Lesson 8 For
May 23rd 2015.
THE MISSION OF
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First Quatter 2015
The Mission of Jesus
Read for This Week's
Study: Luke 15:4-7,11-32; Luke 16:19-31;
The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost
(Luke 19:10, NKJV).
If we were to write a mission statement for
Jesus, we could not do any better than to repeat His own words:
seek and to save that which was lost.
What was lost? It was humanity itself, which was alienated from God,
subject to death, and filled with fear, disappointment, and despair. If
nothing were done in our behalf, all would be lost.
Thanks to Jesus, though, we all have great reasons to be hopeful.
In the apostasy, man alienated himself from God; earth was cut off
from heaven. Across the gulf that lay between, there could be no
communion. But through Christ, earth is again linked with heaven. With
His own merits, Christ has bridged the gulf which sin had made . . .
Christ connects fallen man in his weakness and helplessness with the
Source of infinite power.-Ellen G. White,
Steps to Christ, p. 20.
From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a story of God seeking after
lost humanity. Luke illustrates this truth by using three important
parables: the lost sheep (Luke 15:4-7), the
lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), and the lost son
Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, May
The Lost Sheep and the Lost Coin
Read Luke 15:4-7. What
does this tell us about God's love for us? Why is it so important to
understand that it was the shepherd who went looking for the lost sheep?
In a world that can appear uncaring and indifferent to us, this
parable reveals a startling truth: God loves us so much that He Himself
will come after us, in order to bring us to Him. We often talk about
people seeking God; in reality, God is seeking us.
The soul that has given himself to Christ is more precious in His
sight than the whole world. The Saviour would have passed through the
agony of Calvary that one might be saved in His kingdom. He will never
abandon one for whom He has died. Unless His followers choose to leave
Him, He will hold them fast.-Ellen G. White,
The Desire of Ages, p. 483.
Read Luke 15:8-9. This parable is found only in Luke. The lost coin
could have one of two meanings. First, Judea during the time of Jesus
was full of poor people, and in most homes one coin (drachma) could have
been more than a day's wage, barely enough to keep the family from
starving. Second, as a mark of being married, some women wore a
headdress made up of ten coins-a huge sum, saved over a long time in the
case of poor families.
In either case, the loss was a serious matter. So, the woman, utterly
broken and in deep grief, lights a lamp (the house perhaps had no
windows or perhaps only a small window), picks up a broom, and turns the
house upside down until she finds that coin. Her soul is filled with
overflowing joy, and the overflow floods to all her friends.
The coin, though lying among dust and rubbish, is a piece of
silver or gold still. Its owner seeks it because it is of value. So,
every soul, however degraded by sin, is in God's sight accounted
precious. As the coin bears the image and superscription of the reigning
power, so man at his creation bore the image and superscription of God;
and though now marred and dim through the influence of sin, the traces
of this inscription remain upon every soul.-Ellen G. White,
Christ's Object Lessons, p. 194.
So much modern science and philosophy tells us
that we are nothing but chance creations in a meaningless universe that
does not care at all about our fate or us. What completely different
worldview is presented in these two parables?
The Parable of the Lost Son: Part 1
Hailed in history as the most beautiful short story ever told on the
forgiving nature of love, the parable of the prodigal son
(Luke 15:11-32), narrated only by Luke, may
well be called the parable of the loving father and two lost sons. One
son chose the lawlessness of the distant land over the love of the
father. The other son chose to stay in the home but did not fully know
the love of the father or the meaning of a brother. The parable may be
studied in seven parts, four dealing with the prodigal, two with the
Father, and one with the elder brother.
Give me (Luke 15:12). The younger son's decision to
demand of his father his portion of the property was no sudden,
impulsive urge. Sin often results after a long time of brooding over
misplaced priorities. The younger son must have heard from friends
about the glitter and glamour of distant lands. Life at home was too
rigid. Love was there, but it had its own boundaries; the distant
land offered him life without restrictions. The father was too
protective, his love too embracing. The son wanted freedom, and in
the quest for unhindered freedom was the seed of rebellion.
