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Jesus Defeats Death



Scripture: Matthew 27:32–66, 28:1–10; Mark 15:21–39; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4

Memory verse: 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...he was buried...he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."


Today's study explains why Saul could experience such a wonderful transformation of his life. We will begin by using an egg and a drinking glass. Begin by breaking the egg into the glass. Ask if anyone would want to volunteer to drink the egg. (Do not actually take someone up on this.) Count the number of volunteers, and then ask how many would be willing to drink the egg for the prize of a new pair of shoes. Count the volunteers again. Explain that you really do not expect anyone to drink the egg; you are simply proving a point.

Ask the students why more people would be willing to drink a raw egg if they were paid for it. Explain that usually people are willing to endure something unpleasant if the reward is great enough. That is why athletes go through strenuous exercise. It is why students study many hours to earn good grades.

Ask the students how many would be willing to drink the egg so someone else could receive a new pair of shoes. Discuss why people are usually less willing to endure an unpleasant experience for the benefit of someone else.

Tell the students that Jesus’ death and resurrection is an example of someone who suffered a very unpleasant experience, not for His own benefit but for ours. Because of what Jesus did, we can have the benefit of eternal life with God.

The Bible tells us what happened when Jesus arose from the dead. The following events took place in Jerusalem.

Events at the Crucifixion

The first part of the account is as sad as it is important. (Ask a student to read Matthew 27:32, 33.)

Ask: “Why do you suppose someone had to carry Jesus’ cross for Him?” (Allow responses.)

The soldiers had beaten Jesus badly and had also put a crown of thorns on His head. The beating and loss of blood made Jesus weak. The Romans found a bystander from Cyrene named Simon and forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. Try to imagine the crowd of people slowly climbing the hill called Golgotha. The word Golgotha means “the place of the skull.” Many people had probably been crucified on that hill.

As the next few verses are read, listen for things the people did as Jesus hung on the cross. (Ask a good reader to read Matthew 27:35–37.)

Ask: “What did the Roman soldiers do as Jesus died?” (Allow responses.)

They gambled for His clothes, and they hung a sign above His head to mock Him. The sign said, ‘THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” The soldiers did not know that as God’s Son, Jesus really is the Jews’ king.

(Divide the class into three groups. Ask each group to read silently one of these references: Matthew 27:39, 40; 27:41–43; 27:44.)

Ask: “Who else besides the Roman soldiers made Jesus suffer? What did they say to Him?” (Write responses on the chalkboard.)

Other people walking by insulted Jesus as He hung on the cross. They said Jesus had bragged about being God’s Son; now why could He not save himself and escape the cross? The chief priests and teachers of the law also insulted Jesus. They scoffed and said they would believe Jesus was the king of Israel if He would come down from the cross.

Ask: “Why did Jesus not come down from the cross?” (Allow response.)

If Jesus had called angels to rescue Him, we could not be saved. Jesus cared more about us than He did himself. Jesus was dying so our sins could be forgiven. (Ask a student to quote or read John 3:16.) Even the thieves who were dying on either side of Jesus made fun of Him.

Ask: “How was Jesus’ death different from their deaths?” (Allow responses.)

Jesus had committed no crime. The thieves knew they were guilty and deserved to die, but Jesus was dying even though He was innocent of any wrongdoing.

Ask: “How do you suppose Jesus felt when so many people made fun of His suffering? How would you feel if you were badly hurt and others made fun of you? (Allow discussion.)

Along with His physical pain, Jesus had to carry the world’s sins. This caused Jesus such suffering that He asked, “God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Read Matthew 27:46.)

Some Unusual Happenings

What unusual thing happened as Jesus hung dying on the cross? (Ask a student to read Matthew 27:45. Then write the answer on the chalkboard as the student responds.) God caused it to become as dark as night, even though it was really noon.

What things happened at the moment of Jesus’ death? (Ask various students to read Matthew 27:50–53. Write the answers on the board as they respond.) God made the earth shake; He tore the curtain in the temple from top to bottom. He caused some believers to be raised from the dead. All these astounding events had a great effect on the men in charge of the Crucifixion. (Read Matthew 27:54.) The earthquake and darkness convinced the soldiers that Jesus really is the Son of God.

Jesus is Buried

(Ask a student to read Matthew 27:57–60.)

Ask: “Why do you suppose Joseph of Arimathea (Ar-uh-muh-THEE-uh) wanted to bury Jesus in his own tomb?” (Allow responses.)

