Christianity, religion, Sunday School Lesson

Sunday School Lesson (April 21, 2019) Called To Proclaim The Resurrection / Called To Believe The Resurrection Matthew 28:1-15

Hello Sunday school teachers, preachers, and learners! Welcome to SundaySchoolPreacher.com.  In this week’s Lesson, two women rise early in the morning to see the tomb of Jesus.  They arrive at the tomb only to find an Angel who gives them what is perhaps the greatest news of all time

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said”. 

Certainly these women had heard Jesus talk about his resurrection on the third day.  Perhaps Matthew is trying to tell us that:

1.  It is women who first acted on the belief of the resurrection.

2.  It was women who first saw the risen savior.

3.  It is women who first proclaim that Jesus was raised from the dead. 

After receiving instruction from the Angel to go tell the disciples, the women leave but meet Jesus on the way.  The first Easter morning is certainly an exciting one for these women, who first received the message to go and tell that the Savior is risen.  Stay tuned to learn how we are called to proclaim the Resurrection and called to believe the resurrection. 

Background: The Gospel According to Matthew: 

The New Interpreter’s Study Bible explains that “although the name Matthew is linked with this Gospel about 100 years after it was written, it is not known who the real author is, when the text was originally written, or why this work is named Matthew”.  An illustrated biographical dictionary explains that “although Mark is the shortest Gospel, Matthew and Luke substantially use the same text as Mark but supplement it with additional writings”.  In this 28th chapter, Matthew is writing to Jewish Christians after the fall of the Temple.  They need to be reassured of God’s plan for them.  They have been in conflict with their Jewish siblings about the teachings and divinity of Jesus.  The Jewish Temple is destroyed and they are a distinct people of God separate from the Jews with a completely separate mission.  Their mission is to “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. “Matthew 28:19-20)”.  And that’s what Matthew does so well.  He takes a marginalized people, a people who are oppressed by the government and even their own brothers and sisters in the faith and he reassures them of God’s plan and points them toward a mission to save the world.

Review of Last Week and How it Connects to This Week: 

Last week we began with Jesus in Bethany about two miles from Jerusalem.  He was at the home of Simon the Leper when an unnamed woman anointed him with very expensive ointment for his burial.  His disciples are indignant that such expensive perfume has been used when it could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  While this was happening the Jewish leaders were plotting to kill Jesus.  Jesus once again has to plainly tell his disciples that he will be crucified and this act of love and devotion from the unnamed woman was because of his upcoming crucifixion.  Because of this unnamed woman’s great devotion and love, Jesus proclaims that she will be remembered wherever his story is told.  

On a separate note, last week was Holy Week for us.  Holy Week started Sunday, April 14, 2019 and ended Saturday, April 20, 2019. In Holy Week we celebrated Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.  It is the last week in Lent, commemorating the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. It begins with Palm Sunday and ends on Holy Saturday, prior to Easter.  This week we continue with the theme of being called.  This week our call is to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus and believe the resurrection of Jesus in our day to day living.  Townsend and Boyd’s commentary title this week’s lesson Called To Proclaim The Resurrection.  Standard Commentary titles it Called to Believe The Resurrection.  The Scripture text comes from Matthew 28:1-15.

What takes place in this passage: 

This text begins with two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, walking to see the sepulcher where Jesus was supposed to be.  Significant for many Christians is that this was the dawn of the first day of the week.  Many Christians worship on Sunday because of the numerous accounts of important events on the first day of the week.  Most important of which is the resurrection of Jesus on the first day of the week.  I think it is also significant that women are the first to seek and to see Jesus.  Matthew records that the women came to “see”.  Mark records that the women brought spices to anoint the body of Jesus.  Certainly these women had heard Jesus talk about his resurrection on the third day.  Perhaps Matthew is trying to tell us that:

1.  It is women who first acted on the belief of the resurrection

2.  It was women who first saw the risen savior.

3.  It is women who first proclaim that Jesus was raised from the dead. 

There was a great earthquake, the earth shook.  And this is certainly earth shaking news.  The angle of the Lord rolls back the stone of the sepulcher and tells the women “Don’t be afraid; I know that you’re looking for Jesus who was crucified.  He’s not here; for he has been raised, as he said”.   Note that the Angle of the Lord ignores the guards and speaks directly to the women.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary have arrived at the burial place of Jesus and find an angel instead of the body of Jesus.  And this angel of the Lord announces perhaps the greatest news of all time

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said”.

Furthermore, the Angle of the Lord gives these women instructions for the disciples to follow.  The Angel tells them to “go quickly and tell the disciples that he is risen from the dead; he will meet you in Galilee”.  The women leave to proclaim the resurrection and as they went to tell his disciples, Jesus met them along the way.  They women hold him by the feet.  By holding his feet perhaps they are saying “we won’t lose you again”.  But Jesus reassures them by saying “don’t be afraid; go tell my brethren to go to Galilee and there they shall see me”.  This is twice now the women have been told about meeting in Galilee so it’s significance should not be overlooked.  Matthew 4:13 tells us Jesus made his home in Capernaum.  Capernaum is a part of Galilee and Jesus would go back to his home district to meet the disciples after his resurrection.  Note also that Jesus calls the disciples his brethren.  He calls them brethren even after they have denied, rejected and fled from him in his time of trouble. 

