This week's Bible study is adapted from the YOU curriculum.
Bible Passages: Mark 5:21-24; 12:41-44; John 15:12-13.
Discussion Questions: To what extent does your schedule have time for meeting others' needs? What adjustments can you make to give sacrificially?
Food for Thought:
Suppose you are fleeing from your burning house. You have just a second to grab what is most important to you and run for your life. What would you take? Or suppose you are stranded on a desert island. You can choose only one item or person to be with you.
What or whom would you select? Exercises like these make us pause and think about our priorities -- what is most important to us. This study takes us a step beyond even that consideration. In this session, we will consider what sacrifices are most costly.
Your Time (Mark 5:21-24)
When it comes to sacrifice, some people are willing to give just about anything but their time. We are busy people! So was Jesus. He was the master of multitasking. Mark 5 records numerous occasions when Jesus took time to meet needs. Jesus had the ability and the desire to be flexible in meeting people's needs as they occurred. Jesus modeled the gift of time through His experience with Jairus.
We meet Jairus, a synagogue ruler with a personal crisis, in verse 22. His 12-year-old daughter was dying; he was desperate and begged Jesus for help. Jairus knew that if Jesus would come and touch his daughter, she would live. Despite his high position, Jairus cast his dignity aside and bowed at the feet of Jesus.
Jesus needed no convincing. Notice what He did in verse 24. Jesus not only took time to listen to Jairus, but He also took time to go with Jairus. A large crowd followed. Let's put this into perspective in today's study about sacrifice. Complete surrender to Christ is costly. It sometimes involves giving up our goals, plans and even daily schedules.
Your Resources (Mark 12:41-44)
Mark 12 records one of the most poignant instances of sacrifice in the Bible. Suppose we were to make a film of this passage. We would cast two starring roles -- the impoverished widow and the wealthy Pharisees. The scene would take place in the temple courts (Mark 12:35).
Jesus contrasted the greed of the scribes with one on whom they preyed -- a poor widow. The temple treasury was located in the court of women. Here Jesus sat to watch the people as they put in their offerings. He did not condemn the people who put in large amounts of money. His intent was to show the disciples what is true sacrifice.
The wealthy gave a portion of their abundance, yet the widow gave two tiny coins. Notice Jesus' response. He used this as a teachable moment for His disciples. As Jesus neared His crucifixion, He seized opportunities to share His wisdom with those closest to Him. He depended on them to carry out His teaching after His death. This incident provided an excellent example to discuss sacrifice. It teaches an important principle: It's not how much you give, but how much you sacrifice.
The woman did not call attention to herself. Although poor, she gave all she had. God does not look on the amount of money a person gives, but on the attitude with which it is given and on how much the person keeps back. Because the widow put in all she had, she had to trust God for her life. This may actually be an answer to Peter's implied question in 10:28: "We have left everything to follow you!" God will not forget those who give sacrificially.
Your Life (John 15:12-13)
We've talked about sacrifice in terms of our time and our resources. Now comes the "biggie" -- our lives. Whoa! you may be thinking. I'm okay with giving my time and don't mind sharing my resources -- but my life? Seriously?
Seriously. Jesus calls His followers to the highest kind of sacrifice, which He Himself demonstrated through His death on the cross. It's essential to realize that this type of sacrifice grows out of love. John 15 emphasizes love. In fact, Jesus tells His disciples to love others six times in 11 verses, beginning with John 15:9. Jesus speaks of the greatest kind of love. He doesn't use the word in a flippant way, as we might when we sign a greeting card or letter with "love." Jesus set His love as the standard for the disciples' mutual love. He then described the highest way we can show love.
John 15:13 is one of the most dramatic verses of the New Testament: No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. Having set His love as the standard for the disciples' mutual love, Jesus described the highest manifestation of love. Willingness to lay down one's life for others is the supreme test of love. Jesus' saying no doubt referred primarily to His death as proof of His love for the disciples ("as I have loved you," verse 12).
Jesus still calls on His followers to live sacrificially for the good of others. A continual willingness to be living sacrifices in the service of others and the Gospel is an excellent demonstration of this principle. Jesus' words in the New Testament speak to today's believers. We must be willing to give our time, our resources and even our life. We must be willing to "give it away" for the sake of the One Who gave everything, including His life, for us.
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