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The Living Christ

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THE LIVING CHRIST 

Scripture: Matthew 27:32–66, 28:1–10; Mark 16:9-11; John 20:11–29

Memory verse: John 20:29
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

Lead—In

Bring the following items to class: an electric or hand fan, blank sheets of paper, pictures of a strong windstorm, and a fresh flower. Display the items in various part of the room. Place the sheets of paper on a table near the fan. Use the following to introduce the lesson.

Tell the students you have decided that anything you cannot see must not exist. If they do not believe this is true, they must help you disprove it.

Place the fan so it faces the sheets of paper you have placed nearby. Say, “The first thing that must not be real is wind. I cannot see wind, so it must not really exist.”

Allow the students to offer verbal proof that wind does exist. Ask them to explain why they believe this. Then ask a student to turn on the fan. Point out the papers that are blown from the table. This is proof that wind does exist. Then show them the pictures of the aftermath of a windstorm. Ask them to explain how these pictures prove that wind is real.

Hold up the flower. Ask the students how a flower can help prove that carbon dioxide exists. Explain that flowers need it to grow. Since this flower is in bloom, carbon dioxide must have been present.

Ask: “Does love exist? How do you know?” (Allow the students to offer proofs of their beliefs.)

(Then say, “I also do not think memory is real. I cannot see your memory, so maybe it does not exist.” Ask a volunteer to describe his mother or name what he ate for breakfast.)

Point out that the discussion has shown that things exist which cannot be seen. They have seen and heard proof that things such as wind, carbon dioxide, love, and memory do exist. This week the students will learn other important events are true even though they cannot see them.

Hearing God’s Word

Each of you should decide whether you agree or disagree with this statement. If you agree, put your thumbs up. If you disagree, put your thumbs down. The statement is: “Seeing is believing.” (Count the responses of both sides. Ask a few to explain.)

What Causes Belief

The statement is saying if you can see something, you can believe it exists. What about air and wind?

What about feelings, such as love and anger? Even though these things are invisible, they are still very real. (Refer to the Lesson Lead—In discussion if you used it.) Let us try an experiment. Everyone close your eyes. Can you see me? Do you believe I am still here? Even though for the moment I am “invisible” to you, I am still as real as ever. Now everyone open your eyes.

Whether you agreed or disagreed with the statement “seeing is believing,” you were at least partially correct. “Seeing is believing” applies to our study today. Listen very closely to the Bible account and decide if Jesus agreed or disagreed with the statement.

The Triumphal Entry

Jesus’ disciples must have felt several emotions during the week leading up to the resurrection.  (Ask the students to listen for the different emotions mentioned in the lesson and make a list as you talk.) On the Sunday before the resurrection, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. The people rushed out to meet Him, shouting praises and waving palm branches. Jesus was a popular teacher that day.

Ask: How do you suppose His 12 disciples felt about the crowd’s greeting? (Allow discussion.)

They probably felt proud to be Jesus’ followers.

Jesus is Arrested

Shortly after the Triumphal Entry came the important Jewish holiday called the Passover. Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples. Then they went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus must have done this often because Judas knew right where to lead the soldiers to arrest Jesus. When the soldiers came, the confused disciples did not know what to do. They ran away, leaving Jesus all alone. At that moment, their fear was stronger than their loyalty to Him.

Jesus Goes to Golgotha

Jesus was tried at an unfair hearing and sentenced to die. Jesus had been whipped until His back was torn and bleeding. Then the soldiers placed a rough splintery cross on His back and made Him carry it toward Golgotha, the place of the Crucifixion. (Ask a student to read Matthew 27:32.)

Ask: Why did the soldiers force Simon to carry Jesus’ cross? (Allow discussion.)

Jesus was weak from His beatings. Simon must have looked strong enough to carry the heavy cross.

Ask: How do you suppose the disciples felt when they saw Jesus staggering toward Golgotha? (Allow discussion.)

They must have been shocked by Jesus’ bloody appearance and weak condition. Was this the same Man who had done so many miracles? What would happen to them now that their Teacher was being executed?

Events at the Crucifixion

At Golgotha, the soldiers nailed Jesus to a wooden cross and gambled for His clothes. They hung a sign above His head that read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.”

Many of the people watching the Crucifixion began yelling insults at Jesus. (Ask the students to read Matthew 27:39–43.) They shouted at Him to save himself and come down from the cross.

Ask: Would you have come down from the cross if you were Jesus? Why do you think he stayed? (Allow responses.)

Jesus did not come to earth to save himself but to save us from the punishment for sin. His death was the only way He could do this. From noon until 3 o’clock the skies were darkened as though it were night. At 3 o’clock Jesus shouted, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Some of the bystanders thought He was calling Elijah. Someone ran and put a sponge soaked in vinegar on a stick and offered it to Jesus to drink. Jesus cried out again. Then he died.

