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Congregation Bible Study | Study information for the book: Draw Close to Jehovah
cl chap. 29 ¶16-21, box on p. 299 (30 min.)
“Father, Forgive Them”
16. How was Jesus’ willingness to forgive evident even when he was on the torture stake?
16 Jesus perfectly reflected his Father’s love in another important way—he was “ready to forgive.” (Psalm 86:5) This willingness was evident even when he was on the torture stake. Subjected to a shameful death, with nails piercing his hands and feet, what did Jesus speak about? Did he call out to Jehovah to punish his executioners? On the contrary, among Jesus’ last words were: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”—Luke 23:34.
Psalm 86:5 5 For you, O Jehovah, are good and ready to forgive;You abound in loyal love for all those who call on you.
Luke 23:34 But Jesus was saying: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Furthermore, they cast lots to distribute his garments.
17-19. In what ways did Jesus demonstrate that he forgave the apostle Peter for denying Him three times?
17 Perhaps an even more touching example of Jesus’ forgiveness can be seen in the way he dealt with the apostle Peter. There is no question that Peter dearly loved Jesus. On Nisan 14, the final night of Jesus’ life, Peter told him: “Lord, I am ready to go with you both into prison and into death.” Yet, just a few hours later, Peter three times denied even knowing Jesus! The Bible tells us what happened as Peter uttered his third denial: “The Lord turned and looked upon Peter.” Crushed by the weight of his sin, Peter “went outside and wept bitterly.” When Jesus died later that day, the apostle may well have wondered, ‘Did my Lord forgive me?’—Luke 22:33, 61, 62.
Luke 22:33 Then he said to him: “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”
Luke 22:61, 62 At this the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter recalled the statement of the Lord when he had said to him: “Before a rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.
18 Peter did not have to wait long for an answer. Jesus was resurrected on the morning of Nisan 16, and evidently on that same day, he made a personal visit to Peter. (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:4-8) Why did Jesus give such special attention to the apostle who had so vigorously denied Him? Jesus may have wanted to assure the repentant Peter that he was still loved and valued by his Lord. But Jesus did even more to reassure Peter.
Luke 24:34 who said: “For a fact the Lord was raised up, and he appeared to Simon!”
1 Corinthians 15:4-8 and that he was buried, yes, that he was raised up on the third day according to the Scriptures; 5 and that he appeared to Ceʹphas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still with us, though some have fallen asleep in death. 7 After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 But last of all he appeared also to me as if to one born prematurely.
19 Some time later, Jesus appeared to the disciples at the Sea of Galilee. On this occasion, Jesus three times questioned Peter (who had three times denied his Lord) as to Peter’s love for him. After the third time, Peter replied: “Lord, you know all things; you are aware that I have affection for you.” Indeed, Jesus, who could read hearts, was fully aware of Peter’s love and affection for him. Yet, Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to affirm his love. More than that, Jesus commissioned Peter to “feed” and “shepherd” His “little sheep.” (John 21:15-17) Earlier, Peter had received an assignment to preach. (Luke 5:10) But now, in a remarkable demonstration of trust, Jesus gave him a further weighty responsibility—to care for those who would become Christ’s followers. Shortly afterward, Jesus gave Peter a prominent role in the activity of the disciples. (Acts 2:1-41) How relieved Peter must have been to know that Jesus had forgiven him and still trusted him!
John 21:15-17 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He replied to him: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again he said to him a second time: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He replied: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” He said to him: “Shepherd my little sheep.” 17 He said to him a third time: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” Peter became grieved that he asked him the third time: “Do you have affection for me?” So he said to him: “Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you.” Jesus said to him: “Feed my little sheep.
Luke 5:10 and the same was true of both James and John, Zebʹe•dee’s sons, who were partners with Simon. But Jesus said to Simon: “Stop being afraid. From now on you will be catching men alive.”
