In the first half of 2009, we began the study of the life, work, and teachings of Jesus. But that six-month study was only part of the blessings to be received from the study of this subject. There are many more precious thoughts waiting to be discovered. We now have the opportunity to study this theme further.
Today there is an enormous amount of information that people can read in books, newspapers, and magazines and on the Internet; beyond that is news on the radio, television, cellular phones, and other media. There are so many voices, chronicles, and ideas that it is virtually impossible to remember everything. But what blessing does one receive from such information? More often than not, the only thing one can conclude at the end of the broadcast is that there was no blessing in it; and, worse, its influence was negative on mind, heart, and soul.
Not so with the gospel, which means “good news”–the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. One day Jesus asked His disciples if they would go away from Him, as others had. Simon Peter’s response showed that they had no doubt in His life and mission: “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68); and they continued to follow Him and to be His witnesses for all the days of their lives. “… Through good and bad report, through darkness, through all the antagonism of the agencies of Satan, the Sun of Righteousness calmly shines on, searching out evil, repressing sin, and reviving the spirit of the humble and contrite ones. ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.’” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 284.
“It is the gospel of the grace of God alone that can uplift the soul. The contemplation of the love of God manifested in His Son will stir the heart and arouse the powers of the soul as nothing else can. Christ came that He might re-create the image of God in man….” –The Desire of Ages, p. 478.
“It is the glory of the gospel that it is founded upon the principle of restoring in the fallen race the divine image by a constant manifestation of benevolence. This work began in the heavenly courts. There God gave to human beings an unmistakable evidence of the love with which He regarded them. He ‘so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16. The gift of Christ reveals the Father’s heart. It testifies that, having undertaken our redemption, He will spare nothing, however dear, which is necessary to the completion of His work.” –Counsels on Stewardship, p. 14.
The power of the Saviour’s message was recognized not only by His disciples but also by those who had nothing to do with Him. The temple officers who were sent to capture Jesus were not His friends. But after listening to His exceptional message, since they were not prejudiced against Him, they could not help but testify of the holiness and power of His teaching; and instead of carrying out the order to arrest Him, they returned, saying: “Never man spake like this man.” John 7:46. Do we have such a conviction concerning Him?
“The soul that converses with God through the Scriptures, who prays for light and opens the door of his heart to the Saviour, will not have evil imaginings, worldly scheming, or ambitious lust after honor or distinction in any line. He who seeks for the truth as for hidden treasure will find it in God’s means of communication with man, His word…. As the human agent presses forward in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, as he receives Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, he will feed on the bread of life. The word is spirit and life, and if it is brought into the daily practice it will ennoble the whole nature of man. There will be opened to his soul such a view of the Saviour’s love as portrayed by the pen of Inspiration that his heart will be melted into tenderness and contrition.” –Medical Ministry, p. 124.
Personally the Master affirmed: “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.” John 6:63; Matthew 24:35. And when we read them in the gospel books, we are amazed. This is the heavenly manna that we will have as our spiritual food for the next half year. This study is a wonderful opportunity for all who long for spiritual food. May we all rejoice in it and pray that what we consider will become part of everyone’s experience and life now and for all eternity.
–The brethren and sisters of the General Conference
Sabbath, July 2, 2011
“When the soul surrenders itself to Christ, a new power takes possession of the new heart. A change is wrought which man can never accomplish for himself. It is a supernatural work, bringing a supernatural element into human nature. The soul that is yielded to Christ becomes His own fortress, which He holds in a revolted world, and He intends that no authority shall be known in it but His own. A soul thus kept in possession by the heavenly agencies is impregnable to the assaults of Satan.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 324.
The brethren with whom Jesus lived
1. What was well known in Nazareth about Jesus’ family? What do the Scriptures mention concerning His brothers and sisters?
Matthew 13:55, 56 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?
“His brothers, as the sons of Joseph were called, sided with the rabbis. They insisted that the traditions must be heeded, as if they were the requirements of God. They even regarded the precepts of men more highly than the word of God, and they were greatly annoyed at the clear penetration of Jesus in distinguishing between the false and the true. His strict obedience to the law of God they condemned as stubbornness….
“All this displeased His brothers. Being older than Jesus, they felt that He should be under their dictation. They charged Him with thinking Himself superior to them, and reproved Him for setting Himself above their teachers and the priests and rulers of the people. Often they threatened and tried to intimidate Him; but He passed on, making the Scriptures His guide….
“Mary believed in her heart that the holy Child born of her was the long-promised Messiah, yet she dared not express her faith. Throughout His life on earth she was a partaker in His sufferings. She witnessed with sorrow the trials brought upon Him in His childhood and youth.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 86, 87, 90.
2. During His ministry, did Jesus have the joy of including His brothers as His followers? They had seen His great works, but did they believe in His sacred mission?
John 7:3-5 His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, show thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him.
John 2:12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.
