Congregation Bible Study ‒ Week Starting April 13

Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah

cl chap. 23 ¶1-9 (30 min.)


“He First Loved Us”

1-3. What are some factors that made Jesus’ death unlike any other in history?

ON A spring day nearly 2,000 years ago, an innocent man was tried, convicted of crimes he had never committed, and then tortured to death. It was not the first cruel and unjust execution in history; nor, sadly, was it the last. Yet, that death was unlike any other.

2 As that man suffered through his final, agonizing hours, heaven itself marked the significance of the event. Though it was the middle of the day, darkness suddenly descended on the land. As one historian put it, “the sunlight failed.” (Luke 23:44, 45) Then, just before the man breathed his last, he said these unforgettable words: “It has been accomplished!” Indeed, by laying down his life, he accomplished something wonderful. His sacrifice was the greatest act of love ever performed by any human.—John 15:13; 19:30.
par. 2 (Luke 23:44, 45) Well, by now it was about the sixth hour, and yet a darkness fell over all the land until the ninth hour, 45 because the sunlight failed; then the curtain of the sanctuary was torn down the middle.
par. 2 (John 15:13) No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his life in behalf of his friends.
par. 2 (John 19:30) When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said: “It has been accomplished!” and bowing his head, he gave up his spirit.

3 That man, of course, was Jesus Christ. His suffering and death on that dark day, Nisan 14, 33 C.E., are well-known. However, an important fact has often been ignored. Though Jesus suffered intensely, someone else suffered even more. In fact, someone else made an even greater sacrifice that day—the greatest act of love ever performed by anyone in the universe. What act was that? The answer provides a fitting introduction to the most important of subjects: Jehovah’s love.

The Greatest Act of Love

4. How did a Roman soldier come to see that Jesus was no ordinary man, and what did that soldier conclude?

4 The Roman centurion who supervised the execution of Jesus was astonished both by the darkness that preceded Jesus’ death and by the violent earthquake that followed it. “Certainly this was God’s Son,” he said. (Matthew 27:54) Clearly, Jesus was no ordinary man. That soldier had helped to execute the only-begotten Son of the Most High God! Just how dear was this Son to his Father?
par. 4 (Matt. 27:54) But when the army officer and those with him keeping watch over Jesus saw the earthquake and the things happening, they grew very much afraid and said: “Certainly this was God’s Son.”

5. How might the vast amount of time that Jehovah and his Son spent together in heaven be illustrated?

5 The Bible calls Jesus “the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15) Just think—Jehovah’s Son was in existence before the physical universe. How long, then, were Father and Son together? Some scientists estimate that the universe is 13 billion years old. Can you even imagine that much time? To help people grasp the age of the universe as estimated by scientists, one planetarium features a time line 360 feet (110 m) long. As visitors walk along that time line, each step they take represents about 75 million years in the life of the universe. At the end of the time line, all human history is represented by a single mark the thickness of one human hair! Yet, even if this estimate is correct, that entire time line would not be long enough to represent the life span of Jehovah’s Son! How was he occupied during all those ages?
par. 5 (Col. 1:15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;

6. (a) How was Jehovah’s Son occupied during his prehuman existence? (b) What kind of bond exists between Jehovah and his Son?

6 The Son happily served as his Father’s “master worker.” (Proverbs 8:30) The Bible says: “Apart from [the Son] not even one thing came into existence.” (John 1:3) So Jehovah and his Son worked together to bring all other things into being. What thrilling, happy times they had! Now, many will agree that the love between parent and child is amazingly strong. And love “is a perfect bond of union.” (Colossians 3:14) Who of us, then, can begin to fathom the power of a bond that has existed over such an immense span of time? Clearly, Jehovah God and his Son are united by the strongest bond of love ever forged.
par. 6 (Prov. 8:30) Then I was beside him as a master worker. I was the one he was especially fond of day by day; I rejoiced before him all the time;
par. 6 (John 1:3) All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence. What has come into existence
par. 6 (Col. 3:14) But besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.

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