November 7, 2021 – Matthew 11

Lesson Date: November 7, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 11:1-30

AIM: To lead students to discover how Jesus reacted to spiritual indifference among the people of His day, and to recognize and repent of any spiritual indifference in their own lives.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 11 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the words “Indifference,” “Apathy,” and “Unconcern” on the marker board or chalkboard.  Enlist some volunteers to look up Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6.  Ask them to be prepared to read those verses to the class when called upon.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask the students to imagine for a moment that they have gone to their doctor for a routine physical examination.  The doctor tells them there are a few more things that need to be checked out, so he orders some more tests.  After completing the tests, you return to the doctor for a follow-up appointment.

Much to your surprise, the doctor tells you that you have a terrible form of cancer that spreads very quickly and is 100% fatal.  He tells you that without treatment you will be dead in just a few weeks.

Then the doctor tells you that there IS a treatment for your cancer.  He tells you that there is a single pill you can take that is 100% effective.  He goes on to explain that the pill is completely safe, with absolutely no side effects.  Everyone who has taken this pill has been completely cured.  Extensive medical research has proven that the pill provides a guaranteed cure and is completely safe.  Best of all, the pill is absolutely free.  The doctor then gives you a prescription for the pill and sends you on your way.

Ask: “What would you do with that prescription?  Would you take it and throw it in the floorboard of your car?  Would you toss it in the trash?  Would you handle that prescription casually, or would you treat it like your life depended on it?”

Direct the students’ attention to the words “Indifference,” “Apathy,” and “Unconcern” written on the board.  Tell them if we were in that situation, we would not treat that prescription with indifference, apathy, or unconcern.  Unfortunately, however, many people approach the things of God just that way.  They just don’t care about Jesus or what He taught.  In today’s lesson from Matthew 11 we will learn that Jesus Rebuked the Indifferent.

