Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lesson 34: Cause For Rejoicing – Part 1 of 2

Brief 4-to-5 Minute Teaching Lesson

Why? and What is the Purpose? in My Life SERIES

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Lesson 34 of the Discipleship Making process.

I left you last time with this question, “What burdens are you carrying by yourself?”

After Jesus finished His instructions concerning offenses He attended the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem where He forgave a woman caught in adultery, declared himself to be the light of the world, healed a man who was born blind and then finished by declaring Himself, the good shepherd. A short time later He sent seventy other disciples to preach the gospel in the cities and towns where He was going. The instructions He gave them can be found in Lessons 21-24.

Read: Luke 10:17-24, Matthew 11:25-30

When the seventy went out, they weren’t sure what was going to happen or what results they would achieve. They simply obeyed Jesus’ commands! Upon returning from their evangelistic tour they were overjoyed and reported to Jesus that even the demons had been subject to them in His name. In reply, Jesus reminded them that He had given them authority over all the power of the enemy.

This authority is granted to all of Jesus’ disciples because in preaching the gospel they are speaking truth in love thereby, directly opposing spiritual powers (ex. John 18:37, 1 John 3:8).

At the feast of Tabernacles prior to sending the seventy Jesus described the works of the devil and contrasted it with His own works (John 10:10). The power of the enemy is lies through deception, which brings about sin resulting in death and the power of Christ is truth spoken in love, which brings about obedience resulting in life.

Jesus used two symbolic creatures to describe His enemies and how they affect mankind: the serpent and the scorpion. The serpent represents lies and deception (Genesis 3:1, Revelation 12:9). The scorpion represents sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:55-57).

Although it seemed appropriate for the seventy disciples to rejoice with the authority they had been given, Jesus told them not to. Instead they were to rejoice in the fact that their names were written in heaven. This would have given His disciples something to rejoice about, especially since they believe that it is only the truly righteous that would be inscribed in the Book of Life. The Jews also believe that most people are written in the book of repentance and their fate has not yet been sealed, while the truly unrepentant wicked people are inscribed in the book of the dead. To hear Jesus say that their names had already been inscribed in heaven would have been good news indeed.

Then, in the midst of His own rejoicing, Jesus commanded, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30. His appeal reaches to every part of man: spirit, soul and body and is a direct reference to what He said at the Feast of Tabernacles: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” John 10:10.

The burdens people carry may be different. Some struggle with the physical burdens of life. Others struggle with the spiritual burdens of sin and death. And still others struggle with the soulish burden of keeping the Law (ex. Luke 11:46, Acts 15:10). It really doesn’t matter what the burden is, the people carrying it are all looking for the same things. To those who come to Jesus, He offers rest, a shared load and a lighter load. Let’s take a closer look at what He said.

In part 2 of this lesson, we will take a closer look at what Jesus had to say about “Living Life More Abundantly”, “Rest”, and “Sharing The Load”.

Until next time . . . Godspeed!

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