Christ: Crucified and Resurrected
April 24, 2011 Sunday School
The final chapter of Matthew’s gospel ought to have the attention of believers. It begins with our Savior’s resurrection and concludes with our marching orders.
Consider, first, some of the events leading up to this account because there is a bit of Genesis here. Having been crucified and laid in the tomb on the sixth day, He finished His work on the sixth day. Rising from the grave on the first day of the week has a parallel with God’s speaking light into existence on the first day of creation.
Women who followed Christ Jesus went very early in the morning after the Sabbath to the tomb where His crucified body had been placed, but Christ was not there.
Matthew describes events before the women arrived by telling us there was a great earthquake, and an angel who came from heaven to roll the stone from the door of the tomb. It is important to note the angel sat on the stone because he was demonstrating that nothing would oppose the resurrection of Jesus. The angel sitting on the stone was a picture of victory.
The sights and sounds of that morning struck fear in the hearts of the guards who had been posted at His tomb. Matthew wrote that the “guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.”
There are times when people refuse to take Christ Jesus seriously, but there is a time on the horizon when they, like the Roman guards, will take Him most seriously.
“Every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God,” we are assured in Scripture. When the earthquake came, the world on which those soldiers trusted came loose from its foundations, and they passed out because of their fear.
The women looking to pay their respects at the tomb, however, were comforted by the angel. Jesus was no longer in the tomb because He was alive again. The angel, acting on orders from the Lord, told the women to tell His disciples about their experience at the tomb. Go to Galilee where Christ is, the angel said, and you will see the risen Savior.
While they were on their way to Galilee, Matthew tells us, the guards who had been posted at the tomb told the religious officials what happened, and the officials paid them to lie. If anybody asked what happened to Jesus, they were supposed to say His disciples stole His body while they were asleep.
This is a flimsy lie, at best, since a Roman soldier suffered serious consequences for falling asleep on the job, and because they could not know what happened if they were asleep.
Also, as the women went to tell His disciples the good news, Jesus told them they should all meet Him in Galilee.
They worshipped Jesus when they saw Him, but Matthew says that some doubted. We can only hope the doubters’ eye were fully opened by the evidence they had in front of their eyes.
Finally, Christ Jesus gave the Great Commission, and it remains our commission as well.
The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church, Lumberton, N.C. email@example.com.