Sunday School Lesson – “Always Pray and Not Faint” Luke 18:1-8

Photo by Diana Simumpande on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 18:1-8 (KJV, Public Domain)

Above the door frame of my front door, there is an elongated plaque mounted.  Inscribed upon it are the words, “Handle with Prayer.”  Every time you come through that door or walk around the living room, this visible reminder stands as a testament of what to do with everything in life: Handle with Prayer.

I believe strongly in prayer and in the power of prayer.  And, I believe it is a part of our relationship with God where we can never stop growing in or do too much.  I believe prayer is a wonderful privilege that God extends to us to come and talk to Him, to lay everything at His feet.  I believe prayer shouldn’t be our last resort when times become difficult.  Rather, it should be the first life-saving ring we grab when we are drowning and hold on to it for dear life.

Is it always easy?  No.  But, then again, neither is life, hence the need for these reminders to take everything to the Lord in prayer before, in the middle of, and after feeling totally overwhelmed by it all.

Prayer is something that should be a natural part of every Christian’s life, but something many use too infrequently or stop when they don’t receive an immediate answer or results they were looking for.  What Jesus teaches us in today’s parable is sometimes you must keep going for it.  We cannot always expect microwave results.  Sometimes we must labor in prayer, and through the power of prayer, repeatedly keep petitioning heaven with those requests.

 Lesson Summary

Luke 18:1-3 “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:  And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.”

The operation or workings of prayer have been a mystery to some through the ages.  For some prayer seems to be some mundane Christian civic duty; a check off list, if you will, of something that needs to be done.  For others, prayer seems to be elusive; difficult to understand the concept of and even more difficult to do.

Good news!  Prayer is not either of those things.  Prayer is something that is given to us as an honor; as a way to reach the heavenly Father personally, one on one.  How awesome is that?  Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing or eating.  It is necessary to stay spiritually nourished in Him.

Jesus, therefore, sets about in this lesson opening to His disciples the importance of not giving up in prayer.  To keep laboring through it and being persistent in our requests to God.

Many today teach that if we keep going to God repeatedly with the same request, then that is a sign that we don’t have the proper faith attached to our request, or that we don’t believe God.  Whereas Jesus teaches us in this lesson, “men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  And, as we find in our lesson, that also covers when we repeatedly take the same request to Him in prayer.

This was a necessary concept for His disciples to grasp.  Jesus had just finished talking to them about His second coming (Luke 17:20-37).  Which means, there must be a departure from His first coming, or as we know, His death, resurrection, and ascension.

During His earthly ministry, Jesus spoke of and demonstrated a life of prayer.  After His departure, prayer is where the disciples must find strength in the continuing forth of the ministry left for them to fulfill.  If Jesus depended often on prayer, surely the disciples, and we, need it even more.

A Christian’s lifeline is held open with God through prayer.  The opened prayer line fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.  That’s what Jesus did, He prayed!

Good, effective prayer is not only active during emergency rescues when we turn to Him as a last resort.  A good and effective prayer life will be used to guide our daily steps, saying, “God, I need You and Your counsel and direction in my life this day!”

A strong life of faith cannot be fostered through just those desperate moment prayer request rescues, but when a life hungers to be connected to its source, it willing seeks out that Source all the more, because anything less than what that true connection offers just won’t do.

Therefore, Jesus Christ Himself said, “men ought always to pray.”  That word “always” tells us there is never a time when it is not a good idea to pray.  Prayer in an appropriate action for the Christian to take at all times, or always.  The Apostle Paul taught, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6; emphasis mine).  Simply put, and agreeing with our Lord, prayer is something that we should always do, and it is always a good idea.

Prayer will also help us to “faint not.”  Pray, and don’t give up.  Pray, and don’t let the temporary of this life get the best of you.  Victory is ahead for the ones that “faint not.”

The word “faint” speaks of weariness to the point that it wears you out and you want to let it go.  Many of us have often spoken those same words declaring the tiresomeness, annoying, and weakened state one may be feeling over a situation, work, or even just dealing with people.

But, for Jesus’ disciples, there would be no room in their new mission for weak-willed, fainthearted workers.  The gospel was the mission, and souls would be the target of that mission.  Life and death would hang in the balance of those who received the words these men of God would soon proclaim and spread to all regions of the world.  They had to be strong.  Prayer would help keep them strong; it would help keep them grounded and tied to their Savior in His absence.  Prayer can make the difference to a life well-lived for God, or not.  Foregoing a persistent prayer life was not an option.  With that, Jesus opens this lesson, saying, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint.”  Never give up on prayer!

Then, as in other parables, Jesus gives them a story of how this may look in their real, everyday lives; an example of how to act out the principle of prayer that Jesus is teaching.  This is a sign of a good teacher, of which we know Jesus is.  He doesn’t just tell people what to do, He shows them how to do it. 

With that, He opens his story talking about a “judge” who dwells in a certain “city.”  This judge is later identified by Jesus as being “unjust” (see verse 6).  

Unjust means he wasn’t right.  To prove that, Jesus even stated of this man he “feared not God, neither regarded man.”  He had an, “I don’t care” attitude.  He did what benefited him, and most likely, his own pockets.  A judge of any people, particularly God’s people, is supposed to operate with the rule of justice as his measuring rod.  He or she is to uphold all that is true and right.  They are to be fair and impartial in their decisions.  This was not the case here.

Many suppose this man may not have been of Jewish descent because he does not have the fear of God in him, which means he doesn’t respect God, he’s not going to uphold God’s law, nor will he take into consideration God’s ways above what he thinks.  At the same time, some of the judges/leaders throughout history who were of God’s people behaved in the same manner.  So, with the information given, we can’t say one way or another.  But what we do know is God expected more from the judges, especially when it came to helping the weak.  In the book of Isaiah, God pronounced a “woe” against unjust judges who, “turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless,” (10:2; read 10:1-4).

Nevertheless, whether he was a Jew or a Gentile, he was in a position to help and to judge fairly those who seek his assistance.  But, as we find out, this is not what he is in the habit of doing.

The next character in this parable is a “widow.”  Widows got a rough deal in those days and without a husband or children to care for them their situations could turn disastrous quickly.  They could become prey for those who would take advantage of them and fall victim to the many schemes of unscrupulous peoples.

God had many stipulations in His Word to guard and benefit the weaker members of society, including the widows.  Deuteronomy 27:19 declares, “Cursed be he that perverteth the judgement of the stranger, fatherless, and widow…”  Exodus 22:22 says, “Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child.”  And, in the New Testament, James says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world,” (1:27).

This “widow” came seeking justice.  She came because she had a case and apparently, to say that things weren’t going right, is an understatement.  She had an “adversary” to deal with and unless she was “avenged;” unless someone like this judge would pay attention to her needs and stand up for her cause, she would most likely go under and succumb to the unfair treatment she was receiving.  She had nowhere else to go, and so, she wasn’t going anywhere.  She refused to accept things as they were.

Luke 18:4-5 “And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

“For a while” the judge refused her or turned away any fair judgment she was searching for.  “For a while” he ignored her pleas and her dire circumstance.  “For a while” he “would not” do anything for her to bring her case to a satisfactory conclusion.  But then there came a time when he was ready to move on her behalf.

There was an “afterward” moment of revelation for this judge.  After he saw her stamina in her “continual coming.”  After he saw that tenacious spirit in her that refused to let her accept anything less than what she deserves, “he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her.”

Not because suddenly he turned his life over to God or got a spiritual revelation.  That wasn’t it.  Not because he suddenly developed a warm spot in his heart for this woman.  That wasn’t it either.  His stance in both of those situations had not changed.  But, because she wouldn’t be stopped, he was going to take up her case and make sure she received justice and possibly those who had done her wrong would be punished, “lest by her continual coming she weary me.”

She wore him out!  She came and invaded his space repeatedly with her pleas.  However many times it took, she was all in.  She came until her request was heard, and her situation was resolved.

How much more will God do for His own who come to Him?

Luke 18:6-8 “And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.  And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

God is not an unjust judge, nor can He be worn out through our prayers.  The point of this story is to persist in prayer.  If the unjust judge heard the woman and saw to it she was avenged due to her diligence, what do we think about God?  Is not God so much more!  He said, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honour him,” (Psalm 91:15).

Therefore, be diligent.  Never let anything hinder one’s pace toward that throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), especially in those coming days where the need to be fortified in prayer will be all the more prevalent.

Keep coming!  Keep going to God!  Never stop looking to Him as your source for everything in life.  Handle everything with prayer!  The widow refused to be silenced, and don’t you be silenced by those around you or your circumstance either.

God has an opened invitation for His people.  God shall “avenge his own elect” in their time of need, according to His perfect and holy will, and time.  There are days now when God’s people are treated unfairly and seem to have drawn the short end of the stick.  In the last days, the heat will be turned up all the more, but God is not ignorant now or then to what His people face.  He will “avenge!”  Therefore, keep praying! 

Every injustice will be repaid.  Every wrong anything done against us will be turned in the favor of God’s people who don’t give up, who keep going despite what it looks like, who hold on to Him and seek Him no matter how hard it may be sometimes.  Those who persist in prayer will see a righteous end to everything they are facing.

But one must hold on to faith because faith and persistence go hand in hand.  And, faith is what Jesus is questioning at the end of this parable.  He says God will do His part.  When His people “cry day and night unto him,” He hears.  Not only does He hear, but He will do something about it.  He will “avenge” and stand for the justice of His own, and He will do it “speedily” without hesitation.

He may not come when you want Him, but as they say, He’s always right on time.  He may “bear long” with His people (see verses on God’s long-suffering in Ex. 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Isaiah 30:18; Romans 2:4 – just to name a few), but at the right moment, He will answer prayer.

As God is patient and longsuffering and will come at the right time, we too are commanded to be patient, and in that patience, persist.  “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.  Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” (James 5:7-8).

Yes, it will be hard sometimes, but persist.  Yes, it will seem unfair at times, but persevere.  Yes, there will be times when you will be wronged, and it will hurt, but keep going and keep coming to God to seek everything you need.

“Nevertheless,” Jesus asked, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”  Events leading up to that coming day will be times of persecution, to say the least.  How will people respond?  How will the disciples and us who are attached to the Lord through His blood covenant respond?  “Shall he find faith on the earth?”

The widow woman was unrelenting in her pursuit of justice.  Are we just as unrelenting in our faith?  True faith requires commitment, and commitment requires one to persist and not yield to the pressures to give up and throw in the towel.

“Shall he find faith on earth?”  As Jesus was preparing His disciple to put their faith into the perspective of hardships they can and will face due to their allegiance to Him, He is also preparing us.  Our faith and trust in Him is the key that unlocks the door to victory.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4).  At the same time, our faith and trust in Him should strengthen our stance that we won’t back down from the fight, that we don’t cave due to pressure, and we won’t give in despite the persecutions we may face.  We will keep on going!  We will keep on praying!

In a previous article, I wrote:

“Jesus questions trust.  He questions whether or not anyone will believe in the promise and power of prayer.  He questions if there is real, alive faith working in mankind somewhere.  He questions.

One’s faith lies at the center of this questioning, for if we really believed wholeheartedly, there would be no hindrance to bring every request and problem before God in prayer.  This is what Jesus is getting at.  True faith unencumbered.  True faith that takes the shackles off God’s promises and allows one to run freely forth, believing He hears, He knows, and He will answer.” (Jesus Questions Trust/WordForLifeSays.com)

To be the men prepared for the mission Jesus has in store for these disciples, their lives must measure up and be able to fully answer this question well.  They must be willing to go all in and let nothing stop them from having a powerful prayer life.  And, so must we.

Conclusion

One day Jesus is coming back.  Until then, keep praying and don’t give up!  Your heavenly Father hears every cry uttered from your lips and spoken silently in your heart.  You are loved, my friend.  Let your faith rise in your Savior today and believe in His love and power at work in your life. Keep on keeping on.  Always pray and not faint!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Always Pray and Not Faint

Suggested Activities:

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Always Pray and Not Faint

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Always Pray and Not Faint

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages (Using the blank journal pages allows you to bring out the points of the lesson that are most important to you and your class.  Also, the blank journal pages and be used to support the “Life” section of the printed lesson.)

Word Search: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Search  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Search Answers

Crossword: Always Pray and Not Faint Crossword  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Scramble  Answers: Always Pray and Not Faint Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Always Pray and Not Faint Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Always Pray and Not Faint Memory Verse

How Many Words: Always Pray and Not Faint How Many Words

Prayer Chain Craft: A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take-home reminder of different request students can pray for one another about.  Example below. Enjoy!

My Project 263-001

“Easy Craft Idea”

“Several Printable Activities for the Widow and the Unjust Judge”

“Persistent Prayer”

“The Parable of the Persistent Widow”

“Jesus’ Parable of the Persistent Widow and the Unjust Judge”

“Persistence in Prayer”

 

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Sunday School Lesson – “Grafted in by Faith” Romans 11:11-24

Image by Helger11 from Pixabay

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 11:11-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

The Jews of the Apostle Paul’s day struggled first with accepting God’s plan of salvation by faith.  Rather, in their own righteousness, relied more on the works of the law (Romans 9:31-33).  Romans 10:4 declares, “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Another thing they struggled in was the acceptance of the Gentiles into God’s spiritual family.  Rather than depend on the law, as the Jews previously had done, and the works of the law, they, the Gentiles “have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith,” (Romans 9:30).  Although through the centuries the prophets foretold, “I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved,” (Romans 9:25; see also verse 26).

Paul continued to teach when it comes to accepting Christ by faith, “There is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.  For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved,” (Romans 10:12-13; emphasis mine).

Does this mean that God has cast away His chosen people?  (Romans 11:1).  Absolutely not!  But, by God’s grace, there is still a remnant that will worship Him through faith (Romans 11:1-6).  While some remained spiritually blind, God was using this as an opportunity to bring salvation to the Gentiles.

Neither group had a reason for division amongst them.  God loves the Jews and the Gentiles alike and wants all to be saved if they believe.

Lesson Summary

 Romans 11:11 “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”

“Have they stumbled that they should fall?”  Referring to the unbelief of those early Jews and their rejection of Christ as the Messiah, as God’s plan of salvation – does this stumbling at this divine truth mean that this is the end for them?  Are they now a people that are done away with because they have no more purpose in God’s plan?  Has their fallen status become who they are to be permanently identified as?

“God forbid.”  Absolutely not!  God still has a divine plan and purpose in effect for His people Israel.  They may have initially rejected the Christ and transgressed against Him through their unbelief, but God was not completely done with them.

“But rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.”  As noted in last week’s lesson, salvation was never supposed to be exclusive.  God’s chosen people were designed to be carriers of His truth and His revelation to the world – to be a witness to the world of His desired relationship with all mankind.

