Read for This Week’s Study: Heb. 1:1–4; 2 Cor. 4:1–6; John 1:14, 18; 14:1–14; Phil. 2:1–11; 2 Cor. 5:16–21.
Memory Text: “For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6, NKJV).
Billy Graham tells the story of when he visited soldiers at a field hospital in the company of their general. One young soldier “was so mangled that he lay facedown on a canvas-and-steel contraption.” A doctor whispered to Graham, “I doubt he’ll ever walk again.” The soldier made a request of the general: “Sir, . . . I fought for you, but I’ve never seen you. Could I see your face?” So the general got down, slid under that canvas-and-steel contraption, and talked with the soldier. As Graham watched, a tear fell from the soldier onto the general’s cheek.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, humanity lay mangled and bleeding, in need of a healing vision of God. It is as though humankind pleaded, “Oh, God, could we see Your face?” In sending His Son to this planet, the Father sent the Master Teacher on a mission: to show humankind His face. Ever since, we have had the wondrous privilege of beholding “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6, NKJV).
As we watch the Master Teacher make His way to Earth, what can we learn from Him?
*Study this week’s lesson to prepare for Sabbath, October 31.
SUNDAY October 25
Revealing the Father
What are the most important points the apostle makes about Jesus at the beginning of the Epistle to the Hebrews? (Heb. 1:1–4).
New Testament authors repeatedly accent a significant idea: Jesus comes to earth to show human beings who the Father is. In past times, God’s revelation came in a fragmented way through the prophets; in Jesus, however, the final and complete revelation of God has come.
Also, in His person, Jesus is “the reflection of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3, NRSV). As sinful humans, we could not endure full access to the glory of God. As the incarnate Son, Jesus reflects that glory. It is muted in Christ’s humanity so that we might see it and understand clearly the character of God.
Jesus is also “the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). The term used here, the Greek word charactēr, is sometimes used of the impression a seal makes in wax or the representation stamped on a coin. So Jesus is “the exact imprint of God’s very being” (Heb. 1:3, NRSV).
If we wish to know the Father, we must listen carefully to what the Master Teacher says about Him. And we must watch the Master Teacher, as well. The Father is seen in the Son.
Compare Hebrews 1:1–4 with 2 Corinthians 4:1–6. In 2 Corinthians 4:1–6, who is Jesus, and what do we learn from Him?
As they educate others about God, Paul and his coworkers seek to reflect Jesus’ own teaching ministry about the Father. As “the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4), Jesus brought us knowledge about God the Father. Similarly, Paul avoids deception and distortion of God’s Word and, instead, sets forth the truth plainly (2 Cor. 4:2).
Just as God, at creation, used light to dispel darkness, He has given us His Son, Jesus, to dispel false views about Him and to show us the truth about God. It is in “the face of Jesus” that we gain the clearest knowledge of God (2 Cor. 4:6).
Jesus accurately reflected the Father, something we too are called to do since we are invited to “be imitators of God as dear children” (Eph. 5:1, NKJV). What does that mean, and what can we learn from Jesus about how to be “imitators” of God?
MONDAY October 26
Revealing the Father (Cont.)
In the moving prologue to his Gospel (John 1:1–18), John discusses Jesus as the eternal “Word.” John’s claims for Jesus are not timid or limited; they are bold and cosmic in scope. Jesus was in existence before the world came into being—from eternity, actually. In fact, Jesus is the agent of creation (John 1:2, 3). He is “the light of all people” (John 1:4, NRSV), and, as the Word who came into the world, He “enlightens everyone” (John 1:9, NRSV).
According to John, what is the result of Christ’s becoming a human being? As the Word, what light did He bring? What qualifications does He possess to do so? John 1:14, 18.
“The Light appeared when the world’s darkness was deepest. . . .
“There was but one hope for the human race . . . that the knowledge of God might be restored to the world.
“Christ came to restore this knowledge. He came to set aside the false teaching by which those who claimed to know God had misrepresented Him. He came to manifest the nature of His law, to reveal in His own character the beauty of holiness.”—Ellen G. White, Education, pp. 74-76.
Everything Jesus did in His life on earth had a single purpose: “the revelation of God for the uplifting of humanity.”—Education, p. 82.
Jesus Himself says, “ ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ ” (John 14:9, NRSV). What was the setting of Jesus’ statement? Why did He make it? John 14:1–14.