Acts 2:1-41 Now while the day of the Festival of Pentecost was in progress, they were all together at the same place. 2 Suddenly there was a noise from heaven, just like that of a rushing, stiff breeze, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And tongues as if of fire became visible to them and were distributed, and one came to rest on each one of them, 4 and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak in different languages, just as the spirit enabled them to speak. 5 At that time devout Jews from every nation under heaven were staying in Jerusalem. 6 So when this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7 Indeed, they were utterly amazed and said: “See here, all these who are speaking are Gal•i•leʹans, are they not? 8 How is it, then, that each one of us is hearing his own native language? 9 Parʹthi•ans, Medes, and Eʹlam•ites; the inhabitants of Mes•o•po•taʹmi•a, Ju•deʹa and Cap•pa•doʹci•a, Ponʹtus and the province of Asia, 10 Phrygʹi•a and Pam•phylʹi•a, Egypt and the regions of Libʹy•a near Cy•reʹne; sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; 11 Creʹtans; and Arabians—we hear them speaking in our languages about the magnificent things of God.” 12 Yes, they were all astonished and perplexed, saying to one another: “What does this mean?” 13 However, others mocked them and said: “They are full of sweet wine.” 14 But Peter stood up with the Eleven and spoke to them in a loud voice: “Men of Ju•deʹa and all you inhabitants of Jerusalem, let this be known to you and listen carefully to my words. 15 These people are, in fact, not drunk, as you suppose, for it is the third hour of the day. 16 On the contrary, this is what was said through the prophet Joel: 17 ‘“And in the last days,” God says, “I will pour out some of my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams, 18 and even on my male slaves and on my female slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 And I will give wonders in heaven above and signs on earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and illustrious day of Jehovah comes. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus the Naz•a•reneʹ was a man publicly shown to you by God through powerful works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, just as you yourselves know. 23 This man, who was handed over by the determined will and foreknowledge of God, you fastened to a stake by the hand of lawless men, and you did away with him. 24 But God resurrected him by releasing him from the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held fast by it. 25 For David says about him: ‘I keep Jehovah constantly in front of me, for he is at my right hand that I may never be shaken. 26 On this account my heart became cheerful and my tongue rejoiced greatly. And I will reside in hope; 27 because you will not leave me in the Grave, nor will you allow your loyal one to see corruption. 28 You have made life’s ways known to me; you will fill me with great joy in your presence.’ 29 “Men, brothers, it is permissible to speak with freeness of speech to you about the family head David, that he died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath that he would seat one of his offspring on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in the Grave nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 God resurrected this Jesus, and of this we are all witnesses. 33 Therefore, because he was exalted to the right hand of God and received the promised holy spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you see and hear. 34 For David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand 35 until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”’ 36 Therefore, let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you executed on a stake.” 37 Now when they heard this, they were stabbed to the heart, and they said to Peter and the rest of the apostles: “Men, brothers, what should we do?” 38 Peter said to them: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and your children, and to all those who are far away, to all those whom Jehovah our God may call to himself.” 40 And with many other words he gave a thorough witness and kept exhorting them, saying: “Get saved from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who gladly accepted his word were baptized, and on that day about 3,000 people were added.
Do You “Know the Love of the Christ”?
20, 21. How can we fully come “to know the love of the Christ”?
20 Truly, Jehovah’s Word beautifully describes the love of the Christ. How, though, should we respond to Jesus’ love? The Bible urges us “to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge.” (Ephesians 3:19) As we have seen, the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and ministry teach us much about Christ’s love. However, fully coming “to know the love of the Christ” involves more than learning what the Bible says about him.
Ephesians 3:19 and to know the love of the Christ, which surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness that God gives.
21 The Greek term rendered “to know” means to know “practically, through experience.” When we show love the way Jesus did—unselfishly giving of ourselves in behalf of others, compassionately responding to their needs, forgiving them from our hearts—then we can genuinely appreciate his feelings. In this way, by experience we come “to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge.” And let us never forget that the more we become like Christ, the closer we will draw to the one whom Jesus perfectly imitated, our loving God, Jehovah.
Box on p. 299
Matthew 9:35-38 In what significant way did Jesus show pity, or compassion, and what effect should this have on us?
Matthew 9:35-38 And Jesus set out on a tour of all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the Kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity. 36 On seeing the crowds, he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples: “Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. 38 Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.”
John 13:34, 35 Why is it important for us to reflect the love of the Christ?
John 13:34, 35 I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.”
Romans 15:1-6 How can we imitate the unselfish mental attitude of Christ?
Romans 15:1-6 We, though, who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those not strong, and not to be pleasing ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For even the Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written: “The reproaches of those reproaching you have fallen upon me.” 4 For all the things that were written beforehand were written for our instruction, so that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 Now may the God who supplies endurance and comfort grant you to have among yourselves the same mental attitude that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that unitedly you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 Appreciation for the ransom should have what effect on our outlook, goals, and life-style?
2 Corinthians 5:14, 15 For the love the Christ has compels us, because this is what we have concluded, that one man died for all; so, then, all had died. 15 And he died for all so that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and was raised up.
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