Click below to download the Cornerstone Connections leader’s guide and student lesson. This week’s resources also include two lesson plans and a discussion starter video which offer different ways of looking at the topic. Each lesson plan includes opening activities, scripture passages, discussion questions, and real-life applications.
Humble Hero (Desire of Ages)
Chapter 28 - Matthew--From Tax Collector to Apostle
Jesus would rather be in the midst of sinners than in a room filled with “just and noble” people. Actually, He sought them out.
Have you ever observed a parent or mentor who was trying to figure out how to fill in their own tax return? Have you ever met someone who worked for the IRS? Most people have never met someone who analyzes tax returns. In a majority of people’s minds, those who are good at this kind of work are rare indeed! In fact, those who make a living analyzing other people’s taxes are considered by some as being out to ruin someone else’s life.
Nothing much has changed since the time of Jesus. Tax collectors were hated, not only because they worked for the Romans and were considered traitors, but also because they often charged a bunch of extra money and got rich off of their own people. They weren’t the kind of people your mother would want you to date. Jesus, on the other hand, is in the redemption business. In our lesson today, Jesus explains why He mingled with those whom others considered outcasts, and gives us an insight into how we should live.
ALPHABET PETITION OR PRAISE
Sometimes it is difficult to get students to think about praises or prayer requests. This exercise challenges them to be creative in thinking about their petitions or praises. Starting with the letter “A” have the group go through the alphabet listing praises or petitions. For example, I am thankful for apples.
Fasting! Have you ever tried it? How did it make you feel? Jesus and His disciples were criticized because they didn’t do it. What principle was Jesus attempting to teach? Was Jesus saying that fasting isn’t important or was He saying something different? Let’s take a look.
BIBLE STUDY GUIDE
Read Matthew 9:9-12.
9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.
10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.
“A Jew who accepted this office at the hands of the Romans was looked upon as betraying the honor of his nation. He was despised as an apostate, and was classed with the vilest of society.” (Desire of Ages, p. 273)
“The calling of Matthew to be one of Christ's disciples excited great indignation. For a religious teacher to choose a publican as one of his immediate attendants was an offense against the religious, social, and national customs. By appealing to the prejudices of the people the Pharisees hoped to turn the current of popular feeling against Jesus.” (Desire of Ages, p. 274)
Read John 13:34-35.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Fasting doesn’t always mean to not eat. One can abstain from media, music, caffeine, or almost anything. Why would someone fast? Let’s see what scripture has to say.
Read Daniel 9:3.
3 So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.
Read Judges 20:26.
26 Then all the Israelites, the whole army, went up to Bethel, and there they sat weeping before the Lord. They fasted that day until evening and presented burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to the Lord.
Read Luke 2:37.
37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.
“The disciples of John had not a clear understanding of Christ's work; they thought there might be some foundation for the charges of the Pharisees. They observed many of the rules prescribed by the rabbis, and even hoped to be justified by the works of the law. Fasting was practiced by the Jews as an act of merit, and the most rigid among them fasted two days in every week.” (Desire of Ages, p. 277)
Jesus wasn’t against fasting and prayer. He did it all the time. It was a way for Him to get closer to His Father by clearing His mind. However, Jesus points out that fasting just so that one can brag about it or feel spiritually superior is worthless and shouldn’t be done. Have you ever been around someone who sits at the Thanksgiving table and won’t eat because they want to show that they have willpower? It’s a little ridiculous, but that doesn’t mean that being careful with what one consumes isn’t important.
Being a disciple of Christ is more than just believing in Jesus. It’s about believing and allowing that belief to change how one lives. Belief is the start, but allowing that belief to dictate how one lives will ultimately change one’s life. What would happen if everyone loved all others just as much as Jesus loved others? Would there need to be protests or marches? How can you make a difference where you live by following the commands of Jesus?
Think about the people at your school. Who are those who are considered the “tax collectors”? Find a way to befriend them. Treat them the way Jesus treated “tax collectors” and see what happens.
For a Relational Bible Study (RBS) you’ll want to get into the Scripture passage and encourage the youth to imagine participating in the story while it’s happening. Then you will be able to better apply it to your own situation today.
You will need to ask God for the Holy Spirit to be present as your small group discusses the questions (no more than 3-6 people in a group is recommended). Start with the opening question. It is a personal question and the answer is unique for each individual. There is no right answer and nobody is an expert here, so don’t be surprised when you hear different responses. You are depending on the Holy Spirit to be present and to speak through your group. Say what God prompts you to say, and listen to what others share.
