepherds.
Observe the majesty and the simplicity of the message: A Savior is born
to you. In the city of David. He is Christ the Lord, the Anointed One.
You will find Him wrapped in swaddling clothes (author's translation).
Heaven's most precious gift came in such a simple package, as often it
does. But the gift brings
glory to God,
on earth peace,
goodwill toward men (Luke
Luke's record of the angel (Luke
2:9-12) brings out three vital matters of Christian theology.
First, the good news of the gospel is for
all people. In Jesus
both the Jew and the Gentile become one people of God. Second, Jesus is
the Savior; there is no one else. Third, Jesus is Christ the Lord. These
three themes, so clearly established early in Luke, later became the
foundation of the apostolic preaching, particularly that of Paul.
Think about what we believe as Christians: the
Creator of all that was made (John
1:1-3) not only entered into this fallen world as a human
being but lived the hard life that Jesus did, only to wind up on a
cross. If we really believe that, why should every aspect of our life be
lived in submission to this amazing truth? What parts of your life
reflect your belief in the story of Jesus, and what parts don't?
The Witnesses to the Savior
Although writing primarily to the Gentiles, Luke was aware of the
importance of the Jewish heritage through the Old Testament. He takes
care to link the New Testament story with the Old and provides the scene
of Mary and Joseph having the Baby Jesus circumcised on the eighth day
and taking Him to the temple in Jerusalem, all according to Jewish law
Luke 2:25-32. Note three points about the theology of salvation that
Simeon brings to the fore: salvation is through Jesus; salvation is
prepared by God; salvation is for all peoples-to the Gentiles as well as
to Israel. How do these truths tie in with the first angel's message of
Simeon's prophecy also predicted two significant features of Jesus'
First, Christ is
destined for the fall and rising of many in
2:34, NKJV). Yes, Christ has brought light and salvation to
all, but not without cost to the recipient. With Christ there is no
neutral ground: accept Him or reject Him, and upon the appropriate
response one's salvation depends. Christ demands exclusiveness; we abide
in Him or we do not. Those who abide in Him will rise up and be part of
His kingdom; those who reject Him or remain indifferent to Him will fall
to the ground and perish without hope. Faith in Christ is nonnegotiable.
Second, Simeon prophesies to Mary,
a sword will pierce through
your own soul also (Luke
2:35, NKJV). The reference no doubt is to the Cross, which
Mary will witness. Mary and all the generations that follow her ought to
remember that without the Cross, there is no salvation. The Cross is the
hub around which the entire plan of salvation revolves.
Salvation is a gift in that we can do nothing to
earn it. Yet, it can still be very costly to those who claim it for
themselves. What has following Christ cost you, and why is that cost,
whatever it may be, cheap enough?
Luke, the writer of
the Gospel that bears his name, was a medical missionary. In the
Scriptures he is called -Ellen G.
The Ministry of Healing, pp. 140-141.
the beloved physician.
Colossians 4:14. The apostle Paul heard of his skill as a physician,
and sought him out as one to whom the Lord had entrusted a special work.
He secured his co-operation, and for some time Luke accompanied him in
his travels from place to place. After a time, Paul left Luke at
Philippi, in Macedonia. Here he continued to labor for several years,
both as a physician and as a teacher of the gospel. In his work as a
physician he ministered to the sick, and then prayed for the healing
power of God to rest upon the afflicted ones. Thus the way was opened
for the gospel message. Luke's success as a physician gained for him
many opportunities for preaching Christ among the heathen. It is the
divine plan that we shall work as the disciples worked.
- If Luke in writing his Gospel took into account previously
published materials, how are we to understand the inspiration of
the Scriptures (2
Tim. 3:16)? How does inspiration work? See Ellen G.
The Inspiration of the Prophetic Writers,
Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 15-23.
- The virgin birth is of God's making, marked by His mystery,
majesty, and mission. It is truly beyond human understanding
too. But the question is
So what? How many secular things
are beyond human understanding, as well? If God does exist, and
He has the power to create and sustain the universe, why should
something like the virgin birth be beyond His power? Only those
whose worldview is limited to natural laws alone (at least the
ones we now currently understand) could, a priori, dismiss the
idea of a virgin birth. In contrast, those whose worldview
incorporates the supernatural should have, a priori, no reason
to reject it. After all, look at what the angel said to Mary
after giving her the incredible news:
For with God nothing
shall be impossible (Luke
- An American TV interviewer is reported to have said that if
he had an opportunity, the person he would most like to
interview would be Jesus, and he would ask Him just one
Are You indeed born of a virgin? Why is that
question, and the answer to it, so important?
Inside Story~ NSD
A Divine Encounter
Taking her six-year-old son by the hand, Tang Yue didn’t expect
anything unusual as she walked from her home to the nearby market.
Little did she know that she was about to experience a divine
Tang Yue believed in God, and on Sundays she met together with
other Christian believers, but at the moment her thoughts were
centered on what she needed to get at the market. As she walked down
the street, two kind-looking men approached her and stopped.
You know, said one,
keeping Sunday is not from the
Bible. He held up a Bible and showed the astonished Tang Yue
texts regarding the seventh-day Sabbath. Encouraging her to see for
herself, the other man told her,
You can search the internet, and
see what day is really the Sabbath day. Then the men concluded
their brief presentation by telling Tang Yue that
Jesus came to
this world, and the Saturday church is really the church of God.
Then as quickly as they had come, the two men disappeared into the
Astonished by this strange, brief meeting, Tang Yue went home and
began searching the internet for answers to the questions the
strangers had raised. To her surprise, she came across an amazing
website-in Chinese-that had answers to her questions, including
clear answers about the seventh-day, Saturday, being God’s true
Sabbath. The site also offered easy-to-follow Bible studies.
Learning that the website was from a Seventh-day Adventist ministry,
she wondered if there might be an Adventist church nearby that she
Doing another internet search, Tang Yue was happy to learn that
there was an Adventist church in her city, and she decided to visit.
Surely there must be something special about this church, she
thought to herself.
Finding her way to the church the following Sabbath, Tang Yue
looked for the two men who had approached her on the street, but she
didn’t see them. In fact, she never saw them again.
But she keeps returning to the Adventist church and believes that
she has found her spiritual home.
[This church] is teaching very
closely to the Bible, says Tang Yue.
It is very different
from the Sunday church. I believe that what the Adventists are
teaching is the truth, and that Jesus is coming soon.
Tang Yue continues to worship regularly with Seventh-day
Adventists who meet together in an apartment within a city in