Due to their current unbelieving status, a doorway would now be opened for the “Gentiles” to have a shot at receiving “salvation.”  Acts 13 tells us what occurred when Paul and Barnabas were blasphemed against and contradicted by the Jews: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing you put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles,” (vs. 46).  Thus, the preaching of the gospel was on the move toward the Gentiles.

Does this mean all Gentiles will be saved at the Jews rejection of the Christ?  Again, absolutely not!  Regardless of ethnic background or regional heritage, all must come to Him in and through faith – Jew and Gentile alike.

While the Jews rejection of Christ opened a door of acceptance to the Gentiles, the Gentiles too would become a tool to touch the heart of the Jews, “to provoke them to jealousy.”  Deuteronomy 32:21 foretold, “They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger . . . I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation,” (see also Romans 10:19).

Romans 11:12 “Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?”

If through their “fall” and “diminishing” the “world/Gentiles” become “rich” (spiritually so at the accepting of the rich gospel of Christ through faith), “how much more their fullness?”  Those who were not formerly considered to be blessed are now presented with the opportunity to be spiritually blessed.  Israel’s loss is the world’s gain (as some would note it today).

With the offering of Christ and all the blessings a child of God would receive now available to them – greater would be the spiritual riches when the hearts of the Jews are stirred toward the realm of faith in Christ Jesus, bringing them to their “fullness.”

Just imagine and compare the difference it would make.  How much more would their own faith (speaking of those future Jews), touch and turn others, causing a global domino effect of God’s blessings and the turning of people in faith as it ripples through this world?

It would be simply amazing.

Romans 11:13-14 “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Lest they become haughty in their thinking, Paul directs his next line of thought directly to the Gentiles.  Careful heed should be taken given their now privileged position in Christ.  Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles,” (compare to Acts 9:15), acting with authority to his calling, says, “I magnify my office.”

The Apostle Paul was the founding father of many churches located in Gentile nations.  His reputation of authority preceded him to the Roman church as well.  As their spiritual leader, he had no qualms in letting them know, “If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

Paul may have been an apostle to the Gentiles, but he still had a heart for his own kinsmen.  In Romans 9 he carried, “great heaviness and continual sorrow” (vs. 2) in his heart for his fellow flesh that rejected Christ.  To the point where he stated, “I wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh,” (vs. 3).

His love for his own people never waned though his mission took him to others.  So, if there is some way for their hearts to be pricked to receive the gospel; to open themselves up to God’s truth of salvation through all of this – then, so be it.  He would be enamored with the idea.  To really know his feelings toward his people, think of your own family and the unsaved in it.  What if the similar would happen to cause them to accept Christ?  Wouldn’t you be overjoyed to see them come to salvation?  I would!

So, it is Paul’s hope that the Gentiles turning in faith would provoke his Jewish brethren that as many as will may be saved and brought back from the dead spiritually.  For another analogy, picture if you will in your mind an EMT bringing to recovery a loved one battled in a life or death crisis.  There is rejoicing.  There is joy over the recovering of said loved one.  The same with Paul.

As the Gentiles gained from their loss, oh what it would be if the provocation of such would awaken those Jewish sleeping souls to rise up and grab hold of Jesus for themselves, and “save some of them.”

Awesome!

Romans 11:15-21 “For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?  For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.  And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.  Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.  Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:  For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

If their rejection and unbelief have given place for the door of the gospel to be opened to the rest of the world, how much more “shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?”  A national prodigal son story of restoration, if you will.  A people literally brought back to life, being spiritually resuscitated and restored once again.

Therefore, the one who has this privilege bestowed upon them, the Gentiles, should not “boast.”  It’s not of their own goodness (far from it – but, a work of grace) that caused God’s mercy to extend salvation beyond the spiritual borders of His chosen people.  Their disobedience [God’s chosen] made a way for the measure of reconciliation, through Christ, to be made available to all who believe.

Would it not benefit the Gentiles to remember from where they came; their “parent body” of faith to be saved, if you will?  “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the braches.”

In speaking of the “firstfruit” Paul breaks down for them, the Gentiles, the importance of their faith and what role the Jews played in that.  In Numbers 15:20-21 we learn the importance of the word firstfruit where they would offer up in appreciation “the first of your dough.”  Not until that first portion was offered was it permissible to eat the rest.

Given that the first portion to be offered was considered “holy” (set apart and consecrated), the “lump,” the source of the original would also have to be viewed as holy once it was consecrated.  Thus, making those first-century Christians, who were Jews by birth, vital in the foundation of their faith as well.

“And if the root be holy, so are the branches.”  The root system of any tree supports the branches.  Whatever the root is or has is transferred to the branches that grow from it.

There are varying opinions on which the “root” here is referring.  Some cite the patriarchs, some says God, and some refer this verse to the first Jewish Christians.  I won’t argue either point here.  Regardless of whom it is actually speaking of the main point for the Gentiles believers (whom Paul is currently speaking to) is to realize they and their newfound faith are grounded in the “holy” which came before them.  Again, there was no need to be boastful and haughty in their current status in Christ.  Those that were before them are foundational in their faith now.

Therefore, they are instructed not to lift themselves up with a prideful spirit, as if they are now superior to those Jews who refused to believe.  For God can, at any moment, cut them off as well.  “For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.”

Some of those natural branches were disobedient in their unbelief to believe in the fulfilled promise of Christ.  Thus, they were “broken off.”  A great spiritual pruning had taken place and “some,” not all, of those branches that lack to produce spiritual fruit, were done away with while others were “graffed” in.

This does not mean that God has done away with the Jews as a whole (referring back to the introduction and beginning of the lesson).  Only some were broken off showing God still has a remnant of those that believe.  But the unbelieving Jews were taken out and believing Gentiles, “wild olive tree,” was put in to grow “among them” and “with them partakest of the root and the fatness of the olive tree.”  Tied into the natural tree, as the farmer of an orchard would add branches through the process of grafting, they too would produce spiritual fruit.

The Gentiles believers were always to remember “thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.”  The ones that were broken off were done so because of “unbelief.”  Those who are now grafted in are done so by faith.  Ethnicity didn’t cause the loss of the promise – unbelief did.  Ethnicity didn’t compel the gain of the promise – faith did.  Everything hinges on whether one believes or not.

Living a life of faith through Jesus Christ will gain one a future with God.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us beyond a shadow of a doubt that you cannot please God without faith.  The feet of faith walk forward believing God is, “and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him,” (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith in its highest form removes all worldly shackles.  Ethnicity, background, and prestige all fall away in the eyes of our Savior whose only view is that of an opened heart filled with belief.

Obtaining the promise of being grafted in is directly related to one’s “faith.”  A mind of humility and godly “fear” is to be had as opposed to boastfulness when one realizes the goodness of God.

Romans 11:22-24 “Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.  And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.  For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”

God’s “goodness” has now allowed access to those who formerly had none, and in His “severity” He has cut off some of those who were formerly allowed access from the promise.

Again, everything hinges on belief and unbelief.  Those who believe will experience the goodness of God and those who refuse Him, His severity.

The Bible says, “Good and upright is the LORD,” (Psalm 25:8).  It tells us, “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations,” (Psalm 100:5).  Over and over again we read of His goodness.  God wants to bless people.  He wants to see them thrive in the spirit, drawing nearer and nearer to Him.  Only the feet of faith will walk one there.

Unbelief is delusional and a robber of the goodness of God.  It separates one from where He wants them to be and through their lack of faith, they experience His severity (cut off).

How much are people missing out due to their lack of faith?  Apparently, a lot.  An eternal promise lies in the balance and faith is the key to enter.  “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith,” (1 John 5:4; emphasis mine).

“If thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.”  Initial faith is not enough.  One must continue in the faith to continue experiencing the goodness of God or else they too would be subject to losing out on the promise; being “cut off.”

The warning for the Gentile Christians is to take heed the path they walk lest they end up in the same destination as those Jewish people whose rejection of Christ led them away from the promise.  “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away . . .” (John 15:2) – Jew or Gentile.

“God is able to graff them in again.”  If the Jewish heart that was once unbelieving has now turned to Him in faith, God is able to restore that branch back to the tree.  Their relationship with God can be healed.  God has not totally washed His hands of His chosen people, as some believe.  Any heart that turns to Him, Jews included, God, can bring back into His promise.  God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him “again.”

“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?”  By nature’s law one of one’s “own” is more easily and readily grafted in than a wild one, or one who doesn’t originally belong.

Some packs of animals carry a specific scent for their particular pack.  One who does not bear the same scent would have a harder time being accepted into the pack.  We see a similar example in the human body with organ transplants.  It is so wonderful that God has allowed science to take on such a procedure, but parts that are trying to be incorporated in could suffer rejection because they were not naturally a part of that particular body.

If Gentiles, who were not of the natural olive tree (who weren’t originally God’s chosen people; who didn’t have God’s ordinances and such) can be grafted in – how much easier for the Jews who hearts have been turned to a life of faith (those who bore the markings of the natural)?

Conclusion

God welcomes all to partake of His promises – Jew and Gentile alike.  He can graft any believing heart into the family of God when they operate with a heart of faith.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes):  Sunday School Lesson – Grafted in by Faith

Suggested Activities:

“How to Graft a Fruit Tree Video”

Adult Journal Page:  Adult Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Grafted in by Faith

Word Search: Grafted in by Faith Word Seach Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Search Answers

Crossword: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers: Grafted in by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers: Grafted in by Faith Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Grafted in by Faith Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Grafted in by Faith Memory Verse

How Many Words: Grafted in by Faith How Many Words

From previous lessons, but can be applied here as being grafted in as a child of God or in the family of God:

“I Am a Child of Faith” Necklace Craft: I Am a Child of Faith Necklace Craft (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Simply have the student draw their portrait on the necklace, bead any way they want and there you go.  Enjoy!

Coloring Sheet: Not the Same but Loved by God Coloring Sheet

“The Family of God Activities” from Sermons4kids.com(Including group activities such as “Available Grace to All” and “Child of God Headband.”)  Enjoy!

“Adopted into God’s family” from Ministry-To-Children

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Children of God, by Faith” Galatians 3:26-4:7

Photo from Pixabay by geralt

VERSE DISCOVERY: Galatians 3:26-4:7 (KJV, Public Domain)

The book of Galatians has long been a favorite of mine.  In it, we see the freedom Christ secured for us really come to the forefront.  We see within its pages grace winning out over laws and rituals.  Held in the words thereof is the promise that no matter our background, race, sex, or whatever – if we are in Christ, then we are members of the family of God by faith and heirs according to the promise.

The Apostle Paul was taken aback at how soon those in the church of Galatia had allowed others in the form of false teachers infect the faith they had in Jesus Christ (see Galatians 1:6) and he testified before them that the gospel he preached; those blessed words of faith he delivered unto them was not because they were taught to him or received from man, but it was by an actual revelation of Jesus Christ (see Galatians 1:11-12).

After giving a brief testimony of his own previous dealings regarding his former religion which he was so zealous for and how he persecuted the church, he stated that he too was called by grace (see Galatians 1:13-14).  Paul then went on to teach that even though he and his fellow countrymen may be Jews by nature, they too have to believe in Jesus Christ “that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified (Galatians 2:15-16).

The prevailing issue coming from these false teachers which Paul wrote to instruct of revolved around the idea of circumcision.  In the Old Testament, we read that God entered a covenant relationship with Abraham.  One of the particulars of that relationship was that all males be circumcised on the eighth day (see Genesis 17:9-14).  This was under their old order of rule keeping and rituals that are not found in an active relationship through Jesus Christ.

Some men called Judaizers (false teachers) attempted to add works of the flesh and law (such as the issue of circumcision and other like measures) to the finished work of the Spirit performed through Christ.  These men argued that grace was not enough in order for a Greek (Gentile) to be saved.   They must first follow all the steps of protocol that Moses laid out in his law, including circumcision, in order to be a true Christian.

That, my friends, is a total contradiction of the very word of grace itself which speaks of God’s unmerited favor. When something is “unmerited” it is, by definition, undeserved, meaning there is nothing one can do to gain the favor of it or earn it themselves.

Paul taught at one point in the book of Acts saying, “And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses,” (13:39).  If the law and adherence to those rituals could have saved mankind once and for all, then Jesus Christ would have never needed to come to this earth, be born a babe in a manger just to die on that old rugged cross bearing the sins of the world.  Earlier in Galatians, we read that Christ already did the work that redeemed us and freed us from the curse: “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law…” (Galatians 3:13).  Therefore, Paul is writing this letter to set the record straight.

Lesson Summary

Galatians 3:26-29 “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

The disputes that came by way of those Judaizers left confusion in the Galatian’s spiritual pathway of faith.  In the verse just prior to these above Paul states, “But after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster,” (Galatians 3:25) giving a final answer to his telling of the purpose of the law before moving to today’s subject.

Faith is the key.  Coming to Jesus with all our wrongs and trusting Him to heal and forgive is a walk of faith no matter where you or your family hails from.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8).  Now, that one has received that gift of God, that gift of salvation, they are “all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” 

When Jesus transformed their lives with His saving blood they have been renewed, changed, and adopted into the family of God.  They have shed off the old garments of self, sin, and following the course of the world and the dictates of evil and the flesh and have “put on Christ.”  A great exchange took place then and takes place now in the individual that turns to Jesus in faith.

Please note: It is noted, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”   Baptism symbolized the shedding off of the old life and the taking on of the new; it stood for the remission of their sins (see Acts 2:38). In it, they were identifying with Christ.

Thus, through their faith, they aligned themselves with Christ.  Why now do they wish to add unprofitable rituals such as circumcision in the mix?  Although they may be “Greek” (Gentile) by birth, they are Christians by rebirth.  To be a Christian is to be of Christ with no added ingredients to the mix.

Paul recognized this and earlier taught, “That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” (Galatians 3:14). Freedom came by way of the promise that was laid out before the law (read Galatians 3:14-18).  This was now a faith walk and there is no difference in God’s eyes who gets to walk it. To Him “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

God does not focus on one’s ethnic background to decide if they are right to be called His.  He doesn’t let their social status, gender, or anything that man may try to discriminate against or use as a counterbalance of some pre-prescribed acceptance.  In a culture where most were judged on these divisive measures, this was good news indeed.

Since God doesn’t make a difference between the two, there is no need to make the Gentiles adhere to traditions that would make them Jews first. They didn’t need to become Jewish for God to save them.  God was saving them right where they are through faith in Jesus Christ.

And, because of that, they are now “one in Christ Jesus.”  There is no delineation in God’s family.  They are a unified people under Him, secured in their relationship in Christ.  Everyone who believes in Him and has accepted Him as their Savior is now participants in His promise.  We read, “If ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

An heir, by nature, is one who receives an inheritance or entitlement.  Notice the word “seed” does not have an “s” on it.  There is one seed identified with Abraham to whom the promise comes through and that is Jesus Christ (see Galatians 3:16).  In Galatians 3:19 we see the law being in effect until the “seed should come to whom the promise was made.”  Those who come under that seed, who come through “Christ” are now privileged to be considered also as “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.”  Other portions of Scripture support this by saying, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12; see also Ephesians 3:6 and 1 John 3:1).

