Mission to the Needy

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(Luke 5, John 5, Psalms 146)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 8 Mission to the Needy

(Luke 5, John 5, Psalms 146)

Copr. 2023, 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: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Are you able to distinguish between a needy person and a grifter? Who to help has never been easy for me. Today, the United States seems upside down on the classic issues raised in the Bible. James 2:15 refers to helping someone who needs clothes and food. In the U.S. rich people are thin, not poor people. People who have lots of money dress like they are poor. Of course these are generalities, but they reflect a change from when I was young. How do we apply the eternal Biblical principles today? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Tile Man
    1. Read Luke 5:17-19. What strikes you as being inappropriate in this story? (Undoubtedly the crowd is made up in part by people who want to be healed. These guys are cutting ahead of the line. Jesus is teaching, these guys are disrupting His teaching. Someone other than these guys owns that house. They are tearing up someone’s home.)
    1. Read Luke 5:20. Among the illegal and unfair things these guys are doing, Jesus sees just one thing, their faith. Why is that?
      1. Is this a lesson for us? (Jesus seems to equate their innovative way to cut the line with a determination to help their friend. Others may be mostly curious, but these guys have confidence in Jesus.)
      1. Do you think these guys repaired the roof afterwards?
    1. Look again at Luke 5:20. Would you be disappointed if you were one of the guys helping his friend? (Yes. They came to have him healed.)
      1. Why does Jesus respond to their faith by saying “Your sins are forgiven?” (God looks more deeply into our needs. This fellow most likely felt he was paralyzed because he had sinned. See John 9:2.)
    1. Read Luke 5:21-23. What is the answer to Jesus’ question? (It is easier to say something that cannot be checked.)
    1. Read Luke 5:24-26. As you consider this story, what is the main point being made? (Jesus is God. He can forgive sins.)
      1. Is the “helping your needy friend” aspect of the story just a sideshow? A prop for the major point? (Why does Jesus want us to believe that He is God? It is to save us from eternal death. In that sense this story has a uniform point - God loves us.)
      1. Our topic is helping the needy. What lesson do we learn from this story? (The most important aspect of helping the needy is teaching them about Jesus!)
      1. Assume a church program, in order to obtain government money to help the needy, complies with U.S. government regulations. Those regulations prohibit trying to convert those who are helped. Would that be appropriate? Should we be helping the needy without sharing the gospel? (It is contrary to the story we just studied.)
  1. Pool Man
    1. Read John 5:1-3. How many people needed help? (A “multitude.”)
    1. Read John 5:5-7. What obstacle does this man face in his goal to be healed? (Others beat him to the water.)
      1. I just purchased a book, “Fast After 50,” in part because of a discussion with my wife. When I ride my racing trike I want to go faster even though I’m getting older. She tells me that I should accept that I slow down with age. What do you think was the attitude of the man at the pool after 38 years of not winning the race? (He knew he could not win the race to the pool without help.)
    1. Let’s focus on John 5:6-7. Did the man answer Jesus’ question? (No. Instead, he explained why he was not able to be healed by the pool.)
      1. Did this man express any faith in Jesus?
    1. Read John 5:8-9. What lesson should we learn from this? (The people who seek our help may have the wrong method in mind. They may be focused on the reasons why they cannot be healed (or helped), rather than going directly to the source of healing and help.)
      1. Let’s drag James into this. James 2:18 says that he will show us his faith by his works. Would James have sat down by this man and carried him into the pool when the water was stirred? (James is making an important point, but he is not making the most important point. The most important point is faith in the power of God.)
    1. Read John 5:10. The Jewish leaders have questions about this story and so do I. John 5:3 says a multitude of people needed healing. Why didn’t Jesus heal them all? It was within His power.
      1. Why did Jesus heal on the Sabbath? Why did Jesus tell the man to carry his bed on Sabbath?
    1. Read John 5:11-13. What point is Jesus making? He withdrew before the pool man even knew the identity of his healer!
    1. Read John 5:14-15. This answers one of our questions. Later, when there is no crowd, Jesus tells the pool man who He is. Why would Jesus tell the man not to sin so that he would avoid something “worse?”
      1. What could be worse than being an invalid for 38 years? (Eternal death.)
      1. This seemingly odd closing conversation with Jesus answers several of our previously unanswered questions. Do we now see why Jesus healed just one fellow? (The goal was not just healing his body, the goal was healing his soul. That is why the presence of a multitude of invalids was irrelevant to Jesus’ main goal.)
      1. Why did Jesus violate the Sabbath in the eyes of others (including the pool guy)? (Read John 5:17. The point Jesus is making from the beginning of this story is that He is God. He does not need the pool to be stirred to heal. He gets to say what is appropriate for Him to do on the Sabbath.)
    1. Now that we have discussed the tile man and the pool man, what should be our primary goal with regard to the needy? (Pointing them to Jesus. Improving their physical situation is not the primary goal. Getting them to know Jesus is our primary goal.)
  1. Sojourner Man
    1. Read Leviticus 23:22 and Psalms 146:9. Both of these texts refer to the “sojourners.” Who are sojourners? (People who are traveling and do not live in your area.)
    1. Read Deuteronomy 10:18-19. How high does Deuteronomy place the bar when it comes to treating sojourners? (It says, “love,” but the Egyptians made them slaves! This is not an encouraging point of comparison.)
    1. When we read Psalms 146:9 it tells us that “wicked” will be brought to ruin. Read Romans 13:1-2. Are sojourners who do not obey “the governing authorities” wicked? (Romans tells us the wicked will “incur judgment.”)
    1. The United States (and Europe) face an unprecedented problem with “sojourners.” I only know a little about refugee law in the United States. Most of the sojourners coming over the U.S. southern boarder do not qualify as refugees, they are simply (and understandably) seeking a better life. Should we help them if they (and we) know they are violating the laws of the United States?
      1. Does the story of the tile man’s friends illegally ripping up the roof support those illegally entering the United States?
    1. Consider the “big picture” of our study this week. Was the paralysis of the tile man or the pool man the point of those stories? (No. The point was to teach the gospel - that Jesus is God. Nothing in the Bible teaches that violating the law is appropriate because someone else is richer than you.)
      1. If the goal of helping the needy is to advance the gospel, is coming to the United States a way to become more like Jesus? (The potential sojourner has to ask that question about their current situation. In general, the influences in the U.S. are not advancing the Kingdom of God. Getting richer does not make you more righteous.)
    1. Friend, will you give your aid to the needy prayerful consideration? Will you determine, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to make advancing the Kingdom of God your primary goal?
  1. Next week: Mission to the Powerful.