Sabbath School Lesson for May 13-19, 2017
Themes that Peter’s first epistle cover so eloquently are…
- salvation through Jesus Christ (ch. 1:1-2:12)
- submission to Jesus Christ (ch. 2:13-3:12)
- suffering with Jesus Christ (ch. 3:13-5:14)
As you can see, Peter dwells quite heavily on his Lord and Savior throughout the letter. Therefore, we take some time here to study just what Peter tells us about his central focus, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Interestingly, the word for “Messiah” is the same Greek word for “Christ” in the New Testament. The details of His identity, however, were never clear to God’s followers, especially just prior to His birth in Bethlehem. He was only known to be the One God would use to deliver His people.
Therefore, word Messiah carried political overtones at the time of Jesus, but the disciples, who followed Him closely during His ministry, gradually became aware of the divine nature of this Person they repeatedly called the Messiah.
Peter was perhaps the first disciple to recognize the divine nature of Jesus when he answered Him by saying: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16 NKJV). Thomas may have been the last to make this connection, when in the upper room, he declared to Jesus after seeing His pierced hands and side, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28 NKJV).
So, let’s see for ourselves this week what we can learn about this amazing Messiah.
Scripture Gem: “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed.” 1 Peter 2:24 NKJV
This verse really sums up the elements covered in Peter’s letter:
- salvation (“who Himself bore our sins”)
- submission (“we, having died to sins”)
- suffering (“by whose stripes you were healed”)
Only by knowing Jesus will our questions about these issues be answered. Without a relationship with Him, our hope for any real peace on earth, with all its suffering, is doomed to failure. We must strive to know Him as closely as Peter did. Peter wants us to know that because of the resurrection, this is possible for each of us. Jesus lives to make intercession for us, drawing us into His love and caring arms…where Peter himself drew strength and comfort.
Sunday: Jesus, Our Sacrifice
Peter’s continual references to sacrifice, blood, redemption, and salvation brought to mind, at least for Jewish listeners, the concepts demonstrated in the sanctuary and temple services. The sacrificial animal was a symbol of the sacrifice of His life that Jesus provided for everyone who accepted Him as their Lord and Savior.
This theme of sacrifice is seen all through the Bible–from the fall of Adam and Eve in Genesis all the way to the fall of Babylon in the book of Revelation. We are shown to what lengths the Creator is prepared to go, in order to save His people.
Who we worship determines whether the precious blood, poured out at Calvary, is able to seal our atonement with God. The choice of how to worship was clearly made by Cain and Abel, and just as surely, it will be made by God’s true church at the end of time.
Peter unashamedly points us to the “precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). John the Baptist, who spent his life preaching on this subject, likewise recognized Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 1:18, 19. What’s the difference between silver and gold, considered precious stones, and the “precious blood of Jesus”? What makes it precious?
In 1 Peter 1:18 what does the phrase mean that says “aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers” (NKJV)? The RSV says: “futile ways inherited from your fathers”. What traditions and customs might have fallen under this category?
Read Colossians 1:13, 14 and Ephesians 6:12. Describe more fully who this “power of darkness” is. What do redemption, blood, and forgiveness have to do with each other? Can they exist apart from each other?
Monday: The Passion of Christ
The word “passion” has lost some of its meaning in the English language. Today, it most likely is used to represent some highly emotional state or zeal.
It comes, however, from the Greek word that means “to suffer”. So when it comes to the passion of Christ, we make reference to His final days of suffering, from His triumphal entry into Jerusalem to His death on the cross.
In the second chapter of 1 Peter, as part of his call of submission to masters, Peter mentions portions of Isaiah 53, a chapter that heavily prophesies Christ’s passion that led to His death on the cross.
Being a slave was perhaps the least enviable position in society one could have. Therefore, it was to them that the example of Christ was most promoted by Peter. His example included being despised, rejected, wounded, bruised, beaten, and at last dying a cruel death. The way He bore these calamities was where the example was to be taken. Though without sin, Jesus bore these mistreatments…
- with patient endurance (without complaint and threats)
- with forgiveness and love (without anger and hate)
- with strength and dignity (without weakness and undue pride)
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Peter 2:18-25. Why did Peter use Jesus’ example so heavily as he was talking about slaves being submissive to their masters? In what ways were their sufferings different from Jesus’, or the same?
Read Isaiah 53:1-9 and 1 John 3:16. Why did Peter use these Old Testament images from Isaiah when talking about Jesus’ final suffering in Jerusalem? In what ways can we “lay down our lives for the brethren”?
Read 1 Peter 2:24 and Acts 5:30. Both verses mention “the tree”. What was hanging on that tree, besides our Savior, and how does this make our submission to Him easier?
Tuesday: The Resurrection of Jesus
Of all the miracles Peter saw Jesus perform in His years of ministry, none matched the miracle of His own resurrection. Imagine the immense despair His cruel crucifixion and death must have brought to all the disciples. Then just when they felt their sad hearts could endure no more, that all hope was gone, they discover that Jesus was still alive!
