Friday, April 29, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 1, 2016

Over 102,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

INCREASED FAITH
(Teaching about forgiveness and faith)
(Luke 17:1-10)

   In this world there will always be temptations to sin. Also, in this world, GOD will not hold blameless, any person who causes another person to stray. In the Greek, the word Luke uses for the phrase “temptations to sin” in verse 1 is “skandalon”, and it is from that word that we derive our English word “scandal”. Originally it meant “the bait in the trap”. However, over time it has come to mean “a stumbling block that is placed in a person’s way in order to trip them up”. Here in the opening lines of Luke 17, JESUS warns of how terrible a judgment it will be for anyone who intentionally tempts or teaches another Christian to sin, or leads that person away from the path of innocence, such as in the cases of misleading children (Vs.1-2).
    Then, just as suddenly as HE introduced the subject of “temptation”, and the terrible judgment that awaits the professed Christian who does the tempting in verses 1-3, in verse 4 JESUS turns and instructs the Christian victim of the tempting, of the need for them to “rebuke their offender” and, “if”, they come to them and repent from their wrongdoing, and request to be forgiven, they should be forgiven by those who were wronged. And even if they should offend you seven times a day, and then repent, then, seven times a day, as a Christian, you are obligated to “forgive” them.
    In this passage JESUS seems to shed a new light on the Christian practice of “turning the other cheek”, as here HE tells us to, first, “confront the sinner” for their wrong-doing, or offense against you, and then “if they repent” they should be forgiven. Here JESUS points out, from a new perspective, that, our forgiveness should not be of a “passive” nature. Our “willingness to forgive” must be just as sincere as the wrong-doer’s “repent and request to be forgiven”. In other words, if reconciliation is to be achieved, forgiveness has to be received, as well as extended.
    If a person is not willing to acknowledge guilt, that person cannot spiritually receive forgiveness from you. And even though we as Christians must always be ready and willing to forgive, JESUS says, we cannot truly say that we have forgiven a person in our heart until we have, first, confronted and rebuked the offender, and the offenders themselves have repented with GODly sorrow (Vs.3-4).
    Taking up at verse 5, the focus of JESUS’ teaching moves from “forgiveness” to “faith”, as one day the apostles asked HIM how they could obtain more “faith”. After hearing what JESUS had to say on “temptation” and “forgiveness” they began to realize how difficult it can be to accept the responsibility of “rebuking a person to induce repentance”, and then, “extending to them, sincere forgiveness”. They surmised that it would take a great deal of faith in order to reach that level of spirituality, or, “spiritual maturity”.
    However, in verse 6 JESUS surprisingly points out that it only takes “mustard seed sized faith” to say to a mulberry tree, “May GOD uproot you and throw you into the sea, and it would obey you!”. Here JESUS seems to be saying that, it is not so much about faith, as it is about having “self control” over the “gifts” and “faculties” that GOD gives us to ensure that we are able to overcome the various temptations that we may face in life, and still remain obedient to HIM, through it all. And, we must forgive others when they fail, just as GOD forgives us when we fail. The attitude of GOD is one of, both, “self control” (discipline), and, “longsuffering” (patient endurance).
    In verses 7-10 JESUS drives home HIS point with the telling of the story of a typical day in the life of any servant. HE says that when a servant comes home from attending his superior’s sheep, he doesn’t sit down and eat, but rather, he begins the task of preparing his superior’s meal first, and then, serves him. Afterwards, he may not even be thanked for his efforts because, it is understood that he is simply doing what he is supposed to do. In the same way, when we obey JESUS we should say, “We are not worthy of praise, but rather, we are servants who have simply done what we are supposed to do for our LORD and SAVIOR.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  
          





   

    

Friday, April 22, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 24, 2016

Over 102,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A FAMILY REUNION
(GOD gives us unmerited grace)
(Luke 15:11-32)

