Archive for February, 2015

The Pharisee and the Tax Collector

Our hope is for our kids to know that: Our confidence is in the Lord alone.

Key Verse:
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding”
Proverbs 3:5

Read:
(Open the bible and read to your child Luke 18:9-17) The Pharisee thought he was righteous by his own doing. So when he prayed he was full of pride, and thought he was better off than others. On the other hand, the tax collector knew he was a sinner, and knew he needed a savior. Our sins cannot be forgiven if we don’t accept Christ and the sacrifice he did for us. When we try to become righteous by ourselves, we fall short, because none of us is perfect. This is why Jesus said the sins of the tax collector are forgiven. What a mighty God we serve, who gives us grace and forgives us of our sins, when we accept Him

The Jesus Connection:
How does today’s Bible story fit into God’s greater plan of redemption?

We will never be justified by the good works we do. If our body is dirty, no amount of clean clothes can make us clean. We might look clean on the outside and fool our friends, but we would still be dirty. The Pharisee was a sinner just like the tax collector. He was trusting that his good works would get him into heaven. The Bible tells us that our good works can never get us into heaven (Ephesians 2:8–9). If one trusts in good works, he will be humbled in the day of judgment. However, if we humble ourselves, confess our sin, and trust in Jesus, then through the gospel of grace, God will raise us up.

There is only one way the tax collector could walk away justified (Luke 18:14). It was because of his faith in God as his only hope for salvation. Although the parable doesn’t mention how we are saved, when the tax collector placed his hope in God’s mercy, he placed his hope in God’s Savior, Jesus, who took away his punishment when we died upon the cross.

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Jesus Claims to be God

Our hope is for our kids to know that: Jesus, the good shepherd, is God and is one with the Father in heaven

Key Verse:
“The Father and I are one.”
John 10:30

Read:
(Open the bible and read to your child John 10:22-30) Jesus was asked if he was the messiah by a group of Jews. He answers them by talking about sheep, and how they recognize the shepherd’s voice. Jesus told them that his signs and teachings confirm that he is the messiah, but they wouldn’t recognize it because they are not his sheep. This angered them. However, what Jesus said next angered them even more. He told them that he was God, that He and The Father are one. The Son is God and God is the Son. The Jews could did not hearing this and made a move to throw stones at him and arrest him, but he escaped.

The Jesus Connection:
How does today’s Bible story fit into God’s greater plan of redemption?
John 10 is one of the clearest pre-cross explanations of the ministry of Jesus. The gospel is explained throughout the entire shepherd/sheep analogy. Jesus says that he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. There is no mistaking the gospel here. Perhaps the most beautiful verse in the entire chapter is verse 18, where Jesus demonstrates his incredible love for us all. Jesus said that his death is his willing choice for his sheep. The transfiguration showed that Jesus had not lost his awesome power. If he had wanted to escape the cross, he certainly had the power to do so. But he chose, instead, to lay aside his power and willingly give up his life for us.

The Transfiguration

Our hope is for our kids to know that: Jesus gave up his heavenly glory to take our sins upon the cross

Key Verse:
His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.

Matthew 17:2b

Read:
(Open the bible and read to your child Mark 9:2-13) Jesus took Peter, James, and John up on a mountain. These three men were brought there to witness the glory of God in Christ. Luke tells us that as the Lord prayed, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes began to radiate (Luke 9:3). By revealing his glory, Jesus demonstrated that he could remanifest his glorious power at any moment. This confirms that Jesus went to the cross freely and willingly, as a lamb led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). Elijah and Moses appeared with Jesus, representing the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Though obviously having never before seen them, the disciples seemed to immediately recognize who they were.

The Jesus Connection:
How does today’s Bible story fit into God’s greater plan of redemption?
Here, in a moment of time, three of the disciples had the opportunity to glimpse the holiness, glory, and power of Jesus as God. They knew Jesus, the man, but they didn’t know Jesus the Son in glory. If Jesus was not both fully God and fully man, he could not have taken our punishment on the cross and then risen from the dead. Here on the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus revealed his glorious splendor as the Son of God. Yet once again, Jesus “made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:7–8).
Jesus was resolute. He would take the penalty for our sins upon himself and die a cursed death on the cross. After the transfiguration, Jesus gave his disciples strict orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until he had risen from the dead. They could not understand all that had been revealed by his transfiguration. They didn’t understand what Jesus meant by being raised from the dead. Later they would come to understand more fully that God the Son, Jesus, had come down to earth to take on human flesh that he might die for the sins of man and be raised on the third day to new life in victory over sin and death.

Take Up Your Cross

Our hope is for our kids to know that: Jesus faced the cross, and we must follow Him

Key Verse:
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'”
Luke 9:23

Read:
(Open the bible and read to your child Luke 9:18-27) Jesus was telling his disciples that he will suffer, and be rejected. He did this so that we would not have to. When Jesus says to deny ourselves and follow Him, He is saying that we cannot obtain eternal life on our own. We must follow him and not run away from criticism, discouragement, or hard times. We embrace these things because we know Christ has done all the hard work, and there is nothing in this world that can change that. No amount of trouble or trials will outweigh the work that Christ has done on the cross.

The Jesus Connection:
How does today’s Bible story fit into God’s greater plan of redemption?
In Luke 9:22, Jesus specifically predicted his death and resurrection, which is the core of the gospel. He continues in verse 23 to describe how the path to following him involves our own cross. We must be willing to give up everything, even our lives. Physical death is not a requirement, but death to self and the pleasures of this world are a definite cost of following Jesus. If we try to secure salvation or save our own lives by any other means, we will fail. Whether by our good works or our own understanding, all paths outside the gospel fail and lead to eternal death. We can only have life if we trust in Jesus and in what he has done on the cross on our behalf. The passing treasures of this life may bring temporary happiness, but all the treasures of the earth are not equal in value to our salvation in Christ. Money cannot buy eternal joy. Good works cannot save.