By Colleen Donahue
There were many then and even today that look for Jesus among the dead. They see Jesus as the greatest man that ever lived -- but -- he died. He is a historical figure to be studied in the line up of hundreds of other great men and women. We can learn from his life.
In "What Would Jesus Do", the title of a popular book, we are encouraged to study the Lord's life and then imitate Him. This would have been the way to view the life and death of Jesus IF He had stayed in the grave.
But ---- despite all the evil plans of men, death could not hold Him. He is the only man claiming to be God that actually did what He said He was going to do. We will not find Him among the dead but among the living. Christ is not someone to be studied but to be met. And once we meet the Lord He wants to live with us and guide us everyday of our life.
"I am the Resurrection and the life." This claim of Jesus that no one understood at the time was about to become a reality and turn life upside down for Jews and Gentiles alike. The fact of the Resurrection changed the world at that time and continues to change it today.
May God give us light as we witness.....
THE DISCOVERY -- Learning the Facts
Day 1- The women who were the last at the cross were now first at the tomb. They had waited for the Sabbath to finish and at dawn they headed for the Lord's tomb. What was their discussion on the way?
Their hearts were now settled that they were going to pay their respects to their dead "Rabboni". The detail of moving the stone from the tomb entrance so they could anoint the body had already been taken care of. What had happened?
Matthew 28: 2-3
What words had Jesus spoken that they had forgotten?
Day 2- How did the guards react?
The women would have reacted the same but before they could they were given an assuring message. What four things were they told?
Then, in the same breath, the angel gives these women a pair of commands.
Matthew 28: 6b-7a
Christianity is not about blind belief. The command to "come and see" is still open to anyone today. We can't share what we don't know or believe. But once we are convinced of the truth we are obligated to "go and tell" others.
Day 3- The angel gave the woman a three part message to tell the disciples.
Matthew 28: 7b
The gospel of Mark (which was written primarily based on Peter's testimony) adds two tender words to this message.
Peter must have been tortured by his three time display of disloyalty. But now there was a special message for him! Jesus was more eager to comfort his dear disciple than to punish his sin. We also see that despite his denial Peter is still the unofficial leader of the disciples who were hiding away in fear and mourning.
Day 4- A second angel asks the women a question. What was it?
Luke 24: 5b
Before they could answer the angel answers and helps them to remember what Jesus told them.
Luke 24: 6-7
And indeed they did remember -- like pieces of a puzzle fitting together. Now they could "go and tell" because they themselves were convinced.
Luke 24: 8-9
What were they feeling as they ran to tell the disciples and Peter?
Mark 16:8 / Matthew 28:8
Day 5- While they were running out of the cemetery what happened that confirmed their message?
Day 6- The fact that Jesus was alive, gripped their hearts. They had believed the angel's words and the empty tomb but now they had been the first to see Him with their own eyes, to touch his feet, the very feet Mary had washed. They became the first to worship the risen Savior! How excited the disciples would be to hear the good news! Yet, when the news was told how did they react?
Day 7- Peter and John, the ones that had followed Jesus into the courtyard of the High Priest at his trial now started for the tomb running. They did not understand or believe but they had to see for themselves. What did they find?
John 20: 3-9
The folded grave clothes hit John first and he believed. There had been no struggle to steal the body. It was as though Jesus had evaporated. John believed but still didn't understand. That is sometimes the order of things in God's kingdom. We need to believe first and understanding comes later.
MEANWHILE -- THE GUARDS
Day 9- You'll remember when Jesus was buried on Friday that the chief priests and pharisees remembered the Lord's words that "after three days I will rise again," and they petitioned Pilate for a guard of soldiers. What were they afraid of?
Matthew 27:62-66 (especially verse 64)
Day 10- The Roman guards were doing their duty when the earthquake took place and they became witness to the angel who would roll away the stone. These fearless fighters now became as dead men from fear.
When some of them came to their senses what did they do?
Day 11- When the chief priests could compose themselves, a special session had to be convened with the elders on how to deal with this event. They devised a plan. What was it?
Day 12- The plan in essence was a lying report that the soldiers were to tell. But it had two fatal flaws.
1- If the soldiers were asleep, how could they know it was the disciples that stole the body? and...
2- A soldier found sleeping on the job was punished by death. Would they risk their lives for a lie?
One lie usually leads to another. The chief priests promised to secure their safety should word of their sleeping come to the governor's ears.
Matthew 28: 14-15
And so the soldiers sold their integrity to the Jews for money.
THE JEWISH LEADERSHIP
The priests and Jewish leaders are most to be pitied. They were tools in Satan's hands. As long as Jesus was in the grave Satan triumphed. But with Jesus out of the grave Satan knows his kingdom will have an end and he will die. Therefore he had to incite the Jewish leadership to continue their warfare against Jesus Christ. They walked now in continual dread and fear. It was imperative they they prove Jesus to be an impostor by denying that He rose. Otherwise they had put an innocent man to death, answerable to the Jewish people and the Roman authorities. And so they spread their lying report. But -- there were witnesses that could not be silenced.
Day 13- When Jesus rose from the dead and came forth from the grave He proved the truth of His own words.
John 2:19 / John 10:17-18
Day 14- You'll remember at the time of the Lord's death there was an earthquake that broke open the tombs of many holy people who walked out of them. What did they do AFTER the Resurrection of Jesus?
The whole city must have been talking about seeing these dead men alive and well!
At the Lord's second coming ALL the dead (i.e. believers) will hear His voice and come forth to eternal life. For the same power that raised Jesus from the dead will raise his church.
Day 15- The life that Jesus laid down as a man, He takes up again and then gives it to all humanity.
John 4:14 / John 6:54 / John 10:10
To the believer, death is now only the passage from life to more life.
Next Study: MPGC#25