“The enmity kindled in the human heart against the gospel was keenly felt by the Son of God, and it was most painful to Him in His home; for His own heart was full of kindness and love, and He appreciated tender regard in the family relation. His brothers desired that He should concede to their ideas, when such a course would have been utterly out of harmony with His divine mission. They looked upon Him as in need of their counsel. They judged Him from their human point of view, and thought that if He would speak only such things as would be acceptable to the scribes and Pharisees, He would avoid the disagreeable controversy that His words aroused. They thought that He was beside Himself in claiming divine authority, and in placing Himself before the rabbis as a reprover of their sins. They knew that the Pharisees were seeking occasion to accuse Him, and they felt that He had given them sufficient occasion….
“At times she
Who are My brethren?
3. Who came to see Jesus but could not get close to Him because of the crowds?
Luke 8:19, 20 Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee.
“Often His incessant labor and the conflict with the enmity and false teaching of the rabbis left Him so utterly wearied that His mother and brothers, and even His disciples, feared that His life would be sacrificed.” –The Ministry of Healing, pp. 55, 56.
“The sons of Joseph were far from being in sympathy with Jesus in His work. The reports that reached them in regard to His life and labors filled them with astonishment and dismay. They heard that He devoted entire nights to prayer, that through the day He was thronged by great companies of people, and did not give Himself time so much as to eat. His friends felt that He was wearing Himself out by His incessant labor; they were unable to account for His attitude toward the Pharisees, and there were some who feared that His reason was becoming unsettled.
“His brothers heard of this, and also of the charge brought by the Pharisees that He cast out devils through the power of Satan. They felt keenly the reproach that came upon them through their relation to Jesus.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 321.
4. How did Jesus respond to the information that His mother and brothers were there to see Him? Why did He answer in this way?
Matthew 12:48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
“While Jesus was still teaching the people, His disciples brought the message that His mother and His brothers were without, and desired to see Him. He knew what was in their hearts, and ‘He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is My mother? and who are My brethren? And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples, and said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother.’…
“What a support Christ would have found in His earthly relatives if they had believed in Him as one from heaven, and had cooperated with Him in doing the work of God! Their unbelief cast a shadow over the earthly life of Jesus. It was a part of the bitterness of that cup of woe which He drained for us.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 325.
Behold My brethren
5. Whom did Jesus recognize as his true brethren?
Matthew 12:49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren!
Personal question: Have you noticed that spiritual relationships may be even closer than family relationships? How do you see this in your own personal experience?
“All who would receive Christ by faith were united to Him by a tie closer than that of human kinship. They would become one with Him, as He was one with the Father. As a believer and doer of His words, His mother was more nearly and savingly related to Him than through her natural relationship. His brothers would receive no benefit from their connection with Him unless they accepted Him as their personal Saviour.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 325.
6. What makes a person truly a brother, sister, or mother of Jesus? How highly do you value the privilege of having spiritual brothers and sisters?|
Matthew 12:50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.
“Christ loves the heavenly beings that surround His throne; but what shall account for the great love wherewith He has loved us? We cannot understand it, but we can know it true in our own experience. And if we do hold the relation of kinship to Him, with what tenderness should we regard those who are brethren and sisters of our Lord! Should we not be quick to recognize the claims of our divine relationship? Adopted into the family of God, should we not honor our Father and our kindred?” –The Desire of Ages, p. 327.
7. What great change took place in Jesus’ brothers after his death, resurrection, and ascension?
Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
Matthew 28:10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Galatians 1:18, 19 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother.
Thought question: What lesson does this fact convey to us if today our family members do not believe and accept the message?
“It is not God that blinds the eyes of men or hardens their hearts. He sends them light to correct their errors, and to lead them in safe paths; it is by the rejection of this light that the eyes are blinded and the heart hardened. Often the process is gradual, and almost imperceptible. Light comes to the soul through God’s word, through His servants, or by the direct agency of His Spirit; but when one ray of light is disregarded, there is a partial benumbing of the spiritual perceptions, and the second revealing of light is less clearly discerned. So the darkness increases, until it is night in the soul. Thus it had been with these Jewish leaders. They were convinced that a divine power attended Christ, but in order to resist the truth, they attributed the work of the Holy Spirit to Satan. In doing this they deliberately chose deception; they yielded themselves to Satan, and henceforth they were controlled by his power.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 322, 323.
“Those who are called to suffer for Christ’s sake, who have to endure misapprehension and distrust, even in their own home, may find comfort in the thought that Jesus has endured the same. He is moved with compassion for them. He bids them find companionship in Him, and relief where He found it, in communion with the Father.
“Those who accept Christ as their personal Saviour are not left as orphans, to bear the trials of life alone. He receives them as members of the heavenly family; He bids them call His Father their Father. They are His ‘little ones,’ dear to the heart of God, bound to Him by the most tender and abiding ties. He has toward them an exceeding tenderness, as far surpassing what our father or mother has felt toward us in our helplessness as the divine is above the human.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 327.
For additional study
The Desire of Ages, pp. 84-92, 321-327
After studying the lesson, fill in the key words in the following Bible verse:
“But He answered and said unto him that told Him, Who is _______? and who are ____________? And He stretched forth His hand _________, and said, Behold My ______ and my____________!”