Jesus is Alive!
Sunday School Lesson for March 31, 2002
This week’s lesson represents a brief departure from our study of Ephesians so that we may consider the miraculous resurrection of our Lord as recounted by John. I have deliberately kept my comments concise and to the point, given the familiarity of this text and its thorough treatment by Dr. Sharon Gritz in the Explore the Bible Adult Commentary (pp. 50-59). Next week we will continue our journey through Ephesians.
The Death of Jesus (19:28-37)
Note that the passion and death of Christ was in direct fulfillment of “the Scripture.” This is an explicit reference to the Old Testament prophecies of the death of the Messiah, not the least of which is Psalm 22:18. This, then, becomes a major piece of evidence supporting the internal consistency of the Bible and, thus, its inspiration and authority.
It is significant that John records Christ bowing His head and giving up His spirit (v.30). This recalls His stunning claim that no one would take His life. To the contrary, He would “give” His life as a ransom for the sins of His sheep (John 10:17-18). The cry “it is finished” displays the fact that Christ’s death upon the cross was an actual atonement for sin. That is, His vicarious death and subsequent resurrection did not merely make salvation possible, but made it a fact for those He came to save. Again we must appeal to the words of Christ Himself in John 10:15—“I lay down my life for the sheep.” It is here, in the words of Jesus Himself, that we discover the particular or definite nature of Christ’s redemptive ministry.
The significance of this section is the proof it offers us concerning the literal death of Christ. The importance of this cannot be overstated, for if our Lord had not suffered a literal biological death His bodily resurrection and our eternal salvation would have been impossible. Note the clear evidence for Christ’s death:
The Burial of Jesus (19:38-42)
The preparation and burial of Christ’s body by “Joseph of Arimathea” (v.38) and “Nicodemus” (v.39) also verifies the reality of the Lord’s sacrificial death. As the text declares, these two men “wrapped” (v.40), or literally mummified, the body of Christ in over “seventy-five pounds” of “myrrh and aloes” (v.39). Typically, the body of the deceased would be entombed in a casing of linen wrappings (multiple layers) and spices that might weigh as much as 125 pounds when completed!
The Discovery of the Empty Tomb (20:1-9)
The “new tomb” (19:41), in which Christ’s lifeless body was laid, was secured by a massive “stone” placed over the entrance. Some have speculated that this stone weighed as much as three thousand pounds! This makes it all the more remarkable that when “Mary of Magdala” arrived at the burial site “on the first day of the week” she “saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance” (v.1). Her absolute bewilderment at the unlikely situation is revealed in her “running to Simon Peter and the other disciple” with the news that “they have taken the Lord out of the tomb” (v.2).
The reality of Christ’s resurrection is supported by additional historic details provided by John. The strongest evidence, as will be evident, is the testimony of the eyewitnesses who would later give their very lives for the truthfulness of this event.
One: The Biblical claim of the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead demands a response from every person. This fundamental assertion of Christ’s resurrection cannot be ignored. There are only two options:
Two: Christ’s bodily resurrection has conquered death, the greatest enemy of humanity. We possess in Christ alone the assurance and certainty of our victory over death and hell (Rom. 6:4-5). Death, therefore, is no longer our enemy. In fact, for the believer, death has been turned into that which is as harmless as “sleep” (Acts 7:60; 1 Cor. 15:18; Phil. 1:21,23; 1 Thess. 4:13-14).
Three: The bodily resurrection of Jesus is at the very core of the Christian faith. Can you think of how this fact relates to other fundamental Christian doctrines? Consider for example: the doctrine of God; the doctrine of salvation; the doctrine of the Trinity; the doctrine of the future; the doctrine of the church; the doctrine of man; the doctrine of revelation (particularly predictive prophecy).