On the Road With Jesus

  The theme for this series of lessons is "On the Road with Jesus."  Each lesson centers on a significant Bible event that occurred while traveling on a road, or at the conclusion of such travel.  In each lesson, the traveler (student) comes in contact with Jesus or with something Jesus would have him do.  The lessons are arranged in a way that presents the gospel in an orderly, logical fashion -- Christ's death and resurrection are covered in the first two lessons, followed by lessons on conversion, evangelism and service 

Now it happened as they journeyed on the road that someone said to Him, 
"Lord, I will follow You wherever You go." -- Luke 9:57

 

Lesson 1 -- On the Road to Calvary -- The Road of Sacrifice

    One day, not long before Jesus was crucified, He was going down the road with His twelve disciples, heading to Jerusalem.  The disciples were "amazed" and "as they followed, they were afraid" (Mark 10:32).  They knew that the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem were enemies of Jesus, and that they would try to harm Him.  Jesus took the twelve aside and explained to them that He was intentionally taking the road to Jerusalem so that He would suffer and die (Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34). 

  Jesus came to earth and took the road to the cross knowingly so that we might be saved (Titus 2:13-14; Galatians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:10).  Jesus planned to sacrifice Himself to save us.  He did this because He loves us (Romans 5:8).  

  To walk life's road with Jesus is to walk a road of love and sacrifice.  In Ephesians 5:2, the apostle Paul wrote these words to Jesus' disciples: "Walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma."   This lesson will examine some of the steps Jesus took to travel the road to Calvary, so that we might learn to walk with Him on the road of sacrifice.

Planning.  Like planning a trip long in advance, Jesus' road to Calvary was planned far in advance!  Making meaningful sacrifices seldom happens without a lot of planning and forethought. In Acts 2:23, the apostle Peter said that Jesus was delivered to be crucified "by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God."  God determined and foreordained to send Jesus as our Savior even before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-20).   God gave indication of His plan as far back as the Garden of Eden, when He promised that the seed of woman would bruise the head of the serpent. (Genesis 3:15).  The Old Testament prophets also spoke of God's plan to send a redeeming sacrifice into the world (Isaiah 53).

Putting Plans into Action.  The best plan is no good if it is never implemented. In order for Jesus to Sacrifice Himself for us, He had to come to earth as a man - He had to be given a human body to sacrifice (Hebrews 10:5-10).  The virgin birth of Christ is an astounding miracle in its own right, but more importantly, it put into action God's plan to save man.   It was implemented at the right time and under the right circumstances --  "when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5).  We are to have the mind of Christ when it comes to implementing plans to sacrifice for others (Philippians 2:5-8).

Persistence.  The road to sacrificing for others may have obstacles in the way.  In Matthew 16:21-28, one of Jesus' own disciples, Peter, tried to discourage Him from staying on the road to Calvary.  Peter didn't want Jesus to suffer.  But Jesus told him, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."  Jesus then told His disciples that if anyone would follow Him, he must "deny himself and take up his cross."  We cannot be detoured off the road of sacrifice because it is difficult and bumpy.  We must be diligent and persistent (cf. Romans 12:10-11)

Prayer.  Real sacrifice is difficult. To give time, energy, money, and especially ones life requires self denial, and self denial takes strength.  As Jesus came closer to sacrificing Himself, He prayed for strength to do His Father's will (Luke 22:41-44).  Prayer helps keep us focused on God's will instead of our own. 

Paying the Price.  When it came down to it, Jesus went through with it.  "For the joy that was set before Him" He "endured the cross despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2).  He didn't have to do it.  He could have stopped the proceedings at any time (Matthew 26:53).  But He chose to follow through.  This, despite the fact that the physical suffering Jesus endured on the cross and in the hours leading up to it is nearly beyond comprehension. 

  Jesus' great love for His father and for us enabled Him to pay this terrible price.  To follow Him, each of us must take up His cross.  We must lay down our lives in the sacrificial service of one another. "By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16).

Conclusion: Following Jesus involves walking the road of sacrifice.  Out of love for Him we must plan, implement, persist, pray and pay the price.

