Bible Study: April 2, 2017
NASHVILLE (BP) -- This weekly Bible study appears in Baptist Press in a partnership with LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Through its Leadership and Adult Publishing team, LifeWay publishes Sunday School curricula and additional resources for all age groups.
This week's Bible study is adapted from The Gospel Project curriculum.
Bible Passage: Matthew 3
Discussion Questions: If baptism means we are recognizing our own sin and identifying with God's people, how should baptism affect the way we view ourselves and the choices we make as believers? For those of us in Christ, the words of God the Father over Jesus -- "You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased" -- are the words God speaks over us at our baptism. What is the significance of this affirmation from God?
Food for Thought:
The story of the Gospel (the Good News) of Jesus Christ begins with John the Baptist. For this reason, all four Gospels begin the story of Jesus by introducing us to John. Both John the Baptist's call to repentance and his emphasis on baptism were necessary for the first readers of Matthew's Gospel.
In Matthew 3:14, John, who has just spoken of his inferiority to Jesus, protested the notion of baptizing Jesus. It should be the other way around, right? Jesus should be baptizing John!
Verse 15 contains Jesus' first words in the Gospel of Matthew: "Allow it for now," Jesus said, "because this is the way for us to fulfill all righteousness." What could Jesus possibly have meant? How did His submitting to a baptism of repentance "fulfill all righteousness"? What did Jesus ever do wrong that He needed to repent?
In submitting to John's baptism, Jesus was not repenting. He was taking His place alongside those of us who do need to repent. He was radically identifying with His sinful people. He was saying, "I will take my place alongside sinners, I will identify with them even to the point of dying on the cross so that they might eventually be set free from their sins."
Jesus' radical identification with sinners through His baptism and crucifixion is a paradigm for His followers. We are called to follow His example. We are to stand with the poor. We are to be lights to the world, even as He is the Light of the world. (Matthew 5:14; John 8:12, 9:5). We are to take up our cross, even as Jesus took up His (Matthew 10:38, 16:24). As Jesus identified with us, so we identify with Him, and in doing so, we adopt a strong stance and sense of unity with His body, the church.
Though we have no right to expect anything from Him, Jesus gave us everything. Though the world has no right to expect anything from us, for His sake we are to offer everything, including our very lives.
The Gospel Project
The Gospel Project is a chronological, Christ-centered study for kids, students, and adults. The Bible is not a collection of stories. It is one story of God's plan to rescue His people from sin and death. It is the story of redemption, the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. More information, free samples, and The Gospel Project blog can be found at gospelproject.com.
Other ongoing Bible study options for all ages offered by LifeWay can be found at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.