Therefore, the need for circumcision in order to become a member of the family of God is not an issue and one is not to predicate their salvation on it or any other measures of the law.  As a matter of fact, to set the record straight Paul taught in Romans 4:11 of Abraham regarding the covenant of circumcision that, “He received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised: that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised; that righteousness might be imputed unto them also.”  In other words, circumcision was just a sign of the relationship of faith that Abraham already had with God before he was circumcised thereby making him “the father of all them that believe.”

God is looking for a faith relationship found only in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as a marker of who is and is not a child of God.  The Galatians need not worry about adhering to or adding stipulations of the law (such as circumcision) to declare they are His children.

Galatians 4:1-5 “Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.  Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

To further delve into his “heir” description, Paul takes a scenario from life they would see play out around them and connects it to the spiritual truth we have in Him.

A young “child” does not possess the knowledge and the wherewithal to control and make impactful decisions regarding an estate that would be laid up for his future.  As a member of the family and inheritor of all, he still had to wait until he was of proper age and understanding before the keys, so to speak, of all could be placed solely in his hands.

While he was still growing in understanding during his upbringing he would be placed “under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.”  Until his father saw that the mature and complete time that his son would be able to take on the responsibility of the upkeep of all he had come, the son was placed under these individuals, similar to that of a “servant,” to teach him the ins and outs, the rights and wrongs of everything.

The law acted the same way.  “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith,” (Galatians 3:24).  And, when God deemed the time to be right, “God sent forth his Son, made of a woman…” 

For centuries the children of Israel waited for the appearing of the Messiah.  At the perfect point in history God sent Jesus Christ just as He had promised (see Gen. 3:15, 12:3; 2 Sam. 12-13; Is. 7:14 – just to name a few).  Tracked down the path of forty-two generation (Matthew 1:1-17), He came to be the Savior of the world.  God’s timing for everything is perfect and the events that ushered Jesus into the world to bring us to this life of faith were and are fully supported by Him.

God left no stone unturned about how the ins and outs of this plan of His coming would come into effect.  God takes eternity seriously.  His goal is to see that as many spiritual children are made heirs of that promise as possible which is fulfilled through our Savior Jesus Christ.

When Jesus was born physically on this earth He was “made of a woman, made under the law.”  Jesus came into this world fully human and fully divine.  As a human, although He was the Son of God, He willingly put Himself under the same constraints of the law as any other Jewish human (see Matthew 5:17).

“To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”  But unlike other humans, Jesus’ purpose on earth for being under the law was to “redeem them that were under the law.”  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh,” (8:3; see also John 1:14).  Through His death on the cross, He overcame sin, which the law was unable to permanently do, and for those who believe in Him they are now justified (see Acts 13:39 and Galatians 2:16).   They have been redeemed and made heirs of the promise, “adoption of sons,” without those previously discussed works of the law such as circumcision.

Galatians 4:6-7 “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father. Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”

Because of what Jesus did, and because those who made that decision that they needed Christ as their Savior accepted Him as their own, their status in this world has changed from being mere men and woman to being considered as “sons” of God, or children of God.  They have received of His “Spirit” by faith. 

The Bible supports this in other verses telling us, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory,” (Ephesians 1:13-14).  The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our inheritance in Him.  Not circumcision or other outwardly rituals.  As a child of God, we are covered and endowed by His Spirit.  His Spirit didn’t come because of circumcision but because the gospel was heard and responded to through belief.

Thus, our relationship with God blesses us to be able to cry out to Him, “Abba, Father.”  As carriers of the Spirit of His Son in our hearts we are now a child of God, not a “servant,” and as such we are able to call out to our heavenly Father because we are in Him (see also Romans 8:15); because there is a heavenly bond between God and those that are His.  And, since we are now considered “a son” we are “then an heir of God through Christ”; children of God, by faith! 

Conclusion

Everybody has the same opportunity to be saved. There are no barriers. There are no walls except the ones we build ourselves. His gift of salvation is available to all. You just have to accept it for yourself.

Remember, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith,” (Galatians 3:13-14).  Therefore, making us children of God, by faith.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes):  Sunday School Lesson – Children of God by Faith

Suggested Activities:

“Child of God Object Lesson” from Preaching.com

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Child of God

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Child of God

Draw the Scene: Children of God by Faith Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Children of God by Faith Memory Verse

How Many Words: Children of God by Faith How Many Words

Playing Dough People: Supply assorted colors of moldable dough for students to make different people showing there is diversity in the children of God. (Many other resources can be found by doing an online search). 

Word Search: Children of God by Faith Word Search Answers: Children of God by Faith Word Search Answers

 

Crossword: Children of God by Faith Crossword Answers: Children of God by Faith Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Children of God by Faith Word Scramble Answers: Children of God by Faith Word Scramble Answers

“The Family of God”  from Sermons4Kids.com (Printable activities, coloring page, and group activities including “Child of God Headband” and “Faith Envelope.”)

“One in Christ Coloring Page for Older Students” from AbdaActs

“Galatians Coloring Page” from Ministry-To-Children

“Adopted into God’s Family Lesson and Ideas” from Ministry-To-Children

“Child of God Printable Activities” from DLTK

“God’s Adopted Children” from Sermons4kids.com (Printable activities, coloring page, and group activities including “Family Collage 4 Heaven” and “Adoption Papers.”  Enjoy!)

“All the Children of the World” from Sermons4kids.com (A great object lesson using eggs, not to mention printables, coloring, and group activities that really engage students in this lesson.  Enjoy!)

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Hosanna to the King!” Mark 11:1-11

VERSE DISCOVERY: Mark 11:1-11 (KJV, Public Domain)

At one point, before his death, John the Baptist sent men to Jesus and asked, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3).  This questioning was spawned because of the mighty “works of Christ” (Matthew 11:2) that were performed and proclaimed throughout the region.

Not only did the works He performed bear witness of who He was (John 10:25), Jesus often identified Himself with the Deity of heaven; as being one with the Father Himself (see John 10:30; John 1:1; John 14:9).

The hope of the people has been in a state of expectation since the days of old.  They have heard of the prophecies, such as the one Zechariah proclaimed, saying, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass,” (Zechariah 9:9).

They were waiting for this time of celebration that was prophesied hundreds of years before the actual event took place. A time when God’s people would ring out their worship of their one true King. At His coming joy will go before Him for His proposed reign. People will raise their voices with heartfelt praise and adoration of Him who has come to save them.

Unfortunately, when He came, most were not looking for a Savior from sin, rather one who would free them of the national tyranny of their oppressors. The people at that time were more focused on their present circumstances over their eternal destinies.  This will rob you of seeing Jesus for who He really is every single time.

It was prophesied that this King would be “just.” His rule would be governed by truth. It’s how He lived and how He died; according to God’s truth. He declared in Matthew 5:18 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” He pressed on to fulfill truth so that His reign would be marked and identified as being “just.” He would do all that is right according to God’s holy Word.

This King would also be known as “having salvation.” He would bear within Himself the means to save mankind from the ravages of sin and disparity brought on by their fleshly stance in this world. The Bible declares, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). Therefore, all of mankind needed and still needs a Savior; one who can bring them out of the depths of his/her evil state. Acts 4:12 lets us know, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This King comes with our “salvation.”

At His entrance, He comes in a state opposite of most royalty and the elite of society. This King is prophesied to come “lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” A humble creature of burden becomes transportation of Him who would bear all of humanities burdens and sins.

I think it important to reiterate here that our King was “lowly.” We sing songs praising that wonderful characteristic of His, but do we really understand how much He humbled Himself to come and do what He did for us? Do we understand that He could have arrived with all the pomp and circumstance of heaven, but He arrived in an animal’s dwelling, with no proper place to lay His head? Do we understand how many times He could have shut the mouth of those who rose against Him and accused Him, but He took it all on Himself as part of His mission; His ministry to save mankind? Do we really understand how much He took off to put on the dregs of humanity? Do we understand? He was “lowly.”

By entering the town on that day in that way, Jesus was letting all the world know that He was that prophesied King.  That yes, if anybody wants to know, He is the One whom they have been looking for.

This is where we find ourselves studying today: Jesus’ triumphal entry. 

 Lesson Summary

Mark 11:1-3 “And when they came night to Jerusalem, unto Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount of Olives, he sendeth forth two of his disciples, And saith unto them, Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him. And if any man say unto you, Why do ye this? say ye that the Lord hath need of him; and straightway he will send him hither.”

Before we arrive at today’s lesson, Matthew 20 tells us that Jesus once again tried to prepare His disciples for the reality of what was soon to take place:

“Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them,

“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death,

And deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again,” (Matthew 20:17-19; see also Mark 10:32:34).

Here, in the above verses, with what I believe was still clueless disciples, Jesus is drawing “nigh to Jerusalem.” The King is about to make His entrance but before doing so He gives His disciples very explicit details to follow to make sure when He comes in there is no mistake to the reign He claims.

As a matter of fact, fulfilling every prophecy that was spoken of Him was so imperative that later He wouldn’t die until He could finally say, “It is finished,” (John 19:30).

God’s prophets such as Zechariah were His spokesmen. They have been used down through Israel’s history to pass onto the people the word of God. To warn, exhort and exalt them to draw closer to Him through their prophecies. When God used a prophet as His mouthpiece, the words that come from them are as valid as if they heard it from His own being, thundering upon the mountains. Since what they spoke was on His behalf, He had to make sure everything: past, present, and future would be fulfilled as it was told to the people down through the years.

They were told exactly how their King would arrive and Jesus was careful to make sure there would be no mistaking who He claimed to be when He arrived in Jerusalem in such a fashion. His arrival mounted on that beast would offer them visual evidence. Any Jew would have known that when they see Him on a “colt the foal of an ass,” as Zechariah stated; or just using the word “colt” as this lesson states, He was claiming His Kingship; He was claiming His Lordship; He was claiming His Messiahship.

With that, the instructions He gives is for them to, “Go your way into the village over against you: and as soon as ye be entered into it, ye shall find a colt tied, whereon never man sat; loose him, and bring him.” It is supposed by many Bible students that Jesus had a prearranged agreement with the owners of the animals that He sent them for. With that supposition, He knew (which He could have known because of His Sovereignty if He wanted to) exactly where to send them and how to instruct them on searching out what He already planned. When they arrived and found the ones He said, His command was “loose him, and bring him.” The reason is stated for us, and for the owner’s is in the next verse.

If anyone dared to question what the disciples were doing and what was their intent and purposes of loosing the animal, Jesus gave them a simple reply to relay: “The Lord hath need of him.” He was set aside for the Master’s use. He was needed by Jesus. How privileged was this little guy that would carry the “Lord;” the Savior of the world, on his back. Awesome!

Never had anyone rode him before this day.  Jesus’ specific instructions included that he be one that “never a man sat.”  It amazes me what our Christ can do with the unused; what He can do with the unskilled and rough around the edges. This donkey is not known by name to us, but we know him as part of the Messiah’s royal parade forever in history.  Even more awesome!

Mark 11:4-6 “And they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door without in a place where two ways met; and they loose him.  And certain of them that stood there said unto them, What do ye, loosing the colt?  And they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded: and they let them go.”

“And they went their way, and found the colt… and they loose him.”  They may have not understood everything right away, nor did they fully grasp that Jesus was fully preparing Himself to die that He might reign (though He often tried to get that point across to them), but they didn’t question Him. They didn’t try to dissuade Him from His task; rather they obeyed.

Their obedience is a key component. Let’s put this in full perspective.  They knew the authorities of the day were plotting against Him to seek to take His life. The Triumphal Entry of Jesus is also found in the Book of John chapter 12. In chapter 11 of that same book, before this moment in time, when Jesus was determined to go to Bethany (about 1½ miles outside of Jerusalem) to raise Lazarus from the dead, seeing that He couldn’t be dissuaded, Thomas, one of the disciples, said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” So, when He instructed them in the matter of the “colt” they are noted as doing what Jesus told them to do despite any fears on misgivings they may have felt at that moment.

Following His orders did indeed get them questioned by others, but they once again followed the path of obedience and “they said unto them even as Jesus had commanded.” 

Mark 11:7 “And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast their garments on him; and he sat upon him.”

I don’t know about you, but I have ridden a horse bareback before. The experience was not pleasant, to say the least. Here, the disciples provide comfort for the Lord as He mounts the beast set aside for His use. In lieu of a saddle, they pad the back of the beast with “their garments.”

We often hear people use expressions of love and service to another by saying things like, “I will give them the clothes off my back.” Jesus’ disciples didn’t talk about it, they did it. They literally gave Him the “clothes” off their backs to comfort the ride of the King. Oh, how much this must have meant to the Lord who would soon come before angry faces and hearts filled with hatred.  But, at this moment, He gets to feel and experience support from those closest to Him.

Mark 11:8-10 “And many spread their garments in the way: and others cut down branches off the trees, and strawed them in the way.  And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Blessed be the kingdom of our father David, that cometh in the name of the Lord: Hosanna in the highest.”

Can we picture this scene really quick? As Jesus was entering in Jerusalem on that colt, word had to have rapidly spread for not just the disciples were celebrating the King, “many” and “others” joined in. Matthew 21:8 referred to them as “multitudes.”

Did they recognize the symbolism? Did they associate His entrance as the long-awaited promised One; of He that was prophesied of? We are working under the assumption that those questions can be answered with a very real, “Yes!”

Again, His reign to free men from sin instead of tyranny may not be what they had imagined at the time, but they understood who He claimed to be by how He rode into Jerusalem, fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, they willingly and with great rejoicing (as was also prophesied) wanted to be a part of the celebration. The King was coming and they “spread their garments in the way” and “cut down branches off the trees” to cover the path He would travel. What a small service for such a great King!

They honored Him with their “Hosanna” shout. They rallied and proclaimed the praises of Him who would save them, for that’s the meaning behind the word “Hosanna;” to “save now.”

“Hosanna” was the shout of triumph. In Him, they saw a victorious King. In Him, they had an expectancy of deliverance. In Him they rejoiced, proclaiming that He is the one who would fulfill the promise of “the kingdom of our father David,” (see 2 Samuel 7:12-14).

So, they rejoiced and shouted that He was, “Blessed.”  His “kingdom” is “blessed.” He is the one that “cometh in the name of the Lord!” They were getting their praise on as we say it today! The King has arrived! The King has come! “Blessed is he!”

In Matthew 21:10 it says of that day that “all the city was moved.”  Often when Jesus performed miracles crowds would gather around Him to witness the power of God at work through Him. Here, there is no miracle performed; rather prophecy, long-awaited prophecy being fulfilled. Emotions were running high and people gathered and were excited to see it coming to pass right before their eyes; right in their time of living. When was the last time you were so stirred up about Jesus?  They had a reason to be shaken with excitement saying, “Hosanna in the highest!”