   One of the main reasons GOD give human beings grace is to teach us how to be gracious to others. We fail GOD when we allow HIS grace towards us to be taken for granted by us, or go unnoticed by us, and, as a result, give satan an opportunity to influence us instead with pride, envy, greed, and narcissism, as he did to the older son in Luke’s now famous account of JESUS’ parable of  “the prodigal son”, that is found only in his Gospel account.
    In Luke chapter 15, verses 11-32, JESUS uses the story of a man who had two sons, to illustrate HIS point further concerning the importance of retrieving those who are “lost”. The father in the parable of this biblical family represents “the attitude of GOD towards those who have wandered away from HIM” and are now “lost” or “dead” in the spiritual sense (separated from HIM).
    The younger son represents those in the world who are lost because they dared to leave the “protective umbrella of GOD” and arrogantly take their lives into their own hands, because their “pride” (which is satan), tells them that they can do better on their own. Little do they know that, whenever you remove yourself from underneath the umbrella of GOD, you inevitably will be “rained on” by satan.
    The older son in this parable, even though he believed that he was totally loyal to his father, is used to show us how we can start out serving GOD and, over time, “our motives for service” can turn to selfish ones, and here we can see in him, several evil elements, pride, envy, greed, and narcissism, that have taken him over during his years of service. He can be likened to the Pharisees in this passage.
    The story begins one day when the younger son, arrogantly assuming that he even had an inheritance, requested to his father that he might receive his right now, rather than wait until his father died, also arrogantly assuming, of course, that his father would pass away before he did. The good father in this parable, who had already prepared a place for his children in the future, agreed to prematurely advance to the younger son, his planned allocated share of his wealth (Vs.11-12).
    Now feeling certain that he could make it on his own without his father (and his rules), a few days later he packed his bags and ventured off to experience the world around him that he thought would give him all the freedom he wanted to do as he pleased. However, true followers of CHRIST know that true freedom can only be found in HIM. The younger son had mistakenly envied the wrong people in life, and so soon he would soon discover that the object of his desires would profoundly humble him back into his senses.
    And so he moved to the land of the unbelieving Gentiles – “foreigners” not in race, but rather, in their unGODly lifestyles). There he would squander all of his wealth on lascivious living, and as soon as he was broke, as the lessons of life would have it, along came a famine, which swept over the entire land (Vs.13-14).
    Now suffering from great hunger, and still having too much pride to return to his father’s house, the young man was able to persuade one of the local Gentile farmers to hire him to feed his swine, which was something that was absolutely detestable for a Jewish person to do, because they, through their upbringing, would normally not be seen anywhere near a pig, let along working with them. And not only did he work tending to, and feeding the swine, but, over time, as his hunger began to overcome him, he even began to desire the food (carob pods) that he was feeding to the pigs (Vs.15-16).
   When his living conditions finally began to humble him, he thought to himself how even his father’s servants had plenty to eat, and in fact, had food enough to spare, and here he was, so hungry, that the pig’s pods were starting to look good to him. And so he decided to go back home to his father’s house, and ask for forgiveness. All the way home he rehearsed the words which he would say to his father saying, “Father, I have sinned against both you and Heaven, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son, please take me back into your house, even if just as a hired servant” (Vs.17-19).
    As he neared his father’s house, and while still a ways off, his father, who had been anxiously anticipating his son’s return one day, saw him coming and was filled with joy. He ran to meet his son and embraced him, and kissed him. His son then told his father the words that he had rehearsed over and over on the way home. To his surprise his father greeted him with love and compassion and ordered his servants to tend to his needs and set up a feast to celebrate his return (Vs.20-24).
    Here we see a vivid picture of GOD’s attitude toward those who wish to repent and return to him. HE justifies us through the blood of CHRIST, HIS sacrificed SON, and HE begins to treat us as if we never sinned at all. The FATHER celebrates the return to life of any of HIS children who were “dead” (separated from HIM) by their quest for the people and things of this world.
    The older son, who had been working in the fields, returned home to the sound of loud music and celebration for his long lost brother’s return. He became very angry at his father for accepting his younger brother back into the family, and was very jealous and envious about him being given a party after he abandoned the family to seek after the pleasures of the world. In fact, he was so angry that he wouldn’t even go into the house (Vs.25-27).
    When his father came out of the house to plead with him to come in and help celebrate his brother’s return, he rebuked his father saying, “All these years I’ve worked hard for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to do. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours (here he disowns his younger brother) comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the finest calf we have” (Vs.29-30 – NLT)).
    Here we see the evil elements of pride (he still felt that his father owed him something for his service), envy (toward his brother), greed (because he too had received his inheritance), selfishness, and even narcissism ( he thought too highly of himself) all come pouring out of the heart  of the older son. Many people feel the same way about GOD, as this young man felt about his father, they think that through their “good works” they put GOD into their debt.
    The wise and understanding father replied to his older son, “Look my dear son, you and I are very close, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life again! He was lost, but now he is found!” (Vs.31-32 - NLT).
    It is never too late for any person, who still has blood running warm through their veins, to return to the FATHER GOD, WHO will always have a place prepared for us. The “right time” to come to the FATHER is always “right now”, and the “right way” to come is always, “just as you are”. And GOD will always celebrate with open arms, the return of even those who may be considered by others to be “the least of HIS children” in society.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander 






