GOD IS FAITHFUL. 62 Session 4

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1 GOD IS FAITHFUL 62 Session 4

2 Ever been left with a broken promise? I ll pay you back tomorrow. The repairman will be at your house by 8:00. The doctor will see you shortly. I ll always be there for you. Some broken promises can t be avoided. After all, when we make promises we don t know about traffic snarls or sudden illness. But whether the broken promise is a slight irritant like forgetting to call a friend back or a devastating blow like a shattered marriage vow when we experience enough broken promises, we may begin to question anyone s ability to remain faithful to a promise. We can even lose hope. Thankfully, God is not like us. God is always faithful no matter what! The reality of Jesus resurrection points to this great truth. By raising Jesus from the dead, God showed He makes the impossible possible. Nothing prevents Him from keeping His promise to us. God is faithful and will always do what He says. Jesus told us He would rise from the dead and He did! Let s look at the resurrection of Jesus that first day when Jesus came out of the tomb and discover how we can have hope because God is faithful. DAVID FLEMING David is Senior Pastor of Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston, where he and his wife Beverly have served for 10 years. 63

3 GET INTO THE STUDY 5 minutes DISCUSS: Draw attention to the picture on PSG page 58 and ask Question #1: What surprise ending has left you wondering, How did that happen? GUIDE: Direct attention to The Bible Meets Life on PSG page 59 to the skeptics conclusions regarding the historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. SAY: Today we consider the disciples first person witness of the resurrection of Jesus. Reinforce The Point on PSG page 59: The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. LEADER PACK: Display Item 4: Empty Tomb as an outline to guide the study. SPECIAL FOCUS GOD IS FAITHFUL The Point The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. The Bible Meets Life People break promises. Even when they have the best intentions, people aren t always able to do what they said they d do. If we experience that enough, the unfaithfulness of others can cause us to lose hope. The early disciples experienced a loss of hope when Jesus was crucified. God remained faithful to what He said He d do, and He proved His faithfulness when He raised Jesus from the dead. We have a sure hope because God is faithful. The Passage Luke 24:1-12 The Setting The narrative of Jesus trial begins with His appearance before the Jewish Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71). Subsequently Jesus was brought before the Roman governor Pilate (23:1-5,13-25). Pilate transferred the inquiry briefly to Herod Antipas (vv. 6-12). Unable to dissuade the Jewish crowd, Pilate ordered Jesus crucified (vv ). After His death on the cross, Jesus body was placed in a new tomb (vv ). Luke 24:1-12 records about the women s discovery of the empty tomb on Sunday morning. 64 Special Focus

4 Luke 24:1-3 1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. 3 They went in but did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 1 Verse 1. The resurrection teaches us that God makes the impossible possible. The phrase on the first day of the week is more than a poetic way of indicating the day was Sunday. The phrase connects subsequent events with those that occurred the previous week. It also sets the stage for the beginning of something new and unexpected. One week earlier Jesus had entered Jerusalem as the righteous and victorious King foretold by the prophet Zechariah (Zech. 9:9). However, He had been crucified and His dead body lay in a borrowed tomb. The powerful religious leaders from Judaism s two dominant sects, the Pharisees and the Sadducees, who rarely agreed on issues, had agreed that Jesus must die. They also gained the support of the Herodian party, their political enemies, who feared Jesus would ignite political unrest and bring Roman reprisals. These groups applied sufficient pressure on the Roman governor to have Jesus executed. He had been crucified on Friday. A group of women that included His mother, His mother s sister, and Mary Magdalene witnessed His suffering (John 19:25). Two members of the Sanhedrin received permission from the Romans to bury Jesus. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were devout and affluent men who followed the burial customs of the Jewish people in preparing Jesus body (19:38-40). They wrapped the body in fine linen cloth. Approximately 75 pounds of a mixture containing myrrh and aloes was packed inside the shroud. The corpse was laid in a tomb cut out of the rock in a nearby garden. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed the preparation and interment (Mark 15:47). The Jews reckoned days from sunset to sunset. So the Sabbath, the last day of the week, began at sunset that Friday. After Jesus burial, some of the women prepared additional spices and perfumes to anoint the body further. For the rest of that Sabbath Day, many of Jesus followers undoubtedly remained concealed behind locked doors in a state of shock, fearing the Jewish authorities. 2 Sunday morning, some women ventured out to the tomb. Luke placed the time at very early in the morning. STUDY THE BIBLE Luke 24: minutes SUMMARIZE: Before reading the passage, set the context by summarizing the information in The Setting on page 64. READ: Read or ask a volunteer to read Luke 24:1-3. SUMMARIZE: Use Bible Commentary 1 to detail what happened leading up to Jesus crucifixion, and what happened immediately after His death on the cross: Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The Pharisees, Sadducees, Herodians, and Romans collaborated to have Jesus crucified. A group of women witnessed his death and burial in a borrowed tomb. Two members of the Sanhedrin, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, requested permission to bury Jesus. Jesus followers hid in fear, fearing the Jewish authorities. SUGGESTED USE WEEK OF APRIL 1 65

