Session 15: The Passion Story Bible Study in Plain English

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1 Session 15: The Passion Story Bible Study in Plain English By Bill Huebsch Session Fifteen: The Death & Resurrection Working among all four Gospels at once The Great Story: The Resurrection of the Messiah. Each of the four gospels, in its own way, tells the story of Jesus supper, his moments in the garden, his arrest, Peter s denial, the trials, the crucifixion and death, and the Resurrection. It s an important story. It helps us understand how we, too, must pass through death to new life. It forms the backdrop of our faith. And, if understood well, it helps us live as Jesus lived. Preparation day. When the day of the feast of Unleavened Bread arrived - the day for sacrificing the Passover lamb - Jesus sent out Peter and John, telling them, Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it. The disciples asked Jesus where they should go to prepare for the Passover meal. Jesus told them to go into the city where a man carrying a jar of water would meet them. He told them to follow this guy into the house that he enters and talk to the owner of the house. What were the disciples supposed to say to the owner of that house? Read Luke 22:10-11 to find out. The upper room. Jesus told them the man would show them a large upper room that was furnished. Prepare the meal there, Jesus told the disciples. It was time for the final and crowning meal! Jesus took his place at the table with the Apostles. He told them something mysterious and sad. What did he tell them? Read Luke 22:15-16 to find out! What is the meaning of what Jesus told them? The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 1

2 The supper. Then Jesus took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. He took the cup, saying, This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Jesus looked at the Apostles - the ones who would spread the Good News to the four corners of the earth. Were they ready for their mission? Would they get tangled up in squabbling about who would be the greatest among them? They need one more lesson, Jesus thought. W hat was the lesson Jesus taught them at that moment? Read Luke 22:24-26 to find out. W rite that lesson in the writing space below. Feet? The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke have parallel accounts of what we call The Last Supper. But John diverges. In John the bread and wine are not mentioned. Instead he focuses on another aspect of what following Jesus means. Read aloud the story of the Last Supper in the Gospel of John 13:1-15. What Jesus is doing in this story (verses 4-5). Why does he do it? (verses 1 & 8) What does he want us to do? (verses 14-15) How will you do that today and tomorrow and for the rest of your life? The garden. The events leading to Jesus trial began right after the Passover supper. Jesus and the Apostles west to the Garden of Olives. Jesus asked the Apostles to watch and pray. He took Peter, James, and John with him. Jesus felt great sorrow and distress. He begged the Father to take away the cup of suffering he was about to drink. Peter, James, John, and the others fell into a deep sleep. The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 2

3 What did Jesus say to them when he came back and found his friends sleeping? Read Matthew 26:40-41 to find out. The kiss. Judas led the high priest s guards and the mob to the garden. With a kiss, Judas turned Jesus over to the officials. Jesus was placed under arrest and taken to prison. The Apostles were scattered. What did Jesus say to Judas when he realized that he d come to betray him? Read Matthew 26:50 to find out. The Sanhedrin. Jesus was taken to the high priest to be charged. Peter followed at a distance. The chief priests and the elders were trying to get someone to bear false witness against Jesus so that they could put him to death. False witnesses came forward to accuse Jesus. The high priest ordered Jesus to say under oath whether or not he was the Messiah. Jesus gave him a simple reply. The high priest called that blasphemy, and all agreed that Jesus should die. What was Jesus reply to the high priest? Read Matthew 26:64 to find out. The denial. Peter was accused three times of being a follower of Jesus. Each time, Peter denied it vigorously! I am not! he said. Three chances to affirm his faith in Jesus and three denials. Just then a rooster crowed. Peter remembered Jesus warning: Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times. W hat did Peter do after he realized he had denied Jesus? Read Matthew 26:75 to find out. W rite that in the space below. The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 3

