The Wonder of Jesus
April, May, June 2008
Want to learn more about The Wonder of Jesus? Use these Bible Studies for personal devotion, group Bible studies, or teaching a church class. Below are links to the lessons in this 13-part series.
Lesson 1: Who Was Jesus? (Matthew 16 & 22)
When a potential client first tells me his story, I often feel like I am looking at a purse being dumped out on my desk. There are so many facts to consider, but just a few of them have any relevance to the client's legal claim. My job is to sift through the facts, and focus on which ones are legally important. Often, clients want to focus on facts that are important to them, but have little to do with winning the case. This week we look at what I consider to be the most important fact in the world: Who was Jesus? If you want to win in this life and the life hereafter, there is no more important fact upon which to focus. So, let's jump right into our study of the Bible and do that right now!
Lesson 2: The Mystery of His Deity (Hebrews 1, Colossians 1, Revelation 19)
In my limited exposure to history and world religions, the claims about Jesus seem unique. Judaism is either waiting for a Messiah or has lost interest in the subject. Islam's highest claim for someone who once lived on earth is "prophet." The "god-king" claims of many earthly rulers never seemed to extend beyond their life here. People expected that the next ruler would occupy the same spot as "god-king." Jesus makes unique claims which are backed by the Old Testament - a book accepted by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Let's plunge right into our Bible study see what the Bible has to say about the Deity of Jesus!
Lesson 3: The Reality of His Humanity (1 John 4, Romans 5, Hebrews 2, 1 Corinthians 11)
A friend sent me a video clip from an Oprah television show in which Oprah argued vigorously that there are many different paths to truth and heaven. She is not alone. This is the philosophy of the day - everyone has an equally valid opinion. The one exception would be if you did not agree. In that case your opinion would not be a valid "path." The Bible does not accept the "diverse opinions are equally right" theory. Rather, it teaches that you are either right or wrong. There is no neutral ground. One subject on which you are either right or wrong is the subject of this week's lesson: the humanity of Jesus. The Bible claims that Jesus is fully human and (as we studied last week) fully God. Let's dive into our study this week of the human "side" of Jesus!
Lesson 4: The Wisdom of His Teachings (Matthew 5)
Most of my e-mails these days end with the closing "Blessings." Exactly what would you think this means? My thought is to have God bless the person to whom I'm writing. But, that does not answer the question: "What is a blessing?" What am I wishing on the other person? When I looked at the Greek word translated "blessed," I found that it meant (according to Strong's) "happy," "fortunate," and "well off." Would you like to be blessed? This week we turn our attention to the wisdom of what Jesus was trying to teach us. Let's start with His teaching on how to be happy!
Lesson 5: The Wonder of His Works (Matthew 7 & 8, Mark 5)
Last week we studied Jesus' Sermon on the Mount and the kind of attitude it teaches that we should have if we want to be happy. Attitudes result in actions. This week we look at the kinds of actions which Jesus displayed towards us. Are these the same we should display towards others? Are these the natural out-working of the Sermon on the Mount? Let's dive into our lesson and find out!
Lesson 6: The Challenge of His Sayings (Matthew 19 & 20)
Do you ever wish that God would sit down with you and explain exactly what He thinks you should and should not do? No need to be in doubt. Now you can know! I've had those thoughts many times. Sometimes Jesus' teachings are confusing. On the other hand, I know myself well enough that sometimes I like a little ambiguity. That way I can do what I want and still hold on to my self-deception that I'm doing God's will. This week we look at some sayings of Jesus that, if we understand them correctly, challenge us to a very high level of obedience and a very high level of trust. Let's dive into our lesson and learn more!
Lesson 7: The Puzzle of His Conduct (Mark 3, Matthew 8 & 11)
Have you ever had a spiritual leader who had an approach that did not fit your style? Did some new worship ideas make you uncomfortable? Our lesson this week is about some of Jesus' conduct which was quite puzzling. It made a lot of people angry. When we get angry about the actions of our spiritual leaders, how can we know who is truly doing God's will? How can we know when we need to speak out and when we need to just keep quiet? Let's jump into our study and see what answers we can find in the Bible!
