Bible Studies

Justice and the Gospel

IJM/Cru Justice Studies III


Leader’s Guide

What’s the Big Picture?

God brings an end to injustice by breaking into history in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus announces the arrival and coming of the dominion — the kingdom — of God. While on earth, Jesus brought rescue to the physically and spiritually oppressed. He also prepared the way for His final coming, which will bring all that is awry into order. Redeemed by Christ, it is the responsibility of the church to seek justice until He returns.

What’s the Problem?

Although we are often moved by images or stories about injustice, we lose the motivation to do justice, or we serve the oppressed for selfish reasons.

What’s the Big Idea?

Freeing captives is at the very heart of our faith. Jesus humbly suffered oppression in order to free those bound in captivity, and He suffered injustice so that we might receive mercy. The only thing that can sustain our motivation to do justice humbly and selflessly is seeing the mercy we received in Christ with greater and greater clarity. The more our hearts grasp Christ’s selflessness and humility, the more we will humble ourselves to serve the oppressed.

What Do I Need to Know About the Passage?

Luke 4:16-21: Near the outset of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus proclaims His purpose: to proclaim good news to the poor, liberty to the oppressed and recovery of sight to the blind. This passage becomes the backdrop for Jesus’ entire ministry, and Jesus fulfills this passage both physically and spiritually. As followers of Christ, we have the same calling: to proclaim the Gospel — in word and in deed — to the world.

Isaiah 53:4-9: This passage is an Old Testament prophecy that was spoken by Isaiah and fulfilled by Jesus. Jesus bore our sins and our guilt. Though He led a sinless life, men believed that He was cursed by God. He was beaten, wounded and crucified for the sake of those who rejected Him. In place of the love and acceptance that His perfect life merited, Jesus received punishment and wrath from God the Father. Every human being has rejected God, but God the Father placed our sins upon Jesus. This is what made a right relationship with God available to sinful men.

Jesus was unjustly oppressed by men, illegally tried in court and falsely accused, but all the while, He maintained the utmost humility. Though He had not committed a single sin in His entire life, He was condemned and crucified.

Isaiah 53:10-12: The entire crucifixion was the will of God. Jesus obeyed God unto death and became sin so that sinful men might be counted righteous. It is only because of Christ’s obedience to suffer injustice that we have an advocate before God and the forgiveness purchased by His blood.

Luke 18:1-8: Jesus teaches His disciples to always pray and never lose heart. The parable revolves around the issue of justice, and the persistent widow serves as a model for both our prayer lives and our attempts to “seek justice.” Our attitude in seeking justice should be to approach God humbly, day and night, and to use the resources He makes available to us to “to proclaim good news to the poor” and “liberty to the oppressed.” God promises that He will bring justice to His children; therefore, we can pray with great faith and great hope.

Revelation 21:1-4: The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to bring justice to His children is in His second coming. As Christians, we keep our eyes fixed on this day and allow the Cross to bear on our lives in the present. Swept away by Christ’s suffering for our sake and looking forward to His righteous return, we do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.
 

Bible Study

Launch Questions

  • Do you ever have selfish reasons for serving the poor and oppressed?
  • Have you ever lost steam in your efforts to seek justice?
  • How can we, as Christians, sustain our motivation to tackle injustice?

Explore and Apply

Read Luke 4:16-21.

1. According to Jesus, what did the Spirit anoint Jesus to do?

2. Why would Jesus proclaim this passage at the beginning of His ministry and in His hometown?

3. How do the themes of oppression and justice appear in this passage?

Read Isaiah 53:4-12.

4. How does this passage fulfill Jesus’ declaration in Luke 4:16-21?

5. Where does the theme of injustice surface in this passage?

6. How did Jesus suffer injustice? Why?

7. How is oppression and injustice central to the Gospel? What did the injustice that Jesus suffer produce?

8. Have you ever thought of the Gospel in terms of justice and injustice? How does seeing Jesus as the victim of injustice for your sake impact your heart?

Teaching Point: Freeing captives is at the very heart of our faith. Jesus humbly suffered oppression in order to free those bound in captivity, and He suffered injustice so that we might receive mercy. The only thing that can sustain our motivation to do justice humbly and selflessly is seeing the mercy we received in Christ with greater and greater clarity. The more our hearts grasp Christ’s selflessness and humility, the more we will humble ourselves to serve the oppressed.

Read Luke 18:1-8.

9. How does this passage give us hope for facing injustice today?

10. What was the reason that Jesus taught this parable?

11. How does the passage address the issue of losing heart when dealing with injustice?

12. How much have you incorporated prayer into your attempts to address injustice?

Teaching Point: The cross was God’s solution to injustice. In Christ, we are new creations, and we are to live in a way that reflects God’s glory — that includes seeking justice. Scripture teaches that God will bless our attempts to seek justice. Ultimately, when Christ returns, God will eliminate all injustice in the world. As Christians, we hope in this return. Close with Revelation 21:1-4.

Going Deeper

Sing A Hymn:
“Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” reminds us that rescue is at the heart of the Gospel. Notice how the hymn writer phrases this idea of rescue: Jesus rescues us from danger, and His goodness becomes a chain binding our hearts to Him. Pay attention to the bolded lyrics below and consider singing this song at the end of your Bible study as a reminder that we can only rescue the oppressed because Jesus first rescued us.

1. Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise. Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; He, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

3. O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee. Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

Listen To A Sermon:
Tim Keller looks at Isaiah 58, examining the concept of godly justice and its intersection with the Cross (http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/justice).

 

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