Why me? (Luke 15:13-16). The
son cashed in his entire share and set off to the
The far country is a place far away from the father's home. Love's
caring eyes, law's protective fence, grace's ever-present embrace
are foreign to the far country. It is a distant land of
living (Luke 15:13). The Greek word for
riotous (asotos) appears three other times as a noun in
the New Testament: for drunkenness (Eph. 5:18),
rebelliousness (Titus 1:6), and debauchery that includes
lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and
abominable idolatries (1 Pet. 4:3-4, NKJV). Such pleasures of
godless living wasted away his health and wealth, and soon he became
moneyless, friendless, and foodless. His glittering life wound up in
a gutter. Starved to the point of being in perpetual want, he found
employment in caring for the pigs, a harsh fate for a Jew.
Make me (Luke 15:17-19). But
even the prodigal is still a son, with the power of choice to turn
around. So, the son
came to his senses and remembered a place
called home, a person known as father, a relational bind called
love. He walked back home, with a speech in his hand, to plead with
Make me. That is, make me whatever you want, but
let me be within your watchful eyes, within the care of your love.
What better home is there but the Father's heart.
The world can appear very alluring. What
specific things of the world do you find yourself particularly tempted
by, that you find yourself thinking,
Oh, that's not so bad, when
deep down you know it is?
The Parable of the Lost Son: Part 2
- The return home (Luke 15:17-20)
was a journey of repentance. The journey began
when he came to
himself. Recognition of where he was, in comparison with what
his father's home was, drove him to
his father. The prodigal son returns home with a four-part speech
that defines the true meaning of repentance.
First, there is an acknowledgment of the father as
(vs. 18). The prodigal son now needs to lean upon and trust his
father's love and forgiveness, just as we must learn to trust in our
Heavenly Father's love and forgiveness.
Second, confession: what the prodigal did is not an error of
judgment, but a sin against God and his father (vs. 18).
I am no longer worthy (vs. 19).
Recognition of one's unworthiness, in contrast to the worthiness of
God, is essential for true repentance to take place.
Make me (vs. 19). Surrender to whatever
God wills is the destination of repentance. The son has come home.
- The waiting father (Luke 15:20-21).
The wait and the vigil, the grief and the hope, began at the moment
the prodigal son stepped out of the home. The wait was over when the
father saw him
a great way off, and then
and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him (vs. 20). No other
image captures the character of God as that of the waiting father.
- The rejoicing family (Luke 15:22-25).
The father embraced the son, clothed him with a new robe, put a ring
on his finger and shoes on his feet, and ordered a feast. The family
was in celebration. If leaving the home was death, the return was a
resurrection, and worthy of rejoicing. The son was indeed a
prodigal, but nevertheless a son, and over every repentant son there
is joy in heaven (vs. 7).
- The Elder Son (Luke 15:25-32). The
younger son was lost when he stepped out of the home to go to a
distant land; the older son was lost because, though he was home in
the body, his heart was in a distant land. Such a heart is angry
(vs. 28), complaining, and self-righteous (vs. 29), and refuses to
recognize a brother. Instead, it recognizes only a
son of yours,
a spendthrift without character (vs. 30, NKJV). The elder son's
attitude toward the father is the same as that of the Pharisees who
This Man receives sinners and eats with them
(vs. 2, NKJV). The father's final word with his elder son reflects
heaven's attitude to all repentant sinners:
It was right that we
should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is
alive again, and was lost and is found (vs. 32, NKJV).
Put yourself in the older brother's shoes.
However wrong his thinking, why does it make so much
he would feel that way? How does this story reveal ways in which the
gospel goes beyond what
Wednesday May 20
Although Jesus came to seek and save those lost in sin, He never
forces anyone to accept the salvation He offers. Salvation is free and
available to all, but one must accept the free offer in faith, which
results in a life in conformity with God's will. The only time we have
for such an experience is while we live on earth; no other opportunity
Read Luke 16:19-31.