It’s no wonder that the Resurrection was such a prevalent topic in the preaching of these New Testament believers, and in their letters. It brought with it a hope, not only that Jesus is still alive as our Advocate, but it gave hope that our own eternal life is secure.
The hope in His Second Coming is actually a hope for our eternal life, because that’s the event the promise points to. All graves will be opened when He comes again, and His sleeping saints will rise to meet Him. See 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.
Discussion Questions: Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. Why is there hope for eternal life, both for those living and for those believers who have died? What effect did Christ’s Resurrection have on this event?
Read Romans 5:12 and 1 Corinthians 15:21, 51-52. Why does sin bring death? What is the only way to reverse the sentence of death and why was Peter so eager to share this truth with his readers?
Read 1 Peter 1:3. What makes this a “living hope”? What does it have to do with life?
Wednesday: Jesus as the Messiah
Understanding the term Messiah is equivalent to Christ, we find that Peter called Him Christ fifteen times in his two epistles. He therefore continued to be convinced that Jesus was indeed the hoped-for Messiah, or the Anointed One, prophesied so often in Old Testament scriptures.
It’s helpful to understand the spiritual meaning of anointing, a practice used at various times in scripture. It was meant to signify divine appointment, special honor or privilege, or God’s blessing. It was used to memoralize an event, confirm a covenant, or set someone aside for a divine purpose.
There was some mystery surrounding the Messiah that would appear. He was thought to be the Seed that God promised to Adam and Eve that would bruise the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Peter did not hesitate in his assertions about Jesus’ identity. To him, He would always be the Messiah, the Desire of All Nations (Haggai 2:7).
Discussion Questions: Read Matthew 16:15, 16. What evidence is there that Peter did not fully understand the scope of Jesus’ divinity and mission at this point?
Read Psalm 2:2 (Mark 3:6, Revelation 19:16–the Anointed=King Jesus), 18:50 (annointed=King David), 1 Samuel 24:6 (annointed=King Saul), and Isaiah 45:1 (annointed=King Cyprus). Why was anointing used as a ceremony used to establish kings?
Read John 7:42. Why was it important that Jesus be born in the lineage of a king, especially King David?
Thursday: Jesus, the Divine Messiah
Peter, along with the other apostles, became aware of the divine nature of their Master, and were not hesitant to express their belief in the three persons of the godhead: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. After all, Jesus Himself left them with these names in His final call to evangelize the world (Matthew 28:19).
Two examples of the disciples’ belief in Jesus as a divine Messiah, who was God Himself in the flesh, are found in these statements:
- when Thomas declared, upon seeing Jesus in the upper room after His resurrection, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
- when Peter used the phrase in 2 Peter 1:1, “the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ”
Grammatically, using both terms in this way points to the full divinity of Christ.
It might also affirm our belief in the trinity, and thus the true divinity of Jesus as our Messiah, by noting that His resurrection was at various times attributed to God the Father (Acts 2:24), God the Son (John 10:18), and God the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:11).
In addition, Paul, famous apostle to the Gentiles, has declared that God has given this Messiah a name that will someday cause every knee to bow and tongue to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. See Philippians 2:9-11. Since our God has declared Himself to be jealous and the one and only God to worship, we must assume that these three comprise the same God. We certainly would not be worshiping someone who wasn’t God Himself.
Discussion Questions: Read John 20:28 and 2 Peter 1:1. How do both these statements make us confident that Jesus was the divine Messiah?
Read Acts 2:24, John 10:18, and Romans 8:11, and 1 Timothy 3:16. What made the trinity doctrine so hard to be established in the early church, and even for some denominations today? Why is it important?
Read Philippians 2:9-11 and Revelation 12:17. Why will the issue of who and how we worship be so important at the end of time?
The reality of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is found throughout Peter’s letters, in order to establish our understanding of salvation, submission, and suffering.
- Jesus’ death made it possible for us to be saved
- Jesus’ life shows us the importance of submission
- Jesus’ resurrection gives meaning to our suffering
Sunday–what His sacrifice means for us
Monday–what His suffering does for us
Tuesday–what His resurrection promises us
Wednesday and Thursday–how the Messiah was God Himself
Embracing the Message
The Desire of Ages, p. 83, says “It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.”
Having experienced so much with Jesus, how natural it must have been for Peter to think about Him all through the day. As our relationship grows, the Holy Spirit can also fill us with the same joy and peace that Peter enjoyed.
Make it a practice to set aside a “thoughtful hour” or so each day, and see how natural it can become for any of us. It will…
- grow our faith (“our confidence in Him will be more constant”)
- make our love deeper (“our love will be quickened”)
- fill us with God’s Spirit (“be more deeply imbued with His spirit”)
Next Week: Be Who You Are, Lesson 9
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
All Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/