Sacrifice and Love: Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus–Sabbath School Discussion Notes

Young Adult Sabbath School
SDA Fundamental Beliefs Series — #9: Life, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus
For: February 1, 2014
Duration: ~40 min

Icebreaker Question

Please state your name and share with us your favorite holiday.

Prayer

Introduction

So it’s February. Yay! It’s the time of the year in which most people celebrate St. Valentines.  Decorations, Chocolate, Candies, Valentine Cards….

Q1So who were those that said it was their favorite holiday?  Were there any? Are you currently happily dating or married?

The majority think like, “Meh, It’s alright.” Very few people love it intensely or hate it intensely.

Q2 – But just to confirm something: is there anyone out there—a brave soul, an honest person—who says, “I Hate it”?  Is it only just me? J/K

Well, a few years back, I was like that. I hated Valentines, it was too …. PINK. I don’t hate it now—I mean pink—bright pink—is one of my favorite colors now, I’ve always loved chocolate, so what’s not to love. So I made this weird truce with Valentine’s day…

I decided that I would study the subject of Love before altogetehr rejecting the occasion that celebrates it. But now we’re stuck with a question:

Q3 — What is Love?

Don’t answer! In my search for knowledge, I collected a few quotes that might help us.  Some of them are pretty cool, others downright wrong. So break into groups of 2, read, and discuss the following lines taken from various books. Then we’ll share and you answer the question

Do you agree? Does it help to shed a bit more light into Love?

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only with what you are expecting to give — which is everything.” – Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of my Life

What is love but acceptance of the other, whatever he is. – Anais Nin

Love is like a fever which comes and goes quite independently of the will. … there are no age limits for love. – Stendhal, Threatise on Love

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one – C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby — awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess. – Lemony Snicket, Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid

Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused. – Paul Coelho, The Zahir

Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness. – Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Airman’s Odyssey

Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion… That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. – Louis de Bernieres, Corelli’s Mandolin

Do you agree? Or does it help define love by proving what LOVE IS NOT?

1. Bible’s Definition of Love – It is a powerful, overwhelming force

I’m going to read to you something a writer wrote about love that is spot on. You might want to put this on your FB page or on a Valentine’s card, so listen:

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned. (Song of Solomon 8:6-7)

Q4 – Great, huh? What attributes are seen in this verse about Love?

Wear me as a signet ring on your heart, as a ring on your hand. Love is as overpowering as death. Devotion is as unyielding as the grave. Love’s flames are flames of fire, flames that come from the LORD. (GODS WORD)

Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. Love is invincible facing danger and death. Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. The fire of love stops at nothing – it sweeps everything before it.  (THE MESSAGE)

  1. Strong
  2. Jealous (i.e. Passion, Devotion)
  3. Burns (Fire)
  4. Unquenchable (Can’t be Beat)
  5. Cannot be bought or sold

And while we’re in the Bible, let’s look at another quote…this one is by a writer known as John

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16) . . . . And this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.(1 John 3:16)

If we think about the Bible’s use of Love, then God’s love is defined like this

  1. Strong
  2. Jealous (i.e. Passion, Devotion)
  3. Burns (Fire)
  4. Unquenchable (Can’t be Beat)
  5. Cannot be bought or sold

2. Jesus came to reveal to humans what love really is all about

Q5 – So why do so many people have it wrong? So wrong that 50% of marriages end up in divorce? So wrong that so many people ruin their lives in their desperate search of love?

[Discussion Hopefully]

 Q6 – [Indian parable] who has heard the story of the Elephant and the blind men?

It is long long, and flexible. Like a snake… at the trunk
It is a lot like a thick and sturdy tree trunk…at the feet
It is a sharp spear….at the tusk
It is a lot like a carpet… at the ear
It is a rope…at the tail
It is a great big wall…at its side

Returning back to the quotes we went over, the human definition of Love is sometimes warped, or plain out wrong. Why? Because love apart from God does not exist. People can argue that the concept of God is too abstract. That we are like the blind men trying to describe how an elephant looks like. Yes, love is mysterious to some extent, but God has manifested himself and the concept of love in so concrete a manner that we often take it for granted.

This week we will look into one of the many, many meanings behind the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.