What's the main message of this parable?
The parable is recorded only in Luke, and it teaches two great truths
with respect to salvation: the importance of
today in the process
of salvation and the absence of another opportunity for salvation after
Today is the day of salvation. The parable does not teach that there
is something inherently evil in riches or something inescapably good in
being poor. What it does teach is that the opportunity of being saved
and living saved must not be missed while we are on this earth. Rich or
poor, educated or illiterate, powerful or powerless, we have no second
chance. All are saved and judged by their attitude today, now, to Jesus.
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation
(2 Cor. 6:2).
The parable also teaches that eternal reward has nothing to do with
material possessions. The rich man was
clothed in purple and fine
linen and fared sumptuously every day (Luke
16:19, NKJV) but missed the essential of life: God. Where God is
not recognized, fellow human beings are not noticed. The rich man's sin
was not in his richness but in his failure to recognize that God's
family is broader than he was prepared to accept.
There is no second chance for salvation after death. The second
inescapable truth that Jesus teaches here is that there is no second
chance for salvation after death.
It is appointed for men to die
once, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9:27,
NKJV). Another point of this parable is to show people that we
have been given enough evidence now, in this life, to make a conscious
choice for or against God. Any theology that teaches some kind of
second chance after death is a great deception.
We love to talk about how much God loves us and
all that He has done and is doing to save us. What should this parable
teach us, though, about the danger of taking God's love and offer of
salvation for granted?
Was Blind but Now I See
The mission statement of Jesus that He came to seek and save that
which was lost is an affirmation of a holistic ministry. He came to make
men and women whole, to transform them physically, mentally,
spiritually, and socially. Luke gives us two instances that illustrate
how Jesus restored two broken men into wholeness. One was blind
physically, the other spiritually; both were outcasts-one a beggar and
the other a tax collector. But both men were candidates for Christ's
saving mission, and neither was beyond His heart or reach.
Read Luke 18:35-43.
What does this teach about our utter dependence upon God? Who among us
at times has not cried out,
Have mercy on me?
Mark names the man as Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46). He was a beggar
outside of Jericho. Physically challenged, socially of no consequence,
and poverty stricken, he suddenly found himself in the sweep of heaven's
Jesus of Nazareth was passing by (Luke
18:37, NKJV), and his faith surged upward to cry out,
David, have mercy on me! (vs. 39, NKJV). Faith requires neither eyes
nor ears, neither feet nor hands, but only a heart that connects to the
Creator of the world.
Read Luke 19:1-10. Who
blind man in this story?
Only Luke records the story of Zacchaeus, the last of Jesus' many
encounters with outcasts. Christ's mission, to seek and save that which
was lost, was gloriously fulfilled in this encounter with Zacchaeus.
Zacchaeus was Jericho's chief tax collector, a chief sinner in the
judgment of the city's Pharisees, but a chief sinner sought and saved by
the Savior. What strange places and methods Jesus used to accomplish His
mission. A sycamore tree, a curious man seeking to see who Jesus was,
and a loving Lord commanding the man to come down, for He had a
self-invited lunch appointment with him. But more important, Jesus had a
delivery to make:
Today salvation has come to this house
(Luke 19:9, NKJV) but not before Zacchaeus
made things right (vs. 8).
It's easy to see other people's faults and
shortcomings, isn't it? But we can so often be blind to our own. What
are some areas in your life that you need to face up to, confess, and
get the victory over what you have been putting off for way too long?
By the lost sheep Christ represents not only the
individual sinner but the one world that has apostatized and has been
ruined by sin.-Ellen G. White,
Christ's Object Lessons, p. 190.
On the value of one soul:
The value of a soul, who can estimate?
Would you know its worth, go to Gethsemane, and there watch with Christ
through those hours of anguish, when He sweat as it were great drops of
blood. Look upon the Saviour uplifted on the cross. . . . At the foot of
the cross, remembering that for one sinner Christ would have laid down
His life, you may estimate the value of a soul.-Christ's
Object Lessons, page 196.
