Sabbath School Lesson for November 5-11, 2022
Overview of Lesson 7
Some aspects of Christ’s resurrection to consider are…
- the sealed tomb that should have prevented the event from happening (Sunday)
- what was done about the frightened soldiers’ report (Monday)
- an earthquake that caused other graves to be opened and dead saints being raised and going to preach in Jerusalem (Tuesday)
- the many disciples who saw Jesus alive after His death (Wednesday)
- why we call Christ “the first fruits” of those raised from the dead (Thursday)
One can barely grasp the love of Jesus, who died for saints and sinners alike. All are given a chance to accept His salvation because of the enormous price He paid for our sins at Calvary.
But the next part of the story involves His unusual burial and resurrection. This event causes us to be amazed at the power of God to accomplish such a victory over death.
Memory Text: “When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He put his right hand on me and said, ‘Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the One who lives; I was dead, but look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to death and to the place of the dead’ “ Revelation 1:17, 18 NCV
Although no clear historical evidence exists to prove that Jesus was resurrected, no one can deny the many people who believed they saw the risen Christ. Their outspoken, recorded testimonies have created a worldwide religious movement like no other. The promise of eternal life propels us to accomplish so much more in this life, with the beautiful promise and incredible power of His word.
Sunday: A Sealed Tomb
The chief priests and Pharisees thought they had done everything possible to prevent Jesus from escaping the tomb where He lay after His horrific crucifixion. They were aware of the predictions He made about rising from the grave on the third day, and they intentionally took steps to prevent that from happening…or so they thought.
Sealing the tomb and having Roman soldiers guard it for a few days did not seem like excessive measures and were readily agreed to by the Roman authorities when approached about the situation. These precautions seemed appropriate and adequate…or so they thought.
In reality, their precautionary steps only made the resurrection appear more miraculous for those who witnessed or heard the story of the risen Master Healer. He who had healed so many was now seen more clearly as the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25).
Matthew 16:21, 17:22, 23, 20:17-19
- Why do you think these predictions were made?
- Besides the Roman soldiers, who else must have been present at the tomb that night?
Monday: ” ‘He Is Risen!’ “
The Roman guard, sent to secure the tomb of Jesus, had harrowing news to report to the chief priests to explain the empty tomb on their watch. The priests thought it best to give the soldiers “shush” money. They were to report that they fell asleep and the body was taken overnight by His disciples. Of course, it would quickly be realized that they could not know for sure it was His disciples, if they had been asleep. In addition, the Jews promised to protect them from their Roman superiors, because falling asleep would have meant harsh punishment for all of them. See Matthew 28:11-15.
One must remember that it was Roman soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, and it was Roman soldiers who were among the first to learn about His resurrection. Perhaps this is symbolic about what would happen later–that the gospel would go to the Gentiles. All would come to know the true story about what happened that night.
The Jewish priests had wasted their money when they gave it to the soldiers. Their efforts to keep the story quiet worked about as well as all their efforts to earn their own salvation, apart from Christ.
Another point to consider is the belief in a triune God. One of the reasons this belief rings true is because of the various ways credit is given for the resurrection of Christ.
- Jesus declared that He was able to lay down His life and to take it up again (John 10:17, 18). He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life” John 11:24).
- Other verses proclaim God the Father raised Him up (Acts 2:24 and Galatians 1:1).
- And others claim it was the Spirit of God (Romans 8:11).
- What are some of the reasons the soldiers were so afraid by what had happened?
- Why did the women have fear, but also joy, when they heard that Jesus had risen from the dead?
Tuesday: Many Arose With Him
Sometimes we forget that many dead saints were raised from their graves when the earthquake occurred at the exact moment of Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:51-53). The account said the bodies of “saints who had fallen asleep” appeared to many in Jerusalem. Their glorified presence was the first testimonial evidence of the power of the resurrection.
Their preaching surely must have reached many of the Jewish residents, including priests; for it tells us in Acts 6:7 that “the disciples spread, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.”
God apparently did all He could to save the Jews, right to the very end of the Messiah’s time on earth–thanks in part to those saintly prototypes of those who will be raised at the final resurrection when the Lord returns.
- What does the tearing of the temple veil between the holy and the most holy place tell us about God’s presence with the Jewish nation?
- What does the raising of the saints tell us about God’s continuing mercy for individual Jews?
- How might the appearance of the dead saints in Jerusalem have been a factor in the rapid spread of Christianity–both for Jews and Gentiles?
Wednesday: Witnesses of the Risen Christ
To get the fullest report about how many witnesses there were of the risen Christ, we go to both John 20:11-29 and 1 Corinthians 15:5-8.
Jesus appeared to the women at the tomb, the disciples in the upper room, and to many more in the forty days He was on earth till His final departure to heaven. Paul declares that He was seen by over five hundred disciples at once, which may have been at His ascension.
But let’s not forget the two travelers on the road to Emmaus who saw and heard Him, unknowingly at first (Luke 24:13-35). Large groups or small, wherever they might be, doesn’t matter with God (Matthew 18:20). His desire is to reach everybody.
His presence begs us to pay attention and follow Him wherever He leads. These many firsthand witnesses of a resurrected Messiah were not silent about the things they saw and heard. We, too, must be vigilant in sharing what we know about the happy event of Christ’s resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:5-8 and Acts 9:3-6
- Why did Paul include himself as one who had seen Jesus?
Thursday: “The First Fruits of Those Who Have Died”
The apostle Paul referred to Christ as the “first fruits of those who have died [or fallen asleep]” (1 Corinthians 15:20). There is, however, a reason for using the term “first fruits” beyond the usual agricultural metaphor it suggests.
Religious meaning is also indicated when we consider the offering of the first fruits of the harvest that was part of their Jewish worship services. It was their sacred duty to acknowledge God as the Provider of the produce on the land they had been given by God. See Deuteronomy 26:1-11.
By calling Christ the first fruits, we are not only recognizing Him as the best fruit of the harvest, but are shown what our resurrected bodies will be like when God’s final harvest is declared. Like Jesus, we will be raised from the dead in glorified, immortal, human bodies, and will then be brought into His presence in the heavenly courts above.
Only He will bear the scars of His cruel death. The nail prints will always be there to remind us of His loving sacrifice.
1 Corinthians 15:20 and Acts 26:23
- How did Jesus’ resurrection proclaim light to Jews and Gentiles?
Friday: Final Thoughts
We have been shown that Christ’s final words as He hung on the cross, “It is finished”, hold great significance for our salvation. But the words “He is risen”, proclaimed by an angel and many firsthand witnesses, are equally meaningful in understanding God’s plan for His people. Through His glorious resurrection we can more easily foresee what our final reward will look like.
The historical evidence for the resurrection is plentiful. Many firsthand accounts have been recorded that tell us that something happened to Jesus’ body after His crucifixion. The accounts of the witnesses were so spectacular and world-changing, however, that many stories have been concocted to explain away the miraculous event.
In spite of alternative explanations, Christ’s victory over death continues to be the most hopeful sign that our eternal life is secure. We can easily rest in the knowledge that He holds the key to our full restoration and future life with the King of the universe.
Next Week: The New Testament Hope
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