The Statement from the 28 Fundamental Beliefs:

God sent Jesus, His Son, to live the perfect life we could not and die the death our sins deserve. When we accept Jesus’ sacrifice, we claim eternal life.

In Christ’s life of perfect obedience to God’s will through His suffering, death and resurrection, God provided the only means of atonement for human sin, so that (1) those who by faith accept this atonement may have eternal life, and (2) all of creation may better understand the infinite and holy love of the Creator. This perfect atonement vindicates the righteousness of God’s law and the graciousness of His character; for it both condemns our sin and provides for our forgiveness. The death of Christ is substitutionary and expiatory, reconciling and transforming. The resurrection of Christ proclaims God’s triumph over the forces of evil, and for (3) those who accept the atonement assures their final victory over sin and death. It declares the Lordship of Jesus Christ, before whom every knee in heaven and on earth will bow.

[Read Phil 2:6-8] One of the verses I’d like to look into is Philipians 2-6-8

6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

 Q6 – Have you ever thought about what this means? [Illustration]

The story is told by the Persians of the great Shah Abbas, who reigned magnificently in Persia, but loved to mingle with the people in disguise. Once, dressed as a poor man, he descended the long flight of stairs, dark and damp, to the tiny cellar where the fire man, seated on ashes, was tending the furnace.

The king sat down beside him and began to talk. At mealtime the fire man produced some coarse, black bread and a jug of water and they ate and drank together. The Shah went away, but returned again and again, for his heart was filled with sympathy for the lonely man. He gave him sweet counsel, and the poor man opened his whole heart and loved this friend, so kind, so wise, and yet poor like himself.

At last the emperor thought, ‘I will tell him who I am, and see what gift he will ask.’ So he said, ‘You think me poor, but I am Shah Abbas your emperor.’

He expected a petition for some great thing, but the man sat silent, gazing on him with love and wonder. Then the king said. ‘Haven’t you understood? I can make you rich and noble, can give you a city, can appoint you as a great ruler. Have you nothing to ask?’

The man replied gently, ‘Yes, my lord, I understood. But what is this you have done, to leave your palace and glory, to sit with me in this dark place, to partake of my coarse fare, to care whether my heart is glad or sorry? Even you can give nothing more precious. On others you may bestow rich presents, but to me you have given yourself; it only remains to ask that you never withdraw this gift of your friendship.’

(story source: freebiblestudiesonline.org)

Q7 – What was the motivation behind God’s great sacrifice of himself to humanity? Why did God come to die for us?

Because of Love. He cared about us.

Q8 – Is there such a thing as love without sacrifice? Can you sacrifice yourself without love? Or can you love without sacrificing anything?

[allow for discussion]

Katherine Hepburn puts Love in terms of give and take, with real love expecting nothing while at the same time it gives everything. This is the concept of sacrifice.

Q9 – So did God scarify himself because he loved us? Or love us because he sacrificed himself for us?

1 John 4:10  In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father. (John 10:17–18)

Jesus sacrificed himself for us because he loves us. Love came first even before there was a need to be sacrificed. He is the embodiment of Love, and the only way that we can know about love.

3. Our response to such love [Conclusion]

Q10 – How many of us have ever told someone they loved them and the other person didn’t love you back? Or have you ever gone out of your way to help a friend, thus proving Your loyalty to a friend, and that friend turned out to not be such a good friend after all?

There were many risks involved in him coming to earth. But one of the greatest is this: would the human race respond?

Let’s recall what C.S Lewis said,  There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken.– C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

God put his everything out there…and risked getting his heart broken and facing rejection from those he came to save. But he did it hoping that by opening himself to you, me, and showing his character to us we would be drawn to him like before the fall. Because God’s love, as we saw in Song of Songs, is

  1. Strong
  2. Jealous (i.e. Passion, Devotion)
  3. Burns (Fire)
  4. Unquenchable (Can’t be Beat)
  5. Cannot be bought or sold

What should our response be?

 [READ 2 Cor 5:20-21] 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin[b] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 [Ephesians 5:2]—Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

To be RECONCILED AND TRANSFORMED. To WALK IN LOVE. 

May you grab hold of this great and wonderful love. That love that is unbreakable, unbeatable, and absolutely priceless. It’s yours already. Will you chose to let it change your life? My prayer and hope is that you will.

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