Friday, April 15, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 17, 2016

Over 101,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A SOUND MIND
(JESUS has power over darkness)
(Luke 8:26-38)

   In Luke chapter 8, verses 26-38, we see Luke’s account of the story of a man, who was possessed by a group of demons calling themselves “Legion”. Here we see a rather bizarre thing occurring, and in order for us to understand this story, we must do our best to read between the lines. Like in many Biblical stories, the author may speak in terms that are difficult for the modern-day reader to comprehend, and here Luke’s account is no different. Here he speaks in terms that are familiar to the people of those times, but may seem very strange to us in this generation.
 After JESUS had showed HIS mastery over nature by calming the storm that surrounded HIMSELF and HIS crew of disciples as they were crossing over the Sea of Galilee, they headed for the land of the Gerasenes, or, Gadarenes, as they were also called. The Gadarenes inhabited a city called Gadara, which was the capital of the Roman province of Perea. It was located on the east side of the Jordan River, about ten miles from the Sea of Galilee, and opposite Tiberias.
When they had landed, we see that, just as JESUS is climbing out of the boat, a man possessed with many demons runs up to HIM and falls to his knees before HIM. Here we see that the demons inside the man recognized just WHO JESUS was, and after JESUS had commanded them to come out, they cried out in fear, saying, “Why are YOU bothering us JESUS, SON of the Most, High GOD? Please, I beg YOU, don’t torture us!”
    The demon’s name in this instance, which is “Legion”, gives us a clue as to how many demons may have been present inside the man. “Legion”, by definition, was “a Roman regiment consisting of 6000 troops”. We also see in this passage that, subsequently, JESUS cast the demons out of the man, into a herd of two thousand swine, causing them to run down a steep embankment, fall into the sea, and drown. One can only imagine that there must have been quite a storm going on inside of this demon-possessed man.
    Here we see JESUS, once again, showing us HIS mastery over satan and his demons. Here the demon-possessed man, recognizing the presence of JESUS, and having the storm inside of him being made calm by our LORD and SAVIOR, with the subsequent release of those demons from his body at the very command of HIS voice.
    The lesson to be learned here from this story and the previous story of JESUS’ calming of the storm at sea, is that, it doesn’t really matter if we are in the storm, like the disciples were in verses 22-25 of this chapter, or, the storms of sorrows, problems, and anxiety are in us, like this demon-possessed man in this second story, to recognize GOD as the object of our faith, is the key to gaining “peace of mind” and “soundness of mind” in our lives.
    Another thing that we can take away from these passages is that, it doesn’t really matter so much what JESUS did to bring soundness of mind to the demon-possessed man here in this passage. Nor does it matter what HE did on that night, when HE spoke to the sea, “Peace be still”, and the winds too, did obey. And nor, does it even matter what JESUS did one morning on a different occasion in far-off Palestine, when HE walked on water, to encourage Peter and those same disciples to put away their fears and anxieties (Mark 6:45-52).
    What we really need to understand here is that, these miracles represent to us, a sign, and a symbol of what GOD always does for those who have faith, and believe in HIM. And they say in effect, that, when we are in danger of being overwhelmed by the “storms of life”, GOD, will keep in perfect peace, the mind that stays on HIM, because it trusts HIM. Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander







Friday, April 8, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 10, 2016

Over 101,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A FRESH START
(Faith expressed through love and forgiveness)
(Luke 7:36-50)

   Two days before the Passover celebration and the Festival of unleavened bread in Jerusalem, the leading priests, Pharisees, and teachers of religious law were busy looking for an opportunity to secretly capture JESUS and put HIM to death. However, they had all agreed that they would not attempt anything until after the Passover because they feared that, because of JESUS’ popularity among the people, a move on HIS life might cause a riot at that time.
    Meanwhile JESUS, ironically, was in Bethany visiting the home of another Pharisee named Simon, who was also a leper. Simon had invited JESUS to his home to have a meal with him and some of his other guests. It was customary that whenever a respected Rabbi was attending a meal in a well-to-do person’s home, which contained an outer courtyard such as Simon’s did, that people would wander into the gathering in order to take in some of the knowledge and wisdom that was being imparted.
    Traditionally, when the special guest arrived, there would be a customary three-part ritual that would take place between the host and his guest. First, the host would place his hand on the shoulder of the guest and welcome them with a hug and a kiss. Secondly, the host would have one of his servants to pour cold water on the guest’s feet to clean and comfort them. And then finally, either a pinch of sweet smelling incense was burned, or a drop of rose fragrant oil would be applied to the head of the guest. In the case of JESUS’ visit with Simon, HE did not receive this traditional honor, and JESUS would remind Simon of this later in verses 44-46.
    In biblical times, when the Jews ate a meal, they would do so while lying in an inclined position, on low couches, using one of their arms to prop them up, at a very low table. This explains how the so-called, “immoral woman” was able to kneel down behind JESUS near HIS feet as it is described in verse 38a.
    At any rate, this certain woman, who had heard that JESUS was going to be present at Simon’s dinner, came prepared to anoint HIM with some fairly expensive perfume that was contained in a beautiful jar. She knelt down behind JESUS, at HIS feet, and began to sob bitterly, and her tears were so plentiful, that, she was able to wash JESUS’s feet with them.
    When she began to wipe her tears from JESUS’ feet with her own hair, and then proceeded to kiss HIS feet, while applying the expensive perfume to them, Simon began to protest to himself, thinking “This proves that JESUS is no prophet. If GOD had really sent HIM, HE would know what kind of a woman is touching HIM. She’s a sinner!”
    Reading the innermost thoughts of the confused host, JESUS said to him, “I have something to say to you Simon”, and HE began to teach the Pharisee a lesson in “forgiveness”, as HE relates to him, a parable of a man who had loaned money to two different individuals, who weren’t able to repay the debt. One individual owed the man 500 pieces of silver, while the other owed 50 pieces. The kind man decided to forgive both men of their debt to him, tearing up both of their bills.
    Then JESUS asked Simon which man do you think was the most appreciative of what the lender did for them, and who showed the man the most love? Simon replied, “Why it is the one whom he forgave the most debt”. “That’s correct”, JESUS said, and HE then turned to the woman and reminded Simon that he had neglected to honor HIM in the traditional way when HE arrived at his home, and yet this woman, by washing JESUS’ feet with her tears of “repent”, and wiping away those tears with her hair, kissing HIS feet, and then anointing them with costly perfume, had not only honored JESUS in the traditional way, but she had also honored HIM in a truly “sacrificial and personal, intimate way.
    In the biblical Greek, the word used for “forgive” is “aphemi” and it means “to send away” or “wipe away”, in this case, sin. In verse 47 of this passage JESUS says to Simon, “I tell you, her sins, and they are many, have been forgiven, and so she has shown ME much love. But the person who is forgiven little shows only a little love”. Then JESUS turned to the woman and made a statement that all Pharisees, and teachers of the religious hierarchy of the day, believed only GOD can make, when HE said, “Your sins are forgiven”.
    By making such a statement, JESUS was leaving no doubt, and actually declaring to the religious hierarchy in Israel, that HE has the authority of GOD over mankind to, not only, forgive sin, but indeed, over all things here on earth. The men at the table of honor were indignant and began to murmur among themselves, saying, “WHO does HE think HE is, going around forgiving sin?” And JESUS said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace”
    The reason why JESUS once stated that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of heaven is because, the rich are those who are least likely to be conscious of any needs in this life. Simon in this story wasn’t conscience of any need for forgiveness, and therefore, felt no love for JESUS. This is evidenced in his failure to treat JESUS as, even ordinary guests were treated in those days by the hosts. He felt no love for JESUS, and so he could receive no forgiveness from JESUS, WHO is GOD.
    Simon felt that he was a “good man” before men and GOD, and through his own efforts, he had put himself in a position where all of his needs could be met by either his wealth and/or, his position of power, despite the fact that he was, even then, saddled by an incurable disease called leprosy, which could have been eradicated by JESUS, had he humbled him enough to ask.
    The lowly woman in this passage, on the other hand, was fully conscience of her need for forgiveness for her many sins, and she had much love for JESUS, the only ONE WHO could grant that forgiveness to her. Her love for JESUS was manifested through her behavior towards JESUS at the dinner, and her desire to change was greater than her desire to remain the same. She showed an overwhelming love for JESUS, and JESUS granted her forgiveness, because of HIS overwhelming love for her.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






