1. What is the most significant days in history that have occurred in your lifetime?
2. What is the most unbelievable news you have ever heard and what was your reaction?
My Maternal Grandfather was about 70 years old when the United States put the first man on the moon. He absolutely refused to believe they were on the moon. He adamantly stated that they were actually somewhere out in Arizona or New Mexico.
In our focal passage today, a group of women received the surprise of their lives when they came to Jesus’ tomb. Instead of finding His body, as they expected, they found that He had be resurrected from the grave. The women responded with awe and amazement and shared what they had discovered with His disciples.
While our focal passage is from Luke 24 we will start with a passage from Acts 2:14-36.
“Far from seeing in Jesus God’s designated Messiah, they rejected him and gave him over to “wicked men” to be crucified. All of this was, however, according to God’s plan and foreknowledge. Peter carefully balanced the elements of God’s divine purposes and the human responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus. In the paradox of divine sovereignty and human freedom, Jesus died as the result of deliberate human decision made in the exercise of their God-given freedom of choice. The Jewish crowd at Pentecost could not avoid their responsibility in Jesus’ death. Nonetheless, in the mystery of the divine will, God was working in these events of willful human rebellion to bring about his eternal purposes, bringing out of the tragedy of the cross the triumph of the resurrection. The Jews were not alone in their responsibility for Jesus’ death, however. They worked through the agency of “lawless men” a term used by Jews to designate Gentiles. Jesus died on a Roman cross; Gentiles too shared the guilt. Peter carefully balanced all the participants in the drama of Jesus’ death—the guilt of Jew and Gentile alike, the triumphal sovereignty of God.” —The New American Commentary Acts by John B. Polhill
3. What necessarily had to happen before the resurrection could occur? (The crucifixion.)
As we consider this very familiar Scripture passage today, let’s reclaim our horror and yet wonder of the crucifixion—That Jesus would die such a horrible death for a sinner such as I—then the awe and unspeakable joy at Jesus’ resurrection.
The followers of Jesus were in shock at the events over the last few days. Most were in hiding but a few women, desiring to express their love and devotion to Jesus made their way to the tomb were Jesus had been buried just three days earlier. There was no doubt about the location of the tomb—they had seen Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take the body to the new tomb.
An Empty Tomb! Read Luke 24:1-3
1. Why were the women going to the tomb?
2. What were the women expecting when they reached the tomb? (The women expected to find a heavy stone sealing the tomb. Thy thought ahead about the potential problems in moving it—see Mark 16:3)
3. What did they find? (They found the stone rolled away, and Jesus’ body was missing.)
4. How might a news reporter have described the scene that morning?
5. What words or phrases here point to the emotions felt by the women? (Grief, disappointment, denial, anger, and confusion. Unbelief for certain. Mary encountered Jesus after this and still was seeking to find the body and was weeping.)
6. How might you have responded if you had heard the news about this event?
7. Does the empty tomb prove anything? (No. The subsequent announcement by the angels, Jesus’ appearance over the next 40 days served to verify the unbelievable had actually happened.)
Full Disclosure! Read Luke 24:4-8
1. Two angels reminded the women that Jesus had predicted He would die and rise again. Why do you think the women needed to be reminded? (Whether the women were overcome with grief, in shock, simply forgot what Jesus told them about His resurrection, or did not believe Jesus’ promise to rise again, the women were obviously confused and unable to comprehend what had happened at the tomb. Although Jesus had told all of His followers what was going to happen, everyone was surprised when it happened.)
It is easy for us to be critical of the women and question why they didn’t remember or believe Jesus’ words concerning His resurrection. We are all guilty of forgetting or ignoring Jesus’ words to us at times.
In their grief, the women were looking for a way to honor Jesus by anointing His body. Instead they were the first to hear the news of His resurrection!
2. Notice the women “remembered His words.” What promises from the Bible can you remember when you’re facing adversity or uncertainty? (“I will not leave you or forsake you” Josh. 1:5. “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.” John 14:27.)
3. How can times of uncertainty become opportunities for remembering truths from Scripture about Jesus?
4. How can a time of uncertainty in another person’s life be an opportunity for you to share Jesus with them?
Complete Amazement! Read Luke 24:9-12
1. Had you been with the women, what would you have done?
2. Why might the disciples have responded with disbelief?
3. If you had been with the disciples would you have believed the women?
4. Why was Peter’s reaction predictable? (Peter was known for being impulsive, inquisitive, and outspoken. He denied Christ, yet Christ used him in a mighty way. Peter had to see for himself. He ran to the tomb and, finding only the linen cloths, left in amazement.)
In John 20:1-10 John records he and Peter going to the tomb and upon leaving John believed Jesus had been resurrected but Peter was still wondering. Later that evening when Jesus appeared to the disciples the needed confirmation came for all of them.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. To what extent are you humbled by the crucifixion of Jesus because of your sin?
2. To what extent are you amazed at the miracle of Christ’s resurrection?
3. How did the empty tomb change the lives of the people present that Sunday some 2000 years ago?
4. How are these changes seen in the lives of people who trust Jesus today?
5. What evidence can you point to in your life that demonstrates the resurrection of Jesus has changed you?
We live in a world filled with loud, competing messages. Yet, the message of the church should be clear and distinct. Salvation through faith in the Resurrected Son is the message of the church—not just at Easter, but all year.
The reality of the empty tomb can lead to a full life through Jesus, our living Redeemer.
Personal challenge! Identify one person with whom you will share what you have rediscovered about the empty tomb this week!