Family Bible Study lesson for April 11: Risen Lord : Friday, March 19, 2004
March 18 2004 by Vic Ramsey

Family Bible Study lesson for April 11: Risen Lord : Friday, March 19, 2004
Friday, March 19, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for April 11: Risen Lord

By Vic Ramsey
Matthew 28:1-10; Ephesians 2:4-9

In Moscow's Red Square, the remains of Vladamir Lenin, founder of the Communist Party, are preserved in a Plexiglas coffin. In Washington D.C., a natural gas flame burns perpetually over the tomb of President John Kennedy.

But there is no tomb where the remains of Jesus of Nazareth lie. At Easter, we celebrate the most audacious and distinctive claim of Christianity: He is risen!

A scientist was once asked about the existence of UFO's. He replied succinctly, "Important, if true."

Such is the evaluation of the gospel, and especially of the resurrection. If the reports of the resurrection are untrue, then they are meaningless. If, however, the resurrection really happened, then it really matters.

Consider the Empty Tomb

Matthew 28:1-7

The chief priests had evidently heard rumors of Jesus' prediction that He would rise from the dead. They, of course, did not believe this claim, but they feared the disciples would steal His body and then spread the rumor that He had risen. To prevent this, they arranged for a guard at the tomb where Jesus' body lay.

Mary of Magdalene, and Mary, the mother of James and Joseph, went to the tomb early on the third day, the first day of the week. Christians commemorate this fact every week, when we gather for worship on Sunday, in honor of the Lord's resurrection.

Matthew reports that an angel of the Lord opened the tomb. The women found the angel sitting on the stone that had sealed the tomb, much as a hunter might pose over the body of an animal he had killed, or a boxer might stand over his vanquished opponent.

Matthew lingers over the description of the angel, and emphasizes the fear his appearance caused, not only in the women, but also in the Roman soldiers assigned to guard the tomb.

Angels, throughout the Bible, routinely inspire this reaction, in contrast to the much softer image of angels that appear in television, movies and art.

The angel instructed the women to inspect the empty tomb. By itself, the empty tomb does not prove the resurrection. But if the resurrection is true, the tomb must be empty, and it is important for the women to see that it is so.

Believe the Eye Witnesses

Matthew 28:8-10

The women depart, understandably confused, "with fear and great joy." As they hurry to find the disciples, they are confronted with Jesus Himself. "Rejoice!" he tells them. They fall at His feet in worship. Then Jesus instructs the women to tell the disciples to return to Galilee, and that He would meet them there.

In a court of law, eyewitness testimony is often the most convincing evidence that can be presented. The Scriptures record a series of encounters between the risen Lord and His followers, the first of which is this meeting on Easter Sunday morning, in the vicinity of the empty tomb.

That Jesus appeared first to the women is important in another way. In the first century, a woman's testimony was not considered trustworthy in a court case. If the gospel writers had been attempting to deceive, they would certainly not have used women as the initial witnesses. That the gospels do record women to be the first witnesses testifies to the essential accuracy of the gospel record.

Receive God's Gracious Salvation

Ephesians 2:4-9

The apostle Paul never got over his personal encounter with the risen Lord (Acts 9, Galatians 1). The resurrection was, to him, the proof of the gospel, and the source of salvation and hope.

In Ephesians 2, Paul describes our salvation experience in resurrection terms. We are "made alive" with Christ (v. 5), and "raised up with Him" (v. 6).

All this is grace. No one rises from the dead of his own power. No one earns forgiveness by his own works. We are forgiven and we possess eternal life as a gift.

But grace does not leave us the same. We are transformed by grace, just as Christ was transformed by resurrection. Ultimately, this is the most convincing "proof" that Jesus is alive: the changed lives of His followers.

3/18/2004 11:00:00 PM by Vic Ramsey | with 0 comments

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