John 11:25-27; 20:24-29
Bobby Braswell, Associational Missions Strategist
Middle Baptist Association, Sylvania
“Everybody wants to live longer, and many scientists are convinced that science holds secrets we can unlock that will move our lifespan well beyond 120 years. That would be impressive, but even with our best efforts, we’ll still die. Jesus said something that is difficult for those driven solely by the natural world to accept: we can live forever. That possibility has nothing to do with science or healthy living. Eternal life is possible because Jesus died and rose again.” (Leader Guide)
We live near Savannah. Every year there is a St. Patrick’s Day parade that tourists and locals enjoy, but it probably has little to connect it with the authentic historical reality of the life and spirituality of St. Patrick. Easter can be like that, too — reduced to social expressions (if that) unhitched from spiritual meaning.
At a time where secularism is increasing, the need to hear and internalize the transforming hope and power of the resurrection narrative is as great as ever.
Study the Bible
If your Sunday School class has done the work of inviting guests, Easter can represent a great opportunity to place an emphasis on the Gospel. At the very least it can be a time to remind regular attendees about the importance of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with others. As you read the Personal Study Guide in preparation for teaching, remember to invite those in attendance to trust Christ for salvation and/or share the resurrection of Christ with others. The inside front cover will present the plan of salvation and will tie to this session. A good question to ask those attending after presenting the Gospel is, “Is there any reason you would not be willing to receive God’s free gift of eternal life?” Care should be taken to avoid manipulation, but certainly you can help your class think about how to follow through on a faith commitment.
John 11:25-27, Jesus promised that those who believe in Him will never die. “I am the resurrection and the life” is one of the seven I AM statements Jesus spoke in John’s Gospel. It is an assertion of Jesus’ deity. Jesus was able to reassure Mary and Martha that in every situation He is sovereign over both life and death. This interaction foreshadowed Jesus’ own reanimation from the dead.
In 1 Cor. 15: 54-58 the Bible gives the theological foundation for resurrection and the ethical and missionary impetus as well. The word Jesus used for “life” is “zoē” here which points to the reality that there is purpose and meaning to our existence. Jesus’ resurrection is not only the answer to life after death, but it is a reality that infuses life with significance now.
John 20:24-25, Resurrection can be difficult to accept as reality. We live in a world replete with miracles, but we’ve grown accustomed to hearing them framed in naturalistic jargon. When a person is confronted with information that can’t be quantified by their personal experience, they will be tempted to reject it.
Jesus’ response to Thomas’ initial rejection of the other disciples’ witness about His resurrection is heartening in two ways: first, it is encouraging because He anticipated the dilemma that others would face in trying to process the historical details of the Gospel. He said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). Generations later, people can write their own names into this promise. Second, we can see Jesus’ tenderness with Thomas and understand that “He is not willing that any should perish, but that all [even those who wrestle with doubt] should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
John 20:26-29, Jesus backed up His promise of eternal life by rising from the dead. Sharing history as a contemporary of Jesus, Thomas was able to materially “handle” Jesus’ resurrection body. The word resurrection in Greek is the word “anastasis.” It meant the reanimation of a corpse. Jesus overcame the grave and thereby demonstrated His power over sin, death and Hell. 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 gives an impressive historical litany of eye witnesses to Jesus’ bodily resurrection. This reality is integral to Gospel faith.
Live It Out
“Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:12-14).
If Christ is not raised life is utterly devoid of significance and it will terminate in the bleak, endless sleep of death. Our faith, hope and dreams will evaporate into meaningless nothingness. But thank God for this truth: “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20).
Lessons derived from “Bible Studies for Life,” of LifeWay Christian Resources.