Mark 11:11 “And Jesus entered into Jerusalem, and into the temple: and when he had looked round about upon all things, and now the eventide was come, he went out unto Bethany with the twelve.”

An anti-climactic end to such a triumphal entry?  Oh, no!  After identifying Himself as King by riding in the way that He did, Jesus “entered… into the temple,” and soon some things were going to change!  It was about to get real up in that place, as some would say.

If you would read further past our lesson, Mark 11:15-17 shows us the second cleansing of the temple Jesus performed (this is also support by Matthew 21:12-13).  There He turned over tables and proclaimed, “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves,” (Mark 11:17).

This King wasn’t playing with His ministry!  He was triumphant at the beginning, middle and end of His parade, and He still commands the victory as He is cleaning out His Father’s house.  Only the true King, with true authority, can command and operate the way He does.

Conclusion

Jesus is He that was to come; the King to reign for all eternity.  Let us shout his praises: “Hosanna in the highest!”  There’s no need to look for another.  He’s the One!

Lesson PDF: Sunday School Lesson – Hosanna to the King

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Hosanna to the King

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Hosanna to the King

Draw the Scene: Hosanna to the King Draw the Scene

(Use the PDF link above for accurate printing) Want to jazz up this memory verse?  Try printing on cardstock and using glue with glitter to fill in the words, colored chalk, paints and more.  You’re only limited by your imagination.  Enjoy!

HOSANNA PALM LEAF CRAFT: Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday (Use this PDF link for accurate printing)  Have students decorate and color their free palm leaf (printing on cardstock is best) and tape or glue to a craft stick (makes a great church fan 🙂 ) or dowel rod or twigs from outside for a natural element so they too can wave them before the Lord with rejoicing.  I wanted mine to be colorful, not just all green.  Jazz it up! After all, it is a celebration.  Enjoy!

PhotoGrid_1426985631285

Hosanna Palm Leaf for Palm Sunday-001

 

Leaf Lace Up Craft:   Use PDF: Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft to put together this simple, yet fun activity.  Print out on cardstock and use a hole punch to put holes around the free leaf template.  Use any materials you have laying around for lacing: yarn, string, pipe cleaners, etc.  I used crumbled up party streamers.  Go figure!  Enjoy! (Similar project shown below)

My Project 320-001

Mark 11 9 Leaf Lace Up Craft-001

How Many Words: Hosanna to the King How Many Words

Word Search: Hosanna to the King Word Search Answers: Hosanna to the King Word Search Answers

Crossword: Hosanna to the King Crossword Answers: Hosanna to the King Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Hosanna to the King Word Scramble Answers: Hosanna to the King Word Scramble Answers

 

 

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “4 Keys to Powerful Prayer” Luke 11:1-13

Photo: Pixabay/Prawny

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 11:1-13 (KJV, Public Domain)

The operation or workings of prayer have been a mystery to some through the ages.  For some prayer seems to be some mundane Christian civic duty; a check off list, if you will, of something that needs to be done.  For others, prayer seems to be elusive; difficult to understand the concept of and even more difficult to do.

Good news!  Prayer is not either of those things.  Prayer is something that is given to us as an honor; as a way to reach the heavenly Father personally, one on one.  How awesome is that?  Prayer is as essential to the Christian life as breathing or eating.  It is necessary to stay spiritually nourished in Him.

So, when Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He gladly obliged because He Himself knows the significance and power in prayer.  In this lesson, there are four key components that can help us have a more powerful prayer life.  The good news is, we’re learning from the best.  We are sitting at the feet of Jesus and taking in these points as He shares with His disciples.  Blessings ~

Lord, Teach Us to Pray

Luke 11:1 “And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

One’s life speaks volumes; more than one’s words ever will.  Most people will judge you by what they see and what Jesus’ disciples saw was a man who was dedicated to prayer.  While He walked on the face of this earth, He was known for offering up “prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears,” (Hebrews 5:7).  Witnessing personally His uninhibited habit of going before the Father with His petitions and the outpourings of His soul, the disciple wanted to know more.

How awesome it is for the disciple to see such a one as He doing the miraculous and being identified as the Son of God, still find a need for prayer?  It’s huge!  It lets us know that if Jesus needed constant contact with the Father to do life on earth, then so do we.  Perhaps this is why a disciple of His questioned Him on prayer and wanted to know more on how to do it?

So, after He was finished “praying in a certain place . . . one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray.”  The Bible doesn’t tell us which disciple it was that asked, and it doesn’t matter.  What does matter is the disciple’s willingness to learn from the Master.  When one sees something genuine and real, they want more of it and want to know how it’s done.  I believe the disciple saw a treasure in prayer and longed to experience it as Jesus did.

Asking to be taught the ins and outs of this valuable resource was the beginning of a great discovery that Jesus was all too willing to share.

Below are four key points that popped out at me during this study on this model prayer that Jesus taught.  These are key elements that I believe will help boost our prayer life, taking it out of the mundane onto a platform where it makes a real difference in our lives.

KEY #1:  ONE HAS TO HAVE ACKNOWLEDGING PRAYER

Luke 11:2-4 “And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.  Give us day by day our daily bread.  And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.  And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.”

When one acknowledges something or someone they are ascribing or giving them credit that they deserve.  Here, opening His teaching on prayer, Jesus jumps in without hesitation, stating, “When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven.”  Now, notice first that Jesus didn’t say “if” ye pray.  He point-blank expected that His people should have an active and working prayer life so He said, “When ye pray.”

Starting with the statement, “Our Father which art in heaven,” Jesus acknowledges to whom one’s prayers should be directed.  And, in the verses following God gets the credit for everything!  This is acknowledgment.

“Our Father which art in heaven,” points one in the right direction.  There are many voices that try to offer advice and insight to the world we live and to the troubles and woes we face.  Yet, none can have the insight as He who created all things.  None is Sovereign as He to really be our champion for real change.  That can only come from He who is enthroned in heaven for all eternity; by He Whom everything takes its commands: “Our Father.”

“Our Father” describes the intimate, relational context in which God wants to be committed to us.  Did you get that?  God wants to be “Our Father” so much that Jesus, God incarnate, instructed us to address Him as such in prayer.  Man may not always step up to the plate to fill this role, but God does.  He willingly takes on the role of “Father,” meaning more than provider in my view.  He takes on the responsibility to love, care and nurture them who come to Him seeking Him as daddy.  Romans 8:15 describes it as this: “Ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.”  This adoption is an on-purpose act of love that He is seeking to fulfill as role of “Father.”  God “will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty,” (2 Corinthians 6:18).

“Hallowed be thy name.”  Part of acknowledging prayer is respecting His holiness.  Oh, I cringe when I see people take the name of the Lord in vain.  God’s name is not like any other and should not be treated as it is.  His name is holy (Isaiah 57:15), and He is the one who “dwell in the high and holy place.”  When one invokes God’s name in prayer it is not a plaything.  We are seeking His holiness to come in on our behalf; garnering His stamp of approval.  Heaven knows how to treat His name so much that they speak the word “holy” three times: “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts,” (Isaiah 6:3).

Acknowledging prayer recognizes God’s authority, His power, His Sovereignty, His control, His kingdom and His will overall. “Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.”  No wonder at the end of the parallel of this prayer found in Matthew 6:13 it states, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.”  We should want to see the glory of God’s will take over the atmosphere of this old stale world “as in heaven.”  We should have heavenly visions of God’s power reclaiming this earth.

Acknowledging prayer recognizes that God is the provider of all.  “Give us day by day our daily bread.”  “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God,” (2 Corinthians 3:5).  We, as all other things created, are dependent on Him as our provider.  “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).  God will provide.

Acknowledging prayer knows that forgiveness comes from God: “And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.”  2 Chronicles 7:14 declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”  God wants to spiritually heal people from their sin-sick ways.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

In return, we are expected to offer forgiveness to those who ask for it.  Gulp!  Yes, forgiveness in any form can be a hard pill to swallow.  But, let me ask you this.  How many times has God said no to us whenever we sought for healing and restoration for the wrongs we have done?  Exactly, He hasn’t!  Forgiveness, much like love, is nothing to be played with.  It is not a lip service to please others rather, it is a heart service to the Lord.  It is, in a sense, showing to others the same grace and mercy that God showed toward us.  And, we acknowledge that this is His will for us.

Acknowledging prayer shows God as a deliverer: And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” God doesn’t tempt people into sin.  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man,” (James 1:13).  Sin is a choice and so is choosing to let God lead and trusting Him to keep you in those hard times.  “O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee,” (Psalm 25:20).  “Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me . . .” (Psalm 19:13).  He is a keeper to them that know Him as a deliverer and He is a protector against the ultimate enemy, the devil.

KEY #2: ONE HAS TO HAVE PERSEVERING PRAYER

Luke 11:5-8 “And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?  And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.  I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him, as many as he needeth.”

The scenario is simple: it’s late in the midnight hour and someone has dropped in unexpectedly.  The problem with the scenario is due to the lateness of the hour and the unexpected nature of the visit there was not enough time to gather resources to care for this visitor.

The proposed solution: knock on the neighbor’s door who is a friend and ask for some help.  The problem with the solution: again, stating the obvious, it’s midnight.  We are in bed.  Are you trying to wake up the kids with all that knocking and yelling out there?!  “I cannot rise and give thee.”

Now, I don’t know about this neighbor, but waking up at midnight is not exactly a welcomed intrusion into my otherwise restful night.  Then, to have the audacity to show up banging on my door and asking for food at that time… well, that’s a whole other story!  But hospitality was central to the culture of the day and was expected to be doled out accordingly.

Also, in those days, sleeping arrangements were generally shared by the whole family.  Doors had big, heavy bolts that clanged and banged if moved.  To get to the bread one would have to step over kids, make noise to get the bread and bang and clang the door opened and shut again.  At this point, the whole house could easily be disturbed.

Jesus stated that the neighbor eventually will give his friend what he is asking but not because he is a friend.  He will only get up out the bed because of his “importunity;” or his persistence.

Jesus uses this scenario to teach us the power of persevering prayer.  One cannot give up so easily.  We have been afforded the privilege to come before the throne of grace “that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:16).  We must be persistent in that privilege.

One’s lack of persistence in prayer can be tied to a lack of faith.  Jesus told the parable of the unjust judge and the widow to illustrate His point: “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me,” (Luke 18:5).  Jesus then asked, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?  I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.  Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:7-8, emphasis mine).

A powerful key component of prayer is not to give up too quickly.

KEY #3: ONE HAS TO HAVE EXPECTANT PRAYER

Luke 11:9-10 “And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”

When one prays expect to receive an answer; expect to see some sort of fulfillment to come from your prayers.  Look for something to happen as a result of your praying.

He doesn’t tell us to “ask” without the expectation of receiving something.  No, He says if you do this, then this will happen; and so, it goes with the other instructions to “seek and knock.” 

Even if the answer doesn’t look the way you imagine it should, your prayers do not fall on deaf ears.  Be confident that God hears you.  God is attentive to you.  God does not leave you in a state of wanting.  David said, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want,” (Psalm 23:1).  There will be results.

When I plant a seed in the ground, I expect to see some sort of growth come out of it.  It may take a while but eventually, I should start seeing a little sprout begin to poke its head through the surface of the dirt.  As I watch it grow to full fruition, I expect to be able to reap off of what I have sown.

Your prayers are like you planting a seed, and what is being said here is that when you do these things: ask, seek and knock; growth is going to come from it.  Expect it!

The word “shall” appears as reassurance four times in just these two verses meaning this is what will happen as a result of praying in this manner.  Let me remind you that Jesus is the one who is teaching this lesson and He is the one telling us to “Ask . . . Seek . . . Knock.”  He is the one who speaks of “receiving, finding and opening” as a result of praying. 

Whatever it is, keep looking to God for the answer.  “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6).  Make it known unto God and keeping making it known with the anticipation of seeing something happen.

“And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him,” (1 John 5:14-15).  Therefore, we can expect to see results.

KEY #4: ONE HAS TO HAVE BELIEVING PRAYER

Luke 11:11-13 “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?  Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer a him a scorpion?  If ye the, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

Believe in the goodness of God.  Believe in your relationship with Him as a child of the heavenly Father.  Believe that He always seeks to give you His best (ex. John 3:16).  I often refer to God in my personal prayer as the Good Father who gives good gifts to His children.  It’s something we must hold on to and depend upon.

Believe that God knows how to answer our prayers.  I am a mom who is not perfect, but I love my children to distraction.  I want what’s best for them.  If they ask for food, surely I will not make a stone sandwich and expect them to eat.  I want them to experience good things.  I want them to be satisfied with the goodness of my house.  God is perfect in all that He is and does, so doesn’t He too have the same aspirations and love toward them that are His? He is not aloof but caring.  He is not unapproachable; rather, He invites us to ask for the good.

We have to step out of ourselves and believe with childlike faith that our heavenly Father knows and cares about our petitions that go up before Him.  This is a trust issue in our relationship with Him.  We rely on Him to supply: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:19).  He is well able and wants to answer our prayers.  “And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive,” (Matthew 21:22, emphasis mine).

Believe it today.

And, the most precious gifts of all that He is more than willing to give to those who ask is the gift of the “Holy Spirit.”  We need the “Holy Spirit!”  He is our comforter (John 14:16).  He is our sealed promise (Ephesians 1:13).  “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us,” (Romans 5:5).  The “Holy Spirit” teaches us the things of God, (1 Corinthians 2:12-13).  We need the gift of the “Holy Spirit” in order to make it in this world.  Therefore, ask with a believing heart, and God will give!

Prayer is powerful!  Jesus lists key points for every believer to enrich their own prayer life.  It’s up to us to use this valuable information to the fullest.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer

Suggested Resources:

Draw the Scene: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Draw the Scene

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Prayer Journal Page

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Prayer Journal Page

Word Search: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Search  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Search Answers

Crossword: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Crossword  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Scramble  Answers: 4 Keys to Powerful Prayer Word Scramble Answers

“Prayer Chain Craft” (A simple, easy and affordable project to throw together for your students. A prayer chain becomes an easy, take-home reminder where students can link together names of people, things, and situations they are praying for.  Example below. Enjoy!)

My Project 263-001

“Prayer Book Craft”

“The Lord’s Prayer Coloring Sheet” (Younger students)

“Teach Us to Pray Maze”

“Prayer Bear” (Cute! Cute! Cute!)

“Ribbon Prayer”

“Bible Lesson: Ask, Seek, Knock”  (Wonderful object lesson)

“Knock, Knock. Who’s There?”  (Links to printables and group activities.  Enjoy!)

Sunday School Lesson – “Zacchaeus Meets Jesus” Luke 19:1-10

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 19:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

Can wealth make you happy?  Many people seem to think so.  They pursue it as if this will be the answer to all their troubles.  While money in and of itself isn’t bad, one’s attitude toward it can be.  If it becomes the main focus of life and is managing you more than you are managing it, then it’s a possibility that there’s a problem.