 

 

Lesson 2: On the Road to Emmaus -- Recognizing the Resurrected Lord

  Three days after His crucifixion, Jesus arose from the dead.  The apostle Peter would later say that God the Father raised up Jesus "having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it" (Acts 2:24).  If Jesus is indeed "the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25) and the "only begotten Son" of God (1 John 4:9), there is no way death could hold Him.  The resurrection of Jesus declares loud and clear that Jesus is indeed everything He claimed to be.  In Romans 1:3-4 the Bible states that "Jesus Christ our Lord" was "declared to be the Son of God with power&ldots;by the resurrection from the dead."

  Coming face to face with the fact that Jesus has indeed conquered death will not only change a person's view of Jesus, it can completely change a person's life.  Long ago two men were confronted with the resurrected Christ as they walked the road to the village of Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).  In this lesson, we will walk with them and come to know that "the Lord is risen indeed!" (Luke 24:34).  Like the disciples on that road, may "our hearts burn within us" as we realize that Jesus has truly conquered death!

The Road to Emmaus (24:13-14).  The exact site of the village of Emmaus is uncertain.  Most scholars place it to the West of Jerusalem.  From the text we can discern that it was about 7 miles from Jerusalem (24:13), that one could travel there and back in less than one day, and that there were probably hot springs in the area since the name "Emmaus" means "warm baths."  We also know that it was in the spring of the year because Jesus was crucified during Passover.  And we deduce that the weather was pleasant enough for two disciples to travel together in the open country. 

  So, we can easily picture two friends walking together, involved in deep discussion about the things that had happened - the crucifixion of Christ and the reports that He was alive again.  "They conversed and reasoned" about these events and their significance.  These two disciples were no doubt struggling to sort through it all in their minds.  Their faith may have been shaken, but they were talking through things and trying to understand them.

How the two disciples perceived things (24:15-24).  Jesus joined the two men and walked with them.  They did not recognize Him because their eyes were restrained.  He asked, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?" (v. 17).  From the response Jesus gets from Cleopas and the other disciple, we learn what was on their minds.

How Jesus helped the disciples down the road to accepting His resurrection (24:25-27).  Jesus pointed out the following facts to clear up the misconceptions of these disciples and prepare them to see that He had risen.

Conclusion: Oh, now I see! (24:28-32). When the disciples arrived at their destination, they insisted that their fellow traveler stay overnight with them.  This act of hospitality brought a tremendous unexpected blessing, not only because they were unknowingly showing love for their Savior (see Matthew 25:40, Hebrews 13:2), but because it provided them the opportunity to see for themselves the risen Lord.  These disciples knew that their hearts had "burned within" them as Jesus talked with them on the road and opened the Scriptures to them.  Truth has a ring to it that strikes a chord in the heart of man.  The evidence that Jesus rose from the dead will ring true in hearts that are true and honest, and they, too, will come to believe that "the Lord is risen indeed."

 

Lesson 3: On the Road to Damascus -- The Road to a Changed Life

   His name was Saul of Tarsus. He was a blasphemer and a persecutor of Christians.  He was insolent - a proud and arrogant man intent on harming others in word and deed (1 Timothy 1:13).  He consented to the violent murder of the good man, Stephen (Acts 8:1, cf. 6:5).  He made havoc of the church, entering houses and dragging off men and women to prison (Acts 8:3).  Seething with anger and malice, his expressed intention was to destroy the church by murdering its members (Acts 9:13; 26:11).  But something happened to Saul.  He changed completely. He became perhaps the most dedicated and influential proponent of Christianity in history.  What happened to change Saul?

  The story of the transforming conversion of Saul of Tarsus illustrates the powerful impact that believing in the resurrected Christ can have. Once a person comprehends the death and resurrection of Jesus, they are on the road to a changed life!  This lesson examines how Saul's enlightenment on the road to Damascus led to his complete transformation, and how the resurrected Christ can change our lives as well.

