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The Imprint of God
Fall Quarter: The Sovereignty of God
Unit 1: The Sovereignty of Jesus
Sunday school lesson for the week of October 2, 2016
By Rev. Denise Walton
Lesson Scripture: Hebrew 1:1-9 (NIV)
Background Scripture: Hebrews 1
In the past, God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-9 NIV)
The Imprint of God
This week the Sunday school lesson maintains the overall theme of sovereignty but moves from the sovereignty of God to the sovereignty of Jesus Christ. I was drawn this week to the Bible Lesson for Youth (BL4Y). The BL4Y is an official resource from The United Methodist Church approved by Discipleship Ministries. It is the youth version of the Sunday school lesson following the International Lesson Series.
Each week the Bible Lesson for Youth provides a takeaway and Bible background. Let’s consider this week’s Sunday school lesson (Hebrew 1:1-9) from the perspective of our youth.
According to the BL4Y, the primary takeaway for this week’s lesson: Jesus is a reflection of God’s glory, superior to all creation, we can trust Jesus’ guidance in our lives.
The Bible Background
The BL4Y provides insight into the biblical background of Hebrews 1:1-9:
There is no attempt in the Book of Hebrews to prove God’s existence. The writer of Hebrews knew that God existed and that God spoke to humanity. The Jewish people questioned if Jesus truly was God’s final answer. Jesus is our revelation of who God is and reflects God’s glory more than any other being or creation. Meeting Jesus is meeting God face to face. (Bible Lessons for Youth, pg. 24)
As we consider the historical information related to the Book of Hebrews, scholars argue that we don’t know the author, the audience or even the type of communication (letter or sermon). The Adult Bible Study supports the argument that Hebrews is not a letter but a sermon based primarily on Psalm 110.
The Adult Bible Study provides insight into the primary purpose of Hebrews:
The main purpose of Hebrews originally was to encourage Christians who were facing persecution to stand strong in their faith. They were exhorted to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ, the “pioneer, and perfector” of Christians (12:2). Hebrews was written to offer hope in Jesus’ sovereignty, which is a perfect reflection of God’s sovereignty.
All of these identifying issues have been debated over the centuries. However, the BL4Y helps the reader to see that beyond the complexities of authorship, audience, and style of writing there are simple truths. “Jesus is an exact imprint or reflection of God. Just as Jesus reflects God, Christians are meant to reflect Jesus to others. To reflect upon Jesus, we must trust his guidance in our lives and follow his directions.”
As I considered the lesson from the perspective of our youth, I was reminded of a sermon that I preached years ago, “Can we trust Him?” In the message, I quoted an unknown author who described Jesus’ mission and ministry in Luke 4:20-21. In the text, Jesus closed the book of Isaiah, handed it over to the priest, and sat down to preach. All eyes were on Jesus, and he said these words, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” Jesus proclaimed that he was the Messiah, the fulfillment of all that Isaiah prophesied. This unknown author described Jesus’ mission as such:
- Jesus was the One upon whom the Spirit abode.
- Jesus was the One anointed to preach the gospel to the poor and captives.
- Jesus was the One who healed the brokenhearted.
- Jesus was the One gave sight to the blind.
- Jesus was the One who freed the bruised.
- Jesus was the One who preached the acceptable year of the Lord, the age of salvation.
When we see the face of Jesus, we see the face of God. Yes, we can trust Him!
Teachers for your consideration: This is a good week to stay with the simple theme of the lesson such as trusting God’s sovereignty and trusting Jesus’ sovereignty. The early Christians struggled to understand that God had previously spoken through the prophets, but now God speaks through his son Jesus.
First, invite the class to engage in a discussion of trust within a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. In what ways do we trust Jesus? As Christians do we experience times when it’s hard to trust our relationship with Jesus Christ?
Second, encourage class participants to have a conversation with a youth or young adult. The person can be someone in the church or a family member. Let’s not be too concerned with age limits. (It would be nice if the individual is younger than you and me).
Inquire about their understanding of the relationship between God and Jesus Christ. Feel free to ask this question or create your own: How do you understand the interrelatedness of God and Jesus, the Son of God?
Invite the class participants to get permission from the youth or young adult to share something from their perspective with the Sunday school class next week. I believe this exercise will reveal to us the depth of knowledge, questions and enlightenment of our youth and young adults.
Lord thank you for the youth and young adults in our lives and the communities of faith. May we humble ourselves to listen and learn as we invite a fresh perspective on the sovereignty of Jesus and the relationship of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
Dear Lord, may it be so,
Rev. Denise Walton serves as the Assistant to the Bishop for Connectional Ministries. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.