The fact is many people every day look at money, prestige, titles and the like as a gold access card to carry them through life; depending on it to be there to fill every need imaginable.  For some, it may not be money rather it may be certain people and vices that have this hold on them.  But, when the truth of it all boils down to nothing, often the pursuer of such things still find they have an unanswered void that remains in their life.

Material things and people can only take you so far in life.  Not until we meet Jesus face to face; not until we see Him for who He is in our own lives and depend on Him for salvation and to fill that void, do we find the peace and rest that our souls so desire.

Zacchaeus was such a man in today’s lesson.  He had money.  He had a title.  But his life was not all that it cracked up to be.  On the outside, it may appear that he had everything going for him.  But, on the inside, there was something still missing; something that drew him to want to be where Jesus was on that day of their meeting.

No matter how bad a sinner someone is considered to be, or the negative way people view them when they meet Jesus with a surrendered heart, their life can be changed.

Lesson Summary

Luke 19:1-4 “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”

Being a “publican” (tax collector) is a title that left an awful aftertaste in the mouth of the ancient Jewish people.  Due to their role in extorting monies from their fellow countrymen and working side by side with the occupying forces of the enemy Romans, this made them especially despised in the eyes of their own people.  And, he who would dare to be considered “chief” among these could be looked on possibly as a chief sinner as well.  His sins against his people were even greater considering he most likely came to that position through bidding with the enemy for the right to tax his own people and to hold back monies for himself adding to his “rich” status.

Yet, it is the same man such as the one described above who hears of Jesus coming to town and wants to get a better view of Him.  The Bible doesn’t specify his cause for wanting to be near to Jesus when He comes, but the fact that he went through great lengths to gain a bird’s eye view is nothing to sneeze at.  Something (as we say, but know it had to have been the Lord), was working on the inside to draw this man closer to where the Savior would be for a divinely appointed encounter that would change his life forever.

“He sought to see Jesus who he was.”  At this point in His ministry, Jesus is coming to the end of His course on this earth.  By now many people in many cities have seen or at the very least heard of this man who teaches with such power and authority; a man who raises the dead and opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.  Some identified Him as a man who restores the lepers to a whole state and frees people from spiritual bondage.  Some thought of Him as John the Baptist come back to life or Elijah or one of the prophets (see Mark 8:28).  Very few saw Him for who He really was – the “Christ,” the Son of God (see Mark 8:29), who came with a divine mission to save mankind from his sins.

With such a reputation preceding Him it is not surprising that when He comes to town people want to clamor to at least get a glimpse of Him to see “who he was,” even this publican.  Was it mere curiosity or was there something more going on in the heart of Zacchaeus?  We may never know what started his pursuit to be near Jesus, but we are sure told how the story ends – and that, my friends, is the best and most important part of it all.

With the crowds forming Zacchaeus’ size posed a problem in his desire to see Jesus better.  It is recorded that he was “little of stature,” meaning he was shorter than the average males present there.  We are not told exactly how tall he was, but it had to have been significant to point out as a hindrance to see Jesus.

With that, “he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”  Although I am a girl, climbing trees used to be one of my favorite things to do as a child.  I mean, literally, almost every day we were climbing trees.  We would pretend this tree was my house and that one was yours and so on.  Oh, for the imagination of youth…

Yet, it was not imagination that drove Zacchaeus, but a real-life desire.  Determined to not let anyone or anything get in his way, in the most undignified fashion imaginable for a grown man who had the status of “chief publican”, he acted as a school-aged boy and climbed a tree just to see Jesus.

What lengths do we go through to be near Jesus?  Our western culture offers us opportunities that others may not be privileged to, and yet how do we use our unrestricted access of the Lord?  Perhaps if we were forced into hiding just to worship, we would understand the simple desire to climb a tree to see Jesus.

A clear vision of Jesus, no matter where we find ourselves in life, is imperative to our Christian faith.  It requires determination and commitment to be where He is.  The question is, “How bad do you want Him?”

Zacchaeus didn’t know Jesus personally, yet, but from what he heard he, a sinner, had a made-up mind to find out more, even if it meant suffering the scoffing of others.  Not caring what they thought, he mounted the “sycomore tree” branches that went out some, giving him the perfect place to perch himself for a better vantage point to see Jesus.

Luke 19:5-6 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”

Jesus has always had an amazing focus for people.  He had a perspective of souls that others couldn’t possibly see on the outside.  When they looked at Zacchaeus all they saw was his sins and with condemning attitudes brushed him off as not being worthy of their time.  After all, he consorted with the enemy, so why should they.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t see him or us that way.  Outward markers that try to identify us are not what He’s most concerned with.  I have always said that He is more interested in what goes on inside.  Jesus pays attention to the needs of the inner man that the whole man might be saved.  Inside every real person is a real soul that needs to be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

What would it have been like to be the most unwelcome guest at the party, but the honoree comes along to point you out and elevate you above all others in attendance?  Sweet!   This is something akin to the way I believe Zacchaeus must have felt when, despite the crowds of “worthy” people in the press, Jesus centered on him alone, saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”

I love this because it really personifies what Jesus taught when He told the parable of the lost sheep saying, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).  This was a picture of Jesus caring enough about each individual to go after that one soul.  Make no mistake about it, Jesus cares about you personally.

It was simply unheard of for a rabbi or a holy man to go to the house of a sinner such as him.  Being the Savior that He was, Jesus often ruffled the feathers of other’s opinions in a desire to draw people closer to Himself.  This was not the first time His actions upended other’s views.  Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31).  Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin.  Please get that right.  However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them.

Sticking to His guns, as we would dub it modern terminology, Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.  Zacchaeus surely knows how people viewed him.  He probably would have never thought to ask Jesus to come but Jesus has opened the door and called to him out of the crowds.  Quickly he came down from that tree and “received him joyfully.”

He had something to be happy about.  Jesus chose to be with him out of everyone else.  The world had written him off as a no good, no good.  But, not Jesus.  There’s a phrase that most are familiar with called “carpe diem,” which many interpret as “seize the day.”  It means don’t let this moment go by.  Take hold of what is presented before you before it slips through your fingers.  It may never come around again.  He must take a step of faith now.

Zacchaeus saw Jesus before him.  Zacchaeus received Jesus’ beckoning to allow Him to come to his house.  There are a lot of spiritual underlying references here.  The Bible tells us to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isaiah 55:6).  The time is now.  The day is at hand.  For anyone who wants to be saved, tomorrow is not promised.  When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart, right now is the time to open it and let Him in; to receive Him joyfully.

The Bible also lets us know, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12).  What would have happened if Zacchaeus would have denied Jesus’ request?  Little did he know that Jesus was making His way closer to the cross to be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind past, present, and future.  Jesus would not come through here again.  This was the time to receive Him.  It was not going to come around once more.  He would have missed out on the best life-altering experience there is.  Don’t let it be said too late.

Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”

The others in the crowd complained when they saw the interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus.  It is amazing, that despite the grace of God in each individual life, how we can get selfish and nick pick when God wants to do something for someone else.

People talk about what they don’t understand.  God said in Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD,” (55:8).  They couldn’t understand why Jesus would want to even talk to the likes of this tax collector, better yet, why He would want to go to his house.  They couldn’t understand that Jesus looks beyond what people are right now and sees what they can become.  They couldn’t comprehend that love, grace, and mercy were at work there that day and every day to any and all who would receive Him joyfully. He might be classified as a “sinner” right now, but before this event is over with, he shall be called a child of God.

Luke 19:8-10 “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

A changed heart is reflected by changed actions.  What people witness in your life will resound more than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Something remarkable transpired there that day between Zacchaeus and Jesus.  We don’t know exactly what, but at the end of the day, Zacchaeus was a new man.  The art of greed and getting over on people to make a quick buck were no longer his priorities.  His priority now was living right before the Lord.  And with that, he seeks to pay back some of the wrongs he has committed toward his fellow man.

He offers, of his own accord, to give half of his goods to the poor.  This was not something that was required but wholly testifies to the new nature his heart has undergone.  You can never be saved by your works, but faith without works is dead (James 2:17,20,26).  What has transpired on the inside should be made manifest on the outside.

For this man, who gained his wealth by stealing and extortion, sought means along those same lines to recompense his wrongdoings.  Therefore, anything he had taken from any person through the means of “false accusation” Zacchaeus promised to “restore him fourfold.”  He was ready, and his heart was in proper position, to go above and beyond what was necessary to work to undo some of the wrongs he had done.  

Jesus, the true teller of a true heart transformation proclaims, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”  True repentance is an inside job.  Faith is personal and Jesus knew, not from his giving, but because He is the only one who can see where man can’t, that this man is a new creature with a new nature.  Jesus knows this man is fit for salvation, and as Zacchaeus received Him with joy into his home, Jesus gladly welcomes this repentant man into the family of faith.

Isaiah tells us, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (55:7).  And, this is what we see play out in Zacchaeus’ story.

God has from the beginning always sought the side of pardon.  Man has often gone in the opposite direction.  But, when one wants to make that spiritual U-turn in life and gets back on the right path where He is, God does not reject him.  God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  And, “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” (John 3:18).

The murmurers and complainers had condemned him already, but Jesus saw more.  He was still a child of promise, the seed of Abraham (compare to those of us who are now in Christ, who through faith are now the seed of Abraham as well – see Galatians 3:7,16,26), just as they were, and if he was truly repentant, he deserved another chance. Earlier Jesus taught, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” (Matthew 9:13; compare to Paul’s personal testimony in 1 Tim. 1:15).  And, judging by Zacchaeus’ outcome, I’d say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Changed hearts and changed lives are what Jesus’ ministry is all about.  He didn’t wash His hands of him and consider him out of the game.  Rather, He sought for that lost soul, stating, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

Jesus’ life was marked with the undeniable cause to save men from their sins; to redeem a people unto God.  The ministry that He operated in would heal; bring peace and deliverance, eventually fulfilling all through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:17; see also 1 John 4:14).

Conclusion

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Zacchaeus joyfully received Jesus with faith.  Will you?

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Zacchaeus Meets Jesus

Suggested Activities:

Object Lesson: “Gum and Money Object Lesson” video 

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Jesus Christ is a Personal Savior

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Christ is a Personal Savior

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Word Search: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Search  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Search Answers

Crossword: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Crossword  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Scramble  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Memory Verse

How Many Words: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus How Many Words

“A Little Man with a Big Problem”

“Tree Paper Craft”

“Jesus and Zacchaeus Bible Lesson”

“Zacchaeus is Found”

“Zacchaeus Come Down”

 

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Parable of the Great Banquet” Luke 14:15-24

Photo: Pixabay/FotografielLink

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 14:15-24 (KJV, Public Domain)

15) “And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.

16) Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many:

17)  And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

18) And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused.

19) And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused.

20) And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.

21) So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.

22) And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.

23) And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

24) For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Introduction

“We Request Your Presence,” “You’re Invited,” “Let’s Party,” and “Join Us” are just some of the ways an invitation may express that you are welcomed to come to this special event.  Not everybody is allowed, but you are because you received an invitation.

That’s the wonderful thing about invitations, they make you feel special because the event you were invited to is special.  Once one responds with an affirmative answer that they will be there, the host of the event can start preparing for the number of people who promised and are expected to be in attendance.

But then the day arrives and those who said they would be there, aren’t.  Rather, excuses are made to why each couldn’t follow through on their commitment to the invitation that was given, how is the host supposed to respond or feel about this sudden change of plans?

You see, excuses are exactly that, excuses.  Barring any valid emergency or tragic calamity, most excuses are just reasons that people make up for not doing something they don’t want to do.  Although they obligated themselves to be there, now they wish they didn’t, and want to be excused.

How many today is allowing their eternity to hang on the hinges of excuses?  They have a lot of reasons why they can’t respond to God’s heavenly invitation through our Lord Jesus Christ, but eventually, the day will come, and that heavenly celebration will begin.  All those who refused the invitation will not even get a taste of what it will be like at that glorious time in that heavenly feast.

Eventually, the time of all excuses will run out.

Lesson Summary

Leading up to today’s lesson text, Jesus finds Himself dining at the house of a certain chief Pharisee (Luke 14:1) on the Sabbath, where His actions were under a microscope (especially in regard to healing on the Sabbath – see Luke 14:2-5), as this was usually the case when He was in the presence of these men.  They watched Him and looked for their own reasons of why Jesus could be dismissed and disregarded about whom He claimed to be.

It was during this particular dinner when Jesus noticed how ambitiously people sought to sit in the greater seats of notoriety and position.  How they wanted to be noticed and therefore fought to be the ones seated in the “chief rooms” (vs. 7).  From that, He teaches a parable on humility (see vss. 8-11) and who exactly they should invite to a dinner or supper (vss. 12-14) and that anything they do for others, they would be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just,” (vs. 14).

Listening to Jesus’ illustrations about proper dinner etiquette and protocol, one in attendance couldn’t help but wonder and voice his opinion of what it would be liking dining this way with a heavenly perspective, “at the resurrection of the just.”  He said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God.”  Did he automatically assume that he, as well as those present at this dinner, were to be shoo-in residents of the “kingdom of God” because of their social status and natural heritage?  Was this why he remarked in such a way?  If that were the case, Jesus would shortly set his thinking straight.

Regardless of his motives for the statement, surely, he was right.  The Bible explains repeatedly the rewards and blessedness of those who are in the kingdom of God.  1 Corinthians 2:9 tells us, “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” and Matthew 16:27 tells us, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works,” (in addition to many, many more biblical references).

In other words, that will definitely be a very blessed time for all who are invited to and attend that heavenly feast.

But who exactly will be there?

Using another parable, Jesus explains who it is that will be attending that heavenly feast.  He says, “A certain man made a great supper, and bade many.”  There was a great occasion on the horizon and “many” people were invited to come, which meant that this would be a grand affair.

I know you’ve heard the expression, “The more the merrier,” and it’s usually true.  When one is celebrating, they want as many people possible in attendance.  People want these special occasions to be full of fun, full of joy, and full of well-wishers, and that happens when the party is alive with people.

To invite so many meant there were also just as many preparations that had to be made.  After all, a good host wants to make sure that when their guests arrive, there is enough food and places to accommodate everyone.  To slight anyone in this area after they committed to come to your dinner would be wrong.

Therefore, when he originally “bade many,” that can be viewed at the first invitation.  This is the one that would have been sent out plenty of time before the event was to take place.  This is also the one that the proposed guests would have responded to, assuring the host of their commitment to come.

In this parable, after all the necessary preparations had been made according to how many people previously said they would be there, the host sent “his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.”

The day of the grand affair was now upon them.  It was time for the “supper” to begin.  The feast is in order, and now all that is needed is for the people “that were bidden, Come.”  The only thing missing from this glorious event were those who previously received the invitation and promised to be there.  With that, the servant was instructed to go out and collect the guests and let them know it’s time; let them know “all things are now ready.”  The work has been done.  The preparations have been a success.  There is a seat for everyone.  There is enough food and fun for everyone.  It’s time for the celebration to begin and now all we need is you!

