Sunday School Classes – 2 April 2023, at 09:00 AM EST
Meeting ID: 848-9423-0612
Pass Code: 669872
The Empty Tomb
Devotional Reading: Psalm 22:20-31
Background Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Daily Bible Readings
Monday – The Stones Would Shout
– Luke 19:28-40
what Christ's victory over death means for believers;
BE CONVINCED that the resurrected living is possible in Jesus Christ; and
LIVE and reflect the value of a victorious life, through a resurrected Christ.
Keep in Mind
"Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen." (from Luke 24:5-6).
The Romans allowed crucified criminals to rot on their crosses as vultures consumed their bodies. However, Jewish law complicated the issue. "If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and hung on a tree, the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession" (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). Under no circumstances could the body be allowed to hang on the cross over the Sabbath Day. This created a special problem for the body of Jesus. He had died at the ninth hour and had to be buried by the twelfth hour before darkness fell and the Sabbath began.
It was usually the duty of family members to close the eyes and kiss the cheek of the dead. When Christ died, this became the duty of two men: Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. Both of these men were members of the Jewish Sanhedrin and secret disciples of Jesus. They went to Pontius Pilate and begged to have the body of the Lord Jesus. Pilate was surprised that Jesus had died so quickly, and he ordered a Roman soldier to go and verify that Jesus was indeed dead. The soldier confirmed the death of Christ, and the Roman governor granted their request.
After picking up some necessary supplies, the men made their way back to Golgotha. There they began the arduous task of claiming and preparing the body of Jesus. First, they had to remove the body from the Cross, which was not an easy chore. The men had to rig a ladder and climb up the side of the cross. There was no way they could get those spikes out of the wood from that angle, so they had to pull His hands off over the nails. Once the hands were loosed, the body of Jesus was allowed to sag into a sheet, and then they removed His feet from the nails in the same manner as the hands.
They took the body of Jesus to a new tomb that Joseph had prepared for himself. The tomb was probably a cave carved into a hill large enough to walk into. The two men washed the corpse and wrapped it in white linen. They closed His eyes, kissed His cheek, and placed a napkin over His face. After completing their task, the men left the tomb. Their minds were filled with thoughts of the dead man they left behind.
The Jewish religious leaders remembered Jesus' claim to rise from the dead and took steps to prevent anyone from stealing the body so they could claim the dead man had risen. They, too, went to Pilate with a request. They got Pilate to allow them to seal the tomb and post guards there for three days.
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them had witnessed the horrors of Good Friday. The man they called Lord was nailed to the Cross to suffer an agonizing death. They stayed and watched for six hours as Jesus' life slowly ebbed away. Late Friday, they "prepared spices and ointments to anoint His body," in accordance with Jewish burial customs. However, "by the time they were finished the Sabbath had begun, so they rested as required by the law" (Luke 23:56). Three days passed like an eternity. Perhaps for three days, all the demons of hell rejoiced. Satan and the forces of darkness thought they had won a great victory. For three days, even the Jewish leaders probably congratulated themselves on their brilliant scheme. But on the third day, something wonderful and miraculous happened. The angel came, rolled away the stone from the entrance, and Jesus got up from the grave. He lives!
The Mission of Love (Luke 24:1-3, NRSV)
1But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came
to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.
2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,
3but when they went in, they did not find the body.
Jesus was dead. The company of devout, loving women who lingered at the Cross now hurried to the tomb carrying their spices and ointments. In their devotion, they were going to do their last and best for the Lord. They had cried and grieved over their loss all day Saturday. Now it was Sunday—the first day of the week. All four of the Gospel writers made note of this day that not only changed the day of the Sabbath but also changed the world. They would perform one final service for the man who had meant so much to them. Luke tells us that it was very early in the morning (Luke 24:1). They had started out while it was still dark (John 20:1) and arrived at the tomb just after sunrise (Mark 16:2). Their love and devotion for Christ is seen in their determination to go out of the city at such a time, without any man to help and protect them.
The women faced three almost insurmountable difficulties. Their difficulties, in many ways, illustrate the difficulties the church faces in attempting to be a light in a dark, unbelieving world.
First, there was the stone—a very large and heavy stone. One of the women asked, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?" (Mark 16:3). Second, there was the Hebrew seal. Who dared to break it? This was the seal of authority, of law. To break the seal was to defy law. Third, there was the Roman guard. The soldiers had been given orders not to let anyone into the tomb. How would the women possibly convince the guards to allow them to enter?
Jesus' body had lain in the heat of the tomb for three days. The women had prepared themselves for the stench of the decomposing body. They brought spices and ointments to embalm him. All hope was lost, and all dreams were crushed. The only thing left was this final act that would bring closure to the most moving experience of their lives. As the women neared the tomb, they were stopped in their tracks—someone had rolled away the stone covering the entrance! Who would have done this and why? They hurried to the entrance and entered the tomb. They had been surprised to see the stone rolled away. Now they were astonished that the body was gone! The women had watched as Joseph and Nicodemus had hurriedly prepared the body, wrapped it in linen, and placed it in the tomb. It had to be here, but it was gone! They wondered what had become of it, who had removed it, and for what reason. They had no thought nor expectation of a resurrection.
God has given each of us the gift of an apparent empty tomb. In a very real sense, even though the body of Jesus was missing from the tomb, it was filled with hope for the future, faith in the resurrected Christ, and assurance of new life. Whenever we are discouraged or face difficult problems, we should remember what was left when the body was removed.