- While all religions portray the human being in search for
God, Christianity presents God as the seeker: Adam, where are
you (Gen. 3:9)? Cain, where is your
brother (Gen. 4:9)? Elijah, what are
you doing here (1 Kings 19:9)? Zacchaeus, come down
(Luke 19:5). What has been your own
experience with God seeking you out?
- Look again at the final question at the end of Tuesday's
lesson. What was the fatal mistake that the older son made? What
spiritual defects were revealed in his attitude? Why is it
easier to have that same attitude than we might think? See also
- In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said that
even if someone were to come back from the dead, there would be
those who would not believe. In what ways did this parable
foretell the reaction of some to the resurrection of Jesus, in
which some still didn't believe despite the powerful evidence
for His resurrection?
- One of the most impressive aspects of Jesus' saving ministry
is the equality with which He treated all people, such as the
blind beggar and Zacchaeus or Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman.
The Cross, more than anything else, shows the equality of all
people before God. How should this crucial truth impact how we
treat others, even those whom-because of politics, culture,
ethnicity, whatever-we might have previously held ill feelings
toward? Why is that attitude so anti-Jesus?
- Compare the story of the prodigal son with the story of the
rich man and Lazarus. How do the two balance each other out?
South Korea Daesung Kim
Food for the Soul
When I started pastoring the Seoul Central Seventh-day Adventist
Church, office buildings surrounded the church and it was very
difficult to meet people in the surrounding vicinity. As I was
thinking about how to make contact with the people who work nearby,
I thought that it could be very practical if we operated a
restaurant because most of the people would want to eat lunch. I was
thinking that if we provide very fresh food, friendly food-like a
family, the people would like it.
When I first approached the church about starting a vegetarian
restaurant, most members were against it because they had already
tried to operate a restaurant several times but had failed. I
assured them that I wouldn’t use the church budget, and that many
times Ellen White had said that if we established this kind of
restaurant in the middle of the city, it would be very successful.
At last the members agreed.
Legally as a church, we were not permitted to own a restaurant
because the church is a non-profit organization, so I decided to
organize a health association, and invite those working in the
surrounding offices to join so that they could eat very fresh
vegetarian food in our restaurant. During the next three months I
visited office by office in the surrounding buildings, and invited
each person to become a member of our health association. I
explained that we would provide the freshest vegetarian food and
that by becoming a member of the association that could eat this
delicious vegetarian food every day, Monday through Friday. The
membership fee was the equivalent of US$100 per month. There was a
lot of interest and many people signed up.
In addition to personal office visits, the church members and I
distributed between 500 and 600 free meal tickets to the surrounding
businesses. Each recipient was entitled to one free meal on a
certain day at our newly opened vegetarian restaurant. Thinking that
perhaps only 300-400 would come, we were happily surprised when
nearly 500 guests arrived.
As they were enjoying their free meal, I announced that if they
became members of the health association, they could eat this kind
of food every day. Many joined.
To operate this kind of restaurant is not easy. It is important
to have a good building. The church pastor should have a good
relationship with the community. But while starting this restaurant
may be difficult, once started, it will be successful.
We also learned that the taste of the food is very important! If the
taste is not so good, the guests will not continue coming. A few
years after we started, we lost our cook, and her replacement wasn’t
as skilled. As food quality went down, so did the number of guests.
Once we replaced her, food quality improved and again membership in
the health association rose.
We found that there are many benefits to the church for hosting a
vegetarian restaurant. For example, in Korea, most of the other
denominations believe that the Seventh-day Adventist church is
heretical-an unwanted sect, and because of this mindset, most were
reluctant to visit the restaurant.
But as our vegetarian restaurant became more and more well-known,
other Christian church pastors, monks, and priests decided to come
too. After getting to know us, these people now have no prejudice
for our church, and instead have only praise. Many of our guests
have a high status in the community and they enjoy eating lunch
By God’s grace, our vegetarian restaurant at the Seoul Central
church has been successfully operating for more than 12 years now.
It is one of 117 centers of influence in South Korea.