Can you sense the excitement in the air the host must have been feeling waiting for that first guest to arrive; that first knock on the door?  But they didn’t show up.  No one who said they would be there was there yet, and he was about to find out why.

“And they all with one consent began to make excuse” (compare Matthew 22:6).  To put it bluntly, they all refused to respond positively to the second invitation that asked them to come because the time was now ready.  Now that, my friends, was a serious social faux pas that had some serious consequences to it.  Illegitimate excuses will take one out of step of what they were designed for or committed for, causing not only insult to the one who was welcoming them in, but it also breeds an opportunity for missed blessings as the latter part of our lesson will tell.

In regard to excuses, especially when dealing with our spiritual walk, the Bible reminds us, “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment,” (Matthew 12:36).  Every excuse that flows from our lips will be answered for.

I don’t know the true, inner thoughts and reasoning of these excuses we are getting ready to explore, but regardless of what was behind their motive of not staying committed to the answered invitation, their reasoning was wrong and fell flat on the floor of useless excuses as they all had one mind, “one consent,” that they were not going to attend.

Excuse#1: “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it.”  The purchase of property is expensive, to say the least.  In ancient days, as well as in ours.  And, with the purchase of any property, there are questions that will have to be answered.  Is the land good for building, planting crops, or whatever purpose he was looking for when considering buying that property?  Is it near an area that one can readily reach resources that are needed such as water?  Are there concerns with the property that he needs to be aware such as enemies, animals, thieves, etc.?

These and many more questions would have and should have been answered BEFORE even considering purchasing a piece of property.  The best way to make sure the property has all you need before laying down a sizable amount of money on it is to go and examine it carefully PRIOR to purchase.  To purchase sight unseen is not good business.

But, this man, with his excuse, tried to convince the servant that it is imperative to go and see land and examine it AFTER he already purchased it.  This was a ridiculous concept and the mere thought of it falls flat on the floor of bad excuses as he refused the invitation: “I pray thee have me excused;” please let my poor reasoning be found sufficient in your sight.

Excuse #2: “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them.”  Although in our modern day it is possible to buy a car without actually test driving it, it’s not a concept I’m comfortable with.  Even if the car has everything it says and does everything it advertises, until I get into the driver’s seat to feel the fit of it on me, I won’t really know if it will do.  I need to test drive it first.

The same concept is behind proving the oxen.  This excuse teller is laughably stating that he hasn’t “test driven” his oxen before buying them, so on this day of this auspicious occasion, he must do so right now and cannot come to the affair that he had committed himself to attend.  Thus, he refused the invitation responding as the first, “I pray thee have me excused;” please accept my excuse for standing you up.

Excuse #3: “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”  Now, unless this wedding was an unusually hurried affair, this should not have been a problem.  Just like the feast he is invited to, the groom and the bride would have spent a considerable amount of time planning and preparing for their nuptials.  Ergo, this groom would have been aware of, way in advance, if his impending or new marriage and whether or not it would hinder him from attending a planned event he already committed to.

Again, we must remember, that in each instance given, they already accepted the original invitation which means they knew they would be free from other obligations that may have been a hindrance from attending.  If that were the case, he and they would have or should have responded that they wouldn’t be able to attend this time at the receiving of the first invitation.

Rather than praying to be excused as the first two responded, this third excuse user simply said, “I cannot come.”  He just wasn’t going to do it.

But now the that the time is at hand all of a sudden each has found a “reason” of why they can’t come at the host’s bidding.  Everything mentioned could have been taken care of after the feast and was not a legitimate cause for missing this engagement.

Rather, they let other people and other things became a distraction against their commitment.  These things vied for the attention of the men then, and people every day today and too often they win out, temporarily that is.

When the “servant” returned, he came bearing bad news: no one was coming.  It’s didn’t matter that the host did everything He/he promised.  It didn’t matter the care that went into making this day special beyond belief – they refused the invitation and they were refusing to “come.”

Upon hearing the news, the master of the house became very “angry.”  It’s not even totally about the amount of time and money that went into getting such an event together, but it’s about the disrespect for the host, for the master of the house, when his kindness was thrown back in his face at their refusal to come.

So, he commanded, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind.”  “Quickly” speaks of the urgency to find guests who would be willing to come because remember, everything was now ready.  Time would not wait.  Preparations would not wait.  The party and all its trappings would deteriorate unless there be guests to fill the rooms, eat the feast, and partake in the event.  And, since those who were previously invited refused, others would be more than willing to take their place.

This grouping of individuals was some of the same whom Jesus previously stated (see verses12-14) should be invited to the banquet despite their inability to repay. This grouping of individuals all had something wrong with them (boy, doesn’t that sound familiar).  They weren’t of the pious social order and they were definitely in a different social class then the previous invitees, therefore they would have been overjoyed at finally knowing what it’s like to be behind the doors of such an occasion; of being a part of and feeling like they belong.  The others who refused the invitation were being replaced by people who had a receptive heart.

Please Note: Some believe or represent Christianity as some starchy, perfectly pressed people with nary a deficiency or mark on their record.  This is so far from the truth.  In God’s house, all are welcomed and invited to come.  The rejects, the castaways, the last to be picked are all invited.  Those who are not perfect, but have some faults are invited.  Those who may not have been original members of the family but have now been grafted in are invited.  Background, socio-economic status, race or ethnicity – none of that bars a receptive heart from being invited.

So, to the “streets and lanes of the city” the servant was commanded to go; to the places where the undesirables and the unlikely were usually found, he was to go and invite guests to this great banquet.  YOUR ADDRESS ON EARTH WILL NOT STOP YOU FROM GETTING AN ADDRESS IN HEAVEN WITH THE RIGHT HEART.

Once the servant did as he was commanded, it was found that there is still “room” for more guests.  The supper is not yet full.  Then, “the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”  Go beyond the borders of the city, go beyond the borders of this people, and find others who are willing to come, who are willing to be receptive to the invitation the Master is giving.

Please Note: God established a relational covenant with His people Israel.  It started with Abraham (Genesis 12-17) and traveled down through his family line.  On Mount Sinai, God once again stated through the Mosaic Covenant His desire to be their God and for them to be His people; to be in a relational covenant with them (Exodus 19).  He said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all the people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation…” (Exodus 19:5-6a).  They accepted the first invitation and heard for centuries through the prophets to be ready for the second one; to be ready for when Christ comes on the scene.  And, when He did, they refused the invitation.  They refused Him and would not come.

Also, Please Note: This in no ways implies that God is officially and completely done with His chosen people because He is not.  And, as was spoken to Abraham way back then, God always had a plan that all the world be reached (Genesis 12:3).  So, let us not focus too much on the Jew/Gentile difference, rather let us focus on any, and all hearts, that say yes to Him and respond with a committed life.

So, we see in our lesson the servant reaching out to those who dwell beyond the borders.  Many see this as the inclusion of the Gentiles who respond to the invitation with a receptive heart through our Lord Jesus Christ.

“That my house may be filled.”  There is still room for more.  Go out and convince and preach that others may accept the invitation and fill the streets of heaven (compare Matthew 28:19-20).

Those who were previously invited and refused the invitation “none… shall taste of my supper.”  They will not partake of that heavenly feast.  They have rejected Me, and now they are rejected, and those who put other things and people before Me shall lose out on their reward (read Matthew 10:33-42).

Conclusion

The invitation is still opened and, on the table, today.  Won’t you come?

It won’t be opened forever.  Today is the day to say yes to Jesus!

There is going to be a feast in that coming day; a great celebration for those who answered the invitation and responded with a commitment.  There will be a celebration of the redeemed!

The idea of a feast correlating with the celebration of God’s people in a future heavenly home is nothing new to us.  When Jesus said, “That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven,” (Matthew 8:11) He was referring to a heavenly feast (see also Luke 13:29; 22:30).  In Luke’s account, one who sat by said, “Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God,” (Luke 14:15; as today’s lesson notes).

John brought a similar picture to us when he revealed to us his vision of the marriage supper of the Lamb wherein, he says, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb,” (Revelation 19:9).  One after one, those images show the everlasting reigning of our God and the celebration of the saints with Him.

WOW!  Saints of God, we have something very wonderful to look forward to.  Jesus, through His death and sacrifice, has already made all things ready.  All we have to do is respond properly to the invitation given.

I implore you, if you have not already done so, answer the invitation with a life of commitment today!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Parable of the Great Banquet

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Parable of the Great Banquet Draw the Scene

Memory Verse: Parable of the Great Banquet Memory Verse

Word Search: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Search Answers: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Search Answers

Crossword: Parable of the Great Banquet Crossword Answers: Parable of the Great Banquet Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Scramble Answers: Parable of the Great Banquet Word Scramble Answers

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

From a previous lesson: “No Excuses Church Fan Craft”: No Excuses Church Fan Template (Use this PDF for accurate printing) Print out on cardstock or glue to construction paper, cut, color, decorate, tape or glue to a craft stick, and enjoy! Although this is from a different verse, it highlights that we are to have no excuses unlike those in today’s lesson.

 

 

“The Parable of the Great Banquet”

“Parable of the Feast” 

“The Parable of the Great Supper” (With directions for an easy, handmade craft that only requires paper and crayons or markers, that highlights the excuses that were made in this week’s lesson.  Enjoy!)

“Don’t Make Excuses Feat Pennant”

“Excuses! Excuses!”

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Instructions on Humility” Luke 14:4-14

Photo: Pixabay/Lumapoche

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 14:7-14 (KJV, Public Domain)

Have you ever been around that one person in the crowd that always needs to be heard?  They stand amid a circle of onlookers boasting about all the what’s going to be.  They are people with a lot of talk and little action, when, actions really do speak louder than words.

Jesus was the epitome of humbleness and humility.   Philippians 2:7 says, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”  The King of all kings stepped down from His throne in heaven and stooped down to the rags of earth and put on humanity.  The King who could’ve demanded all demanded nothing.

In John 13:15 He told them, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”  Though that was written after the washing of the disciples’ feet the same principle of humility and how one lives their life applies here.

Prominence is not a new and now thing.  Wanting to be seen and noticed by others is something that mankind has before and continues to struggle with today.  Jesus instructs us on how to seek the humble road to walk and let God exalt us in due time.

Humility Does Not Exalt Itself

Luke 14:7 “And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,”

“I only want the best for my…” you fill in the rest.  It’s something I’m sure we have all said at one point or another.  The best is a symbol of status.  It is thought of to be in a more favorable condition than another.  The best for the purpose of showing off was not something Jesus supported, but for those who attended these events, they fervently sought for it.

“He marked how they chose out the chief rooms.”  Jesus pays attention to the dealings of man.  He has a very astute eye for detail.  Attending the weddings and/or events He observed how people clamored for the best; “the chief rooms.”  Many may not see a problem with wanting choice seating but let me unwrap it a bit and show you this in another perspective.

Imagine a concert with people fighting and pushing their way to get as close to the front as possible.  Not caring for others, they would trample and step over others to get to that prominent place.  Or, let me pick with some other folk.  Imagine… are you ready for it… BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!  Enough said.

Seeking after these chief rooms was seeking after the world’s symbol of being lifted above another.  The attitudes represented didn’t give thought or care to their human counterparts.  Getting to that prominent position is all that mattered.

Luke 14:8-9 “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.”

It’s the “not’s” of life that people don’t want to hear about.  But Jesus, with His wise perspective, instructs the people to live opposite of their natural inclinations.  Naturally, people seek the higher, the better.  True humility doesn’t vie for the best for oneself; it vies for the best for others.

One teaching I have always heard and still remember to this day is that none of us are the end all to everything.  What that means is that God can raise up someone off the streets or wherever to take anybody’s place and fulfill a ministry, calling, etc. if one is unwilling to do so on their part.  There is always someone who can take over the place where we fight to sit or someone in the wings whom others may view as more important.  Therefore, to vie for the temporary of our own accord means that we will not have the strength in and of ourselves to retain that so-called “seat of honor” if the one who bids decides that we can be swapped out and made to move and give room to another.

Jesus’ advice was not to put oneself in that situation where instead of the honor they fought of themselves to obtain, they actually have come to know shame by being made to move.  This reminds me of the naughty dog who walks away with his tail tucked between his legs; ashamed and put out.  Jesus was trying to help Christians save themselves from shame through the fruit of humility.  In our success-driven generation more of this fruit needs to be eaten more often, and with careful regard.  The thrill to seek the “high” will quickly be overtaken when one is forced to take the “lowest.”

Luke 14:10 “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.”

The way to up is down.  How backward that is to the thinking of many today?  But how glorious it is that when one is in the “lowest” to have another come and place him in the “higher.”  This is how things work in God’s economy.  Notice in the Bible, it is the lowliest of people that are entrusted with the greatest honor.

People will take notice of the one who is lifted.  “Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.”  Notice the opposites of God’s economy.  Those that seek to be noticed in the “presence” of people are the same ones that can be overlooked or even made to move lower.  Yet, at the same time, those who are not worried about self-glorification and such are the ones who are now noticed in the “presence” of all.  “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen,” (Proverbs 25:6-7).  Choose what Proverbs calls the “better!”

A good biblical representation of this is the story of Joseph.   He was forced into servitude yet through it all he kept his cool and let God work in him where he was be it the pit, Potiphar’s house, or the prison.  God moved him “higher” in each circumstance until eventually, Pharaoh declared, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou,” (Genesis 41:40).  Now, Joseph was honored or “worshipped” as second in command of Egypt.  He didn’t exalt or seek the higher for himself; God was responsible for bidding him to come “higher.”

Luke 14:11 “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Through stories of parable or through a direct command of the Word, Jesus is making His point: if one decides to lift themselves up God can and will bring him/her down!

Obadiah 3-4 says, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD” (emphasis mine).  Arrogance and self-exaltation are deceptive.  It is a lie that will fade as fast as any fake substance that tries to stand before a very real God.  That’s God’s economy!

When one seeks to exalt themselves not only is it prideful, something that God is dreadfully against, but it shows that one trusts in themselves over God’s sovereignty.  “Whosoever” means absolutely anybody! There are no exceptions.  Nobody is exempt.  Any who would seek to lift himself will be “abased;” God will put them down.  But, for those that are humble God shows special favor.  “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones,” (Isaiah 57:17).  These are revived.  These are exalted.

Humility Treats Others Fairly

Luke 14:12-13 “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.  But when thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:”

Instructions for humility also include how we treat others.  One who is prideful and operates for self-advancement will put on a show for those who can help them reach their goal.  Shaking the right hands and scratching the right backs can lift one in certain social circles.  It propels them further up the ladder of success.