The Message of Hope (Luke 24:4-8, NRSV)
4While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in
dazzling clothes stood beside them.
5The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.
6Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,
7that "the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again."
8Then they remembered his words,
As the amazed women stood in bewilderment, two angels—looking like men—suddenly appeared before them. Their gleaming clothes lit up the darkened tomb. The terrified women dropped to the ground. The angels asked the women a strange question: "Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive?" (Luke 24:5). There was a mild rebuke in the angel's words. The women had come with their spices to embalm the body of a dead man. Why would they come to the tomb on the third day not expecting to see a dead man?
What could this mean? The angels answered their unasked question, "He isn't here! He is risen from the dead" (Luke 24:6)! He is risen? What could that mean? Surely, they couldn't mean that Jesus' spirit had reentered His dead and decomposing body, repaired the damages of death, and got up!
The angels reminded the women of Jesus' own prophecy—how the Lord had told them on at least three occasions of His death and resurrection. Suddenly their minds were opened, and they remembered the day Jesus had asked the disciples, "Who do you say I am?" and Peter had answered, "You are the Messiah sent from God" (Luke 9:20). Jesus explained to them "the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things.... He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead" (verses 21-22).
They could recall another occasion when, after healing a boy possessed by demons, Jesus told them, "Listen to me and remember what I say. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies" (Luke 9:44). Finally, the women remembered that right before their final trip up to Jerusalem, Jesus told them, "Listen, we're going up to Jerusalem where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. He will be handed over to the Romans, and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again" (18:31-33).
The Mocking of Truth (Luke 24:9-12, NRSV)
9and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the
eleven and to all the rest.
10Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
11But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
12But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
Anytime a loved one dies, believers can look to the Scriptures for comfort, for the Bible alone contains the message of hope. However, the message must be accepted by faith. Scripture asks us to believe that a dead man got up from the dead, never to die again. Jesus had ascended to the Father, so we cannot present any physical proof of our claim. No one else has ever been resurrected, so there is no precedent for our claim. That's why it is so easy for skeptics to dismiss our claim. And, surprisingly enough, the very first skeptics were the followers of Christ!
Mary Magdalene and her companions: Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and the others left the tomb and found the apostles. They reported to them all they had both seen and heard. "But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn't believe it" (Luke 24:11). The first unbelievers of the resurrection were the apostles themselves! They responded like you or I probably would have if we had been in their shoes. "Nonsense! If the tomb is really empty, then there must be a logical explanation for it. Perhaps the body was transferred to another tomb, or maybe the women went to the wrong tomb. Anything is possible—anything except the resurrection!" Unbelief is a common response today. Not even everyone in church today really believes it actually happened. "Impossible," they say. "The dead don't come back to life!"
Peter got up and ran to the tomb. When he reached the opening, he bent over and looked inside. Sure, enough the body was gone. All he saw was the undisturbed shroud Jesus had been wrapped in. The bewildered apostle had no explanation for the empty tomb. Jesus' body was gone, but surely the women were mistaken. But wait a minute, didn't Jesus bring Lazarus back to life? Didn't He speak to the wind and quiet the sea? Is it possible? He went away wondering. Peter didn't get it!
Do you get it? What is your reaction to the empty tomb? The bodily resurrection of Christ is the cornerstone of Christian faith and your eternal destiny rests on your answer to this question.
POINTS FOR DISCUSSION:
1. How can fellowship with others help us develop fresh insight into the nature and ways of God?
2. What do you need God to resurrect in your community? What do you need God to resurrect in your life?
3. Without Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, humanity would have remained in bondage to sin (1 Corinthians 15:16-17). People who lack the life-changing knowledge of a risen Savior find themselves either living lives of hopelessness or still waiting for the promised deliverer. How might we do a better job of teaching from Scripture that Jesus is not a dead historical figure but a living Lord and Savior?
4. The angels told the women that Jesus' body was not in the tomb because "He is risen." Then they told them to remember what Jesus had told them about His betrayal, death, and resurrection. Why is it so important, during times of doubt, stress, or confusion, for all believers to recall and meditate on Scripture?
LESSON IN OUR SOCIETY:
The disappointment of life can sometimes
cause believers to lose hope in the promises of God. Nothing short of a miracle will help them
find a job when the economy is down, restore a marriage shattered by betrayal or
indifference, find healing when the doctors have given up, or pay debts that
have kept them in bondage for decades.
Desperate prayers seem to have gone unanswered, and God’s presence no
longer appears to be in the places where they used to find Him.
The Good News of Easter, Resurrection Sunday, is not fancy clothes or a new hat. It is not just the tradition some people have. The Good News of the Easter account is the truth that Jesus will find us, join us in our journey, and show us that His plan for us is still good, even in the most difficult moments of our lives.
Next Week’s Lesson: 9 April 2023
Disciples Believe the Resurrection
Luke 24:13-27, 30-31
Devotional Reading: Psalm 22:20-31
Background Scripture: Luke 24:1-12
Daily Bible Readings
MONDAY - The Trial before Pilate - (Luke 23:13-25)
TUESDAY - The Crucifixion of Jesus - (Luke 23:32-38)
WEDNESDAY - The Death of Jesus - (Luke 23:44-49)
THURSDAY - The Burial of Jesus - (Luke 23:50-56)
FRIDAY -The Messiah’s Suffering - (Isaiah 53:3-9)
FRIDAY - Discovery of the Empty Tomb – (Luke 24:1-12)
- The Lord Has Risen Indeed! - (Luke 24:13-27, 30-31)
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