Friday, April 1, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 3, 2016

Over 101,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

FAITH OF THE ROMAN OFFICER
(Great faith is trusting in what JESUS can do)
(Luke 7:1-10 & Matthew 8:5-13)

   In Luke 7:1-10, and Matthew 8:5-13, two authors of GOD’s Good News, Luke and the Apostle Matthew, give their respective accounts of the story of the Roman officer, a centurion (a ruler over 100 men), who sought help from JESUS for his valuable ailing servant. Matthew was an eyewitness to this event, while Luke compiled his account through very careful investigative work collected from verified eyewitnesses who were there that day.
    Through man’s faith in CHRIST, he can bring about healing to himself, and, to others whom he cares about. He must rely on GOD with an inward certainty that will manifest itself through his behavior. After JESUS had finished preaching HIS, now famous, “Sermon on the Mount”, HE and HIS disciples went back to Capernaum, the place that eventually became HIS ministry headquarters, after HE was rejected by the people in HIS hometown of Nazareth. There JESUS is met, either by the Roman centurion (Matthew 8:5), or, by friends of the Roman centurion who were respected Jewish leaders in Capernaum (Luke 7:3). However, either way the officer was calling on the help of JESUS, WHOM he had heard so much about, to cure his beloved servant from his illness.
    This centurion was one of unusual character for a man of his position. First of all his treatment of his servants with love and respect was very rare. Most Romans looked at their servants as being only “living tools” that they would do away with once they were no longer fit to be used. Apparently this centurion held, at least this particular servant, to be a very valuable asset that he desired very much to, retain, not for usage, but because he loved him as a friend.
    Secondly, he was a Gentile that even the Jewish hierarchy held dear and respected. In fact he loved and respected the Jews also, even to the degree that he actually built them a synagogue in which they could worship the GOD of Heaven, WHOM he himself, also apparently worshiped. He even respected their Jewish laws and customs, including the one that forbids Jews from entering into the home of a Gentile. HE also esteemed JESUS for WHO HE was, as the SON of the living GOD, and he had absolute faith in JESUS’ ability to heal.
    Notice what he told JESUS in verse 6, “LORD, don’t trouble YOURSELF by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor, I am not even worthy to come and meet YOU. Just say the word from where YOU are, and my servant will be healed.
    This centurion understood clearly that JESUS had spiritual authority over demons and over sickness and death (v.8), and when JESUS heard his proclamation, he marveled and was truly amazed by this Gentile who had shown more faith than all of the Jews whom HE had met in the land of Israel.
    Because the Roman centurion had exhibited such unusual faith, JESUS did indeed heal his servant from where HE was. He had come to JESUS with a perfect confidence that seemed to say, “LORD JESUS, I know YOU can do this”, and his faith in CHRIST JESUS, and his belief in JESUS’ authority over all things on earth, brought healing and new life to his beloved servant.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