Humility, as what Jesus was teaching, operates with compassion and is based on love.  Love that wants to see others treated fairly.  Love that is not concerned with who approves of the guest list.  Love that sees people for who they are and not the badges of afflictions such as maimed, lame and blind; and not for the labels of being “poor.”  These people, despite how society looks on them, are to be welcomed to come to the feast!

Are we not a people who will experience the same benefits that Jesus is teaching in this parable?  Revelation 19:9 says, “…Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…” Were we not the unloved?  Were we not the ones maimed by sin and the degradation of this world?  Were we not the ones who bore afflictions and were outcast yet when He saved us we became “blessed?”  We have received our open invitation to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” which we could never have been counted worthy of or repay.  Jesus is saying for His people to start practicing what He already was going to do for all those who are “called.”

Luke 14:14 “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompence thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

If you will allow me to paraphrase, Jesus was saying, “They can’t repay you, but I can!”  Isn’t that exciting?  “Thou shalt be blessed!”  The Bible declares, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed,” (Proverbs 13:21).  Too many are worried about the idea of losing out.  They allow thoughts of being shortened by someone or not receiving a return for their supposed good that they do.  But our God is faithful, and He is the one that will reward!

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ,” (Colossians 3:24).  When one loves people enough to invite those whom to others seem unworthy, they are showing that they are true servants of Christ because this is what Christ did for all.  And, because they “serve the Lord Christ” they “shall receive the reward of the inheritance.”

If you have ever read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, you know that the Ten Boom family was a family that was used to opening their home out of their meager means to feed any who knocked on the door – people who could not repay them for their kindness.  Then, during the German occupation, they rescued, saved, and cared for countless Jews while they themselves suffered loss.  God does not soon forget such kindness toward one of His own.  On this earth, it may have appeared that this family lost all, when, in actuality, they have their reward that will be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”  In humility, they were just happy to be servants of Christ that could reach out and help others.  They were never worried about a here and now reward.  They just wanted to help any way they could. That’s compassion.  That’s the love of Christ in operation, which to me, is the meaning of true humility.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Instructions on Humility

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Instructions on Humility Draw the Scene

 

Word Search: Instructions on Humility Word Search Answers: Instructions on Humility Word Search Answers

Crossword: Instructions on Humility Crossword Answers: Instructions on Humility Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Instructions on Humility Word Scramble Answers: Instructions on Humility Word Scramble Answers

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Luke 14:11

Kid’s Journal Page – Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Teaches Us to be Humble

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

“A Tale of Two Prayers” (Great lesson ideas and object lesson.  It has balloons so you know students will enjoy this one.  Enjoy!)

“The Tortoise and the Hare” (This old story with coloring sheet is a great example of humility.  Enjoy!)

“Donkey Paper Bag Craft”

“Activities for Kids on Humility”

“Humility Bible Lessons for Kids”

“Boastful or Humble” (Printable activity page that will help kids evaluate what is humble.)

“Pride vs. Humility” (Different lesson but can easily be applied to this one.  After all, when you have boxing gloves involved it becomes a whole new way of illustrating such an important truth.  Enjoy!)

 

Sunday School Lesson – “Jesus: the Great High Priest” Hebrews 4:14-5:10

Photo: Pixabay/geralt

VERSE DISCOVERY: Hebrews 4:14-5:10 (KJV, Public Domain)

If one allows something to occupy space and time in their lives and in their hearts, it shouldn’t be mediocre or average; rather, it should be great.  Jesus Christ is not only the greatest person in life, but He is the greatest inspiration whereby one should base their faith.  Great always outranks all others.

For every reason, way of thinking, or possibility one would think to leave their faith in Jesus for and return to the old order of things, the writer of Hebrews continues to show that Jesus Christ is greater than all, even the high priest.  Let Him be your inspiration to hold on and believe through it all.

Jesus, Our High Priest, Knows What We’re Going Through

Hebrews 4:14-16 “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

The writer of Hebrews, to which no one can surely claim authorship, opens his book with the exaltation of Christ as being over all, and declared that God “hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things,” (Hebrews 1:2).

“Therefore,” Hebrews 2:1 tells us, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

Many believe the recipients of this letter are Jewish Christians whose faith has come under attack and they needed encouragement to hold on to the words of Christ; hold onto the gospel message lest they “let them slip.”

When one “slips” it is usually a backward path into old ways, and this is what was threatening their current faith.  That was the fear plaguing the faith of these new converts.  The old ways; the old religious system that came before Christ was trying to prevail and draw people backward.  The writer of Hebrews continues to explain that Christ is greater than the old way.  He is greater than Moses and greater than the old religious system and priesthood, the angels and all that came before Him.  He is simply greater in every way.

I know old is comfortable to some, but he was trying to push them out of their comfort zone and step out on their new-found faith and believe that Christ is the greater choice.

Our rest, he states, is now found in the promises fulfilled in Christ (Hebrews 3:18-4:3).

With that our lesson opens, stating, “Seeing then that we have a great high priest.”  Back in Leviticus 8:12 we see Aaron being anointed as the first high priest.  From then until Christ, the old religious system of sacrifices, ritual laws, and offerings was in place and the high priest stood as an intermediary between God and the people.

The fallacy in those who wanted to revert to this old system is that now “we have a great high priest.”  Adding the word “great” shows that He is more excellent in every way compared to the high priestly system to which they wanted to go back to.

What made Jesus a “great high priest?”  Not only did He fulfill the role of high priest on a natural level, but he is the only priest/prophet/King/sacrifice that fulfilled everything on a spiritual level.

Jesus stood in the gap where the common man cannot.  He became a “merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, and to make reconciliation for the sins of the people,” (Hebrews 2:17).  So, not only did He offer sacrifices (as the role of the high priest), but He Himself would “make reconciliation for the sins of the people,” by His own blood.  Colossians 1:20 reaffirms this by telling us, “And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things on earth, or things in heaven.”

For the people, the danger of falling back into the old system would cause them to act in unbelief of what Christ accomplished on the cross.  This, in turn, would cause them to forfeit the promise, as did their ancestors when they failed to believe God and enter their promise (see Hebrews 3:12, 18-19; 4:1-3, 9, 11).

Following Christ, the ultimate high priest is the only way to enter that “rest.”

Other high priests were only able to enter the most holy place after much sacrificing for their own sins.  But Christ went even further.  He “passed into the heavens.”  As the “Son of God” He was able to go above and beyond what any mere man or normal high priest could do.  As a matter of fact, Hebrews 7:26 states that He, as high priest, was made “higher than the heavens.”  Jesus is simply that AWESOME!

“Let us hold fast our profession.”  Because of whom Jesus is and His perfect work as the high priest for us, we have the responsibility to hold on to our faith and not let it slip away.  Don’t be easily swayed this way and that with the moving of our circumstances and our emotions and just plain old life itself.  Stay planted in your faith.  Don’t be uprooted but hold on!

Repeatedly we are encouraged to take a stand for our faith and to continue therein (see Colossians 1:23 and 1 Peter 5:9).  Later, the writer of Hebrews will reiterate the need to “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, (for he is faithful that promised),” (Hebrews 10:23).  “Wavering” is littered with doubt and unbelief.  But the one that promised is faithful to keep what He promised if we would just remain in Him and believe.

“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”  Most parents know what it is to see a child reaching for something harmful and in a panic yell “stop” or “no” because we know by experience the outcome of what grabbing hold of that harmful thing may be.

Experience is a great teacher of life.  Why is that?  Because, unless you really have been there and done that and gone through this, you really don’t know on a personal level how it feels.

Christ, as our high priest, knows exactly how this life feels to us.  Serving in humanity as a human also, He experienced what it was like to “be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”  He experienced “in all points” the frail nature of the human body with all its passions.  In an article I previously wrote titled Jesus Knows, I said:

“Jesus knows what living in the flesh feels like.  Walking up and down the shores of Galilee, He didn’t let His holiness withhold Himself from our infirmities.  He hungered as we did.  He wept when sadness invaded His heart.  He justifiably angered at the thoughtlessness of men.  He knows.

Jesus knows.  He knows suffering.  He knows temptation.  He knows what it is to care when no one else does.

He knows what it is to be chased, used and despised.  His ears have felt the sting of gossip and have heard the song of ridicule.  He’s heard the taunting of the nay-sayers and the tsk- tsk- tsk- of the un-approving.

Aching limbs, sore feet and a thirsty tongue – He knows.  Jesus knows disappointment at the carelessness of others.  He knows desperation over the plight of the lost soul.  He knows of the crown of thorns His life is leading Him to.

Jesus knows everything because He is divine.  Jesus has experienced everything because of His humanity.” (Word For Life Says)

Yet, even in His humanity, He overcame all temptation “without sin.”  Even Pilate exclaimed during his own human inquisition of the Savior, “I find no fault in this man,” (Luke 23:4).

Other verses tell us, “For he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted,” (Hebrews 2:18).  Because of what He experienced personally, He knows how to help each one of us, in each one of our situations, personally.  No matter how hard it may appear to us, Jesus knows how to HELP!

Considering all that we have learned so far about our “great high priest;” the recipients of this letter and us are encouraged with these words: “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

Since Jesus personally knows and since Jesus personally serves as our high priest, our connecting link to God, we can with confidence draw near to God through prayer to seek “mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

We have access to God.  Don’t hold back your privilege as a child of God of going before the Father to get some help.  There are times of humbling; times of desperation when we all need to approach the throne of the King for a little more grace and mercy.  No, we don’t deserve it, but yes, He gives us access to come anyhow.

So, come boldly, with the confidence of the King’s kid, to find that help you need.  Jesus is there waiting, at the right hand of the Father interceding on our behalf.  There’s no reason not to go.  He beckons, “Come and get some help!”

Jesus, Our High Priest, Did What Others Couldn’t

Hebrews 5:1-3 “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in all things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.  And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.”

The job of the high priest was to take care of “all things pertaining to God;” meaning they had the charge and responsibility of all things in the service of God on behalf of the people, being “ordained for men.”  These tasks also included the giving of “gifts” and the offering up of “sacrifices for sins.”

If you were to do a really good study, you may find that just dealing with the system and rituals and law regarding sacrifices was quite the operation.  There were burnt offerings, heave offerings, grain offerings, wave offerings and peace offerings (each had their own specifications that had to be followed).  There were rules to be followed for the animals involved and for the people involved.  There were obligations that if not followed could disqualify one for the priesthood.  THERE WAS A LOT INVOLVED and all to make sure the services of the holiness of God and “all things pertaining to God,” would go off the right way (this is just scratching the surface of all involved in their duties).

These men, who would play the crucial role as the go-between of God and man, themselves, were “compassed with infirmity… so also for himself, to offer for sins.”  The human priesthood in place, with animal sacrifices, before Christ, served its temporary purpose.   But, to supply eternal life on the level that Christ would offer in His priesthood, they were unqualified for because they themselves suffered weaknesses and flaws of humanity and had to make sure their sins were taken care of as well (compare to Hebrews 9:6-7).  That system was just a “shadow of good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1).

By the old system, “every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,” (Hebrews 10:11).  But with Jesus as high priest, doing what man or the blood of bulls and goats couldn’t do, became the “mediator of the new testament,” (read Hebrews 9:11-15); “This man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God,” (Hebrews 10:12) and it is from that place and position where He, as our great High Priest, remains today.  Glory!

Jesus, Our High Priest, Was Begotten for This

Hebrews 5:4-6 “And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.  So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.  As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

Aaron didn’t call himself to be a high priest and neither did Jesus.  Regarding Aaron, God instructed Moses, “Take thou unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office…,” (Exodus 28:1, emphasis mine).  God selected Aaron to serve as “priest” and God is also the one who spoke the words confirming Jesus’ role, “Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee,” (see also Psalm 2:7; Acts 13:33 and Matthew 3:17, just to name a few).

The old line of priesthood was through Aaron (the tribe of Levi), but now the new was established in Jesus.  The priesthood was changed (Heb. 7:12), by “the bringing in of a better hope… by the which we draw nigh unto God,” (Heb. 7:19).

Perfection could not be achieved through the Levitical priesthood and there was a need for something better (Hebrews 7:11).  In comparison, the priesthood of Christ would be marked by the same characteristics of “Melchisedec” in that like Melchisedec, Jesus would serve as King and priest (see Genesis 14:18), and also like Melchisedec, His priesthood would be enduring and “for ever” (Heb. 7:17).  There is no recorded beginning or ending for Melchisedec but “made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually,” (Heb. 7:3).

Jesus’ priesthood would be marked by the “power of an endless life,” (Heb. 7:16) which is in sharp contrast to the Levitical priesthood where they could not “continue by reason of death,” (Heb. 7:23).  Thereby, Christ has an “unchangeable priesthood,” (Heb. 7:24), “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them,” (Heb. 7:25).

Jesus, in His priesthood, lives forever to save because He is the great High Priest.  There is none better.  None that came before Him could do what He did.  That’s why this lesson is marked by the word “great” which implies strongly Jesus is “more than” in status, power, and glory.  And, there is none after Him.  He is it.  He is the great High Priest whom the former was just a shadow of.

Jesus, Our High Priest, Suffered for our Salvation

Hebrews 5:7-10 “Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”

Jesus “suffered.”  Can we wrap our minds around that?  There are some with a false supposition that Christ could endure all that He did because He was the Son of God.  They make it sound like it was nothing for Him to go through what He went through.  Boy, are they wrong!  Jesus suffered because He was the Son of God!  “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered,” (emphasis mine).

Let’s go back to the Garden of Gethsemane.  There Jesus prayed, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done,” (Luke 22:42).  Sometimes I believe we hear this verse so much that we become desensitized to the agony behind the prayer.

If you continue to read it states, “Being in agony he prayed more earnestly,” (Luke 22:44a; emphasis mine).  He was already feeling the trauma of what was about to take place and it was wreaking havoc on Him.  He was in agony!  The pain was pressing on Him.  He was tormented at the thought of what was soon going to come to pass.  So much so, “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground,” (Luke 22:44b).  Look at what His body was going through, and He wasn’t even on the cross yet.  He “suffered” and “he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death.”

He didn’t have an easy time getting through the suffering because He was the Son; rather He suffered harshly because He was the Son.   Even Isaiah prophesied of the pain of His suffering: “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he was brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken,” (Is. 53:7-8).

Jesus would fulfill His role as our King and our priest, but it would be at the expense of His own battered, bruised, beaten and dead body.

Because He reacted and responded in “obedience,” and endured the shame and the suffering of the cross, He “became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him,” thereby making Him the greater.  Jesus became the “source” of our salvation and eternal life.  When He obeyed unto death and entered the holy place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood, the Bible declares, He “obtained eternal redemption for us,” (Hebrews 9:12).

“Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.”  Once again, the writer of Hebrews reiterates that this calling was not of His own doing; rather, He was “called of God.”  God preordained this to be so.  Psalm 110:4 says, “The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.”  That word “order” gives the impression of one being in the same style.  Once again, He would serve not only as King, but He would fulfill priestly duties as well.  And, forever He did and does it greater!

