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As my mum likes to remind me, without Christmas there could be no Easter...
(110) Exciting News!
Like newspaper accounts of a startling event, the Gospel accounts of the resurrection aren’t identical—which suggests they’re not made up; nobody sat down and said, “Let’s get our stories straight.” They’re just “straight” from the participants’ varied memories. So, let’s follow each group:
1. The guards:
a. Read Matthew 27:54, Matthew 27:62-28:4,11-15 Why might powerful Roman soldiers have been afraid?
b. Why might the soldiers be willing to lie? Do you suppose they convinced themselves the lie was true?
c. When is it easy to convince people to believe in a lie? When is it not easy? Would Matthew get away with adding that last sentence if it weren’t true?
2. The women:
a. Read Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1-2 How might the women’s thoughts be similar to the authorities’ when they see the stone rolled away?
b. Do you suppose Mary Magdalene stayed with the other women, or ran straight back in horror? How easily do we jump to conclusions and fail to check what God is showing us?
c. Read Mark 16:5-7, Matthew 28:3-7, Luke 24:4-7 So… what do angels look like?
d. Read Matthew 28:8-10, 26:32 Why would Jesus be going to Galilee?
e. Who is first to be reminded that this is God’s plan? How willing are we to accept God’s plan when things aren’t working the way we want them to?
3. Peter and John:
a. Read John 20:1-10 Why might Mary have singled out Peter and John?
b. If Mary ran back to find Peter and John, the other women may have set off back by now. But Mary, Peter and John won’t have heard the angels’ reminder about the scriptures. Do you think the disciples understood what they were seeing? (Verse 8 says John did, but verse 9 says they didn’t understand… and these are eye-witness accounts…)
4. The rest of the disciples were probably hiding in the upper room where they ate the last supper:
a. Read Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:8-11 How easy is it to say things that people might not believe?
b. How easy is it to listen when you’re told something you might not believe?
c. Does God ever condemn the disciples for not immediately believing?
d. Read Luke 24:12 (if you can find it), John 20:8-10 Do you suppose some of the disciples rushed out to check up on what they’d heard? Is it wrong to want to confirm our faith with facts (or science even)?
5. Mary Magdalene:
a. Read John 20:11-18, Mark 16:9 Imagine the rumors and the chaos. Peter and John came with Mary and ran off. The other women have disappeared. How lost might Mary feel at this point?
b. Have you ever felt lost and alone? Did God help?
c. Do we always understand God’s help, or is it enough just to accept it?
6. More disciples:
a. Read Mark 16:10-13 Clearly some are believing, and others not. Yet all are followers of Jesus… Is it okay that we don’t all know, believe, worship, learn… or even “date Christma”s in exactly the same way?
b. How does the New Testament fulfil the Old?