The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?

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(Luke 19, Acts 2-5, Hebrews 11)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 2

The Central Issue: Love or Selfishness?

(Luke 19, Acts 2-5, Hebrews 11)

Copr. 2024, 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: On Easter weekend I began writing this lesson. Such unfathomable love God has shown us! Recall that last week we studied the war in heaven and the conflict between God and Satan over the allegiance of Adam and Eve? How was Satan doing at that time against God? We discussed that Satan was doing pretty well. He convinced a third of the angels and both humans to follow him. If you were God, what would you do? Would you power through this problem by destroying Satan and his followers? Or, would you sacrifice yourself? Astonishing to the human mind is that God decided to sacrifice Himself. Thus, God staked out love as His weapon. Let’s jump into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. He Wept
    1. Read Luke 19:36-38. Jesus is riding in triumph into Jerusalem. What do the people mean by calling Jesus “the King who comes in the name of the Lord?” (The are calling Jesus the Messiah. The people of Jerusalem are calling Him the expected Messiah and King.)
    2. Read Luke 19:39-40. What does Jesus mean when He says that the stones would cry out? What would cause that to happen? (Jesus is saying that praise would come from supernatural sources. Jesus confirms that He is the Messiah.)
    3. Read Luke 19:41-42. Jesus refers to the “you” who should have known what makes for peace. Who is that you? (The citizens of the city.)
      1. What “peace” is Jesus speaking about? Peace with the Romans?
    4. Read Luke 19:43-44. When Jesus speaks of the “visitation,” is He referring to the Romans attacking Jerusalem? The Jews did not know when that would happen. (No. Jesus says they did not recognize Him and realize that He was the Messiah! The stones recognized it, but God’s people did not. This is not about the Romans.)
    5. Let’s go back to Luke 19:38. Notice the reference to “peace in heaven.” How is Jesus bringing peace in heaven? (Think about our discussion last week. Jesus’ act of giving up Himself not only won the conflict on earth, it settled the issue in the minds of all those in the universe.)
    6. Let’s go back to Luke 19:41. If someone rejected you, would you weep about it or would that make you angry? (Jesus shows His love by crying over the coming loss of His people.)
    7. Look again at Luke 19:43-44. Who is doing the destruction? (“Enemies.” Satan is behind this attack on the Jews.)
      1. How does that work? Jesus has love for His people, but Satan destroys them - even children. Why? (The people rejected Jesus and therefore rejected His protection.)
    8. Read Matthew 24:15-20. Who is Jesus acting to save? (The Christians who are listening to Him. Those who believe. Eusebius and Epiphanius, who were fourth century Church fathers, report that Christians in Jerusalem saw a chance to leave after the Roman siege began. Following Jesus’ instruction they left the city and all were saved.)
    9. Read Acts 1:6. Jesus’ disciples asked Him this question as He was in the process of ascending to heaven. What did they think about the future of Jerusalem? (They obviously did not understand the future of Jerusalem.)
    10. Let’s talk about the texts we discussed to find the deeper picture. What is Satan’s strategy in this? (Satan first persuades most of God’s people to reject Jesus as the Messiah - even though nature (the stones) knew it.)
      1. What is Satan’s second strategy? (To destroy those who have chosen him. To seal their fate permanently.)
      2. The temple has never been rebuilt. Why does that serve Satan’s purposes? (It is terribly discouraging and confusing to the descendants of Abraham who have not accepted Jesus as the Messiah.)
      3. Why would God allow such terrible destruction? Is this a simple act of vengeance by God? (How could it be? We read about Jesus weeping over the future of the temple and His people! After Jesus lived a perfect life, died in our place, and was resurrected to heaven the temple no longer served any purpose. Satan wanted to destroy where God used to have His presence and God let him.)
      4. Part of the title of our lesson is “love or selfishness?” Aside from what Satan is doing, is any other selfishness visible in this story? (Read Luke 19:47. The Jewish leaders sought to destroy Jesus because He was challenging their religious rule. They could not accept that God would act on their behalf by giving up Himself. Even Jesus’ disciples thought that they would be rulers, not be facing hostile crowds the rest of their lives. The leaders selfishly rejected Jesus.)
        1. Are we like the Jewish leaders? Do we reject the call of Jesus because we foolishly believe our life will be better without Him?
  1. They Loved
    1. Read Acts 2:42-44. Why would they have “all things in common?”
    2. Is holding property in common the rule of the Bible? Read Deuteronomy 19:14 and Leviticus 25:13-17. What do those texts teach us about private property ownership?(The Old Testament is filled with rules about private property rights. Leviticus 25 shows that God placed a very high priority on people retaining their property.)
    3. Read Exodus 20:17. What does this teach us about property? (You should not contemplate taking the property of your neighbor!)
    4. How do we explain the unusual behavior in Acts chapter 2?
    5. Read Acts 2:5, Acts 2:41 and skim the first forty-three verses of Acts 2. How many new people do we have in town? (There are many visitors for Pentecost who are converted and who stay to learn more about Jesus.)
      1. How are those people going to afford an unplanned extended stay in Jerusalem?
    6. Read Acts 2:45-47. Does this help you make sense of this new and unusual practice in the very early church?
    7. Read Acts 4:32-35. We now see that there is more to the story. Is this still an “emergency” situation? (It was still a new situation, but it seems to have gone beyond people who were visiting for Pentecost and felt compelled to stay to learn more about their new faith.)
    8. Read Acts 5:3-5. This is a sad story about a couple who wanted to look more generous then they were - and are willing to lie about it. What moral principle does Peter lay out in these verses? (This couple had the complete moral and legal right to keep their own property. What they could not do was to lie about their generosity.)
      1. What principles would you draw from what we read in the first chapters of Acts in living a life of Christian love?
      2. In the United States there is a pattern of people who give little of their own money to charity, but who promote laws that require others to pay more money to the government so the state can redistribute it. They claim moral superiority for this. Is this like the story of Ananias - seeking glory when it is not deserved?
  2. They Fought
    1. Read Hebrews 11:32-34. We have been discussing followers of God who displayed great love and generosity. Can we also serve God as mighty warriors? Or did the warriors do this as a failure of faith? (They did it because of faith. God was behind these great acts of valor.)
    2. Read Hebrews 11:35-38. Are these things listed as a positive feature of Christian faith? (What is positive is that they retained their faith.)
    3. Read Hebrews 11:39-40. What is God’s goal for us? (His promise of “something better.”)
    4. Can we make sense of what we have studied? Can we come up with a rule that tells us when to fight and win and when to win by sacrificing ourselves for others in love?
      1. Didn’t God do both?
    5. Friend, God wants you to be faithful. Whether you voluntarily sacrifice your possessions or yourself, whether you stand up and fight through faith, or whether you suffer mistreatment because of your faith, God calls us to believe in Him. God has something better in mind for us. Satan has deception and destruction in mind for us. Why not choose God now?
  3. Next week: Light Shines in the Darkness.