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (ministering courageously in the face of opposition).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 10:39).
  2. “Art Thou He … or do We Look for Another?”
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 11:1-3.
    • Explain the following:
      • John the Baptist was in prison (see Matt. 4:12).
      • While in prison, John heard about the amazing works of Christ.
      • He sent two of his followers to ask Jesus a question.
    • Ask: “What was that question?” (are you the Christ, or do we need to look for another?).
    • Remind the students that John previously baptized Jesus and clearly announced that He was the Son of God (John 1:29).
    • Ask: “Why do you think John would ask Jesus such a question?”
    • Tell the class that isolation, mental abuse, and physical hardship evidently caused John to doubt something he previously knew to be a fact: that Jesus was the Messiah.
    • Read Matthew 11:4-6.
    • Ask: “How did Jesus answer John’s question?” (He told John’s disciples to tell him about all the miraculous signs they saw Jesus do).
    • Summarize: While in prison, John the Baptist questioned Jesus’ identity. Jesus cited His miracles and preaching to prove who He was.
  3. The Indifference of Those Who Heard John the Baptist.
    • Tell the class when John’s disciples departed, Jesus spoke to the multitudes about him.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 11:7-9.
    • Explain the following:
      • 7 – Jesus asked if when they went out to hear John preach in the wilderness, they went to see, “A reed shaken with the wind” (something weak and easily swayed).
      • John was not that; he was unshakable.
      • 8 – Jesus asked if they went out to see someone dressed in soft clothing like a king.
      • That does not describe John; he wore rough clothing (see Matt. 3:4).
      • 9 – Jesus asked if they went out to see a prophet.
      • Jesus said John was more than a prophet.
    • Read Matthew 11:10-15.
    • Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest of all the prophets.
    • Ask the previously enlisted volunteers to read Malachi 3:1 and Malachi 4:5-6.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus quoted Malachi 3:1 in verse 10 and He referred to Malachi 4:5-6 in verse 14.
      • He clearly stated that John the Baptist was the fulfillment of those prophecies.
      • John was not the bodily “reincarnation” of Elijah (John 1:21), but he did come preaching in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say in verse 15?” (if you are spiritually perceptive you will hear and grasp the meaning of these things).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 11:16-19.
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus said the people living in that time were immature, idle, discontented, and critical.
      • They criticized John for not eating, and then criticized Jesus for
      • Those people witnessed the important ministry of John the Baptist, but they didn’t care.
      • They witnessed Jesus’ miraculous and powerful ministry, but they remained indifferent and unmoved.
    • Summarize: Jesus rebuked the indifference of the people who heard John the Baptist.
  4. The Indifference of Those Who Witnessed Jesus’ Miracles.
    • Tell the class that after rebuking the spiritual indifference of those who saw and heard John the Baptist, Jesus rebuked another group of people.
    • Read Matthew 11:20-24.
    • Ask: “According to verse 20, who did He rebuke?” (those who saw most of His miracles but did not repent).
    • Tell them “woe” is an exclamation of alarm, rebuke, and grief.
    • Use the Map of Judea and Galilee to show the students the locations of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum.
    • Tell the class most of Jesus’ miracles were performed in and around these Galilean cities.
    • Point out Tyre and Sidon on the Map of Judea and Galilee.
    • Explain that these were wicked, idolatrous cities of the Phoenicians.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about Tyre and Sidon in verse 21?” (if He had performed His miracles there the people would have repented).
    • Remind the class that Sodom and Gomorrah were the wicked, sexually perverse cities God destroyed back in Abraham’s time (Gen. 19; they were located just south of the Dead Sea and are not visible on the map).
    • Ask: “What did He say about Sodom?” (if her wicked people had witnessed His miracles they would have repented, and God would not have destroyed Sodom; it would still be in existence).
    • Ask: “Thinking back to Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, what did Jesus say about the day of judgment?” (He said it will be more tolerable for Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom in the day of judgment than for those cities).
    • Explain that because the people in those cities were exposed to so much more truth and the personal ministry of the Son of God, they will be held to a higher level of accountability than those wicked, godless cities that never witnessed Jesus’ ministry.
    • Tell the students there is an important principle here – we are responsible to God in direct proportion to the truth we have received.
    • Summarize: Jesus rebuked the spiritual indifference of those who witnessed His miracles.
  5. Jesus’ Invitation.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 11:25-30.
    • Tell the class in verses 25 and 27 Jesus stated two very important truths:
      • Jesus reveals spiritual truth only to those who have childlike faith and trust (v. 25).
      • No one can know God the Father except through a personal relationship with Jesus (v. 27).
    • Ask: “According to verse 28, who did Jesus invite to come to Him?” (those who labor and are heavy laden).
    • Explain that those are people who try to do right in their own strength or are weighed down by the heavy requirements of man-made religions.
    • Ask: “What did He promise?” (to give them rest: to free them from the stress and strain of trying to be right with God through their own actions).
    • Ask: “What did He say about His yoke and burden?” (they are easy and light).
    • Tell the students that genuine salvation by grace frees us from the heavy burden of the Law and man-made religions.
    • Summarize: Jesus invited people to lay down the yoke of works-centered religions and to accept His gift of grace by faith.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the students’ attention to the words “Indifference,” “Apathy,” and “Unconcern” written on the board.  Ask: “Do you think people today are spiritually indifferent?”

Tell the students that most people in America today claim to believe in God, but their so-called “belief” doesn’t have much bearing on the way they live.  They have a little head knowledge of God, but they have never truly trusted Jesus Christ for salvation.  They are “professors” but not “possessors.”  Such people say they are Christians, but in truth they are spiritually indifferent.

Explain that Christians in some countries face arrest, imprisonment, and other forms of persecution for their faith.  We have not yet reached that point in America.  While the animosity toward Christianity is growing, most people we know are not actually hostile toward Christianity; they just don’t care about it.  We can go out into our community today and try to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but most people simply aren’t interested.  They are indifferent, apathetic, and unconcerned.

Remind the class of the hypothetical scenario you described in the introductory step of this lesson.  As foolish as it would be to refuse a sure-fire cure for a deadly disease, it is even more foolish to refuse the only remedy for one’s sin problem: Jesus Christ.  People foolishly reject Jesus Christ because of their spiritual indifference.

Tell the students that spiritual indifference is not limited to unbelievers: it is possible for Christians to become somewhat indifferent and apathetic toward spiritual things.  Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Tell them to ask God to reveal any areas of spiritual indifference in their lives.  Encourage everyone to recognize and repent of any spiritual indifference in their lives.  Voice a closing prayer of repentance and recommitment.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 11:28.  Ask them to be on the lookout this week for signs of spiritual indifference in themselves and others.  Encourage them to repent of such indifference and to ask God to keep their hearts open and responsive to spiritual truth.

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