Joseph must have been very sad about Jesus’ death, just as the rest of Jesus’ followers were. Only a few days earlier Jesus’ friends had been rejoicing with Jesus as He ministered to needy people. Now they were weeping because Jesus was dead.

Joseph probably felt the least he could do for his Friend and Teacher was to give Him a good burial. Therefore, Joseph placed Jesus’ body in his own new tomb. He then had a huge stone rolled in front of the entrance to the tomb. It seemed a sad ending to a life that had touched so many with the truth of God’s love.

Unbelievers Worry

With only this part of the story it seems strange we would celebrate these events with joy every year. The reason for the celebration is that the account does not end there. The religious leaders were still troubled regarding Jesus. The day after Jesus died they went to Pilate. The priests and Pharisees remembered that Jesus said He would live again after He died. The Pharisees did not believe this promise, but they were afraid the disciples might steal Jesus’ body and claim He had risen. They asked Pilate to have the tomb guarded and sealed. Pilate no doubt thought it was all nonsense, but agreed to allow soldiers to seal and guard the tomb. Pilate told the priests and Pharisees to make the tomb as secure as possible.

Ask: “How do you think you would feel if you were a soldier guarding a tomb?” (Allow the students to discuss their reactions.)

The soldiers posted at the tomb probably felt silly. They were experienced soldiers, but something was about to happen that even they could not control. (Have a student read Matthew 28:1–4.)

Ask: “Why do you suppose God sent an angel at this particular time?” (Allow the students to discuss their thoughts briefly.)

There probably were several reasons for the angel’s appearance. The frightened soldiers saw the angel with their own eyes, so they knew the disciples had not stolen Jesus’ body. The angel rolled away the stone. The angel also had a message for the women and Jesus’ disciples who arrived later. (Ask a student to read Matthew 28:5–8.)

The Excitement of the Resurrection

The angel told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary that Jesus was no longer in the tomb! He had risen from the dead! The women were to go quickly and tell the disciples the exciting news. On the way they met Jesus—alive and well. They worshiped Him and the He too sent them on their way with the message to His disciples.

This is why we rejoice. Death could not defeat Jesus’ power and authority. Jesus fulfilled the Scriptures just as He said He would. Our memory verse tells us, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…was buried…was raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4).

It is thrilling to know Jesus did all this for us. (Repeat the memory verse with the students two or three times.)

Accepting God’s Word

Jesus suffered greatly when He died on the cross, but He had to take the punishment for our sins so He could offer us forgiveness. He knew that his death and resurrection was the only way our sins could be forgiven and we could have the hope of eternal life.

Ask: “What kind of sacrifice did Jesus make for us?” (Allow discussion.)

Jesus sacrificed His life that we might have a way to heaven ad escape the punishment for our sins, which is eternity in hell—separated from God—forever to bear the guilt and punishment for our sins.

Ask if any would like to receive Jesus as Saviour today. Pray individually with each student who responds. Express to the students what salvation means to you, then let volunteers share how they feel about being able to spend eternity in heaven.

Family Living

Turning off the main road and driving one kilometre toward the river, we entered a Jola Fonyi village. The chief was at his compound and graciously welcomed his unannounced guests. He was prepared to work on his farm, so he slipped into his house and changed into more suitable clothing.

I shared with the chief that we were visiting Gambia for three days, and in preparation for our visit I had read about the Jola Fonyi. Our purpose in visiting his village was to personally meet the Jola Fonyi and put faces to statistics and an anthropological profile.

The chief proudly shared that he had four wives and 13 children. Two of the wives and the oldest son were present. The others were in the fields protecting the grain from monkeys and birds.

Pray for the Jola Fonyi Helpers

1. Believing youth willing to give their vacation time to work among the Jola,
2. A clear presentation of the message of Jesus' death on the Cross,
3. May the living Christ personally appear to some Jolas seeking truth.

Prayer Promise

"Our God is greater than all other gods" (2 Chronicles 2:5).


Memory verse: 1 Corinthians 15:3–4
"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures...he was buried...he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures."

1. Jesus suffered and died on the cross for me.
2. Jesus took my place on the cross and paid the price for my sin.
3. Jesus arose from the dead and offers me freedom from sin and a personal relationship with Him.

Pray for Jola Fonyi Helpers.

Study 3 | Eternity— Apostle Paul | africaatts.org/go-teach

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