Friday, May 09, 2008

This week's Sabbath School lesson: the puzzle of Christ's conduct

To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn."

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, "He has a demon." The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, "Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners." But wisdom is proved right by her actions (Matthew 11:16-19, NIV).
This week's lesson is a wrap-up of all the things we really wish Christ had never done.
  • He disobeyed his parents (Luke 2:41-51).
  • Asked to heal a demoniac, he showed signs of irritation (Matthew 17:14-20).
  • He cursed a fig tree (Matthew 21:18-22).
  • Having asked if it was right to heal on the Sabbath, he was angry when people refused to answer (Mark 3:1-5).
  • He cast out demons -- then allowed them to destroy a herd of pigs (Matthew 8:28-34).
  • He hung out with the wrong crowd (Matthew 9:10-13).
  • He cleared the Temple of money-changers and animal-sellers (Matthew 21: 12-13).
What's more, this lesson talks about two things Jesus did not do that we really wish he'd done:
As you deal with these incidents in your class, you'll want to deal with two questions:
  • Why did Jesus behave the way he did?
  • Should we do the same?
In dealing with the first question, you'll find it helpful to study the background of each text -- and to help you do this, I've linked each text to the relevant section of the InterVarsity Press New Testament Commentary .

As you study, you'll notice how Jesus was absolutely intolerant of anything that got between people and God . . . and this will lead you to the question of why we so often tolerate these things -- especially when other people are inconvenienced, and not ourselves.

When Jesus cleared the Temple, for instance, he did this so that Gentiles would have a place to worship -- one of the first examples, I suppose, of a "seeker-sensitive service." Likewise, he ate with tax collectors and "sinners," even at the risk of his own reputation -- a standing rebuke to churches that would rather look good than do good.

In short, Jesus was loving. Jesus was kind. Jesus would give his life for us.

But Jesus did not live up to our expectations of Him.

Why not?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice article Greg, you bring up some really good points! Thanks.