5 THE POINT The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. SUMMARIZE: Use Bible Commentary 2 on page 65 and this page to explain about the women: They went early in the morning. They were at the burial so they knew the location of the tomb. They went prepared to anoint the dead body of Jesus. SUMMARIZE: Use Bible Commentary 3 to provide background information about tombs in the Roman era. DISCUSS: Question #2 (PSG, p. 61): When did you first understand the resurrection story? (Alternate: What did the women expect to find at the tomb?) TRANSITION: In the next verses we will hear the announcement that changed everything for the women and for us. The women s behavior that morning reveals both their great love for Jesus and their emotional state of mind. They brought the spices they had prepared in order to anoint Jesus body. Some of these same women had watched Joseph and Nicodemus prepare Jesus body. Nevertheless, for some reason they felt compelled to anoint the body again. Whatever their motivation, the women s sorrow and despair was about to change dramatically. 3 Verse 2. The description of the tomb suggests it was typical of those for wealthy Jews in the Roman era. It was an unused tomb. Difficulty in cutting out the stone around Jerusalem prompted many affluent individuals to prepare their tombs well in advance of their deaths. Tombs usually had a low door with steps that led down into the main room. Often a recessed floor left a ledge on three sides of the room. The deceased body was laid on the ledge. After about a year in which the flesh decayed, the bones were transferred. If the body had been wrapped in linen instead of being put in a casket, the bones were frequently placed into a stone or wooden box known as an ossuary. A large stone disc was rolled into a sloping groove and rested against the opening of the tomb. Removing the stone required considerable effort. However, when the first women reached the tomb where Jesus body had been laid, the stone had been dislodged and the entrance was wide open. Verse 3. For the women, the mystery of that Sunday morning deepened. When they arrived the large stone had been moved, announcing something had occurred. Did the women approach the entrance cautiously or did they rush right in? The Gospel narratives do not inform us. However, Luke clearly stated what the women observed inside the tomb. The body of Jesus was not there. Except for the presence of the burial cloths (see John 20:6-7), the tomb was empty. Though they did not yet understand it, God had faithfully raised Jesus, making the impossible possible. 66 Special Focus

6 Luke 24:4-8 4 While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. 5 So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. Why are you looking for the living among the dead? asked the men. 6 He is not here, but he has risen! Remember how he spoke to you when he was still in Galilee, 7 saying, It is necessary that the Son of Man be betrayed into the hands of sinful men, be crucified, and rise on the third day? 8 And they remembered his words. 4 Verse 4. The resurrection reminds us that God does what He says. The sense of the Greek verb rendered were perplexed is the women were at a loss to find an explanation for what they saw. Suddenly they realized they were not the only ones inside the empty tomb. Luke wrote that two men stood by them in dazzling clothes. Matthew and John identified the messengers as angels, whereas Mark and Luke called them men. Within Scripture, excluding cherubim and seraphim, angels have the appearance of men. Hence Mark and Luke also described the appearance of the angels. While the Gospel writers used slightly different wording, the descriptions of the angels clothing is comparable. The garments were long white robes. Matthew compared the white to snow (Matt. 28:3). He also described the angel s appearance as being like lightning. In the original Greek language the word lightning is related to the term that Luke used to describe the robes (Luke 24:4). The sense seems to be that the angelic garments possessed a mysterious supernatural quality about them. STUDY THE BIBLE Luke 24: minutes READ: Read or ask a volunteer to read Luke 24:4-8. SUMMARIZE: Use Bible Commentary 4 on this page and page 68 to show what occurred when the women arrived at the tomb and found it empty, and what was the response of the women. They were perplexed. They encountered messengers from heaven. Why the women experienced sheer terror. Verse 5. The response of the women to the sudden appearance of two angels was sheer terror. Put yourself in their place. On Friday you watched your Master brutally crucified. He was buried in a tomb that same day. You spent all day Saturday trying to come to grips with what had occurred. Sunday morning while it is still dark you go to pay 67

