December 26, 2021 – Matthew 19

Lesson Date: December 26, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 19:1-11, 16-26

AIM: To lead students to discover how Jesus answered two insincere questions, and to discuss ways the answers to those questions apply to their lives.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 19 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the word “Questions” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Randomly draw several question marks on the board.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the class’ attention to the word “Questions” written on the board.  Ask: “Why do people ask questions?” (to gain or gather information).  Tell them this is obvious: when we don’t know something, we ask a question.  In school we were urged to ask questions when we didn’t understand something.  We were even told, “The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.”

Ask: “Do people ever ask questions for a reason other than to get answers?” (yes).  Ask: “What are some subtle or sly reasons people might ask questions?” (to trap someone into saying something embarrassing; to make the one being asked look foolish; to make the questioner look good; to show off the questioner’s knowledge).  Stress the fact that questions are not always sincere tools for learning.

Tell the students in today’s lesson we will find that Jesus was asked two very important questions.  While the questioners weren’t sincere in asking their questions, Jesus used the opportunity to teach us some important truths.  The title of today’s lesson from Matthew 19 is Important Questions.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that last week we studied a Christmas lesson from Luke 1 and 2.
    • Tell them today we are resuming our study of the Gospel of Matthew.
  2. The First Question.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 19:1-3.
    • Explain the following:
    • Ask: Why did the Pharisees ask Jesus a question?” (they were trying to trick Him).
    • Ask: “What did they ask?” (is it lawful to divorce your wife for any reason).
    • Explain the following:
      • The Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ day were divided over the issue of divorce.
      • Some taught that a man was free to divorce his wife for any reason.
      • Others taught that divorce was only permissible if the wife was guilty of adultery.
      • Jesus directed their thoughts back to God’s original plan and design for marriage.
    • Read Matthew 19:4-6 (in which Jesus quoted Genesis 1:27 and 2:24).
    • Ask: “What do verses 4 and 5 reveal about God’s plan for marriage?” (marriage is to be between one man and one woman, they are to leave their parents and establish a new home, in which the two of them will be one flesh).
    • Ask: “What do these verses say about so-called homosexual marriage, polygamous marriage, and extramarital sexual relations?” (God made no provision for any of those sinful lifestyles; since one man and his one wife were to be one flesh, there is no room for any extramarital sexual relationships).
    • Tell the class since Jesus did not directly answer their question about divorce, the Pharisees asked Him another question.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 19:7-9.
    • Ask: “Since God established a perfect plan for marriage, why did Moses tell the children of Israel to give a written bill of divorce when a man put away his wife?” (because they were hard-hearted and refused to live by God’s ideal plan; since they were divorcing one another anyway, they needed some regulations to prevent them from merely “shacking up” with woman after woman).
    • Tell the students in verse 9 Jesus explained the consequences of unjustified divorces.
    • Ask: “What are those consequences?” (if you divorce for an unjust cause, you cause yourself and your ex-spouse to commit adultery).
    • Explain the following:
      • Verses 10-11 reveal that Jesus’ teachings about divorce and remarriage apply to Christians; only believers can accept and seek to live by such high standards.
      • In our modern world, divorces occur for many different reasons.
      • Jesus said for believers, divorce and remarriage are only permissible when sexual infidelity has occurred (see also Matt. 5:32).
    • Summarize: The Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with a question about divorce, giving Jesus an opportunity to teach about the sacredness and permanence of marriage.
  3. The Second Question.
    • Explain the following:
      • A young man came to Jesus and asked Him a question.
      • Verses 20 and 22 tell us this man was young and rich.
      • Luke’s Gospel calls him a ruler (Luke 18:18).
      • Because of these facts, we usually call this man the rich young ruler.
    • Read Matthew 19:16.
    • Ask: “What question did the man ask Jesus?” (“What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?”).
    • Ask: “What does this question reveal about the man’s religious beliefs?” (he believed in so-called “works” salvation; in other words, he thought he could do something to get right with God and spend eternity in heaven).
    • Ask: “Is there any truth to that? Can we really do some good deed to work our way into heaven?” (no: salvation is a gift of grace paid for by Christ’s finished work of redemption on the cross).
