Introduction: 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!

  1. Temple Teaching

    1. Read Luke 2:40-42. Was attending Passover with Jesus an
      old custom? (Jesus’ parents went every year, but children
      were not required to attend.)

      1. Put yourself in the place of Joseph and Mary, would
        you bring Jesus with you when He was nine years-old?
        How about ten years-old? (The natural thing would be
        to take your children with you. On the other hand,
        Nazareth was 70 miles from Jerusalem. It might be
        more fun just to go with your spouse. The Bible is
        not clear whether Jesus had gone with them before.)

    2. Read Exodus 23:17. At what age do you become a man?
      (Around twelve years of age a boy was making the
      transition to manhood. Since Jesus was twelve, it is
      possible that this was His first trip to Jerusalem for

    3. Read Luke 2:43-44. Are Mary and Joseph “bad parents” in
      your opinion? (The fact that they left Jesus in Jerusalem
      makes me think this was not Jesus’ first Passover trip.
      Surely, if Jesus had never done this before, they would
      have been sure He was with them. But, if this was a
      familiar trip to Him, then it is understandable that His
      parents would assume He was with the Nazareth crowd.)

    4. Read Luke 2:45. Tell me all the thoughts that have gone
      through Mary’s mind?

      1. Read Luke 1:31-33. How does that impact on Mary’s
        thinking? (An angel told her that her son would be
        King (or even higher) and now she has lost Him!)

      2. What if Mary understood the conflict between good and
        evil, and Jesus’ role in that conflict? (Satan would
        want to kill Jesus and she was letting Him get lost
        among strangers!)

    5. Read Luke 2:46-47. Would Jesus’ parents have expected to
      find Him in the temple with the teachers? (We are told in
      Luke 2:28 that His parents were “astonished.”)

      1. What does this tell us about the “intensity” of
        Jesus’ spiritual walk? (The teachers in the temple
        were like peers for this 12 year-old! He had gone far

      2. Remember in the introduction I was concerned about
        going in the right direction rather than going fast.
        What formula do you find in these verses for walking
        in the right direction? (Notice the sequence of these
        verses. Jesus listens, asks questions and then gives
        answers. This sequence is a good life policy. I used
        to have a member of my class who would walk in late.
        As soon as he sat down, his hand would come up. I
        used to wonder “How can you have an answer when you
        have not been present for the discussion?”)

    6. Read Luke 2:48-50. What would you have said to Jesus if
      you were Mary?

      1. What was Jesus saying to His parents? (He was
        explaining that He had progressed a lot faster than
        his parents had expected.)

      2. Was Jesus being disrespectful?

    7. Read Luke 2:51. Why does the text tell us that Jesus was
      an obedient Son? (I think it is to dispel the idea that He
      was being disrespectful in the temple conversation. The
      point in Luke is that the parents did not yet grasp the
      full extent of Jesus’ mission – and that it had already
      started to some degree when He was 12!)

  2. The Wilderness

    1. Read Matthew 4:1-2. Jesus has just been baptized and He
      is “led by the Spirit” to be tempted. He then fasts 40
      days. Pretend you have never read these verses before.
      Does it make any sense to you to face Satan after not
      eating for 40 days?

      1. Why would the Holy Spirit lead Jesus into temptation?

      2. When you think of “spiritual highs” in your life,
        where would you place the day of your baptism?

      3. What is the point of the fasting? (Read Esther 4:15-16. Esther agreed to be the champion of her people to
        try to defeat Haman, who wanted to kill the Jews. To
        prepare for this pivotal meeting with the King, she

      4. If you were a battle commander, would you choose the
        place of battle or would you let your opponent choose
        it? (I think these questions lead us to the
        explanation for the odd statement that the Spirit led
        Jesus into temptation. Braced by baptism and
        fasting, Jesus is led by the Spirit into combat with
        Satan. The Spirit picks the time, place and
        circumstances for the battle.)

    2. Read Matthew 4:3-4. Assume you are Satan and you want to
      cause Jesus to sin. How much time and thought would you
      put into crafting your opening temptation?

      1. Do you think that Satan is caught unprepared for this
        battle? (Yes. They are now on Jesus’ ground. Satan
        uses what is there – hunger – to test Jesus on pride
        and trust in God. It is hard to believe turning
        stones into bread would be Satan’s best approach.)

    3. Read Matthew 4:5-6. What do you think about the likelihood
      of this question being taken from Satan’s advance battle
      plan? (Jesus’ answer to the bread temptation is to refer
      to the Bible. Satan’s next temptation relies on the
      Bible. Satan seems to be playing off Jesus’ prior answer,
      and not making his move based on his advanced planning.)

    4. Read Matthew 4:8-10. How serious a temptation do you think
      this was for Jesus?

      1. Let’s go through this. First, what kind of temptation
        is this? (It suggests that Jesus should violate the
        first and second of the Ten Commandments. Exodus

      2. I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got to memorize
        a list, I generally do better with the first few.
        Jesus certainly knows the right answer to this
        temptation. Why would Satan give Jesus such an
        obvious temptation?

      3. Read Revelation 21:2-3. What is the final destination
        for the redeemed? (Earth! I’m currently reading a
        book by Randy Alcorn named “Heaven.” Although I do
        not agree with all of his theology (his error on
        soul-sleep forces him to invent the idea of pre-resurrection temporary bodies), this is a very worth-while book. One of the grandest things about it is
        that it focuses our minds on our return to this
        earth. He suggests that just as the saints will be a
        new improved version of who they were on earth, so
        the earth will be a new, improved version of what it
        was. I live in Virginia now and I can live in New
        Virginia in the earth made new!)

      4. If earth is our final destination, why would Jesus
        “fall” for this offer? (There is no trick in this.
        Satan is giving Jesus a shortcut to the final
        resolution of the conflict between good and evil.
        Jesus can avoid the suffering. The only difference
        is, “Who will be in charge?”)

        1. Is it really a shortcut? (Read Revelation 20:10.
          The proper ending eliminates Satan from that
          leadership role! To fall for this temptation
          would be to perpetuate sin, not end it.)

      5. How about you? Are you ready to go straight from
        baptism, to fasting, to personal combat with Satan?
        (We can see that Jesus has a very intense “walk.”
        Fortunately, Satan is not omnipresent, thus very few
        of us will ever be directly tempted by Satan.)

  3. The Lesson

    1. Read 1 John 2:3-6. What lesson for our life can we draw
      from these “intense” experiences in Jesus’ life? What can
      we learn for our walk? (At 12 years of age, Jesus shows an
      extra-ordinary knowledge and understanding of the Bible.
      When the Holy Spirit directs Jesus into combat with Satan,
      Jesus defeats Satan with His knowledge and understanding
      of the Bible. Without knowing what God requires of us, it
      is hard to obey.)

    2. Friend, I’ll bet that you are more than 12 years of age.
      What is the extent of your knowledge of the Bible? If you
      are behind, are you willing to “pick up the pace” of your
      Christian walk by spending more time in the Bible? Why not
      commit to that today?

  4. Next week: The Tenderness of His Love.