It is tempting to criticize Philip’s blundering statement (John 14:8). After years of close fellowship with Jesus, he still misses the essential point of the incarnation—that Jesus has come to show the Father’s character. Perhaps teachers today can take some comfort in the fact that one of the Master Teacher’s pupils performed so badly! Philip’s statement is probably recorded, though, not to give us reason to criticize him but to give us opportunity to examine ourselves. How long have we walked with Jesus? And have we understood Jesus any better than Philip had? “ ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.’ ”
TUESDAY October 27
Reading the Master Teacher’s Mind
What concern about the Christian community in Philippi is on Paul’s heart as he writes his letter to them? Phil. 2:1–4; Phil. 4:2, 3.
Philippians 2:1-11 is one of the most profound passages in all the Bible. It discusses the preexistence of Christ, His divinity, His incarnation, His humanity, His acceptance of death on the cross. It describes the long, difficult, downward road that Jesus took from heaven to Calvary (Phil. 2:5–8). And it describes how the Father exalts Jesus to a position of universal worship (Phil. 2:9–11). A lot of amazing truth is packed into those verses.
How does Paul introduce Philippians 2:5–11? Of the events of Jesus’ life that he celebrates, which ones do you think he expects believers to reflect in their own lives? Phil. 2:6–11.
Paul hopes that the believers at Philippi, who could be argumentative, will learn from Jesus and His incarnation. If Jesus could adopt human form—“the form of a slave, being born in human likeness” (Phil. 2:7, NRSV)—and even submit to crucifixion, how much more should they submit to each other out of love?
We are reminded that there is much to learn from the Master Teacher, Jesus. We learn from the messages that He shares during His earthly ministry. We learn from the miracles that He performs and the way that He acts toward others. We may seek to model our own relationships with others after His great condescension and by dwelling on His willingness to exchange the glories of heaven for a manger (what a lesson for us!).
In contrast, the world all too often invites us to exalt ourselves, to boast of our accomplishments. At a manger in Bethlehem and from the Master Teacher we learn a different lesson—that God’s great work of education and salvation is accomplished not by exalting ourselves but by humbling ourselves before God and becoming servants to others.
What situation are you facing, even now, in which your humbling yourself could give you a powerful opportunity to reflect Christ to others?
WEDNESDAY October 28
The Master Teacher and Reconciliation
Human relationships all too often break down. We become estranged from one another. The person who was once our close friend becomes, over time, someone we distrust. However, such a broken relationship can be mended. When that happens, we experience the wonder of reconciliation. Few human experiences are as sweet as this.
How does reconciliation lie at the heart of Christ’s incarnation and His role as Master Teacher? 2 Cor. 5:16–21.
If we feel blessed when a relationship with another human being is restored, how grand should we feel when we are reconciled to God? In 2 Corinthians 5:16–21, Paul is clear about who is doing the reconciling—God the Father has taken the lead in mending our broken relationship with Him. And He has done this reconciling work “through Christ”
(2 Cor. 5:18, NRSV). “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (2 Cor. 5:19, NKJV).
Again, though, we are not simply to be consumers of the joys of reconciliation. We are to learn from the Master Teacher. In His incarnation, Jesus participated in the work of reconciliation. And we, too, are invited to participate in it. God has reconciled us to Himself through Christ. And now we, with Paul, are given “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18).
Colossians 1:15–20 is another of the great New Testament passages on Christ’s incarnation. Often thought to be a hymn, the first half of the passage discusses Christ’s role in creation (Col. 1:15–17), while the last half focuses on Christ’s role in redemption (Col. 1:18–20). Through Christ’s role as Creator-Redeemer, God reconciles all things to Himself. The work of reconciliation that God accomplishes through Christ is cosmic in scale, impacting “all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20, NRSV).
While we could never match the cosmic scale of the Master Teacher’s work as reconciler, we are invited to participate in “the ministry of reconciliation” in our own sphere (2 Cor. 5:18). Could this be what was in Jesus’ mind when He prayed, “ ‘As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world’ ” (John 17:18, NKJV)?
What are practical ways we can reflect God’s role as reconciler? That is, in what situation right now (if any) can you help people be reconciled with each other?
THURSDAY October 29
The Master Teacher’s First Pupils
One moment, they are a band of ordinary shepherds caring for an average flock of sheep outside a small town. In the next moment, they are the recipients of an amazing appearance of angels who bear startling, wondrous, world-shattering news. Motivated by that appearance, they seek out the child whom the angels announced.