Planning the trip to Damascus (Acts 9:1-2; 22:3-5; 26:10-11).  Most trips we take have a goal.  Saul's journey to Damascus did.  He secured letters from the High Priest to the Synagogues of Damascus that he might arrest Christians and bring them bound to Jerusalem to be tried for heresy and punished (Acts 22:4-5).  Damascus is a Syrian city, about 120 miles northeast of Jerusalem.  Under Roman law, the Jewish High Priest would have no political authority in Damascus, but his religious authority would be recognized in Jewish synagogues throughout the world.  The fact that Saul was willing to go to these lengths to persecute Christians shows his determination to obliterate the church (Acts 26:11-12)

On the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-8; 22:6-11; 26:13-18).  Nearing Damascus about noon, a bright light from heaven shone around Saul and a voice spoke to him.  The men who were with Saul apparently heard the sound of a voice but could not discern what the voice was saying; they saw the light but not its source (Acts 9:7; 22:9).  Saul saw the light and its glorious source (see Acts 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:8).  And Saul distinctly heard the words spoken to him.  The message Saul heard contained three important points:

  1. Jesus of Nazareth is alive (Acts 9:4-5; 22:7-8; 26:14-15). Saul had believed that Christians were misguided heretics - carrying on the cause of their slain leader.  Suddenly, in a moment on the Damascus road, Saul sees that it is he who has been misguided.  Christ is truly alive! 

  2. Saul would be commissioned to carry the gospel of Jesus to the nations (Acts 26:16-18).

  3. Saul should go to Damascus to learn what he must do to be saved (Acts 9:6; 22:10).  Many mistakenly believe that Saul was saved on the road to Damascus.  Plainly he was not, because three days later he was told to "arise and be baptized and wash away your sins" (Acts 22:16).  What happened on the road to Damascus is that Saul came to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. This change led to Saul's salvation and his transformed life.

In Damascus (Acts 9:9-18; 22:12-16)

How Believing in the Resurrection of Jesus Can Change Your Life Too.  If you believe in the resurrection...

Lesson 4: On the Road to Gaza -- The Road of Evangelism

 When your life has been changed in a wonderful way, you can't wait to tell others about it.  Saul of Tarsus, whom we studied in our last lesson, illustrates this. Immediately after his conversion, "he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20).

  Philip is another great example of what it means to walk the road of evangelism.  First in Samaria, and then on the road to Gaza, he lived out Jesus' commission to "go into all  the world and preach the gospel."  If our lives have been changed by faith in Jesus and obedience to His will, we will be anxious to tell others about Him as we travel life's road.

Philip's Background.  Philip was one of seven men chosen by the early church to assist in providing fairly for poor, widowed Christians (Acts 6). The qualifications for this duty were that a man be "of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom." (Acts 6:3).  Later in the book of Acts, Philip is identified as "Philip the evangelist" (Acts 21:8).  But here was a man who was obviously living his faith well before becoming known for evangelism. This is a prerequisite to being a good evangelist. The changed life comes first!

In Samaria.   Philip was not entirely unique in his commitment to spread the gospel. When persecution arose against the early disciples, they were "all scattered" and "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:1, 4).  Philip's love for telling others about Jesus was shared by many other disciples, and so it should be today.

  Philip went down to Samaria and preached Christ (Acts 8:5).  Both men and women heard, believed and were baptized (Acts 8:12).  Even Simon the sorcerer was so impressed by the miracles and message of Philip,  that he believed and was baptized. 

  The text tells us that "there was great joy in that city" (Acts 8:8).  One of the tremendous benefits of walking the road of evangelism is sharing in the joy when men and women believe in Jesus and are baptized for the remission of their sins.  The eternal salvation of souls is something to get very excited about!  The apostle Paul wrote to some that he had helped convert, "For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?" (1 Thessalonians 2:19).

On the road to Gaza -- What it takes to travel the road of evangelism. (Acts 8:26-40).   The heart of this lesson is the familiar story of the conversion of the Ethiopian on the road to Gaza.  We note that in this account both an angel and the Holy Spirit speak directly to Philip (Acts 8:26, 29).  The apostles had laid their hands on Philip, enabling him to perform miracles (Acts 6:6; 8:6-7, 14-17).  So Philip was empowered with supernatural gifts and direct Divine guidance.  We do not possess such miraculous abilities today (1 Corinthians 13:8).  It is important for us to realize that we don't need them to convert the lost. Neither the Holy Spirit nor the angel spoke to the Ethiopian, and Philip performed no miracle for the Ethiopian as far as we're told in Scripture.  Conversion is not the result of the direct operation of the Holy Spirit or a visit from an angel; saving faith comes from hearing the word of God spoken by an evangelist (see Romans 10:13-17).  We see in Philip's example that being an evangelist requires the following things:

We should also note that prospects for evangelism will all have different levels of knowledge and types of questions.  The evangelist must be able to ascertain where a person is spiritually in order to meet their needs.