Turning to Jesus Christ is the best decision one can make in life.  He is greater than anyone and anything, and faith in Him will not disappoint.  He is the source of our salvation.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Jesus The Great High Priest

Suggested Activities:

Bible Review Game: “Bible Baseball” (Click on the link and follow to that site.  Follow the directions given and I’m sure your students will enjoy.)

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Holding Fast to our Faith

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Holding Fast to our Faith

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Word Search: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Search  Answers: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Search Answers

Crossword: Jesus: The Great High Priest Crossword  Answers: Jesus: The Great High Priest Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Scramble  Answers: Jesus: The Great High Priest Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Jesus: The Great High Priest Draw the Scene

jesus-the-great-high-priest-draw-the-scene-001

Coloring Page: Jesus: The Great High Priest Coloring Page (Try new ideas to turn your coloring page into a fun activity.  You can have students use colored chalk or watercolor paints instead of crayons.  You can cut it up into puzzle pieces to put back together again or cut out words and the picture to glue onto construction paper to make a neat poster.  You are only limited by your imagination.  Enjoy!)

jesus-the-great-high-priest-coloring-page-001

“Our Great High Priest” (Coloring and printable activities. Enjoy!)

“Our Great High Priest”

“Jesus Crafts for Kids” (Incorporate any one of these activities to fit with our lesson.  I particularly like the “Standing Jesus Pic,” instead of writing Jesus loves me, you can write “Jesus is My High Priest.”  Enjoy!)

“How to Draw Jesus Christ” (This one is geared to the younger students and I think they will enjoy it greatly.  What fun your students will have when they find out they can draw a picture of JESUS themselves.  Awesome for this lesson or just about any lesson.  Also comes with a “print friendly” version.  Enjoy!)

“Jesus Toilet Paper Roll Craft”

“Jesus Loves Me Craft” (Easy construction paper craft. Enjoy!)

“Name of Jesus Coloring Sheet” (Not a color-by-number, but a color-by-color sheet.  Enjoy!)

Sunday School Lesson – “Make a Joyful Noise!” Psalm 95:1-7

VERSE DISCOVERY: Psalm 95:1-7 (KJV, Public Domain)

Once, I had the privilege to attend a Christian concert.  Oh, what a blessing and a joy for me to experience some of my favorite performers live in worship.  It was a really awesome time.

Good, Christian music can have that effect on you.  It may not change your situation, but it can change the atmosphere and how you feel about a situation.  Christian music draws you in a realm of worship that can’t be experienced anywhere else.

Apparently, scrolling through my site I found that I have written quite of few things that involve singing, but one of my all times favorites that I have written is simply titled: “Sing!” and it goes like this:

“And I saw as it were . . . them that had gotten the victory . . . and they sing the song,” Revelation 15:2-3, KJV

Songs.  Movements of the heart and soul.  I don’t know how they come about.  Do they start with words that won’t let the mind rest until the lyrics are expressed?  Or, is it a tune, a melodious humming in one’s being that beckons to become more?

Songs come and go at any time and there’s one for every occasion.  Most great songs come from one’s life experiences.  Whether in good times or bad, happy or sad, the man inside calls for a tune to join the ceremony.

Songs express joy and times of rejoicing.  A good song motivates one when it’s hard to push forward in life and lifts one out of times of sadness.  We see the power of this type of inspiring music in 1 Samuel 16:23, when David played the harp before Saul and the evil spirit left him.

Music is no doubt powerful.  The most precious and heart-felt songs come after times of hardship and struggles.  When we have gone through the wringer of life, made it to the other side, and have squeezed out a heart that expresses gratefulness to God.  Music that tells the world that yes, it was hard, but I made it to the other side.  After crossing the Red Sea did not Miriam put a tambourine in her hand and say, “Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously,” (Exodus 15:21, KJV)?

In the book of Revelation, we see songs of deliverance going up before God.  They had overcome “the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having harps of God,” (Rev. 15:2, KJV).  And, what did they do?  “They sing!” (Rev. 15:3, KJV).  Their praise cannot be constrained any longer.  They have never felt freer then when they had overcome.  That kind of joy starts to seep out every crevice of one’s being until it pours over in song, releasing praise to God!

Music and songs are wrought throughout the Bible.  The psalmist exhorts us to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.  Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing,” (Ps. 100:1-2, KJV).  When the Assyrians were prophesied to be destroyed, Isaiah 30:29 emphatically declares, “Ye shall have a song!” (KJV).  When Paul and Silas prayed and sang praises, the earth quaked and prison doors were opened (Acts 16:25-26).  After the Last Supper “they had sung a hymn,” (Mk. 14:26, KJV).  James said, “Is any merry? let him sing psalms,” (Ja. 5:13, KJV).

Sing!

Sing!                     

Sing!

I don’t have the best voice, but I have a praise in my soul that I have to let out!

Sing!

I’m shy in front of other people, but I’m living to please an audience of one!  It doesn’t have to be in front of a crowd (yikes!).  A praise can wring out of your spirit at any time and in any place.

Just, Sing!

Give your heart – your spirit – your soul permission to rejoice.  God has been so good to us – so, Sing!

You are an overcomer also.  “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us,” (Rom. 8:37, KJV).

So, SING!

Those in Revelations had every right to sing, and so do you.  Just sing!  He’s worthy of it today!” (www.wordforlifesays.com).

The focus of that article was singing and rejoicing; worshiping Him because He is worthy; because He has done so much for you and me.  In it, you find the same call as today’s lesson to “Make a Joyful Noise!” coming from Psalm 95.  If nobody else honors God, we the people of God should readily “Make a Joyful Noise!”

Make a Joyful Noise

Psalm 95:1 “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

“O come,” to me, rings out an open invitation for all to participate in the worship of God.  “Come” is beckoning the hearer to come nearer; to approach God in the manner specified in today’s lesson.

And, the manner specified is through song and “a joyful noise.”  Yes, your prayers matter to God and your service also; but God is also attentive to your worship.  A well-rounded Christian is active and alive and moving in all these areas.

Psalm 98 gives the same command to “make a joyful noise” and shows how that can be done through the voice and through instruments:

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.

Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.

With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King,” (Psalm 98:4-6).

Repeatedly in the Bible, we are commanded and shown that God alone is worthy of all our praise, honor, and glory.  He deserves this and so much more.  Praise and honor through song is something He expects from us and looks forward to.  It’s like a love letter from us to Him.  What an awesome perspective!

Now, I have written about the need to “make a joyful noise” enough in the introduction.  Here, I want to focus on the word “unto.”  “Unto” gives us direction to where this worship is to go.

There are many types of Psalms in the Bible.  Some speak of confession and some of wisdom.  Some tell history and some cry out against injustice.  Some prophesy of the future Messiah and some, like today’s Psalm is considered a Royal Psalm.  It is titled such because it declares the kingship of God.  It is “unto” Him; it is “unto” the King, “the LORD” which we are commanded to “make a joyful noise.”

He is “the rock of our salvation.”  “Rock” represents strength.  It pictures one standing on a sure foundation that will not fail.  I’m sure many are familiar with that old hymn that states: “On Christ, the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand,” (“My Hope is Built,” Edward Mote, 1834; Public Domain).  2 Samuel 22:32 asks, “For who is God, save the LORD? and who is a rock, save our God?”  God is “the rock of our salvation” and He is worthy to be praised!

Psalm 95:2 “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”

“Come before his presence with thanksgiving” shows a grateful heart in action.  One who knows not to take the goodness of the Lord for granted.  One who dares not enter the place where He is or draws nigh unto Him without reverence for all that He has done for one in their life.  Thanksgiving is not a holiday, it’s a lifestyle.  It’s a life that knows apart from Him I can do nothing (John 15:5); a life that recognizes their need and dependence upon this great Salvation and can’t help but to say, “Thank You!”

In a previous article titled: “What Ever Happened to Thank You?” it was noted that “There is a great danger in forgetting to be thankful, especially when it comes to recognizing the great work that God has done in our lives…  When one fails to appreciate what is done for them they, of themselves, can begin to get prideful.  Simply refusing to acknowledge that there was outside help to raise them out of a situation can make one think they have delivered themselves of their own accord and power.  Being thankful means being grounded.  It is recognizing that we don’t have it all together as we think we do, and we need the assistance of another to help along the way.” (www.wordforlifesays.com)

When we enter His “presence” we are to do so with a grateful heart that doesn’t take His goodness for granted.  The article goes on to say, “God is so gracious to us; let us not take Him for granted.  We may slight our fellow man once in a while (which we also need to continually watch out for and learn to do better), but don’t slight God.  Give Him His due.  Is it really that hard to simply stop during the busyness of our day and say, “Thank you?”  Does it really cause us that much extra work to simply acknowledge what has been done for you and me with an attitude of gratitude?” (www.wordforlifesays.com)

With that heart of gratitude, we are exhorted to once again “make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.”  Many know that “psalms” means songs.  It shows us the real impact of God-honoring music during worship: He loves it!

For Our God is Great

Psalms 95:3 “For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”

Deuteronomy 10:17 mightily declares, “For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”  God is the real thing!  There are a lot of false and destructive forces that try to sway man away from the truth of God and His deity over all creation, but the fact of the matter is, He is the real deal.  Everything begins and ends with Him.  He is the authority over all.  Therefore, He is the one worthy of praise.

Too many go through their day without ever considering the fact that hey, He is God, and He should be before all others. With that realization in hand, I want my life to reflect that great truth. I want every word, every action and every thought to magnify the greatness of who He is and all His glory. When I go about my day, I want people to see Him in me. Do I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! But I have a goal. I aspire to do better and to be better every day. God has been so good and wonderful to me, and I feel that as His child the least I can do is showing Him the honor due Him.

“Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” (Ps. 29:1-2). These two verses have been among favorites of mine for many years now. When you think of “giving to the Lord” one realizes just how futile our efforts can be because of His vast greatness. But, something that each of us can give is honor and praise because He is God!

Psalm 95:4-5 “In his hands are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.  The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.”

Another of the Royal Psalms that really emphasizes the truth of this verse is Psalm 24 that opens declaring, “The earth is the LORD’s, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.  For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods,” (vss. 1-2).  He “founded”, and He “established” along with the phrase from today’s lesson “he made it: and his hands formed” really expresses His all-powerful supreme rule over all creation.  The word “his” showed here four times, along with the word “he” declares His ownership over all.  He did it, not we.  “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” (Genesis 1:1).  Therefore, He should be praised and honored.

We, His People, Worship Him

Psalm 95:6-7 “O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.  For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand…”

Here, the psalmist reemphasizes the call to “come, let us worship.”  Worshipping God is something that cannot be overemphasized.  It’s something that we can’t exhaust.  It’s something that we better get used to because it will be happening all over heaven for all eternity.

To “bow down” and “kneel” shows honor to the one who receives this form of respect.  We often see this in the realm of royalty and would aptly be applied here in a Royal Psalm to Him that is King above all the world and all kings of the world.

Oh, how quickly we tune in when we see royalty on display.  Events revolving around those who belong to royal heritage gain our attention when we see their pageantry on display.  As people come out in celebration and crowds gather around their televisions worldwide, we take a peek into the lives of those whom we know only afar off, and we watch their beautiful display of majesty on parade (at least on a human level).  The celebrations are grand as the people cheer and look on with fascination.

The pageantry that God deserves is far greater “for he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”  We belong to Him and should want to celebrate Him in a manner that is higher than any earthly royalty could ever experience.  He is the one who watches over our affairs.  He is the one who comes to our rescue when we need help.  He is the one who cares enough to let His only begotten Son die on the cross because of our mess-ups and mistakes.  He did that for us all.  Celebrate Him! “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth,” (Psalm 74:12).  Celebrate Him!  “O come, let us worship!”

“We are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.”  God has often been identified as our Shepherd.  Psalm 23:1 says, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  He is the only one who can care for His people as He does.  God loves you and you belong to Him.  He is in love with His flock and declares them as His.  “And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the LORD GOD,” (Ezekiel 34:31).

If you are not a member of His flock, I urge you to make that change today.  Don’t let another opportunity go by without Him as your protector, your provider, your salvation and your Shepherd.  There’s too much at stake.  “He is our God” and He can be your God today as well.  Turn to Him, give Him praise, and make a joyful noise before your God!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Make a Joyful Noise

Suggested Activities:

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Psalm of Praise

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Psalm of Praise

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Word Search: Make a Joyful Noise Word Search Answers: Make a Joyful Noise Word Search Answers

Crossword: Make a Joyful Noise Crossword  Answers: Make a Joyful Noise Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Make a Joyful Noise Word Scramble  Answers: Make a Joyful Noise Word Scramble Answers

Draw the Scene: Joyful Noise Draw the Scene

“Make A Joyful Noise Microphone Craft”: Here is a craft that will surely inspire your younger students to sing and make a joyful noise unto the Lord.  Basic craft instructions can be found here, although there are many versions out there.  After following the basic construction of the craft, print out the PDF: Make A Joyful Noise Toilet Paper Roll Cover.  Have students color, decorate, and attach to the toilet paper roll.  Ball up aluminum foil into a tight ball or use a Styrofoam ball covered in glitter  (can be done in advance) and attach to the top of the roll with regular or hot glue, or tape.  Below is a version I did.  Enjoy!

“Printable Microphones:” If you like the idea of using a microphone theme but don’t have time or resources, use this printable for students to cut out and decorate (cardstock works best or glue cut out to construction paper, cereal boxes, or cardboard).  Attach the memory verse to the back and your students are ready to rock out for God.  Enjoy!  PDF: Printable Mircrophones (Use this link for accurate printing)

 

“Making a Joyful Noise Instruments” Though our lesson focuses on singing, making a joyful noise is made with instruments in Psalms 98:6 it says, “With trumpets and the sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.”  Below are ideas to praise God with instruments.  Enjoy!

“Homemade Kazoo Craft” from Preschool Crafts for Kids (Below is a sample done by my daughter 🙂 ):

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“Water Bottle Shakers” from Thecraftingchicks.com (Decorate outside any way you wish and fill with beads, beans or whatever.  Very easy project to help the children “Praise the Lord!”  Again, done by my daughter 🙂 ):

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“Straw Pan Flute” from Classic-play.com

“A Heart of Worship” from Ministry to Children

“Let the World Praise the Lord” from Ministry to Children

“Praise the Lord” from Childrensministry.com

“Why Do We Praise God?” from Kidssundayschool.com

“Praising God with Your Hands” from Ezinearticles.com

“I Will Praise God” Coloring Page from Twistynoodle.com

“Sing Praise to the Lord” Coloring Page from Lessons4sundayschool.com

“Sing Unto the Lord” Coloring Pages from Childrens Gems in MY Treasure Box

“Praise the Lord” Coloring Page from Church House Collection

“When We Praise God” Coloring Page from Hem of His Garment