Imagine standing with the shepherds and gazing into the manger. What would you see? Luke 2:8–20.
We must admire the first pupils of the Master Teacher—Joseph and Mary and the shepherds. The humble conditions of Jesus’ birth give no indication of the wonder of the incarnation—that, in the Person of this Infant, God has become One with humankind. However, with the aid of visions, dreams, and angels, those first students of His are able to look beyond the outward appearance of Jesus’ birth. The shepherds share with others the identity of this infant, that He is “ ‘a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord’ ” (Luke 2:11, NRSV; compare Luke 2:17).
How do the Wise Men respond to the news of the birth of Jesus? How does Herod respond? Matt. 2:1–12.
Before He has spoken His first parable or performed His first miracle, the Master Teacher is worthy of our worship because of who He is. To fully appreciate the later teaching ministry of Jesus, we must join these early pupils, the Wise Men, in their worship of the Master Teacher. The one whose teachings we admire is more than a wise educator. He is God come to dwell with humankind. Christian education is rooted in the worship of Christ.
With Wise Men, shepherds, and angels, we are called to worship Christ, the newborn King—and to see in the infant Jesus the reality of God Himself.
Think about what the incarnation of Jesus means regarding the character of God. The Creator of all the universe, which is so big that we cannot grasp it—this God “humbled himself” by coming into humanity, lived as Jesus lived, and then died on the cross, bearing in Himself the punishment for our sins. Why is this such good news?
FRIDAY October 30
Further Thought: Read Ellen G. White, “The Teacher Sent From God,” pp. 73–83, in Education.
“In the Teacher sent from God, all true educational work finds its center. Of this work today as verily as of the work He established eighteen hundred years ago, the Saviour speaks in the words—
“ ‘I am the First and the Last, and the Living One.’
“ ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.’ Revelation 1:17, 18, R.V.; 21:6, R.V.
“In the presence of such a Teacher, of such opportunity for divine education, what worse than folly is it to seek an education apart from Him—to seek to be wise apart from Wisdom; to be true while rejecting Truth; to seek illumination apart from the Light, and existence without the Life; to turn from the Fountain of living waters, and hew out broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
“Behold, He is still inviting: ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said,’ out of him ‘shall flow rivers of living water.’ ‘The water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.’ John 7:37, 38; 4:14, R.V.”—Ellen G. White, Education, p. 83.
“Dear teacher, . . .
“As the highest preparation for your work, I point you to the words, the life, the methods, of the Prince of teachers. I bid you consider Him. Here is your true ideal. Behold it, dwell upon it, until the Spirit of the divine Teacher shall take possession of your heart and life.
“ ‘Reflecting as a mirror the glory of the Lord,’ you will be ‘transformed into the same image.’
2 Corinthians 3:18, R.V.
“This is the secret of power over your pupils. Reflect Him.”—Education, p. 282.
1. What values and actions would be important to Christian teachers and students who take seriously the idea of learning from the incarnation of the Master Teacher?
2. Christian parents and teachers have a high standard—to reflect the character of God as revealed in the incarnation of Jesus. What should we do when we fall short of this high standard?
3. In class, discuss the question at the end of Thursday’s study. What does the birth, life, and death of Jesus teach us about the character of God? Why should this be so comforting to us, especially during times of great trial?
By Lucette N’Diay Mitrac
I don’t know why I volunteered to preach at Total Member Involvement evangelistic meetings in Rwanda in May 2016. Other than me, only young people volunteered to preach when coordinator Duane McKey invited our Seventh-day Adventist church in Paris to participate. I was weak after a long illness, and my 23-year-old son recently had committed suicide. But I signed up and quickly was asked to supervise the young people, not to preach.
Things changed after our arrival in Nyanza, Rwanda. We met with the local pastors, and I was asked to preach. I fled to my hotel room and fell on my knees. “Lord, I have never preached,” I prayed. “But since You said it is not by might nor by power, but by Your Spirit, please speak instead of me.”
Starting with the first evening meeting, childhood memories flooded my mind as I spoke about the transforming power of the gospel. Rwandans had suffered horrific rape and violence during 1990s genocide. I had gone through similar trials and spoke from my heart. Every time I made an altar call, people were moved, especially women who had been raped. Many came to the front.
The more I spoke, the more I was healed. Although I had given my heart to Jesus many years earlier, I realized that I still held a grudge. I knew that God had not deprived me of my childhood and my mother, but I still blamed Him.
