International Sunday School Lesson
For Easter Sunday April 24, 2011
Purpose: To realize that we can worship God with bold confidence despite the doubts we continue to have
Scripture Text: Matthew 28:1-17 (NRSV)
(1)After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (2)And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.(3)His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. (4)For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. (5)But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. (6)He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come; see the place where he lay. (7)Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” (8)So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. (9)Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. (10)Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
(11)While they were going, some of the guard went into the city and told the chief priests everything that had happened. (12)After the priests had assembled with the elders, they devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, (13) telling them, “You must say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ (14)If this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” (15)So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story is still told among the Jews to this day.
(16)Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. (17)When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
My Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Within most of the Christian church we celebrate Easter Sunday every week by meeting and coming together in celebration of what happened on the very first Easter.(“the day of resurrection”) Some refer to every Sunday as “little Easter,” with the term “Great Easter” referring to the day we celebrate as Easter Sunday.
As I look at our text for this week, I have a few new thoughts. First is the fact that the two Mary’s might have witnessed the rolling away of the stone that guarded the tomb, along with the angel descending from heaven. Another striking fact is the contrast in stories between the soldiers and the two Mary’s. When reading this text, notice the phrase, “he has been raised.” Seeing those words makes me think that the Father, rather than Jesus was in control of the situation, the obvious being a dead person cannot raise himself, only an outside force can cause someone, “to be raised.”
In verse 5, we also see the words “I know that you are looking for Jesus.” What a great testimony, and one we should always be aware of when talking to those that are seeking Jesus. It is interesting to note the choices made by those present; the two Mary's are obedient and “go and tell.” The temple guards choose another course, they choose to take the money and lie about what happened, even though they were there; if asleep, how did they know what happened, and if awake, why did they allow it without a fight. The contrasting actions make it clear that there are those that may even know the truth, but, choose to ignore it or choose personal riches over the known truth.
The other little phrase I like is in verse 7, “indeed he is going ahead of you.” Jesus does indeed go ahead of us both in life and in death, allowing us to achieve all we can for His work on earth, as well as winning the victory over both the grave and death.
When given the opportunity, the two Mary's worship at the feet of Jesus; what a great example for us. Jesus shows great compassion and grace by telling them, “go and tell my brothers.” What comforting words those surely were to the eleven that seemingly disappeared out of fear, just a few days prior. Aren't you glad God's grace extends to those moments when we deny, and doubt, but He is always ready to welcome us back into His brotherhood.
The untold story of this lesson is the final verses of this chapter that are not included in our text. The story starts at the tomb, but it is the same story, “go and tell.” The final verses are the Great Commission. (18)And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.(19)Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (20)and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”