Take turns reading the chapter out loud. Follow that with giving the students some time to individually mark their responses to the questions (a PDF version of the handout is available as a download). This gives each person a starting point for responding when you start to share as a group. Next, begin the discussion by asking the students to share what they marked and why on each question as you work your way through. Feel free to take more time on some questions than others as discussion warrants.
Encourage each person in the group to apply what is discussed to their personal lives and to share with the group what they believe God wants them to do. Then ask them to pray that God will help each of them to follow through in doing so. Remind them to expect that God will show them ways to live out the message of this passage in the coming week, and that they are free to ask others in the group to help hold them accountable.
“Be Careful With Whom You Hang.” You parents might say it more like, “Choose your friends carefully, because you’ll become like them.”
One verse in our passage today indicates a purpose that goes beyond just becoming like everyone else around you. Luke 5:31-32 (NLT) quotes Jesus saying, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call sinners to turn from their sins, not to spend my time with those who think they are already good enough.”
That takes us to our passage for today. Jesus invited the social outcast Levi Matthew to be one of His disciples. So Levi hosted a feast for Jesus. Who attended? Levi’s friends—a bunch of other tax collectors. They might have been the only ones who would come. No wonder the Pharisees bitterly complained. You tend to become like those you hang around. And yet Jesus came to this world for less-than-perfect people.
In our Luke 5:27-39 passage, do you identify more with Levi and the rest at the feast, or the Pharisees who had reason(s) to be critical? Are you like Christ’s disciples who weren’t quite sure how to respond, or do you proactively reach out to the ones others think are below them?
“Be Careful With Whom You Hang”
Do you consider the people you hang out with better, worse, or the same as yourself?
Read Luke 5:27-39.
27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?”
31 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
33 They said to him, “John’s disciples often fast and pray, and so do the disciples of the Pharisees, but yours go on eating and drinking.”
34 Jesus answered, “Can you make the friends of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? 35 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; in those days they will fast.”
36 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. 37 And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.’ ”
1. Why did Jesus call the tax collector Levi to be His disciple?
2. What prompted tax collector Levi to host a banquet for Jesus?
3. Why did the Pharisees complain bitterly to Christ’s disciples?
4. Why did Jesus spend so much time with people considered to be socially undesirable?
5. Prioritize (1-9) these activities in your life.
____ Reading Scripture.
____ Serving others.
____ Hanging with sinners.
____ Hanging with the righteous.
____ Hanging with Jesus.
6. What did Jesus mean about old and new cloth and wine skins?
7. Do you spend more time feasting or fasting? Why?
8. How did Jesus not become tainted by the social stigma of those He hung around with? Or did He? How would that social strategy work for you?
This short passage of Scripture might leave you with more questions than answers. Are you more like Jesus or more like the socially undesirable? Those seem like such extreme opposites. Yet Jesus came to earth and found Himself drawn to the people others considered beneath them.
Be careful who you hang with; you might become like them, or you might want to be sure the people you hang with actually want to be with you!
Here are a few application ideas for you to move from Sabbath School into action this coming week. Feel free to adapt this as the Holy Spirit moves you, but, by all means, apply this Scripture study to your life in the coming week and month.
Usually when you hang with friends, you simply “hang with friends.” Apply this week’s Sabbath School lesson with your friends—to yourselves! Set a time and place this week to do some challenging reflection—sometime when you’re not just hanging. Ask questions like:
Read the short Bible book of 1 John this week. It’s only five chapter long—less than one chapter a day. When you spend time with Jesus, like meditating on Scripture and listening for impressions from the Holy Spirit, two of the results will be:
Just like Levi hosted a feast for Jesus, get together with some friends and host a feast or picnic sometime in the coming month. It’s summertime in North America, so do it outdoors as we seek to safely come out of this pandemic.
Understanding & Relating to Asian American Youth
By Jane Hong-Guzman de Leon, Kevin Doi & Mike Park
If you’ve read Growing Young, you know how important it is to engage young people in your church. But how? Even when we bring our best intentions to these conversations, the dialogue somehow flops.
This comprehensive 40-page guide is the perfect handbook for any adult looking for a starting point in conversations with today’s Asian American youth. It includes an overview of the reality Asian American youth face, fundamental principles of conversation, plus 30+ questions and ideas for next steps.
1. Activity / Busy Bags for Kids
Help parents stay sane. Assemble bags with activities to keep small children busy.
Cost: Less than $5.00
Cheer up the homebound. Thoughtfully decorated placemats are a lovely extra to bring to meal recipients. If you’re able to laminate the placemats, all the better!
Cost: Less than $5.00
Help fight hunger. Pick up and deliver meals to seniors and people with disabilities.
Cost: Less than $5.00