Explore the Bible Study: Resurrected

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Do you really believe in the resurrection of Christ? Really? If so, how does your life reflect that belief? Has it caused you to embrace a relationship with Christ? Has it changed the way you live life? Has it changed the way you deal with life? These are just a few questions to consider as you study the Explore the Bible Study: Resurrected.

There are a lot of crazy theories regarding the resurrection of Christ, many of which are advocated by professing Christians. Here are a few described in the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary: 
  • The women and the disciples went to the wrong tomb.
  • Jesus never really died on the cross and was revived in the coolness of the night (the swoon theory).
  • The disciples stored the body.
  • Jesus continued to live in some “spiritual” sense that did not involve a bodily resurrection.
  • The disciples were hallucinating.
It seems that people struggle with trying to accept, through faith, that Jesus arose from the grave. Ironically, and sadly, many of those who struggle with this profess Christ which is equally a step of faith!

A September 8, 2020 State of Theology report from LifeWay Research discovered these statistics regarding American’s views of the resurrection of Christ: (Source: https://lifewayresearch.com/2020/09/08/americans-hold-complex-conflicting-religious-beliefs-according-to-latest-state-of-theology-study/)
  • 66% of American adults say they believe the biblical accounts of the physical resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate.
  • 89% of adults who attend church services at least once or twice a month are more likely to say they believe in the resurrection.
  • 48% of those who don’t attend as frequently, if at all, agree Jesus’ bodily resurrection happened just as the Bible describes it.
We may be surprised that there are 11% of regular church goers who don’t believe in the resurrection. But there is a bright spot in this survey -   66% of Americans don’t need to be convinced that Jesus arose from the grave. They need to understand what difference it makes that Jesus rose from the dead. They need to know Christians believe what the Bible says. They need to see that belief demonstrated through the lives of Christians. We need to show them that it makes all the difference in the world, and that if Jesus is risen, He is also Lord.

John Stott states that “Christianity is in its essence a resurrection religion.” He advocates that if you removed the resurrection, Christianity would be destroyed. 

As we celebrate Easter and focus on Jesus’ resurrection today in our study of Luke 24:1-12, I want each of you to consider what you truly believe about Jesus’ resurrection. 

Scripture leaves no doubt; Jesus is the resurrected Savior and Lord. But we must examine whether we truly believe that Jesus arose from the grave. If you truly believe in the resurrection, consider how you might answer this question as we study this passage: “What difference does Jesus’ resurrection make in your life today?”

Leading up to today’s passage of study, the Gospel of Luke walks us through the death and burial of Jesus Christ.  After Jesus’ death, Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Jewish ruling council and one who had not agreed with the Sanhedrin’s decision to seek Jesus’ death, approached the Roman governor for permission to take Jesus’ body. Receiving permission, he and Nicodemus took Jesus’ body to a tomb Joseph had prepared for himself.  Just prior to the Sabbath, Jesus’ body was hastily placed in the tomb; a stone sealed the tomb’s entrance with everyone assuming this was the end of the great hope that Jesus had brought to so many. It wasn’t the end but just the beginning!

Following the Sabbath, a group of women who had prepared burial spices returned so they could properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial. 
 

LUKE 24:1-11

We Sometimes Forget, in the Midst of Our Circumstances, that Jesus IS Alive

Notice the words and phrases in Luke 24:1-11 that describes the transformation of the women’s faith as they moved from discouragement to hope and action. It begins with them coming to the tomb –  They came. . . bringing. They found. They went in. They were perplexed. They were terrified. They bowed down. They remembered His words. They reported. They told others.

They came to the tomb bringing spices in order to deal with the reality of what they had seen and observed. They had experienced death and loss and thought there was nothing else they could do but to properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial. Hope was lost and the One they had followed was dead. We sometimes forget, in the midst of our circumstances, that Jesus IS alive.

Keep Pursuing God When You Have Doubts

They approached their situation thinking to find one thing but found something completely different. God had been at work! They found an open tomb. The change in what they observed pressed them to go further; they went in the tomb to see what had taken place. The bodiless tomb perplexed them. They still didn’t understand what was about to happen, but they continued to investigate. If we assume something is going to play out a certain way and God changes those plans, we should continue to investigate until God speaks to us and brings clarity. In this case, their doubts about Jesus were about to be erased.

God WILL Reveal to You His Truth

Then God sent messengers. Their presence terrified them; yet they listened. The messengers reminded them of the truth they had already heard, which caused them to remember Jesus’ words. They realized God had done an amazing work. Jesus was not dead; He was alive! If we profess Christ and have spent time with God in prayer and His word, He will reveal His Truth. We may not understand it at the time, but He will make it clear at the appointed time. If you have doubts about the resurrection, then you need to keep pursuing God; He will reveal to you His truth about the resurrection and any other area in which you may have doubts.