7 THE POINT The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. SAY: The message delivered to the women at the empty tomb is the heart of the Christian faith: Why are you looking for the living among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the unique distinctive that differentiates Christianity from every other world religion. It confirms that Jesus is the Son of God, the One who takes away the sins of the world. OPTIONAL ACTIVITY: Enlist a group member to read the first verse and chorus of the hymn Because He Lives (No. 449, Baptist Hymnal, 2008 Edition) your respects to the deceased. There is a faint red glow on the eastern horizon when you reach the tomb. In the dim light you find the tomb open and the body missing. Suddenly supernatural beings come out of nowhere and speak to you. If you can imagine the fear that scenario generates, then you can begin to grasp what terrified means. I ve often imagined the angels with a puzzled expression when they asked, Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Of course the text gives no clue to their facial countenance. However, the question did call attention to the absurdity of the women s behavior. Living people do not dwell in tombs. Tombs hold only the dead. Jesus no longer was dead. He was and still is alive. Verse 6. The term angel means messenger. Delivering messages for God is a primary function that angels perform. At the beginning of Christ s incarnation, angels announced His birth. At the end of His earthly ministry angels announced His resurrection. He is not here. Jesus was not in a burial chamber because He had been resurrected! Most of Jesus public ministry was in Galilee. Consequently most of His followers came from Galilee. The area designated as Galilee on maps of biblical Palestine in New Testament times had been part of the Northern Kingdom at the time of the Assyrian conquest in the eighth century BC. Much of its Israelite population had been deported and the region colonized by Gentiles from other parts of the Assyrian Empire. Because of its geographic location, the region already had a significant non-israelite population (Isa. 9:1). Consequently the remaining Israelites were assimilated into this Gentile population. During the second century BC the Maccabees reestablished an independent Jewish kingdom around Jerusalem and quickly expanded its borders to include much of Israel s territory under David. In Galilee many Gentiles converted to Judaism. At the same time Jews from Judea resettled in the region in large numbers. By the time of the birth of Christ the population in the region was largely Jewish. However, although they spoke Aramaic their dialect was distinctly different from that of the Jewish population of Judea. Because of the Gentile ancestry of so many Galileans, the Jews of Judea considered the Galileans inferior. The political structure imposed by Rome added to the estrangement of the two areas. Whereas a Roman prefect governed Judea at the time of Jesus crucifixion, Galilee was part of Herod Antipas s jurisdiction. 68 Special Focus

8 Jesus had traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem with His disciples. His group included more than just the Twelve. Among those who accompanied Him were various women. The challenge for them to remember His teaching about the resurrection assumes they knew what Jesus had said about it. Verse 7. The designation Son of Man occurs over 80 times in the Gospels. Jesus used this title to describe Himself more than any other term. The term has twofold significance. First it denoted Jesus humanity. By calling Himself the Son of Man Jesus identified with humanity. Jesus can understand people and people can relate to Him because He became fully Man as well as being fully God. Second, the designation was an important messianic title. The background for this usage was the vision of Daniel 7: The title was Jesus own designation of Himself as the predicted Messiah. One reason He may have chosen this identification is because it made an exalted claim and yet permitted Him to give it new meaning. The largest number of the Son of Man sayings concern the second coming of Christ. The second largest group of sayings involve His suffering, death, and resurrection. The women likely had understood Jesus use of the title Son of Man as messianic. However the crucifixion shattered their hope He actually was the Messiah. The angels entreaty for them to remember Jesus words called them to accept that the events of the weekend in reality proved He was the Messiah. Following Peter s confession that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16), Jesus began instructing His disciples about His death. The phrases be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified no doubt reflected various comments He had made regarding His betrayal and death. Jesus predictions of His death were accompanied by His predictions of His resurrection. Jesus death for our sins and His resurrection are the heart of the gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-11). Responding by faith in Christ to its proclamation brings salvation (Acts 16:30-31; Rom. 1:16). Verse 8. Although Jesus repeatedly warned His followers about His death, they did not comprehend its reality. Because of their preconceived notions about a triumphant Messiah, they failed to grasp the truth of His words. Therefore, when He was crucified, they were bewildered. Confronted with the evidence of the empty tomb and the testimony of the two angels, they began to fathom the meaning of what Jesus had said. And they began to understand that God is faithful the resurrection demonstrated again that God always does what He says. GUIDE: Refer members to PSG page 62. Ask a volunteer to read what the women were told to remember: Matthew 20:18-19 Mark 8:31-32 GUIDE: Refer group members to the list of the things Jesus had predicted would happen to Him on PSG page 62. Handed over to the religious leaders Rejected and condemned to death Handed over to the Romans Mocked Flogged Crucified Raised to life DISCUSS: Question #3 (PSG, p. 63): Why do we sometimes doubt or forget what God has promised? (Alternate: When have you seen God provide a solution to a seemingly impossible situation?) TRANSITION: In the next verses we will see the disciples response to what the women reported to them. 69

