Christ in the Crucible

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Matthew 2, 12, 23, 26 & 27
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 13

Christ in the Crucible

(Matthew 2, 12, 23, 26 & 27)

Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: No one likes people who are mean. No one likes to be insulted. No one wants to be told that they lack worth, especially they don’t want to hear it from others who have questionable worth. No one likes to be embarrassed. No one likes to suffer pain. No one wants to be murdered by vicious, violent people. Yet, Jesus suffered this and much more for us. We live in a throw away culture. If something is not working we just toss it and get a new one. Imagine if you knew that a defective tool you were using would cause you grievous harm. You would certainly trash it and replace it. Thankfully, Jesus did not just toss us and make new, more grateful, less dangerous people. What Jesus did for us is beyond reasonable description. Let’s jump into our Bible study and discuss it!

  1. From the Start
    1. Read Matthew 1:18-19. Back your mental clock up a few decades. Do you recall which children were conceived before their parents were married? (When I was a young man, this was a scandal. Today in some groups it is the norm. We know it was a scandal in Jesus’ day because Jesus is reminded of this from time to time during His life (see John 8:41).)
    2. Read Luke 2:7. Have you heard the insult, “You were born in a barn?” Where was Jesus born? (There is a debate about whether He was born in a barn or a cave, but the Bible is clear he was first laid to rest in a an animal feed trough.)
    3. Read Matthew 2:1-2. Did intellectuals want to know more about your birth? Did you have a star announce your coming? (At the same time as Jesus goes through debasing situations, He also has some remarkable things associated with His birth. He is called “King of the Jews.”)
    4. Read Matthew 2:3. Why would “all of Jerusalem” be troubled about what the wise men reported? (They have a new king?)
    5. Read Matthew 2:4-6. What is it that the religious leaders believe Jesus may be? (The promised Messiah!)
    6. Read Matthew 2:7-8 and Matthew 2:11. Do the wise men think Jesus is the King of prophecy? (They worship Him. They believe He is the Messiah/King.)
    7. Read Matthew 2:12-13 and compare Revelation 12:4-5. Does this sound like a thrilling story? You are declared King by wise men and then you have to flee the country because the current King of the county wants to kill you?
    8. Read Matthew 2:16. How many innocent people are harmed by Satan? Can you imagine the depth of his evil nature?
      1. Consider this story for those who today suffer a calamity that seems to make no sense. Is the existence of evil explanation enough?
  2. During His Ministry
    1. Read Matthew 12:22-23. How do the common people understand this miracle? (They are asking if Jesus is the Messiah. See Matthew 1:1 and Isaiah 35:4-5.)
    2. Read Matthew 12:24. What do the religious leaders suggest about Jesus? (That he is an agent of Satan.)
      1. Keep in mind what we read that Herod did under the influence of Satan. Is this a terrible charge to make against Jesus?
    3. Read Matthew 12:25-26. Why does Jesus defend His reputation through logical argument?
    4. Read Matthew 12:27-28. What claim does Jesus indirectly make? (That He is the Messiah.)
      1. Notice that the religious leaders claim Jesus is an agent of Satan and Jesus responds that He is the Messiah. Consider the many people who today say that Jesus was a “good man” or a “prophet” or something similar. Is it good that Jesus’ detractors today have a more positive view of Him? (No. It shows that they are ignorant of the facts. Those who saw what Jesus did knew that the supernatural was the only explanation. The question was merely which supernatural?)
    5. Read Matthew 12:31-32. Have you heard people who say that some “faith healer” is the agent of Satan? How dangerous is that kind of accusation? (I would be very reluctant to say that someone who claims the power of the Holy Spirit for a healing is actually working through demons. Jesus suggests this sin will not be forgiven.)
    6. Read Matthew 23:37-39. Jesus’ ministry is to the Jews. How would you say that Jesus thought His ministry was going? (Terribly. This is so sad!)
      1. Put yourself in Jesus’ place. All of the things we have discussed have happened to you, and now at the end of your working career the people who you worked to convert “were not willing!” How would you feel?
  3. The End
    1. Read Matthew 26:19-21 and Matthew 26:33-34. Judas betrays Jesus and Peter denies Jesus. Jesus is aware of these facts. How does this compare to Jesus’ sadness that those He came to save, “were not willing?” (This is worse. The other is a failure to persuade. This is a failure of those closest to Him. Those who have been His companions in His work.)
    2. Read Matthew 26:38-40. If you tell a friend that you are so sad that you might die, so you want them to “watch you” for an hour, what would you expect of a true friend?
      1. If they fell asleep, how would you value your friendship?
      2. Is Jesus anxious to get through the next hours? (He would like to avoid what is to come, if possible. His disciples are betraying Him, and His closest associates seem not to care very much about Him.)
    3. Read Matthew 27:15-17 and Matthew 27:20. How does this impact Jesus’ ego? His sense of being wanted? The crowd prefers a notorious prisoner over Him when it comes to whether Jesus should die. If you were Jesus, would you be asking yourself whether these people noticed all the good things you did for them?
      1. How do you think this impacted Jesus’ determination to go through a terrible death to save these people? The people who prefer to give Him death rather than a notorious prisoner?
    4. Read Matthew 27:22-23. Pilate says that justice requires that Jesus should live. How do you think that impacted Jesus’ determination to go through a terrible death to save these people? (All of this must have tempted Jesus to let humans receive the justice they deserved - dying eternally.)
    5. Read Matthew 27:27-31. Notice the details of the assault on Jesus. They twice stripped Him naked before “the whole battalion.” They dressed Him as a king and mocked Him. They spit on Him. The drove thorns into His head. Assume that someone who owed you money did this to you. Would you tell them that they owed you nothing?
      1. What if you really were a king and the people mocking, spitting on you, and hurting you were far below your dignity? Would you relieve them of some obligation? Would you pay their debt?
    1. Read Matthew 27:35-36 and Matthew 27:39-42. What should you logically conclude from the fact that when Jesus is hanging on the cross, His clothes are being divided among the soldiers? (This can only mean that He suffers the indignity of hanging naked on the cross.)
      1. If you were in Jesus’ place, how tempted would you be to show them that you are the Son of God?
    2. Read Matthew 27:43. The scorn around the words “if He desires Him,” is the idea that God does not love Jesus. That Jesus is lying about being the “Son of God.” If your parents loved you, how do you react to people who tell you that you were not loved?
    3. Read Matthew 27:46. Does Jesus believe that God doesn’t love Him? That the religious leaders were right that God does not “desire Him?” (This shows that Jesus feels abandoned by God and this causes intense despair.)
      1. Would you be able to stand firm in this circumstance?
    4. Friend, if you ever doubt that Jesus loves you, think about what we have just studied! Jesus loves us in a way that human words cannot adequately express! Will you give up your life to the God who gave up His life for you?
  1. Next week: We start a new series of studies on death, dying and our future hope.