Witnesses to the Resurrection
Think of some people who know you well. Would they be more likely to characterize you as skeptical and cynical or as gullible and naive? How do you decide when to take someone at his or her word, when to wait for proof or when to disregard someone’s story entirely? Have your group talk about some examples of each.
In this study we’ll look at how Jesus’ closest followers responded to his most outrageous claim—that he would rise from the dead. Their story will help us examine our own belief in Jesus’ words and the words of his witness.
1. Have the group members read Luke 23:44-56 individually. Ask one person to summarize the events described from the women’s point of view.
2. Read Luke 24:1-12 out loud. Have you ever had to deal with the death of a close friend or relative? (Ask if just one person would share).
3. Keeping this person’s experience in mind, look at verses 1-5, putting yourself in these women’s shoes. What do we know about their relationship with Jesus? (See Luke 8:1-3 for more background.) How has Jesus’ death seemed to affect them?
4. What are the women hoping to do once they reach Jesus’ tomb? (Note: Certain spices and ointments were used in the embalming process.) What do you imagine they are thinking and talking about on the way?
5. What may have gone through their minds when they found the body missing? What might they have thought or felt when two men “in dazzling clothes” joined them in the tomb? How do you think they reacted to the men’s initial appearance?
6. The strange men explain things more fully in verses 6-8. What does Luke mean by “then they remembered his words” (verse 8)? What had caused the women to forget Jesus’ words? What helps them remember and believe now?
7. In verses 9-11 the women return to the apostles to share what they had seen and heard. How did the women expect the apostles to respond? How do they respond? What does the apostles’ response tell us about how the apostles have regarded Jesus’ words?
8. In verse 12, why does Peter get up and run to the tomb? How does he respond differently from the other ten apostles? Why?
9. What are Peter’s options of what to believe once he sees the tomb? What could prevent him, even at this point, from believing in Jesus’ resurrection? Based on the last sentence, which option do you think he chose?
Do you believe that the things Jesus promises will actually happen? When you encounter words of Jesus that are difficult to believe, how do you respond?
- forget them, as the women did initially
- believe, act and bear witness as the women did after their encounter with the messengers
- disregard them as ten of the apostles did
- insist on finding out for yourself as Peter did
What things block you from believing Jesus’ words? Do you really believe them? Will you act on them? Here are references to some of Jesus’ more radical statements you might want to discuss in your group: Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 25:45-46; Luke 11:19; Matthew 18:35.
“Witnesses to Jesus” Bible Studies are available
Many thanks to those who gave their time to the writing and editing of these studies: the InterVarsity® staff authors (mentioned with each study); Kathy Burrows (design); Jeff Yourison (layout editor); and Shelley Soceka and Judy Yourison (proofreaders).—Bob Grahmann, editor
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