          

Friday, March 25, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 27, 2016

Over 100,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

HE IS RISEN!
(Our faith hinges on the risen CHRIST)
(Mark 16:1-8)

   The sins of Adam and Eve brought physical death. The Resurrection of CHRIST JESUS brought spiritual life. The Resurrection of CHRIST is the essence of the Christian Faith, and, it is the core of all the Apostle’s teachings. In the Greek, the word used for “resurrection” is “anastasis”, and in the spiritual sense, it is “a moral recovery of spiritual truth”. In the physical sense, it means, quite literally, “to stand up again”.
     JESUS’ death and resurrection are a symbol of how the giving of HIS life regenerated us, and made it possible for us, to be reconnected into a personal relationship of friendship with GOD the FATHER in Heaven. HE is the bridge that gave us direct access to GOD, for the first time since the days of Adam and Eve, and HE continues to act as that bridge even today.
    In Mark 16:1-8, Matthew 28:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-20, the respective authors of GOD, give their accounts of the Resurrection story of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST. They collectively tell us that at dawn, on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene, Salome, Mary, (the mother of James and Joseph), Zebedee’s wife (the mother of James and John), and Joanna went to the tomb of JESUS.
    They knew where the body of JESUS had been laid, because they had seen Joseph of Arimathea, who’s tomb was being used to bury JESUS, and Nicodemus, together, roll the stone over the door of the tomb a day earlier (Matthew 27:61, Luke 23:55, John 19:39-42). The women had returned, on this Sunday after the Sabbath was over, to anoint JESUS’ body for burial (Mark 16:1-2).
    Matthew records that there was a great earthquake associated with an angel of the LORD, who came down from Heaven and rolled away the stone from the entrance of the Sepulcher. The Roman soldiers, who were guarding the tomb, became so frightened that they fainted.
    The angel, who appeared like lightning, was garbed in clothing that was as white as snow. He proceeded to issue a proclamation to the women, that, JESUS had risen as HE had said HE would. He invited them to come into the tomb and see for themselves, and then, instructed them to go and tell HIS Disciples the good news, and to meet HIM in Galilee as pre-planned.
    As the women were hurrying along to tell the Disciples what had happened, JESUS suddenly appears before them. Upon hearing HIS greeting, the women recognized JESUS and immediately fell at HIS feet and begin to worship HIM. It is all together fitting that these women should be the first to receive the news of the risen LORD, and then, actually see HIM. They had been faithfully there, at the cross, and they had also been there when HE was laid in the tomb. Now, they were receiving their reward, by becoming the first people on earth to witness, and experience the joy, of the Resurrected CHRIST.
    In the Greek, the word used for “greetings”, or “hail” is “chairo” (khah-ee-ro), and it means to “be cheerful; be glad and rejoice”. In Matthew 28:6-9, we see “the three great imperatives that govern the Christian Faith”. First we see the women being urged to “BELIEVE”, because in verse 6, we see the angel invites them to “see the empty tomb”.
    Secondly, they are instructed by the angel to “SHARE” the good news. In verse 7, the angel tells them to “go quickly and tell”. And thirdly, in verse 9, the first words, JESUS says to them is, “All Hail”, in the Greek “chairo”, which means, “REJOICE”.
    Any person, who has met and accepted CHRIST JESUS, will be able to live forever in the joy of HIS presence. They will be able to come to rest in the knowledge that, if they choose to believe on HIM, nothing can separate them from HIS saving Grace, and, eternal life in Heaven.
    No man can give you that kind of religion. For, it is something that only GOD can do. Christianity is the only true religion, because it is the only religion that is a product of GOD’s mind. Through the Birth, Ministry, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of JESUS CHRIST, GOD is saying to us, that HE loves us, with an everlasting love that can withstand all the suffering that this world has to offer. Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander






Friday, March 18, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday March 20, 2016

Over 100,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

PETER’S DENIAL OF JESUS
(Struggling with faith)
(Mark 14:27-31 & 66-72)

