This week’s treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson (for April 24) is written by David Eichenberger who serves with the Hillview Community Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky.
Go and Tell (Matthew 28)
By David Eichenberger
(Note to teachers: The italicized sections are questions designed to help involve your students in the learning process.)
We humans have a way with words; the ability to speak makes us different from all other forms of life. We tend to tell others about information and events that stimulate our minds and emotions.
It comes as no surprise, then, that when we are a captive audience, such as when we go through a grocery store checkout lane, we are bombarded with celebrity gossip. In a recent week those tabloids carried such juicy tidbits as an actress who discovered her boyfriend’s tryst with a cheerleader, a celebrity singer’s secret wedding, and an actor and a country music sensation who went house hunting together.
What is one of the hardest-to-believe headlines you have encountered while standing in a grocery line, and why do you think people are so fascinated with tabloid headlines?
Some want to tell . . . and others want to hear. That is a truth with a very long track record. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to tell and receive much information that is of little value (such as that which appears in the tabloids). In contrast, the Bible passage we are studying today contains one of the most significant truths of all recorded history—Jesus of Nazareth conquered death! We will look at some who told the good news.
An Angel of the Lord (vv. 1-7).
Two discouraged women went to Jesus’ tomb that day to pay their respects. What they encountered shook their world and changed their lives forever. After a violent earthquake, an angel rolled back the stone in front of Jesus’ grave and sat on it. His message to the women was simple and profound, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said” (v. 6).
Have you ever gone to the cemetery and found the grave empty? How does this encounter between the women and the angel compare with the appearance of the angel to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14)?
The Women (vv. 8-10).
After being told by the angel that Jesus “has risen,” the women hurried to tell the disciples. The women shared the message they received. On their way, obeying a clear command from the angel, the women had another wonderful surprise . . . they met Jesus face-to-face! Sometimes it happens that way; we are obeying because it is the right thing to do and in the process, Jesus shows up!
Tell about a time you were clearly obeying God and felt as if you had a personal encounter with Jesus in the midst of it.
The Guards and Religious Leaders (vv. 11-15).
Here is the dark side of resurrection day. Some who guarded the tomb that day experienced something that threatened their very existence—the dead man they were guarding cast them aside as well as death itself. What could they do? How could they handle what they had witnessed?
Since the chief priests and elders could not accept the truth of what they (the guards) had experienced, the logical alternative was to deny reality and attempt to explain it away. The religious leaders instructed the guards, with the help of a hefty bribe, to say that the disciples came at night and stole the body.
The guards went and told the truth to the Jewish leaders, who decided a lie was necessary. This continues today. There are many today who simply cannot accept that an all-powerful God could raise someone to life, so they must invent an explanation that better fits their worldview. Discuss with the class some of the alternative views to that of the bodily resurrection of Jesus: the stolen body theory; wrong tomb theory; hallucination theory; swoon theory; and the spiritual resurrection theory. Which is most believable, one of the theories or that an all-powerful God raised his Son to life?
Jesus and the Eleven (vv. 16-20).
Jesus was walking, living proof of his resurrection. He told his own story by appearing to many after his resurrection. When he appeared to the eleven, he offered what has been called the Great Commission—the command that his followers go and make disciples.
It’s obvious his followers got the message; they went and told. The book of Acts and early church history make it clear these disciples went forth and boldly told others and helped them to grow in the faith.
The challenge for all believers today is to be a part of the group that will continue to spread the good news of Jesus. If we do, the promise of Jesus’ presence will be ringing in our ears as we go and tell—“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Consider people you know—friends, neighbors, coworkers, and others. Whom do you feel you are doing the best with in terms of obeying the Great Commission? Whom do you need the most help with to reach effectively? Commit to pray for and help one another in practical ways as you live to fulfill Christ’s final message on earth.
*Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, unless otherwise indicated.
|HOME DAILY BIBLE READINGS|
|April 18: 1 Corinthians 15:1-8|
|April 19: Matthew 26:1-5|
|April 20: Matthew 27:15-26|
|April 21: Matthew 27:32-44|
|April 22: Matthew 27:45-56|
|April 23 Matthew 27:57-61|
|April 24: Matthew 28|
ABOUT THE LESSON WRITER: David Eichenberger and his wife, Rosalie, have called Louisville, Kentucky, their home for 20 years. Dave serves as minister with Hillview Community Christian Church and also works as a direct care specialist with emotionally troubled teen boys.