This study is one of several in part 2 of the three-part series, Witnesses to Jesus, exploring “witness” in Luke and Acts.
In this study we'll look at how Jesus' closest followers responded to his claim that he would rise from the dead. Their story will help us examine our own belief in Jesus' words and the words of his witness.
By killing him publicly and in the most shameful way possible, the authorities put Jesus away as a troublemaker. But he rose from the dead on what we now celebrate as Easter morning. When God brought the executed Jesus back from the dead, he changed the entire equation for the human condition.
- Have the group members read Luke 23:44-56 individually. Ask one person to summarize the events described from the women's point of view.
- Read Luke 24:1-12 out loud. Have you ever had to deal with the death of a close friend or relative? (Ask if just one person would share).
- Keeping this person's experience in mind, look at verses 1-5, putting yourself in these women's shoes. What do we know about their relationship with Jesus? (See Luke 8:1-3 for more background.) How has Jesus' death seemed to affect them?
- What are the women hoping to do once they reach Jesus' tomb? (Note: Certain spices and ointments were used in the embalming process.) What do you imagine they are thinking and talking about on the way?
- What may have gone through their minds when they found the body missing? What might they have thought or felt when two men "in dazzling clothes" joined them in the tomb? How do you think they reacted to the men's initial appearance?
- The strange men explain things more fully in verses 6-8. What does Luke mean by "then they remembered his words" (verse 8)? What had caused the women to forget Jesus' words? What helps them remember and believe now?
- In verses 9-11 the women return to the apostles to share what they had seen and heard. How did the women expect the apostles to respond? How do they respond? What does the apostles' response tell us about how the apostles have regarded Jesus' words?
- In verse 12, why does Peter get up and run to the tomb? How does he respond differently from the other ten apostles? Why?
- What are Peter's options of what to believe once he sees the tomb? What could prevent him, even at this point, from believing in Jesus' resurrection? Based on the last sentence, which option do you think he chose?
Do you believe that the things Jesus promises will actually happen? When you encounter words of Jesus that are difficult to believe, how do you respond?
- forget them, as the women did initially.
- believe, act and bear witness as the women did after their encounter with themessengers.
- disregard them as ten of the apostles did.
- insist on finding out for yourself as Peter did.
What things block you from believing Jesus' words? Do you really believe them? Will you act on them? Here are references to some of Jesus' more radical statements you might want to discuss in your group: Luke 18:29-30; Matthew 25:45-46; Luke 11:19; Matthew 18:35.
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