   H.G. Welles once wrote, “A man can be a bad musician, and yet, be passionately in love with music”. In Mark chapter 14, verses 26-31, JESUS foretells of an event that was, quite literally, hours away from realization. There HE tells of a time, very shortly, when all of HIS closest disciples would desert HIM and run away in fear of man. Indeed the Scripture was about to be fulfilled that said, “GOD will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered”.
    Here in this passage JESUS discloses to HIS closest followers, that they will all desert HIM and flee, after HIS betrayal by Judas Iscariot, and HIS arrest by the Jewish hierarchy in Jerusalem. However, JESUS offers them hope as HE also tells them that HE will be raised from the dead by GOD the FATHER three days later, and that, HE would then go ahead of them, and meet them in Galilee. The Apostle Peter strongly rebuked JESUS’ statements to them and insisted quite vehemently that, “Not even if I have to die with you! I will never deny you!”  
    However, sometimes when a man says, “That’s the one thing that I will never do”, that’s the very thing he needs to constantly guard against doing. Satan often attacks a person at a point where they are most sure of themselves, because he knows that it is there, where they are most likely to be unprepared.
    The shame of failure and disloyalty to a friend or loved one is not all together a loss in that, it can give one a sense of sympathy and understanding that, otherwise, they may have never attained. “Do you love ME?” is what JESUS said to Peter, three times in John 21, and I guess, the only way that any of us can ever really prove our love for JESUS is by loving others. History now tells us that eventually, eleven of JESUS’ disciples really did die a horrible death for HIS sake. Only the Apostle John lived to a ripe old age and died a natural death. However, he was a man who spent his entire life showing the world how to live the examples of CHRIST.
     In John’s Gospel account he writes, that, after JESUS allowed the soldiers to arrest HIM, Peter and one of the other disciples followed them back into the city. John was the disciple who was known by the high priest, and thereby, he had access to the high priest’s courtyard. He was also able to gain permission for Peter’s entrance into the courtyard, from the lady who kept the door. However, the lady recognized Peter also as one of JESUS’ disciples, and when she inquired this of him, for the first time, he denied that he even knew JESUS.
   In mark 14:66-72 it is written that Peter was standing below the courtyard when this lady recognized him while he was warming himself at the fire. When she asked him if he was one of those who followed JESUS he told her, “I don’t know what you are talking about”, and as he spoke, he heard the rooster crow the first time. When the servant girl began telling the others, who were standing around the fire with Peter, that, he was definitely one of them with JESUS, Peter denied her allegations once again.
    Later on some of the other bystanders said to Peter, “Surely you must be one of them because you’re also from Galilee”. And then, for the third and final time, Peter denied knowing JESUS, by stating vehemently, “I swear by GOD, I don’t know this man you’re talking about”, and immediately after he spoke, he heard the sound of the rooster’s crow for a second time. Suddenly JESUS’ words flashed through his mind, and he broke down and cried like a baby.
    Here we see a very human, but somewhat complicated side of Peter. Only moments earlier he had been this brave, defiant defender of JESUS’, while in the garden of Gethsemane. Now, we see him cowering down under the pressure of the reality of what courage a man has to have in order to follow in the footsteps of CHRIST.
    Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have often faced martyrdom bravely, but there are perhaps even more times when they’ve buckled down under at the threat of death. Ironically, John, the other disciple didn’t seem to have a problem with being known as a follower of CHRIST. He was well known by the lady at the door, and the high priest, yet, he did not try to hide, or play the role of a secret Christian, but rather, he entered boldly into the temple to be near JESUS.
    It is said that “love” is the greatest privilege in the world, and yet, it brings with it, the greatest responsibility. For Peter, “love” brought a cross, and he truly did die for the LORD. In fact, Jewish tradition tells us that he requested to be hung upside down, because he felt himself to be unworthy to even die in the exact same manner as CHRIST. 
     And so, whenever we are struggling with our faith, we must remember the comeback from failure that Peter made. His love for JESUS eventually overcame his fear of man, and, of satan, and he went on to personify the concept of “the Rock” upon which JESUS CHRIST said HE would build HIS Church, and as JESUS promised, “the gates of Hell will not prevail against it”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander