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Related Bible reading(s): Acts 10.34-43; Psalm 118.1-2,14-24; 1 Corinthians 15.19-26; Luke 24.1-12

Bible study

A selection from this week's resources to help you plan and run a Bible study.

Welcome and opening prayer (5 mins)

A gathering prayer

We gather to gaze at the empty cross,
to ponder Christ’s love.
We gather to gaze at the empty tomb,
to reflect on the hope that his rising brings.
We gather to worship Christ who is risen.
Alleluia! Amen.

 

Read the text (10 mins)

Consider different ways to read the text. For example, sharing parts between several readers, or hearing it more than once using different versions, or using/adapting this suggestion.

Present the Gospel

This reading lends itself to a mime. Make a simple setting with two white sheets, one spread out as if it had covered Jesus’ body, the other rolled up and to one side. You will need: a narrator, two or three women with pots (of ointment), two men dressed in ‘dazzling’ white (e.g. cricket whites), and Peter.

Play quiet background music throughout, and begin by describing the setting: ‘It is very early in the morning, and the first time after the end of the Sabbath that the women would have been able to come to the tomb to anoint Jesus’ body. You are the disciples. When you hear the news, shake your heads as if not believing it.’ The narrator should read slowly, allowing time for the actors to mime clearly what is going on.

 

Explore and respond to the text (30 mins)

Use the Bible notes as a way into Bible study. For example, you could read a section, then allow time for people to discuss issue raised and respond.

Bible notes (Adult & All Age version)

New Testament: Acts 10.34-43

Invited by Cornelius to speak the words that God had given him to say, Peter gives a clear and concise summary of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.

‘We are witnesses to all that he did’ (v.39), Peter says, confirming first-hand that Jesus rose on the third day and subsequently appeared to his disciples, eating and drinking with them. It is the testimony of those first disciples that perhaps offers the strongest proof of Jesus’ resurrection. Given their levels of fear and confusion immediately after Jesus’ death, what else could explain their sudden transformation into joyful and confident ambassadors of the gospel?

 

New Testament: 1 Corinthians 15.19-26

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul examines both the facts of the resurrection and its meaning for us. He describes it as a new era in the history of salvation. The era of Adam, in which all human beings die, has ended. Now, in Christ, ‘all will be made alive’ (v.22). Jesus’ resurrection paves the way for the eventual resurrection of all who belong to him. Paul writes with the unshakeable confidence of someone who has encountered the risen Christ himself. Earlier in the chapter he lists over 500 people who saw Christ after his resurrection. Then, ‘last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me’ (15.8). For Paul, the Damascus road was a life-changing moment that gave him a new understanding of God, and a new sense of his own calling. Our experiences are probably less dramatic, but how have we encountered the risen Christ, and how has this changed our lives?

 

Gospel: Luke 24.1-12

The names may differ, but all the Gospels agree that the first witnesses of the empty tomb were the women who followed Jesus to the cross, and then to his grave. Luke describes them as ‘perplexed’. Having brought spices to anoint Jesus’ body, they clearly weren’t anticipating the resurrection. But as soon as the mysterious men in dazzling clothes remind them that Jesus had predicted he would rise again (Luke 9.22), they rush back into the city to tell the disciples and the rest of Jesus’ followers that he has risen. Mary Magdalene has been called the ‘apostle to the apostles’, but she is not the only one. All the women Luke lists in verse 10 could bear that title. Ironically, the apostles initially disbelieve them, perhaps because women were not considered to be reliable witnesses under Jewish law. But the women’s faithfulness at the end of the Gospel mirrors that of Elizabeth and Mary at the beginning. Throughout his Gospel, Luke consistently shows women, as well as men, proclaiming the good news of our salvation in Christ.

Peter then sees the empty tomb for himself. Rather curiously, ‘then he went home, amazed at what had happened’ (v.12). We do not see him immediately bearing witness, as the women had. The story of the Emmaus road intervenes, and it is only as that story ends that we hear that Peter has told the rest of Jesus’ followers. Perhaps he needed time to process his amazement.

‘You are witnesses of these things’ (Luke 24.48), Jesus says. As the Gospel ends, Jesus commissions all his followers (not just the eleven) to proclaim his death and resurrection to all nations, along with the message of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. As we celebrate the joy of Easter, we are invited to reflect on our own role as witnesses, and to be encouraged that the Spirit will inspire and empower us to proclaim the good news.

 

The links between the lectionary readings

Some proclaim the resurrection hesitantly. Some proclaim it with great confidence and certainty. The Easter readings suggest that it took some time for the Early Church to process the amazing reality of Jesus’ resurrection. Peter (in Acts) and Paul (in 1 Corinthians) were among the first to see the full implications of Christ’s victory over the powers of sin and death. But from the moment that the women first discovered the empty tomb, the resurrection brought new life and energy and hope into the world. This was stunningly good news that simply had to be shared – and it still does.

 

For more discussion ideas, and practical and active ways to explore and respond to the readings, choose from: Sermon ideasActive worshipPicture pointers; or PostScript

 

Pray together (10 mins)

Prayers of intercession

Let us pray for those for whom today is just another day:
those who have to work;
those who have not yet encountered the risen Christ;
those who do not celebrate his love.
For God gave his Son,
to show his love and bring life.

We pray for all who flee their homes in desperation,
and travel into an uncertain future.
Strengthen them on their journeys,
and keep alive their vision of finding a secure and welcoming home.
For God gave his Son,
to show his love and bring life.

Let us pray for those who grieve today:
those recently bereaved;
those for whom this is a time of anniversary;
those who wait beside a loved one who is dying.
For God gave his Son,
to show his love and bring life.

Let us pray for all in need throughout the world:
those without access to clean water;
those with insufficient food;
those who cannot access the health care that they need.
For God gave his Son,
to show his love and bring life.

Let us pray for each other and for ourselves,
that we may have wholeness, peace and hope
through the presence in our lives of the risen Lord.
For God gave his Son,
to show his love and bring life.
Amen.

 

End the session (5 mins)

A sending out prayer

May the risen Lord be with you as you serve him in the world.
May his strength sustain you;
his peace still you;
and his love inspire you to live and love as he did.
Amen.

 

Live your faith

Do something intentionally this week to show that Jesus is alive in your life – it could be talking to someone about your faith or something more practical.

The ROOTS resources include a range of materials that can be put together to plan and run a Bible study, either leading up to a service based on the reading or in the following week.

The Bible study above is a selection of this week's resources and the timings are based on a Bible study session lasting one hour. This can be printed off and used as it is, or modified to suit your situation.

If you prefer to make your own selection from the weekly materials, please see our guidance on preparing a Bible study. You will also need to include a copyright acknowledgement as follows:
© ROOTS for Churches Ltd. Reproduced with permission. www.rootsontheweb.com

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