9 THE POINT The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. STUDY THE BIBLE Luke 24: minutes READ: Read Luke 24:9-12. SAY: The resurrection shows us that unbelief does not bind God. While we may have doubts and seasons of skepticism, the empty tomb is proof positive that God is faithful to keep His promises whether we believe or not. GUIDE: Refer group members to PSG page 65 to the following paragraph: Let s retrain our brains to think faith first. That means, no matter what happens, we maintain trust in our faithful God. Instead of doubting Him, we should immediately and automatically trust that God is in control because He is. SUMMARIZE: Use Bible Commentary 5 on page 71 to provide insight into the disciples initial response of unbelief. Luke 24: Returning from the tomb, they reported all these things to the Eleven and to all the rest. 10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them were telling the apostles these things. 11 But these words seemed like nonsense to them, and they did not believe the women. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went away, amazed at what had happened. Verse 9. The resurrection shows us that unbelief, even among Jesus closest followers, does not bind God. Most of those followers had traveled together with Him from Galilee. Therefore it was natural for them to stay together in a city where they were visitors. Likewise, Jesus execution generated two human emotions that drew them together grief and fear. Jesus had been persecuted by the Jewish religious hierarchy and condemned as an insurgent against Rome. Consequently His followers might expect a similar fate. After their encounter with the angels at the empty tomb, the women reported what they had witnessed to Jesus followers. The phrase all the rest indicates the women notified Jesus other followers as well as the remaining eleven disciples about what they had seen and heard that morning. In the absence of Jesus, His followers looked to those He had chosen to be His apostles (Luke 6:12-16). Judas had committed suicide (Matt. 27:3-5). In the near future the group would select a disciple named Matthias as Judas s replacement (Acts. 1:15-26). However, only the Eleven remained on that first Sunday after His death. Verse 10. Luke identified some of those women who witnessed the events at the tomb. Mary Magdalene had been a devoted follower of Jesus since He cast seven demons out of her. Matthew, Mark, and John listed her as being at the 70 Special Focus

10 cross. Luke and John named her in their accounts of the resurrection. John indicated she returned to the tomb and was one of the first to meet the risen Christ. Mary the mother of James and Joseph was another eyewitness to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Joanna was the wife of Herod s steward. She too had followed Jesus after being healed by Him. She was among those women who contributed financial support to Jesus ministry. The other women were not named. 5 Verse 11. Some of the women were so astonished and terrified by the experience they could not talk (Mark 16:8). Some met the risen Christ on their way to tell the disciples about events at the tomb (Matt. 28:8-9). No doubt, to the men their statements about angels, an empty tomb, and a living Jesus seemed like nonsense. Luke may have recorded the disciples disbelief in order to demonstrate their later unshakable faith could only have come about by overwhelming evidence that Jesus indeed was alive. Once they personally encountered the living Lord they could no longer dispute His resurrection. Verse 12. A comparison of all four Gospel accounts suggests Mary Magdalene apparently fled the tomb after seeing the stone rolled away from the entrance. She ran to find Peter and reported, They ve taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don t know where they ve put him (John 20:2). Immediately Peter raced out to the tomb, pursued by John. John soon overtook Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped down, looked inside, and saw the linen cloths but he did not enter. As John stood looking into the empty crypt, Peter arrived and entered the tomb for a closer look. After finding the tomb empty, Peter went away to the house where he was staying in Jerusalem. Peter did not return to Galilee for at least another week and his own house was in Capernaum. Luke reported that he was amazed at the events that had occurred. Peter had not yet met the risen Christ, nor had he comprehended the Old Testament s predictions concerning the Messiah s death and resurrection. Nevertheless he was beginning to believe something miraculous and inexplicable had occurred. 6 Peter and the others had initially considered the women s tale about finding an empty tomb and angels proclaiming that Jesus was alive to be unworthy of belief. Even after visiting the tomb for himself, Peter still did not believe Jesus was alive. Yet God is not bound by unbelief and proved as much with the resurrection. DISCUSS: Question #4 (PSG, p. 64): Why is the resurrection so crucial for Christianity? SUMMARIZE: Use Bible Commentary 6 to provide a conclusion to this study on the resurrection. DISCUSS: Question #5 (PSG, p. 66): What are some possible responses to Jesus resurrection? (Alternate: What are some ways people try to explain away the resurrection?) DO: Encourage group members to take a few minutes to complete the activity How Do You Respond on PSG page

11 THE POINT The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. LIVE IT OUT LIVE IT OUT How will you respond to the faithfulness of God this week? 5 minutes GUIDE: Emphasize The Point: The empty tomb points to the faithfulness of God. REVIEW: Review Live It Out (PSG, p. 67); (see text to the right). Encourage each group member to follow through this week with at least one of the applications. WRAP IT UP > > Believe. Jesus is alive, and He invites you to follow Him. If you have never trusted in Christ, place your full faith in Him. Read the inside front cover of this book to learn how you can do this. Talk to someone in your group about your desire to believe and trust in Christ. > > Investigate. If you still wonder if the resurrection of Jesus is something we can count on, look into it for yourself. Many books address the reality of the resurrection, such as Buried Hope or Risen Savior: The Search for Jesus Tomb by Charles Quarles or The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. > > Trust. God is faithful to what He promised, and because of this, Jesus tomb is empty. Since God can handle something so miraculous and powerful as raising someone from the dead, trust Him with the struggles you are facing. Turn your cares over to Him and trust in Him, because He is ultimately and eternally faithful. GUIDE: Encourage group members to celebrate the good news of the resurrection today. Take time to focus your thoughts on the blessings that belong to those who believe... that God raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 10:9). PRAY: Father, open our eyes to the awesome reality of Jesus, our risen Savior. Speak to the hearts of those yet to believe in their hearts the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. 72 Special Focus

12 ILLUSTRATOR PHOTO/ BRITISH MUSEUM/ LONDON (31/26/22) Dating to the early in the 5th Century, one side of an ivory box with scenes depicting Christ s Passion. In this scene, two Marys and two sleeping soldiers are around the empty sepulcher. Biblical scholars know little about Mary from Magdala. She had a prominent place at the foot of the cross. She had seven demons cast from her. She was a disciple who ministered from her purse to the needs of her Savior. Only twelve verses in the Bible specifically mention Mary Magdalene. Of these, eleven verses divided among all four Gospels speak of her presence during the Passion and Easter events. One other mention is in Luke s Gospel. Therefore, with the scenes of Easter taken as one, in only two specific stories does Mary play a named role in the Gospel accounts. No other part of the New Testament mentions her. Of the Gospels, only Luke introduces Mary before the crucifixion. Luke indicates that Mary was one of many women who traveled with and gave practical service to Jesus during His Galilean ministry. Luke adds that these women were financial contributors to the itinerant ministry of Christ and His disciples. Without supplying details, Luke also mentions that Jesus had delivered many of these women from illness and demonic oppression. Indeed, He had delivered Mary from the torment of seven demons (Luke 8:2). Luke reported the presence of the women at the cross, but does so without identifying any by name. Only at the empty tomb did he specifically identify Mary. The excerpt above is from the article Mary Magdalene: All We Know (Spring 2010), which relates to this session. More Biblical Illustrator articles are available that relate to this session. See page 7 about Biblical Illustrator. SHARING THE GOOD NEWS Christ died to remove our sins and He rose again to give us a new life. We experience His life and forgiveness when we trust Him as Lord and Savior. Each week, make yourself available either before or after the session to speak privately with anyone in your group who wants to know more about becoming a Christian. See the article, Leading Someone to the Greatest Decision of All, on page 2 for guidance in leading a person to Christ. Remind group members that page 2 in the PSG offers guidance in how to become a Christian. Encourage believers to consider using this article as they have opportunities to lead others to Christ. Free additional ideas for your group are available at BibleStudiesforLife.com/AdultExtra 73

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