Lesson 8: The Intensity of His Walk (Luke 2, Matthew 4, 1 John 2)
Serious Christians view life as a progression. They steadily (or maybe unsteadily) make progress towards holiness. Their desire is to become more trusting, more obedient, more of a true servant of God. Whenever I've thought about this or read about it, I always considered it a walk. No one told me that I should be jogging, or worse, sprinting towards holiness. In my case sprinting would be a bad idea because I'm constantly seeking to find the right direction. I hate to go backwards, fast. It reminds me of the days when we owned a motorhome. It averaged about 6.6 miles to the gallon. When we were lost, my solution was to drive until I found the answer. My wise wife wanted me to pull over, shut off the engine and figure out where we were. She could not stand paying for 6.6 miles to the gallon going the wrong way! This week our lesson is about the "intensity" of Jesus' walk. Let's dive into our study of the Bible and find out what that means!
Lesson 9: The Tenderness of His Love (Matthew 5, 15 & 18)
When I first started driving a car, I was concerned about how to stay in my own lane. This was important because 99% of the roads in my area only had two lanes. People in the adjacent lane would be driving towards me at a high rate of speed! I came up with the theoretical idea that I should line up the hood ornament with the dividing line on the road. (This can only work from the passenger-side seat or the back seat - which is no doubt where I was when working out this great theory.) Any experienced driver knows this is foolishness. Experienced drivers automatically "know" when they are in their own lane. Driving is like the Christian life, except a whole lot of people seem to be off in the weeds or at least on the wrong side of the road. One area in which people seem to get "off in the weeds" has to do with Jesus' love. It seems they have one of two extremes. Either they cannot trust Him to love them, or they know Jesus so little that they are shocked to hear that He is also the Judge in a final judgment in which the penalty is eternal death. This week we look at Jesus' attitude of love. Let's see if we can get the feel for the right side of the road!
Lesson 10: The Meaning of His Death (Matthew 16, Romans 3, 5 & 6)
If you read these lessons regularly, you know that I always consider the logic of the Bible text. If I were in the sandals of those listening to Jesus, how would I react? What is logically the message from God? One message which I have historically had a very difficult time with is the logic of salvation. Why does the death of my God give me eternal life? Why does it satisfy the death penalty imposed on me for my sin? The logic of American justice is completely contrary. When I was in law school, I was taught the old saying "It is better to let 1,000 guilty people go free than to execute one innocent person." Why would God have a plan in which the Innocent One is tortured and killed? How does this logically "add up" as payment for my guilt? Let's dive in and see what we can find in the Bible!
Lesson 11: The Power of His Resurrection (Matthew 27-28)
Have you ever had some really good news that was pretty bad news for someone else? If you were in their presence, how did you react? If you have emotional intelligence, you were probably restrained about your good news and said something comforting to the other person about their bad news. This week our study is about the resurrection of Jesus. This was excellent news for us and terrible news for Satan and his angels. In this case we don't have to be polite or show emotional intelligence. We can just cheer loudly. Why? Because Satan's goal was to kill you and keep you dead. Now that Jesus has been resurrected, we know that if we accept Him we will be resurrected to be with Him eternally. Let's dive in to find out more about our really good news and the fight to keep it a secret!
Lesson 12: The Efficacy of His Priestly Ministry (Hebrews 9 & 10)
Have you ever had someone ask you, "What have you done for me lately?" Our studies for the last two weeks have been the death and resurrection of Jesus. How glorious was Jesus' triumph over death! But, that was over 2,000 years ago. Is that the end of the story? What, if anything, is Jesus doing now? If He is doing something, is He doing it for you and me? Let's plunge into our study of the Bible and find out!
Lesson 13: His Return as King and Friend (Matthew 25, 1 Corinthians 13 & 15, Revelation 19 & 21)
What is next for the believer? Last week we learned how we can have confidence in our salvation. What does salvation do for us? We are not going to dwell on this point, but salvation lets us avoid hell. The edge of the "Great Dismal Swamp" is not too far from where I work and the swamp is currently on fire. Smoke blankets everything. The whole area smells like wood burning or a barbeque. Coming inside from the smoke and turning my thoughts to the future for believers reminded me of that we are avoiding hell. What is the positive side of things? What will heaven be like? That is worthy of extended discussion. Let's dive into the Bible and find out!