BECAUSE HE LIVES
Scripture: Matthew 27:32–66, 28:1–10; John 14:1–4; Romans 8:34
Memory verse: Romans 8:34
”Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us."
God wants us to be free from sin. That is why He provided something that would remove our sin. He loved us so much. He sent His only Son to be that something. Jesus suffered the punishment for our sin – death. Now all we need to do is be sorry for our sins and ask His forgiveness.
Relay Race: You will need a chalkboard, chalk and small sticks. Divide the students into two or more teams. Ask each team to line up single file at one end of the classroom, opposite the chalkboard.
Give the first person in each line a stick. Explain that at a signal each should race to the team’s section of the chalkboard, write the first letter of the message “Jesus Is Risen,” run back to the team, give the stick to the next student, and go to the back of the line. Continue until one team writes the message.
After the race, explain that the word relay means “to pass along.” In a relay each person runs his fastest and passes the stick to another person. All of us are in a race we run for Jesus. We have a stick or message we must give to others in life’s race – the message of salvation.
Hearing God’s Word
This week we are going to hear of an event that fulfilled many prophecies in the Old Testament.
Ask: “Can anyone guess what the event is? Why is this event so special? (Allow responses.)
An Improper Trial and Sentence
Jesus’ enemies knew Jesus was becoming quite popular because of the miracles He did and the love He showed to others. To avoid possible conflict with the people, Jesus’ enemies had Jesus arrested at night and brought before the high priest. There false witnesses accused Jesus of blasphemy.
Do you know what the word blasphemy means? It means “speaking irreverently about God.” Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. The religious leaders did not believe Him. They thought this statement was blasphemous. The Law of Moses called for the death penalty for blasphemy. The rulers were determined to see that Jesus received the death penalty, even though His claims of deity were true.
Pilate Gives Consent
One major problem flawed the religious leaders' plan. Jewish rulers could not execute anyone. That took a decree from Pilate, the Roman governor. The rulers took Jesus to see Pilate. They told Pilate that Jesus was guilty of treason because He said He was the King of the Jews. They told Pilate this was impossible because they served Caesar, the Roman king.
Ask: “Did Pilate find Jesus guilty?”
(Ask the students to look up Matthew 27:22-24 to answer this question as well as those that follow.) What did he tell these rulers? Why did Pilate order Jesus to be crucified if He was innocent? Did washing his hands in public make Pilate innocent of what was about to happen to Jesus?
Pilate gave in to the pressure of Jesus’ accusers and ordered that Jesus be beaten severely, and then taken away to be crucified. But water could never wash away Pilate’s guilt in Jesus’ death. He had the power to stop it, but he didn’t. When a person knows the right thing to do, but ignores what is happening, he shares the guilt.
Events at the Crucifixion
The Roman soldiers took Jesus to Golgotha, nailed Him to a cross by hammering large spikes in His hands and feet, and then gambled for His robe while they waited for Him to die. Above Jesus’ head they hung a sign that read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” The crowds that passed by shouted insults at Jesus. “If you are God’s Son, come down from the cross, and we will believe you,” they said. In spite of their cruel treatment Jesus loved His enemies and prayed for them.
At noon the skies suddenly darkened. After 3 hours of darkness, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, NIV).
Ask: “Do you know why Jesus asked this?” (Allow responses.)
Jesus, the perfect, holy Son of God, took the punishment of every man’s sins. God cannot look on sin, so He had to turn His back on His only Son. This was the worst torment Jesus endured. Jesus had done nothing wrong. He didn’t deserve the punishment that was on Him. Because Jesus loves us so much, He endured it just so you and I might receive forgiveness and eternal life.
The Significance of the Torn Curtain
At about three o’clock in the afternoon, Jesus died. Suddenly the earth shook with a terrible earthquake. The Roman soldiers were terrified. They had never witnessed a death like His. The centurion and others in charge exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).
Another unusual thing happened. The curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. This is a very important symbol of what Jesus did for us. The curtain kept people from going into the section of the temple called the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest had been allowed in the Holy of Holies. There the priest talked to God on behalf of the people. The torn curtain tells us Jesus’ death makes it possible for us to come into God’s presence ourselves. We do not have to have someone else pray in our place.
That evening Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for Jesus’ body. Joseph was a member of the Sanhedrin, the high court of the Jews. He had secretly believed in Jesus all along, but he had been afraid to let others know it. Now he wanted to come out in the open and show his love for Jesus by burying His body.
After Pilate gave his permission, Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb. Then a heavy stone was rolled over the door of the grave. It seemed the sad story ended there. The next day the religious leaders asked Pilate to set a guard at the tomb. They had heard Jesus say that after three days He would rise again. They did not want someone to steal Jesus’ body and claim that Jesus was alive. They knew that would create quite a stir among the people. Pilate agreed and told the religious leaders to make the tomb as secure as they wanted.
No Power Could Hold Jesus
It seems the religious leaders had taken care of things quite well. But there was one thing they had not counted on—God’s power. Early Sunday morning Mary Magdalene and another woman named Mary went to the tomb, hoping to anoint Jesus’ body. On the way, they wondered how they would roll away the heavy stone from the front of the tomb. Imagine their surprise to find the stone already rolled back! Their surprise turned to fear when they saw an angel sitting on the stone.
Ask: “What message did the angel give the women?” (Ask a student to read Matthew 28:5-6.)
The women ran to tell the disciples. On the way they met Jesus himself. They didn’t need the angel’s report now. They had seen Him firsthand!
The Resurrection — Our Foundation
The Resurrection is the foundation of Christianity. It proves Jesus is the Son of God as He claimed to be. Many of the things that happened at Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament hundreds of years before. What are some of them?
The Resurrection is more than just an exciting event in history. It has great meaning for us today. Soon after Jesus rose again, He went back to heaven. This week’s memory verse tells us where Jesus is now. (Repeat the memory verse with students several times.)
But Jesus has not forgotten about us. He is always praying for us and listening to our prayers. He is also doing something else for us. What is it? (Ask a student to read John 14:1–4.) Jesus promised He would come again to take His followers to live with Him. Then we will be with Jesus in heaven for eternity – all because He willingly gave His life for our sins.
Accepting God’s Word
Have you accepted Jesus’ gift of salvation? Have you repented of your sins and asked Him to forgive you and become Lord of your life? If not, you can do so now. Then you too can have eternal life – a gift only Jesus can give.
Lord, thank You for the Beja people, for all people were created in Your image. You created their language and culture. Looking upon Your creation, You said, “It is good.” The Beja entered this life with a purpose – to have fellowship with their Creator and give glory to God.
The good news of the gospel has been shared with many people groups, yet others are still waiting to hear that Jesus saves from sin. The truth of salvation through simple faith in the shed blood of Jesus seems to have bypassed the Beja. They are an unreached peoples group.
Most High God, please send a messenger to them, for how can they hear the gospel unless someone tells them? Open their ears to hear the truth, their eyes to see Jesus in the daily life of Your messenger, their minds to grasp the plan of salvation and faith to arise in their hearts to believe. May they submit to Jesus, accept Him as their Lord and Savior and experience His life-changing power.
Lord, I offer this prayer that You might be glorified and the Beja rejoice in Your great salvation. Amen.
Study 5 | Jesus is Worthy/Witnessing | africaatts.org/go-teach