Making sure to preach both the Man and the plan -- Christ the Savior and His plan for salvation.  The Bible says that Philip preached "Jesus" to the Ethiopian (Acts 8:35).  But when they came to some water, the Ethiopian asked if he could be baptized.  How did he know that he needed to be baptized?  Obviously, fully preaching Jesus includes preaching the necessity of baptism for the remission of sins.  Talking about the fact that Jesus is God's Son and that He died to save us without teaching the necessity of baptism is like telling a thirsty man that there is water but not telling him what to do to get it!  When Philip got finished with the Ethiopian, he knew that he needed to be baptized, and he was. (Acts 8:38-39)

Let's determine to do what it takes to walk the road of evangelism.

 

Lesson 5: On the Road to Jericho -- The Road of Service

   A life changed by Jesus is a life that serves others. Jesus taught this great lesson in a story He told about a man traveling the Jericho road in Luke 10:30-37.  A lawyer had asked Jesus, "What shall I do to inherit eternal life?"  Since the man was a Jew and Jesus had not yet died on the cross to save men, Jesus asked him what the Law of Moses said.  The lawyer responded that the Law instructed "you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and  with  all  your  mind, and, love your neighbor as yourself."  Jesus agreed and told the man that if he did these things, he would "live."  Jesus is clearly teaching that if we want eternal life, we must love God and our neighbor as well.  When the lawyer, seeking to justify himself, asked, "Who is my neighbor?",  Jesus told this story of the good Samaritan.

The Road to Jericho.  There was considerable travel between Jerusalem and Jericho in Jesus' time, as these were the two largest cities in Judea.  And although the distance between the two cities was only a mile or so, the road was not easy.  Jerusalem is situated at an elevation of 2,550 feet above sea level, whereas Jericho is about 1,200 feet below sea level, very near the lowest place on earth.  This extreme drop in elevation amid rocky and barren land made for difficult travel.  Added to the problem of the rough terrain, bandits and ruffians often waylaid travelers.  In a similar way, the road of life can be hard, and made harder by those who seek to do others harm.  But that's no excuse for failing to  care for others.

A man who needed help (Luke 10:30). A man traveling the Jericho road fell among thieves who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him and left him half dead.  It may sound odd to us that thieves would strip the traveler of his clothing, but stealing the clothing was probably the very reason the assault.  Not having the mass-produced garments we enjoy today, clothes were very valuable in ancient times and highly prized as gifts (Genesis 45:22; Judges 14:12-13; 2 Kings 5:22).  As we travel life's road we will find people like this man on the Jericho road that  need help because&ldots;

The Priest and the Levite: Examples of religious people who don't serve others (Luke 10:31-32).  Both the priest and the Levite were supposed to be spiritual leaders in Israel. The priests were to teach the children of Israel the statutes of the Lord and to serve as judges and moral examples to the people (Leviticus 10:11; Ezekiel 44:23-24).  In New Testament times, a number of priests and Levites sat on the Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews.  The priest and Levite in Jesus' story both see the need of the unfortunate traveler.  The text seems to suggest that the Levite actually came over to the injured man and surveyed the situation.  But both priest and Levite did nothing; they passed by on the other side.

The Good Samaritan: What it means to serve others on the road (Luke 10:33-35).

  When Jesus finished telling the story of the Good Samaritan he asked the lawyer, "So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?"  The lawyer said, "He who showed mercy on him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."   Jesus wanted the lawyer to be a neighbor like the Samaritan.  He wants the same from us.

 

VBS THEME SONGS

Heaven's Road

Walkin' down heaven's road,
Gonna lay down my heavy load.
Jesus said He'd walk along with me.
Praise God! Glory Hallelujah!
I'm singin' all the way,
I've got sunshine in every day.
Won't you come along and join me
on that heaven's road.

 

On The Road Again

On the road again
I just can't wait to get on the road again.
The life I love is having Jesus as my friend
And I can't wait to get on the road again.

On the road again,
Like a happy family we go down the highway
We're the best of friends
And we're following the steps of Jesus all the way
All the way

On the road again
I just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is having Jesus as my friend
And I can't wait to get on the road again.

  

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