Their Belief Resulted in Action

Their disillusioned, broken world was being restored. They realized Jesus was not just a man but the One, God’s Son, who would conquer sin and death. The light bulb came on and God took all they had seen and heard from the mouth of the Master to finally bring light to their understanding.

Their response leaves no doubt in the reader that they believed in the resurrection. Their hopelessness turned into hope. Their shattered faith became a restored faith. Their surrender turned into action. They left to tell the others. They could not keep quiet because of the resurrection.

Think for a moment about all you believe or say you believe about the resurrection. How should the resurrection message change the way you view life? How should it change the way you talk about Jesus?

One would think that this would be enough to convince the others that Jesus had conquered death and risen from the grave. But, just like some people who profess Christ today, it seemed like nonsense to the apostles, and they didn’t believe them.

We don’t know why they didn’t believe them. Perhaps they were still too absorbed by their grief. The term for nonsense can be translated as “foolish” or “idle tale.” The men did not take them seriously but discounted their report. None of Jesus’ followers expected Jesus to be alive again – Their belief in the resurrection didn’t fall completely on deaf ears. There were those who were curious and wanted to investigate further. One of those was Simon Peter.

LUKE 24:12

Had the women remained silent about Christ and His resurrection we might not read what comes next in verse 12: Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. When he stooped to look in, he saw only the linen cloths. So he went away, amazed at what had happened. (CSB)

Luke only captures Peter’s response. However, we know that John also accompanied him to see what had taken place there. John actually outran Peter but stopped short of entering the tomb (John 20:3-6). Luke’s omission of John’s presence does not contradict John’s Gospel account. Luke was simply focused on Peter’s story at this point. 

Peter stooped to look in. Peter had always been impulsive, but this action appears more intense and purposeful. The empty grave site contained only the linen cloths in which Jesus’ body had been wrapped for burial. They were lying in a heap. The smaller cloth that had covered Jesus’ face and head was folded and lay on the shelf where His body had been. (See John 20:5-7.)  

The heavenly messengers who had appeared to the women were no longer at the tomb. Peter and John must have been stunned by what they found. Perhaps they questioned each other about what might have happened to Jesus’ body. The idea that Jesus was indeed alive was beyond their immediate comprehension. Neither they nor the other disciples completely understood the Scriptures that prophesied Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:9). 

With a simple phrase, so he went away, Luke encapsulated the walk back to the other disciples. Peter was amazed at what had happened. His mind was overwhelmed by this turn of events. He could only marvel at the reality that Jesus was alive. The resurrection story is only beginning to unfold with these individuals. 

The continuing study of the Gospel of Luke will take you further into the resurrection story in the coming weeks, and you will discover how the entire world was changed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

The Apostle Paul writes later in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7 that, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. 6 Then He appeared to over five hundred brothers and sisters at one time; most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. 7 Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.” These appearances not only offered proof of Jesus’ resurrection but embolden the faith of those who believe.

The very reason you and I have an opportunity to receive Christ as Savior today is built on the fact that the women, Peter, John and the multitude of others who believed in the resurrection of Christ, were willing to risk everything to tell others about the Good News of Jesus because they believed in Christ AND in His resurrection.

Would you prayerfully consider whether you truly live as one who believes in the resurrection of Christ? 

If you struggle with believing in His resurrection, it is difficult to believe in the whole gospel of Christ. If you do struggle with believing in Christ and His resurrection, talk further with someone today.

Is your life different today because of the resurrection? If so, how is it different? What evidence are you giving to indicate that you believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ?

In the recent blogpost from LifeWay Research I discovered this quote from apologist, Rebecca McLaugh that we should all remember on this Resurrection Sunday: "If we’re not living as if Jesus is truly Lord, our unbelieving friends won’t have any motivation to wish the resurrection was true—which is often the first step to believe that it is." (Rebecca McLaugh)

Resurrection is at the heart of Christianity. News of Jesus’ resurrection needs to be shared with all people. This good news elevates the discouraged and lifts up the despondent. People in sin are desperate. Believers have the assurance that their Savior lives! We need to bring the gospel of hope to a lost world so they may also believe and be saved.

Give unbelieving friends a reason for believing in the resurrection by how you share and show the Good News of a Resurrected Jesus!

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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VIDEO STUDY - Final Video

I am hitting the pause button on videos at this time. Throughout this past year we have all had to evaluate and make decisions based on the reality of current situations. Now that so much is beginning to take place in an on-campus environment, it’s hard to balance filming a video while trying to plan for the present and the future at church. While this was a difficult decision because so many of you have expressed gratitude for these videos, I feel I must create more margin during the week so that I can focus on “rebooting” our church and looking toward the future. Who knows, perhaps a video Bible study will be a part of that future! I welcome your feedback regarding this decision.

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