4 Sacred pause Did Peter deny Jesus? In a sense, yes he did. But in another profound sense, what Peter really did that day was to deny his own very self! When we are with Jesus, it s more than belonging to a club. It s a lifetime commitment that changes us interiorly, making us sons and daughters of God. So for one who is steeped in the life of Jesus to say that he or she does not know him, is in a sense a denial of his or her sonship or daughtership. How do you deny Christ by denying aspects of your own very self? Second thoughts. Jesus was handed over to Pilate, the Roman governor. Meanwhile, Judas began to regret what he had done. He tried to explain to the chief priests and the elders that he had betrayed an innocent man. But they would not listen. Judas flung the money he had accepted for his betrayal into the temple. What did Judas do after throwing the money back at the chief priests and elders? Read Matthew 27:5 to find out. Pilate. Jesus stood before Pilate who asked Jesus if he were the king of Jews. You have said so, replied Jesus. Pilate was amazed that Jesus had nothing further to say for himself. Pilate tried to free Jesus under a custom that allowed the release of a prisoner during Passover. But the crowd chose the murderer Barabbas to be set free. And Jesus? The crowd shouted for Jesus to be crucified. When Pilate realized the crowd was demanding to crucify Jesus, what did he do? Read Matthew 27:24 to find out. The public torture. Unable to free Jesus and fearful of a riot, Pilate condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion. But first he handed Jesus over to the soldiers to be whipped. The soldiers stripped Jesus, beat him mercilessly, and placed a painful crown of thorns on his head. Hail, King of the Jews! they mocked. When the soldiers were done mocking Jesus, what did they do next? Read Matthew 27:31 to find out. Tell each other this rather gruesome tale. Tell it in your own words. The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 4

5 The road to Golgotha. According to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the soldiers who had tortured Jesus now led him away to kill him in public as well. But Jesus did not carry his own cross. Rather, a passerby was forced into this task, one named Simon of Cyrene. According to John, Jesus carried his own cross. When they came to a place called Golgotha - the Place of the Skull - the soldiers nailed Jesus to the cross. Then they gambled for his clothes. Over Jesus head, they placed a sign that read This is Jesus, the king of the Jews. What did the people passing by who saw all this happen say to Jesus? Read Matthew 27:39-40 to find out. Around the world today, young men and women are tortured in public and executed for reasons as thin as the ones that brought Jesus to his death. The cross, like the firing squad, is not a symbol of hope and godliness, but an ugly symbol of torture. It is a Roman execution device on which, not only Jesus, but countless thousands of others also died horrible deaths. We must remember that the cross of Christ is not the saving event of history. The Resurrection is that event. Christ was not a victim but the victor! It is the life of Christ, not his death, that Christians are called to emulate. What is your response to the public torture, humiliation, and killing of Christ? The jeering crowds and the faithful few. Those passing by jeered and made fun of Jesus: If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross. According to Matthew, Mark, and Luke there were some women there, too, looking on from a distance, among them Mary Magdalene. These women watched all these events from a distance, but where were Peter, Andrew, James, and the others? Read the last line of Matthew 26:56 to find out. The death. By three o clock, darkness had fallen over the land. Jesus cried out in a loud voice, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? After a few moments, Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and gave up his spirit. To be sure Jesus was dead, a soldier shoved his lance into Jesus side. Suddenly, the earth began to quake. Rocks were split, tombs were opened, and the curtain in the Temple was torn in two from top to The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 5

6 bottom. One of the soldiers looked up at Jesus and said, Truly, this was God s Son. W hen Jesus cried out on the cross, what Psalm was he praying? Read Psalm 22 to find out. W rite the first four verses of that Psalm in the space below. How have these words (or words similar to them) been on your own lips from time to time. The burial. A certain rich man, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, went to Pilate and obtained the right to take Jesus down from the cross. Joseph wrapped the body in clean linen and laid it in a new tomb. Then he rolled a stone across the entrance to the tomb and left. When Joseph of Arimathea closed the tomb and left, who remained sitting there, watching? Read Matthew 27:61 to find out. The guard at the tomb. The chief priests were very worried. They remembered Jesus words After three days, I will be raised up. They pleaded with Pilate to secure the tomb. Pilate ordered a guard stationed at the entrance of Jesus tomb. they secured Jesus tomb with a stone, as we read in Matthew 27:66. Three days later. Early on the first day of the week. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus tomb. There they had the surprise of their lives! What happened that morning? Read Matthew 28:1-10 for the answer. According to John. As in all the other gospel accounts of this, Mary Magdalene was the first of Jesus followers to visit the tomb on Sunday morning. According to John, she ran immediately to tell Peter and John! Afterward, Mary The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 6