My stepfather used to rape me. I only told my mother when I was 13. She took me to a gynecologist and sent me to live with a cousin. Shortly afterward, she visited me on a Friday. I never saw her again. My stepfather killed her.
My stepfather spent only two years in prison because he was a high-ranking military officer. I lived in an orphanage from the age of 13 to 19. My biological father was alive, but he didn’t want anything to do with me. I felt so lonely.
I found healing in the Bible. I read, “The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness. . . . He who touches you touches the apple of His eye. . . . The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love’ ” (Zeph. 3:17, Zech. 2:8, Jer. 31:3, NKJV). But I didn’t love myself. Even if people told me that I was pretty, I didn’t feel pretty inside.
In Rwanda, the dark negativity faded as I spoke. I knew it wasn’t me preaching. I found freedom and accepted Christ’s loving declaration that I am a wonderful creature. A total of 390 people were baptized at Cyegera Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Today I am 66, and I have returned to Rwanda many times. My Rwandan friends are my family, and they call me “Mama.” I am working now so many people will become new creatures in Christ.
Thank you for your Sabbath School mission offerings that help spread the gospel around the world.
If we never knew a word out of Jesus’ mouth, we could still spend a lifetime learning from Him. The fact that He left heaven to come to this world, along with His actions while here, speaks volumes. Perhaps this is why all the epistles of the New Testament are thin in their quoting of Jesus’ words but are instead preoccupied with who He is and the life He lived.
Jesus is a two-for-one deal. Getting to know Him entails learning of Another. “Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us’ ” (John 14:8, ESV). One can hear the pained surprise and amazement in Jesus’ voice as He responds: “ ‘Have I been with you so long . . . ?’ ” (John 14:9, ESV). He expected His disciples to know what the author of Hebrews knows, that He Himself is the “brightness of his [the Father’s] glory, and the express image of his person” (Heb. 1:3). An important Christological theme in the New Testament is that Jesus reveals what God is like. His face reveals God’s face (2 Cor. 4:6). When teaching the Bible, we should express doctrines in light of the character of God. This character is best seen in the only One who can exclusively say, “ ‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ ” (John 14:9, ESV). So, regardless of people’s experiences, the number of Bible texts quoted, or the reverence for one’s denominational doctrines, the life of Christ must always serve as a corrective to our descriptions of God.
So then, who is Jesus of Nazareth? The answer often depends on who is asking. During a meeting, I was asked by a pastor of another denomination who I thought Jesus was. Because of the context and who was asking, I knew what he wanted. He didn’t want to know whether Jesus was the Messiah or the revelation of the Father or our best Friend. He wanted to know whether I believed Jesus was eternal, preexistent, omnipotent, omniscient, omni-everything-else that affirms that He truly is God. The disciples, on the other hand, gave an answer different from the one I gave. Matthew’s account answers with, “ ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ ” (Matt. 16:16, NKJV). The text condenses with Luke saying, “ ‘The Christ of God’ ” (Luke 9:20, NKJV), and Mark simply saying, “ ‘the Christ’ ” (Mark 8:29, ESV). Obviously, Jesus as Messiah was the looming issue during His ministry. As time marches on, sometimes the issues and questions about Jesus change. Though Jesus doesn’t change, it may be advantageous, based on context and our audience, to modify our emphasis in how we present Him.
Who Jesus is can be communicated in various ways. Keep in mind that the audience helps to narrow the options. Here is an extreme example: a young boy on his deathbed doesn’t need to hear of the hypostatic union of Jesus’ divine and human nature as articulated by the Council of Chalcedon. He needs a comforting Friend. Other venues provide opportunity for scholarly discussion about the details of Christ’s person. It is imperative as educators that we recognize different ministry settings and know Christ well enough to share just the right angle of His personality that best fits the moment.
“Passing the torch” is an English idiom that harkens back to Greek runners passing a torch in a running relay in which a final runner crosses the finish line with torch in hand. Scripture reveals a passing of the torch that is both thrilling and sobering at the same time. As the lesson brings out, Jesus came to reveal what the Father is like. In a sense, the Father passed a torch to the Son, so that the Son’s face would illuminate the Father’s character to our gaze. Here are some biblical snippets to that end:
• “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God” (Heb. 1:3, ESV).
• Jesus is “the exact imprint of [God’s] nature” (Heb. 1:3, ESV).
