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Lesson 11: The Power of His Resurrection *

Introduction: Have you ever had some really good news that was pretty bad news for someone else? If you were in their presence, how did you react? If you have emotional intelligence, you were probably restrained about your good news and said something comforting to the other person about their bad news. This week our study is about the resurrection of Jesus. This was excellent news for us and terrible news for Satan and his angels. In this case we don't have to be polite or show emotional intelligence. We can just cheer loudly. Why? Because Satan's goal was to kill you and keep you dead. Now that Jesus has been resurrected, we know that if we accept Him we will be resurrected to be with Him eternally. Let's dive in to find out more about our really good news and the fight to keep it a secret!

  1. Keeping Jesus in the Grave

    1. Read Matthew 27:57-58. Jesus has just been crucified by the Romans. How difficult would it be for Joseph of Arimathea to ask for Jesus' body? Would his life be in danger?

      1. Read John 19:38-39 and Mark 15:43. What do the additional facts revealed by John and Mark tell us about Joseph's situation? (The man was bold, rich and a member of the Jewish Council. Since he was not known to be a follower of Jesus, he could ask Pilate and Pilate might think this was some sort of "official" request. The fact that he was accompanied by Nicodemus, another very rich member of the Jewish ruling council, probably strengthened Pilate's view of this.)

    2. Read Matthew 27:59-61. Why did Joseph roll a big stone in front of the tomb? Do you think that Joseph was expecting Jesus to rise from the dead? (These actions sure seem contrary to that expectation. Notice that the stone was positioned so that Joseph alone could roll the entry stone.)

    3. Read Matthew 27:62-64. Does this suggest that the Jewish leaders were paying closer attention to what Jesus said than His own disciples?

      1. How do you think the Jewish leaders reacted when they learned that council members Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had taken charge of the body and had it placed in Joseph's tomb? (My bet is that this made them more worried. If you cannot trust your own council members, who knows what these disciples might have up their sleeves! There was unexpected power and influence on the side of Jesus' disciples.)

      2. What day was it that these Jewish leaders were petitioning the government and working out a preventative measure against fraud? (The day after the "Preparation Day" would be the Sabbath! These guys were violating their religious beliefs by petitioning the governor on Friday night (the beginning of the Sabbath).)

    4. Read Matthew 27:65-66. What reason would Pilate have for giving this order? (Let's assume that Pilate assumed that the Joseph & Nicodemus group was making the official request. Now that the chief priests show up he realizes that is not the case. Something funny is going on. That would cause him to give some credence to what the chief priests suggest might happen. Besides, who wants somebody you just condemned to death coming back from the dead to haunt you?)

  2. The Failure to Keep Jesus in the Grave

    1. Read Matthew 28:1. What day of the week is this? (Sunday morning.)

      1. Notice the faithfulness of these women. They were there on Friday ( Matthew 27:61) and now we read they are there at dawn on Sunday.

    2. Read Matthew 28:2-3. How do you think they decided in heaven who got this job? If you were an angel, would you have volunteered?

      1. How do you think this earthquake happened? Was this angel moving at the highest possible angel-speed and it didn't stop in time and caused an earthquake? Have you been in a sonic boom (where an airplane passes through the speed of sound)? What do you think happens if you pass through the speed of light? (I know human theory says this is impossible.)

      2. The angel sits on the stone. Why? Is it tired from going so fast and hitting so hard? (Imagine the outrage in heaven at the treatment of Jesus. What a privilege to be chosen to be the one to roll back the stone sealing Jesus' grave. I can see the angel sitting there in triumph saying "Anyone want to challenge me?)

        1. Would the angel have only humans to be concerned about?

    3. Read Matthew 28:4. What mistake had the chief priests made? (They were listening to Jesus better than the disciples, but they did not believe He was God. They brought a knife to a gun fight. Of course, the hostile Jewish leaders could never bring enough force to keep Jesus in the grave and neither could Satan.)

    4. Read Matthew 28:5. What kind of attitude does the angel show to the two Marys? (Here is a lesson to choose to be on God's side. The angel's attitude towards the woman is pure kindness. The attitude towards the rest seems to be "don't tread on me.")

    5. Read Matthew 28:6-7. Public relations people talk about staying "on topic." Consider carefully the words of this angel. What specific "on topic" point is the angel making? (First, the angel reminds them that Jesus promised He would rise from the dead. Second, the angel offers to let them look, so they will have first-hand knowledge that Jesus is not in that previously guarded and sealed tomb. Third, the angel promises that Jesus will meet the disciples at a specified place. This is all about proving Jesus is alive!)

    6. Read Matthew 28:8-10. Why did Jesus appear to the women as opposed to immediately rocketing up to heaven? (Compare John 20:17. This shows His heart of love for them. This is a time of mixed emotions for them ("afraid yet filled with joy"), and Jesus comes to them to comfort and assure them.)

      1. One issue faced by Christians is whether this story and this witness are all an invention of the early church. What evidence in this account refutes the idea this is a counterfeit account? (The IVP Bible Background Commentary tells us that the testimony of women in this culture was worthless. In a counterfeit story Jesus would have appeared to Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathea - prominent, wealthy men whose testimony would naturally be given great credit.)

    7. Read Matthew 28:11-13. Compare Matthew 27:63. Who is the deceiver? How big is this conspiracy to give a false report?

      1. Put yourself in the place of one of the chief priests. When you first heard this story from the guards, would you think it was likely that the guards were asleep and the disciples stole the body? (No. If you thought that happened, you would insist that the guards be executed for dereliction of duty.(See Acts 12:19) You would only pay "a large sum of money" if you thought they were telling the truth about the angel.)

      2. If you thought they were telling the truth - an angelic being opened the tomb and Jesus was alive - why try to cover it up? Why not just convert? (Think back to a time when you did something wrong, you wanted to keep it a secret, and you were in terrible turmoil because you thought it might come out. What would happen to you if it did come out? Then multiply that feeling by whatever the number of times you think would be appropriate if you had killed the Messiah-God.)

        1. Instead of saying the body was stolen, why not just deny it was gone? (Because that point was obvious - the body was gone.)

        2. How strong is the story that all the guards were sleeping and the large stone was rolled away and Jesus' body taken? What is the likelihood of sleeping through the stone removal? How would you know what happened if you were all (!) sleeping?

    8. Read Matthew 28:14-15. Would you have taken the money? What options did the soldiers have? (I would be glad I was not on the path to execution.)

    9. Read Matthew 28:16-17. "Some doubted." Did the chief priests doubt? The believed that Jesus had been resurrected enough to pay "a large sum of money." How could any of the disciples doubt?

      1. Why would the Bible record that doubt? (This is another evidence that the account is trustworthy. If you were trying to create a "bullet-proof" story, you certainly would not say that some of Jesus' followers actually doubted!)

  3. Victory

    1. Read Matthew 28:18-20. What kind of authority has been given to Jesus?

      1. What kind of authority has been given to you and me? (Jesus, the authority over heaven and earth, rescued us from eternal death. Our responsibility is to share this with others.)

    2. Friend, will you accept your commission from Jesus and act on it?

  4. Next week: The Efficacy of His Priestly Ministry.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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