Tuesday, April 7, 2009

"Resurrected Unto New Life" Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending April 12, 2009

Purpose: To celebrate Christ's resurrection and the new life it makes possible.

Scripture Text: Luke 24:1-12 (NRSV)

Luke 24:1-12
(1)But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. (2)They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they went in, they did not find the body. (4)While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. (5)The 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. (6)Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, (7)that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.’ (8)Then they remembered his words, (9)and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. (10)Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. (11)But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. (12)But 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.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

The events of Friday came to sudden end, after Jesus groaned His last breath, and gave up the ghost. His body was given to Joseph of Arimathea for burial in Joseph's tomb. Because of the Sabbath beginning at sunset there was not sufficient time to prepare the body of Jesus properly, for burial. I think it was evidence of God's grace that the suffering was over so soon and that the body was removed from the cross. Under normal conditions the body would have been left to hang, while the wild animals and birds of prey would feast on the remains. God provided Joseph of Arimathea to claim the body and remove it from the cross.

Our lesson begins with the women returning to the grave sight to better prepare the body of Jesus for internment. These women were an important part of Jesus ministry, Mary Magdalene was not the prostitute everyone believes her to be but rather a business women whom Jesus had cast out demons. In Luke 8:3 it says “they provided for Him out of their resources”. In Luke 8:1-3 we learn of two other women Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Sussana. These Three women plus Mary the mother of James and others went to the tomb on Sunday morning to give a proper burial for Jesus.

As we have noted in earlier lessons Luke uses the women to discover the empty tomb and to share this news with the eleven. Because a woman's testimony had no legal standing, what they said they saw was treated rather indifferently (idle tale) by the eleven, with the exception of Peter. The greatest event in the history of the world was ignored because of the sexist small-mindedness of eleven men.

Even now, the United Nations Development Fund for Women recently released a report that accuses Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai of fast-tracking an anti-woman's rights law. The “Shia Family Law,” while not available for public review yet, is reported to forbid wives from leaving their home without permission from their husbands, to grant custody of children only to fathers and grandfathers, and to require women to meet their husband's sexual demands. How far have we come in the last 2000 years?

The women of Luke received a special blessing because they knew what they saw, after Peter makes his own inspection he too is “amazed at what had happened”.

The Gospels tell the story of the resurrection from differing view points, but the story remains the same, Christ is risen. In modern day events, it is like the Kennedy assassination, Kennedy is dead, but there are those who still dispute how it happened and who was responsible. The women knew the truth, and Peter believed when he saw the empty tomb, the others only believed when Jesus appears to them. Still others only believed when they see the nail scars in the hands and the sword wound in the side. What does it take for you to believe? Do you believe the witness of five or six women? What evidence do you need? Does a changed life make it believable?

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