2010-03-31 / Religion

Sunday School Lesson

Christ arose on the third day
Rev. James Temples

Then Jesus Christ of Nazareth — the eternal son of God — was born into the world (Matthew 2:1a; Luke 2:7), the purpose of his earthly life had already been declared. Almost 700 years before this event, the prophet, Isaiah, wrote of the divine plan. “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined…For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting father, the prince of peace.” Isaiah 9:2, 6. Many events were to unfold before this divinely-described picture would be completed.

Near the end of the earthly ministry of the son of God, events seemed to turn against him and his teachings. The religious leaders of that day saw this upstart from Nazareth as beginning to move in on their turf. In order to protect this territory, this troublemaker must be removed from the scene.

These leaders hired one of the disciples — Judas Iscariot — to betray the son of God into their hands for “30 pieces of silver.” Matthew 26:14-16; Zechariah 11:12. This fact was not hidden from the master. John 13:26, 27. This act of betrayal set in motion the acts that resulted in the death of Jesus by crucifixion. John 19:16- 18.

After the betrayer left the upper room, our Lord continued to speak words of instruction and encouragement to the eleven. “A little while, and ye shall not see me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see me, because I go to the father.” John 16:16. The disciples were puzzled by this declaration. John 16:17, 18. The master described their emotional response to the coming events. John 16:19-22.

One of the major principles that would guide the lives of these men in the future was their directing their requests directly to the heavenly father — the creator of the universe. John 16:23. This shift would come in the form of their petitions to the father. The master knew that until this time, their requests had been made directly to him. He told them, “Hither to have ye asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16:24. Our Lord continued, “At that day ye shall as in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the father for you: For the father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the father, and am come into the world: again I leave the world, and go to the father.” John 16:26-28.

It is important to remember that words of encouragement are not always words that guarantee one to be free from difficulties. “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

All of these words of encouragement and instruction were lost to these men as the events of the next few hours began to occur. In the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36), the master agonized in prayer (Luke 22:41, 42). When the betrayer came to this place of prayer — with a band of soldiers (Luke 22:47-53) — the 11 forsook him, and fled. Matthew 26:56c.

The religious leaders held their kangaroo court in order to pass their death sentence upon this one who had caused them so much trouble. John 18:12-14, 19-24; Luke 22:66-71. Since the religious leaders had some authority granted to them by the Roman government, they could not carry out their pronounced sentence of death. In order for their wishes to be granted, the Roman governor — Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:2b) — had to give the final decision. “Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. And the soldiers plaited a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him with their hands.” John 19:1- 3. After Jesus was crucified by the Roman soldiers, he was pronounced dead by the centurion in charge. Mark 15:44, 45.

After this pronunciation, we are told that “Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.” John 19:38-42.

This scene was not the end of the story. The fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth is well-verified. Yes, there are many explanations that have been put forth throughout history, attempting to discredit the facts. The first lie was a paid lie, financed by the Jewish religious leaders of that day. Matthew 28:11-15. However, there were many appearances of our resurrected Lord, including a group of approximately 500. 1 Corinthians 15:6. These readers could contact these witnesses to confirm or deny the fact.

Yes, we serve a risen lord, who has a divinelyappointed assignment. “But this man, because he continueth forever hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:24-25. We can rejoice in this fact, when we apply the principle in a our personal life. John 3:16.

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