    • Stress the fact that if we could do some work to earn salvation, that would mean Christ’s work on the cross was insufficient to save; conversely, since Christ’s work purchased our salvation, then there is nothing we can do to earn it.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 19:17-19.
    • Ask: “According to verse 17, what did Jesus tell the man to do?” (obey the commandments).
    • Explain the following:
      • The Bible says the Law is our schoolmaster (Gal. 3:24).
      • If we try to obey all the commandments of the Law, we soon realize it is an impossible task.
      • Romans 3:23 says we have all sinned and come short of God’s perfect standard.
      • That is why salvation is a gift of God’s grace, not something we must try to earn by being good.
      • The man asked Jesus which commandments he must obey to be saved.
      • Jesus quoted six commandments about how to relate to others.
      • No one has ever obeyed all those laws perfectly.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 19:20.
    • Ask: “What did the young man say and ask next?” (he said he had never violated any of those commandments, and then asked what he still lacked for salvation).
    • Ask: “Do you think the young man had actually never lied? Do you think he had always honored his parents?  Do you think he always loved all his neighbors and treated them just like he did himself?” (no to all three).
    • Tell the students Jesus knew that this man, like all of us, tried to be outwardly righteous but still had sinful attitudes on the inside. He answered the man’s question in a way that revealed the true nature of his heart.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 19:21-22.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell him to do?” (sell everything he owned, give all the money to the poor, and then follow Jesus).
    • Explain that giving away his wealth would not purchase his salvation, but Jesus knew this man could never be completely dedicated to God as long as he held onto his wealth.
    • Ask: “Why did the young man go away sorrowful?” (because he had great wealth and did not want to part with it).
    • Summarize: The rich young ruler tried to make himself appear righteous by asking what else he had to do to be saved, but Jesus exposed the sinful attitude of his heart.
  4. Jesus Warned about Trusting in Riches.
    • Read Matthew 19:23-26.
    • Tell the class in verses 23-24 Jesus said it is very hard for a rich person to go to heaven.
    • Ask: “Does having wealth disqualify an individual from salvation?” (no).
    • Explain the following:
      • The possession or lack of wealth does not make a person saved or lost.
      • In Mark’s account of this same incident Jesus said, “Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24).
      • The issue is not the amount of money in your bank account, but the amount of trust you place in that money.
      • The disciples’ question in verse 25 reveals the predominant First Century Jewish attitude about wealth: they thought wealth was an indication of God’s blessing and approval.
      • They reasoned that if it was hard for rich people to be saved, salvation would be impossible for ordinary people like themselves.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about salvation in verse 26?” (it is impossible for a man to be saved through his own efforts; salvation is only possible by the working of God upon a man’s heart).
    • Tell the class salvation is entirely the gracious action of God upon a person, completely apart from any human effort or merit. If we trust in our riches or our good works to save us, we will be eternally lost.
    • Summarize: Jesus warned about trusting in riches and taught that salvation is only possible through the grace of God.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct everyone’s attention to the word on the board.  Ask: “What was the first big question Jesus was asked in this lesson?” (“Is it lawful to divorce for any reason?”).  Ask: “In what ways does that question and Jesus’ answer relate to modern life?  How can we apply this teaching to our lives?”  Allow time for the students to discuss this issue.  Tell them divorce and remarriage is often a touchy issue because it has personally affected so many.  Stress the fact that past mistakes made before one was saved are under the blood and therefore forgiven.  Mistakes made after salvation are sins that must be confessed.  The key issue is not regret for past mistakes but a commitment to live by God’s standards from this point onward.

Ask: “What was the second big question Jesus was asked?” (“What good thing must I do to be saved?”).  Ask: “How does that question and the truths about salvation discussed in this lesson relate to modern life?  How can we apply them to our lives?”  Allow time for students to discuss this issue.  The key point is that if anyone in the class is trusting in their good works to get them to heaven, then they are lost and need to place their trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.  The way we can apply that to our lives this week is to tell others about God’s gift of salvation available through Jesus Christ.

Encourage everyone to apply the teachings of this lesson to their lives this week.  Lead a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 19:26.  Encourage them to tell someone about Jesus Christ.

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