Imagine how sad Jesus’ followers must have felt at His death. A wealthy follower of Jesus named Joseph received permission to bury Jesus in his own tomb. Jesus’ body was placed in the tomb, and a large rock was rolled in front of the entrance. The next day the chief priests and Pharisees went to the Roman ruler in Jerusalem and were allowed to put guards at the tomb. They were afraid some of Jesus’ disciples would steal His body and claim Jesus had risen from the dead. But a few soldiers could not stop the events of Jesus’ resurrection.

Events of the Resurrection

(Ask a student to read Matthew 28:1–7). Suddenly the earth began to shake and an angel appeared. The soldiers standing guard were so scared they fainted. Although they had been trained in battle, nothing had prepared them for this!

Imagine how excited the women must have been when they saw the empty tomb and heard the angel’s message. The angel said Jesus would appear to the disciples in Galilee. Joyfully the women ran to tell the good news.

Mary Magdalene saw Jesus first. She was weeping at the empty tomb. When a Man asked her why she was crying, she thought He was the gardener and asked where He had taken Jesus’ body. Only after Jesus said her name did Mary recognize Him.

Hurrying to the disciples, Mary told them she had seen Jesus.

Ask: How do you suppose the disciples reacted when they heard this? (Discuss, then ask a student to read Mark 16:9–11.)

The disciples did not believe Mary. Jesus had been crucified. He died! Mary could not have talked with Him that morning. It was impossible!

The Disciples do not Believe the News

Mary was not the only one the disciples did not believe. Later in the day two other followers of Jesus rushed in with the good news. They had walked and talked with Jesus on the way to the town of Emmaus (Eh-MAY-uhs). But the disciples still doubted. They did not believe Jesus was alive until He actually appeared to them.

Later when Jesus appeared to the disciples, one disciple named Thomas was missing. When the others told Thomas they had seen Jesus, he did not believe them. He felt seeing was believing. He said he would believe Jesus was alive only when he could see and touch Jesus’ scars.

Eight days later Jesus appeared again to the disciples. This time Thomas was present, and he too believed. Jesus told Thomas something that applies to everyone who has not seen Jesus. (Say the memory verse several times together.)

Accepting God’s Word

Jesus walked and talked with His disciples for 40 days after His resurrection. He continued to teach them truths about His kingdom. He was also seen by other believers. Do you know how many saw Him? (Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 15:5–7.) Jesus’ resurrection was no secret. The Bible’s record and the meeting with His followers prove He is alive.

Ask: How do these verses apply to us? (Allow discussion.)

Today we cannot actually see Jesus, but we still believe He lives. Just as we cannot see air or wind but know they exist, we cannot see Jesus, yet we know He is watching over us. He lives today just as surely as He lived about 2,000 years ago. We believe this because the Bible’s record is true.

Not only do we have the Bible’s record, we can see evidence that Jesus is alive in the lives of Christians. He continues to save and heal people today. People’s lives are completely changed. People who once hated God and were selfish become loving and forgiving. Only God can make changes like that in our hearts.

Jesus died and rose again so we could have eternal life. He paid the price to buy us back from spiritual death. Through faith we receive salvation. Faith is believing, even though we do not actually see what we believe in.

Present the information about the Pa'a tribe in Nigeria given below.

Meet the Pa'a

The Pa'a, also known as the Afawa, inhabit the banks of the Bunga River, which lies in Nigeria's northern Bauchi province. The Pa'a live in compact, walled towns that are usually located at the base of hills.

In the past, a chief, who was also a priest, was the overall ruler of the Pa'a. Today, the Chief of Tiffi is the only remaining village head, and the Emir of Ningi is the highest authority. 

Although nearly 1 in 5 of the Pa'a have embraced Islam, most still follow their traditional ethnic beliefs. Worship of clan ancestors and idols is the basis for these beliefs. Very few Christian resources are available in the Pa'a language. Additional Christian labourers and evangelistic tools are desperately needed. However, intercessory prayer is the first step toward reaching the Pa’a with the Gospel.

REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for the Pa'a tribe in Nigeria

1. Our study group to see how we can speed up the return of Jesus,
2. Our group to understand the power and necessity of giving a personal testimony,
3. Each believer in our group to learn how to lead an unbeliever to faith in Jesus.

Prayer Promise

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (tribes), and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).

MORE INFORMATION: www.joshuaproject.net

Remember: THE LIVING CHRIST

Memory verse: John 20:29
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."

1. I believe Jesus is alive.
2. I see Him in the Scripture, and He speaks to me through the Bible.
3. I see Jesus living in the lives of other believers. I am convinced.

Pray for the Pa'a tribe in Nigeria.

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Study 9 | Give to God / Paul Writes | africaatts.org/go-teach

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