Wednesday, August 12, 2015

“Jesus: The Master of Missions”

Insight #7 August 15, 2015
Third Quarter 2015 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
 "Jesus: The Master of Missions" 
For the week of August 8-15, 2015 by Jerry Finneman      

Jesus was sent as the "Savior of the world" (1 John 4:14). His mission was to save and not to condemn the world (John 3:17). Those who refuse to believe are condemned, but those who hear and believe in Christ alone for salvation are not condemned (John 3:17-18). This faith is more than an intellectual belief. Devils have this kind of faith, but they tremble (James 2:19) and that's more than some humans do. The true faith that comes from the word of God effects the heart and testifies of Jesus (Rom 10:10).      

As the life of Christ is studied there is a heart response of gratitude and appreciation for what He has done for the world and especially for us individually. This kind of experience occurred in a village of Samaria where the people asked Jesus, who was passing through, to stay with them for a few days. Their testimony was "we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world" (John 4:42).      

Evidently Jesus spoke openly to the Samaritans about the fact that He is "the Savior of the world." He never said this to the Jewish people. Their religion excluded all others. They believed they were superior to all other humans. They would not accept the fact that Christ was the Savior of the world. The idea that Christ the world's Savior was hard even for His disciples to accept.        

On one occasion Jesus went out of His way to contact a Canaanite to illustrate the disciple's exclusiveness and God's way of reaching out to others who were not of their religious inheritance. The encounter with the Canaanite and with His disciples is recorded in Matt 15:21–27: 21Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." 23But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." 24But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." 25Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" 26But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." 27And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."      

After the woman cried out for mercy Jesus ignored her. The disciples urged Him to send the woman away. So He told her that He was sent only for the lost sheep of Israel. But the woman persisted, "Lord, help me!" To this Jesus answered that food intended only for the children was not to be given to the dogs. This woman would not be put off. She was willing to be called a dog. eating crumbs from the Master's table. Apply this exchange to yourself:      Have you ever been ignored, even by the Lord? or if you thought that Jesus is not interested in helping you? Ever been called a dog? What would you do if your pastor called you a dog? How long would you stay around this kind of behavior? But wait! What's going on here?      

Jesus was modeling the present attitude of His future church leaders. This was a learning moment for them. There must have been a twinkle in His eye as He commended the faith of the Canaanite woman. Jesus knew what she was like and she knew what Jesus was like. And so Jesus drove the lesson home to His disciples as He said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour" (Matt 15:28). This was the testimony of Jesus, the True Witness, to her and to His disciples.      

Is this lesson for us too? Later, toward the end of His mission on earth, Jesus said that the "gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come" (Matt 24:14). God entrusted the "everlasting gospel" to us. This gospel was emphasized in 1888. God still waits for us to take up His mission and present His gospel as His witness to us and as our testimony to Him and to the world.      

We will close with Sunday's lesson which points to the Old Testament witness regarding Christ. It reminds me of an incident regarding Christ and the Old Testament. A young man who attended one of our colleges called me complaining about a member of the church I pastored at that time. This member was conducting an evangelistic campaign. The complainer said it was wrong for us to not advertise the meetings as an Adventist meeting. I reminded him that the meetings were sponsored by an Adventist hospital and that people in the area knew this fact.      

I was perplexed by things he said, because just a few months previous to this time an evangelist with whom I was associated conducted an evangelism training school for students from two of our colleges and from the seminary. The complainer was one of the students we trained! Things he said did not sound straight forward, so I asked, "Are you an Adventist?" He replied, "I am a New Testament Christian." I reminded him that he could not be a New Testament Christian if he is not an Old Testament Christian. This is because Jesus said "You search the Scriptures … and these are they which testify of Me" (John 5:39). In order to be a New Testament Christian one must be also an Old Testament Christian.      

How is it with you? Are you an Old Testament + a New Testament + a Seventh-day Adventist + an 1888 Christian? Is Christ's mission your mission? Is it your desire to proclaim His gospel in the context of the "Latter Rain" and "Loud Cry"? 

---Jerry Finneman