7 Magdalene stayed outside the tomb, weeping. As she wept, she bent down and looked into the tomb and saw two angels sitting there. Imagine how surprised she must have been! One of them asked her, Woman, why are you weeping? How did Mary Magdalene answer the angel? Read John 20:13 to find out. Amazing! Then the most amazing thing happened. Just as Mary Magdalene was saying that to the angel, she turned around - and guess who she saw? Jesus! And he said to her, Woman, why are you weeping? But she didn t realize it was Jesus. In her confusion she thought it was the gardener. So she said, Sir, if you carried him away, tell me where you laid him, and I will take him. Then Jesus spoke to her again. Jesus spoke to her in his own voice, saying Mary s name as had done thousands of times before. She recognized him immediately. Go! As much as she wanted to, Jesus would not let her hold him. He sent her off to tell the disciples what she had seen and heard in the garden. So Mary did. What did Mary tell the others? Read John 20:18 to find out. What would you say to people if you were Mary? How do you describe your own experience of seeing and meeting the Risen Lord? Where do you meet him yourself today? He is Here! That evening, the doors of the room where the disciples were staying were locked. The disciples were afraid of the officials. Suddenly, Jesus came and stood in their midst. When Jesus appeared to them, what did he say? Read John 20:19 to find out. Risen from the dead. Then he showed them his hands and his side. They could see the wounds from the cross. They were so happy! This was their old friend, The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 7

8 their leader, their Lord. It was Jesus! Then Jesus said to them again, Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Thomas. Now Thomas, called the Twin, was not with the other disciples when Jesus came. But when they saw him, the disciples said to him, We have seen the Lord! But Thomas doubted them. Well, about a week later, the disciples were again gathered but this time, Thomas was with them. Jesus again came, although the doors were locked. He stood in their midst. Peace be with you! he said. Then he spoke to Thomas, the doubtful one. What did Jesus say to Thomas? Read John 20:27 to find out. And what was Thomas response to Jesus? Read John 20:28 to find out. If you were in Thomas shoes, what would your response have been to people claiming to have seen a dead man risen and among them again? Would you think they were mistaken, or crazy, or just confused? Or would you believe? The fish fry. One night seven of Jesus followers were sitting down by the sea. Many of them had once worked as fishers. They knew the sea. I m sure they went there for comfort. Peter was there, of course, the one who d denied he even knew Jesus - and not just once, but three times in a row! Thomas was there, the one who doubted. Nathanael of Cana was there, as well as James and John, Zebedee s sons. And there were two others who go unnamed. They d all been sulking around for days, uneasy, filled with regrets, out of touch with their sisters and brothers. So that morning, before dawn had even come, it was Peter who finally reached the end of his rope! I m going fishing! he said. We ll go with you, the others replied. Can t you just see them sitting there in the dark, the seven of them crowded into a boat built for three, fishing in the night? But just as day was breaking, the text tells us, Jesus stood on the beach Of course, the disciples were in the darkness of their own souls and they did not know it was him. The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 8

9 W hat happened next? Read John 21:1-25 for this amazing story. How does Peter s three-fold promise in verses 21:15-19 echo his three-fold denial? W rite here an outline of this story and then as a group, tell it to each other, going around your circle with each of you filling in a detail. W hen you finish, talk about how the Lord now appears to you. Did he appear today? The Bible Study in Plain English Version The Pastoral Center Page 9

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