Reflecting the Beginning in the End

 If life and death are inextricably entwined, then life should be conceived on the date of death, and Christmas should be nine month after Passover... which it is. Our Coffee Break Bible Study Group's still studying the end of our Gospel marathon as the season approaches its beginning. And it feels right. Join us!

(109) Beyond the Cross

We still have two more stations in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre—two more places to pause and pray… But first, let’s revisit what happened in the moment of Jesus’ death:

12.   Read Matthew 27:50-56, Mark 15:37-41, Luke 23:44-49, John 19:31-37 What might be the significance of…

a.       the sun being darkened (Matthew, Mark and  Luke)? What does darkness mean to you?

b.       the Temple curtain being torn? What was the purpose of the curtain?

                                                                                       i.      What does physical separation mean to you? What about mental or spiritual separation?

                                                                                     ii.      Have you ever felt “separate” from God?

c.       an earthquake? Why might earthquakes be associated with spiritual events?

d.       Open graves? There were tombs (even whitewashed tombs) outside Jerusalem. What would it mean if these came open?

                                                                                       i.      How might this relate to “rules” about uncleanness and separation?

e.       Raised bodies (or ghosts) walking? If Jesus is the first-fruits of the dead, how do we interpret this?

                                                                                       i.      Are there any Old Testament “ghosts”?

                                                                                     ii.      What might Jewish ghosts rising at the death of Christ mean for Judaism? And why might Matthew be the only one to mention this?

f.        The sword in Jesus’ side? Read Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 7:14.

                                                                                       i.      What are the physical implications of water and blood?

                                                                                     ii.      What spiritual meaning has it gained for Christians?

g.       No broken bones? Read Exodus 12:46, Numbers 9:12, Psalm 34:20 (not RSV?). Why might John, rather than Matthew, be the only one to mention this?

h.       The centurion’s faith? Son of God (Matthew and Mark) or a good man (Luke)…

                                                                                       i.      Why might Luke use a different expression? And why is it important for us to think about what people will hear, as well as about what we will say?

13.   Jesus is taken down from the cross: Read Matthew 27:57-58, Mark 15:42-45, Luke 23:50-52, John 19:38-39

a.       Who were Joseph and Nicodemus? Some Christian traditions suggest Joseph was Jesus’ uncle, and that he carried the Holy Grail to England.

b.       Is it sometimes okay to be a secret disciple? Does God’s purpose sometimes require secrecy?

c.       What was the significance of the spices (especially as we approach Christmas)?

14.   Jesus is laid in the tomb: Read Matthew 27:59-61, Mark 15:46-47, Luke 23:52-56, John 19:40-42

a.       What’s the rush (religious regulations)? Why the stone (wild animals)? Why take note of the burial location (ritual importance of caring for the body)? And what do we need to know and tell?

b.       Did everyone leave straight away?

c.       Read Matthew 27:62-66 Why can’t the priests guard the tomb? Why does Pilate agree to help?

d.       Who might have seen the guards arrive? And why will the women come back later?

We know what happens next, but we’ll look at it next week. In the meantime, let’s not rush, let’s not fear wild animals (or viruses), and let’s take note of what’s important. What are you going to take away from reliving this scene?

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