1. If you could be an “Eyewitness” to any event in American history, what would you choose? Signing of the Declaration of Independence? Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address? The first airplane flight? The Atomic Bomb over Hiroshima? Victory in Europe Day?
2. What Biblical event would you like to be an “Eyewitness” of? Noah’s Ark? Elijah’s “wheel in the middle of a wheel”? David’s defeat of Goliath? Jesus’ Resurrection?
3. Why is eyewitness testimony so important in certain situations? (The best, most accurate information will come from people who actually saw the event happen.)
We will investigate eyewitness accounts that will provide documented proof that Jesus resurrected from the grave on the third day, just as He said He would do.
4. Who were the first eyewitnesses that something supernatural occurred at Jesus’ tomb that first Easter morning? (As unlikely at it may seem it was the Roman guards who were stationed at the tomb to prevent the Disciples from taking His body.)
People all over the world celebrate special days throughout the year. Most are associated closely with their nation and wars they have won. Here in the United States the most popular such celebration is July 4th.
Easter is a day when Christians all over the world celebrate Jesus’ victory over sin, death and the grave! Because of this, our lives have undergone the most drastic, important, and wonderful transformation that could ever occur!
Before we get into our text for today, to get a feel for the mood Jesus’ followers were experiencing that Sunday morning watch this clip for “The Passion of The Christ” movie. (Show the clip about Jesus’ beating at the hands of the Roman soldiers, the road to the cross and His crucifixion itself.)
We live in such a sterile environment we forget what the followers must have experienced.
The Grave Opened! Read Matthew 28:1-4
1. Why were the women going to the grave? (To anoint the body. See Mark 16:1-4)
2. What did the women find when they arrived at the tomb? (They had been discussing how they were going to move the stone, but it was something they didn’t have to worry about. The Roman guards were as “dead men”. Either petrified with fear or passed out from fear.)
3. What do verses 3-4 tell us about the angel and his actions?
4. What do his appearance “like lightening” and his robe “white as snow” indicate about him? (His majesty and heavenly purity blended together perfectly in his brilliant display of glory. It was a reflection of God’s glory, from Whose presence he came.)
5. What do we learn about these guards in verse 4? (These guards were trained soldiers who had been in battle and undoubtedly had faced horrifying circumstances, yet they were unprepared for an encounter with an angel of God. Fear gripped them so that they lost consciousness and even appeared dead.)
6. What evidence do you see in these verses that point to a miraculous resurrection of Jesus?
As these women walked to the tomb in defeat, the disciples hid in fear and disappointment, but God was working to bring victory.
7. Have you ever struggled with what you thought was a period of defeat only to realize later that God was at work to bring victory?
The religious leaders had insisted that Pilate post guards to secure the tomb. Their scheme backfired—the guards actually became witnesses to the fact Jesus’ body was not stolen by the disciples.
The Risen King Announced! Read Matthew 28:5-10
1. Notice the angel invited them to see for themselves that Jesus was not in the tomb. What was the angel’s instructions to the women?
2. What does verse 8 indicate to us about the fear the women felt as opposed to the fear the guards had felt?
Next, the women’s morning of surprises was punctuated with the biggest surprise of all. They saw Jesus! Jesus repeated the assignment the angel had given. Once we have worshiped there is always an assignment to be accomplished.
3. Why is prompt obedience so important? (The more we trust God, the quicker we will respond in obedience to His plans for our lives.)
4. What were the women’s responses upon encountering Jesus?
5. How should we respond to the risen Savior today? (Our response should be that of worship and obedience.)
6. How does Jesus’ designation of His disciples (who had earlier abandoned Him) as “brothers” encourage you?
7. Do you think the disciples would believe what the women had to tell them about the resurrection?
We know from the other Gospels that Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves! John believed but Peter still doubted.
The Cover-up Concocted! Read Matthew 28:11-15
Aren’t you glad we have learned from experience over the last 2,000 years and we don’t have to deal with cover-ups today!
1. What motives were at work as the chief priests and elders devised their deceptive plan? (If the resurrection really happened, then perhaps Jesus was who He claimed—the Son of God. The chief priests could not risk this potential threat to their position and authority.)
For the Jewish leaders to accept the truth of Jesus’ resurrection demanded that they accept Him for who He was—Christ the Lord!
2. What was their deceptive plan?
Just as it is with any deceptive lie it just didn’t make sense. If the soldiers were sleeping, how could they know it was Jesus’ disciples who stole the body?
3. What punishment would the guards face for falling asleep while on “guard duty?” (Death! Plain and simple.)
4. The concocted story was that Jesus’ body had been stolen by the disciples. How do people try to explain away the truth of Jesus’ resurrection?
5. What are some of the problems with their explanations?
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Jesus conquered death, affirming His identity and giving all believers hope. What evidence causes you to believe and place your hope in the resurrection?
2. Even when faced with the undeniable facts of Jesus’ resurrection some will refuse to believe in Him. What actions do you need to take to share the truth with these who have yet to accept Jesus and the truth of His resurrection?
3. What biblical proofs do you find that present Jesus as the risen Son of God?
Consider reading the following Scripture passages:
1 Cor. 15:12-19
1 Thess. 4:14-18
4. Why was Paul so certain that Jesus had been raised from the dead? (He was an “Eyewitness” on the Road to Damascus!)
5. How does the fact of the resurrection encourage you in your own spiritual walk? (What have I to fear, Jesus conquered sin, death and the grave and He’s my Lord!)