• “The glory of Christ, who is the image of God ” (2 Cor. 4:4, ESV)
• “The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6, ESV)
• “ ‘Whoever has seen [Jesus] has seen the Father’ ” (John 14:9, ESV).
There is no doubt that New Testament authors want us to conclude that when we see Jesus, we are beholding an accurate picture of what the Father is like.
So, Jesus fulfills His leg of the race. Does He pass the torch? Yes, He does. Of course, He remains, and will always remain, the most perfect image of His Father, but He passes the torch on to His followers in an expression of shared responsibility and privilege.
Notice the “commission” He gives His disciples—a commission that may even be greater than what is typically identified as the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18–20). After twice pronouncing peace on His disciples, He proclaims, “ ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you’ ” (John 20:19, John 20:21, ESV). Never has the little word “as” been so honored to bear such meaning. Just as the Father sent Jesus to show the world who He (the Father) is, Jesus now sends us to show the world who He (Jesus) is. The torch has been passed.
It is no wonder that His laying this holy burden on the shoulders of the disciples is embedded between two empowering acts of Christ. First, He pronounces “peace” upon them while letting them gaze upon His scars. He slowly undoes His robe so they can see and touch His spear-pierced side and hold His scarred hands. “ ‘Touch me, and see’ ” (Luke 24:39, ESV). And while they stand huddled around their risen Savior, He says again, “Peace be unto you” as if to make a connection between His wounds and the peace He is blessing them with (John 20:19–21). They now have peace—a shalom—that truly passes all understanding and ushers them into reconciliation with God (Phil. 4:7, Rom. 5:1). He then tells them He is sending them the way His Father sent Him—but not before He does one final act. He breathes on them and says, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22). This will be the secret of their success. The renewing and empowering influence of the Spirit of God will enable them to reflect their Savior.
In thinking about Jesus’ passing the torch of revelation to His people, a number of verses come to mind that reinforce the idea that we were created and redeemed for such a purpose.
1. Jesus is the express image of God (Heb. 1:3), and humanity was made in God’s image, as we read: “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26).
2. Jesus is the image of God, and we are to be restored into the image of Jesus: “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son” (Rom. 8:29, ESV). “And we all, . . . beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image” (2 Cor. 3:18, ESV).
3. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12), but then so are we: “ ‘You are the light of the world’ ” (Matt. 5:14, ESV).
4. Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14) in whom “the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Col. 2:9, ESV); by extension, the people of God are called “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27).
The list of parallels continues between Jesus’ mission to reveal truth about God to this world and how He has qualified His people to continue that same mission. Our prayer is that to the very end we will carry the torch handed us by Christ, to illuminate the world with the knowledge of His character.
A revivalist once offered some thoughts on being God’s image bearers. As touched on in the lesson, Hebrews 1:3 speaks of Christ as being the charakter of the Father. The Greek charakter first denoted the engraving tool used by an engraver. Eventually, it denoted the mark or impress made by the tool, an impress as one would see on a coin. The purpose was to make an exact reproduction of the king’s image on those coins. Jesus was once asked a question on whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. He asked to see a coin and asked His audience whose image was on the coin. They answered, “Caesar’s,” after which Jesus said His famous line, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21). In like manner, Jesus will one day return to this earth looking for His own “coins.” When He does, He needs only to ask the same question He asked 2,000 years ago: Whose image is seen on these coins? If we bear the image of Christ and have the Father’s name impressed in our foreheads (Rev. 22:4), then it will be good news to hear, “ ‘Render . . . to God the things that are God’s’ ” (Matt. 22:21, ESV). God will gather His coins and we can go home—finally.
Speaking like a Christian, attending church like a Christian, explicating doctrines like a Christian, and calling oneself a Christian are never replacements for actually being a Christian. There is no population that understands this difference better than our children, who are watching every move their parents, their teachers, and their religious leaders make. They may not be able to articulate it, but they are either consciously or unconsciously evaluating Adventist education based on how Adventists live. This is the bottom line. This is why bearing the image of God in our daily lives is nonnegotiable if we want to see Adventist education succeed.
1. How does one know if he or she is a genuine Christian?
2. How should accountability play a role in denominational employment, where one teacher or leader can influence hundreds or maybe thousands of children?
3. How much should we rely on students’ feedback to determine if someone is a godly teacher who should continue being employed?
4. The title of this lesson is “Jesus as the Master Teacher.” Do you think that this idea is coming across loud and clear in our families and schools? If not, how could we teach our children in a way that causes them to say, “I was taught by Jesus today”?