Finally, the text describes how the priests attempt to cover up the resurrection of Jesus by bribing the guards to say his disciples stole the body while they slept.  Boyd’s Commentary describes two groups leaving the tomb.  “The women have a message of hope and victory for the disciples, while the guards have a message of confusion and failure for the chief priests”.  The Roman Empire has crucified Jesus.  They thought they had solved their problem.  The Jewish religious leaders conspired and plotted to kill him.  They thought they had won.  Yet these women go forth proclaiming the victory of Jesus.  He lives!

Context:

I’m a witness.  A witness is “one who testifies of what is known to be true, especially in relation to the Christian gospel”.  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were the first witnesses of the risen Savior.  We should be witnesses to the truth of God in each of our own lives.  As witnesses we should proclaim that truth also and then “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.”  The good news is that Jesus is with us.  He is risen and lives in and with us through the Holy Spirit.  The Angel of the Lord told the women to go and tell the disciples.  Our task today is to go and tell our neighbors, friends and acquaintances the good news of Jesus. 

Key Characters in the text:

Jesus Christ – Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah and according to the Christian church the incarnate second Person of the Trinity.  He was crucified on a cross and raised from the dead by the power of God (Acts 3:15; 13:30).  His followers (Christians) worship him and seek to obey his will.

Mary Magdalene – She is named in all four Gospels as a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus.  She accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem and is from Magdala, a town located on the Sea of Galilee.  She had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities.  Mary Magdalene stood by Jesus as he was dying on the cross, saw him buried, and came to the empty tomb. 

Key Words (not necessarily in the text, but good for discussion): 

Crucifixion – Method of execution used by the Romans and to which Jesus Christ was subjected.  It was regarded as shameful and was extremely brutal.   

Redemption – A financial metaphor that literally means “buying back”.  Used theologically to indicate atonement, reconciliation, or salvation wherein liberation from forms of bondage such as sin, death, law, or evil takes place through Christ. 

Gospel – The central message of the Christian church to the world, centered on God’s provision of salvation for the world in Jesus Christ.  Also Gospel, one of the first four books in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. 

Sepulcher – A term used in the KJV for graves or tombs.  Most prominently it denotes that of Joseph of Arimathea in which the body of Jesus was placed after the crucifixion and which was empty on Easter morning. 

Easter – The yearly Christian festival celebrating the raising of Jesus Christ from the dead three days after his crucifixion.  It is preceded by Good Friday.  Easter is the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or after March 21.  The date varies between March 22 and April 25.  Theologically it celebrates the victory of Christ over death and evil as well as Christian hope. 

Themes, Topics, Discussion, or Sermon Preparation Ideas: 

  1. Be a witness / I’m a witness
  2. Believe the women
  3. Go tell that

Questions: 

1) What does the significance of women as the first to see Jesus and proclaim his resurrection mean to you? 

2) Even after the disciples denied Jesus and fled from his crucifixion Jesus calls them his brethren.  Why?      

Concluding thought:

The resurrection of Jesus brings hope to a world that seems filled with evil.  When evil is present in the world we have hope that because Jesus arose; one day justice will arise also.   Even though our present challenges may be tough and even if obstacles may seem insurmountable, there is always hope in a resurrecting Jesus.       

Preview of Next Week’s Lesson:

Next week we close this study of Matthew’s Gospel and move into The Acts of the Apostles.  Before moving into Acts we study the final pericope of the final chapter of Matthew with a focus on the call and commissioning of the disciples.   

3 thoughts on “Sunday School Lesson (April 21, 2019) Called To Proclaim The Resurrection / Called To Believe The Resurrection Matthew 28:1-15”

  1. Side Note 1: This week’s lesson is “Called To Proclaim” & “Called To Believe The Resurrection” Matt 28:1-15. When we proclaim & believe the resurrection we further the mission of Jesus to reach all nations. #SundaySchool #Jesus #Matthew28 #SundaySchoolPreacher #Easter #Resurrection

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  2. The Angel of the Lord gives these women instructions for the disciples to follow. The Angel tells them to “go quickly and tell the disciples that he is risen from the dead; he will meet you in Galilee” #SundaySchool #Jesus #Matthew28 #SundaySchoolPreacher #Easter #Resurrection

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  3. Side Note 3: Matthew is written to Jewish Christians after fall of the Temple. They are in conflict with their Jewish siblings about the teachings and divinity of Jesus. They’re a distinct people of God separate from Jews with a completely separate mission. #SundaySchool #Easter #Jesus

    Like

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