February 27, 2022 – Matthew 27:45 – 28:20

Lesson Date: February 27, 2022

Focal Scripture Passage: Matthew 27:45 – 28:20

AIM: To lead students to verbalize the three essential elements of the Gospel, and to encourage them to make a commitment to share those three facts with someone during the coming week.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Matthew 27:45 – 28:20 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book.  Write the word “Gospel” on the marker board or chalkboard.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Gospel” written on the board.  Tell them that the word “gospel,” like many other words in the English language, has several meanings and can be used in a variety of ways.  For example:

  • It can be used to refer to the teachings of Jesus.
  • It can be used to refer to the Bible books that tell the story of Jesus’ life, such as the “Gospel of Matthew,” the “Gospel of John,” etc.
  • It can be used to emphasize the truth and accuracy of a statement: “That’s the gospel truth.”
  • The Greek word translated “gospel” in our Bibles literally means “good news.”
  • We use it when we speak of telling people how to be saved: we say that we have “shared the Gospel” with them.

Tell the class that after six months studying the book of Matthew we have arrived at the final lesson.  This lesson deals with the familiar facts about Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.  We often study passages such as this at Easter, but in today’s study we are going to look specifically for the three essential elements of the Gospel.  The title of today’s lesson is What is the Gospel?

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus’ trials and crucifixion).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Matt. 26:64).
  2. Jesus’ Death.
    • Read Matthew 27:45-49.
    • Ask: “What happened from the sixth hour (Noon) until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.)?” (there was darkness all over the land).
    • Tell the students this was not a six-minute solar eclipse or a passing dark cloud – it was dark as night for three hours in the middle of the day; this was a supernatural event.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus shout at 3:00 p.m.?” (“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”).
    • Explain the following:
      • Jesus quoted from the first verse of Psalm 22, which is a messianic psalm.
      • This marked the very moment when Jesus became sin (2 Cor. 5:21), which separated Him from His Father.
      • Some of the people misunderstood His cry, thinking He was calling for Elijah to come save Him.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 27:50.
    • Tell the class this quarter’s study has been about Jesus’ journey to the cross; when His work on the cross was finished, Jesus willingly yielded up His spirit and died.
    • Read Matthew 27:51-56.
    • Tell the students some very strange things happened when Jesus died.
    • Ask: “According to verse 51, what happened to the Temple veil?” (it was torn in two from top to bottom).
    • Explain the following:
      • The Temple veil blocked access to the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
      • Only the high priest could pass that veil and only on one day of the year; no one else was allowed inside.
      • The word “veil” makes us think of something flimsy and light, but this veil was actually a heavy curtain about four inches thick!
      • God tore the veil in two to show the world that access to Him was now available to everyone who knows Jesus Christ as Savior.
    • Ask: “What else happened in verse 51?” (there was a great earthquake).
    • Tell the class verses 52-53 reveal that the graves were opened, and many dead saints arose. The Bible doesn’t tell us much about this strange event.
    • Ask: “What other strange thing is described in verse 54?” (the centurion and other soldiers – the very ones who carried out Jesus’ terrible execution – realized He was truly the Son of God).
    • Ask: “According to verse 56, what did Mary Magdalene and the other women see?” (they saw Jesus die).
    • Summarize: There is no doubt from eyewitness accounts and even from secular historians that Jesus Christ died on the cross. He was unquestionably dead.
  3. Jesus’ Burial.
    • Read Matthew 27:57-61.
    • Explain the following:
      • Evening was fast approaching.
      • There wasn’t much time to bury Jesus’ body before the Passover began at sundown.
      • When the Passover began it would be unlawful to do such work.
      • Joseph of Arimathaea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus, and Pilate agreed.
      • Joseph wrapped Jesus’ body in a linen cloth and hurriedly laid it in his very own tomb.
    • Ask: “According to verse 61, who saw where Jesus’ body was laid?” (Mary Magdalene and the other Mary).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 27:62-66.
    • Ask: “Why were the chief priests and Pharisees so worried that they asked Pilate to place a guard at Jesus’ tomb?” (because they had heard Jesus predict that He would arise from the dead after three days).
    • Ask: “Do you think the chief priests and Pharisees believed Jesus was dead?” (obviously, or they wouldn’t have wanted a guard at His tomb).
    • Tell the students that Pilate gave orders for Roman soldiers to guard the tomb, and he placed a Roman seal on it to show that it was under Roman control and jurisdiction.
    • Ask: “Did the Jewish religious leaders and Roman authorities know which tomb Jesus was buried in?” (obviously).
    • Explain the following:
      • The body of Jesus Christ was placed in a tomb cut out of solid rock for burial.
      • There were eyewitnesses who saw it placed there.
      • The chief priests and Pharisees knew Jesus’ body was in the tomb.
      • The Roman governor sealed the tomb that everyone knew contained the body of Jesus.
      • Everyone involved knew which tomb contained Jesus’ body.
    • Summarize: There can be no doubt that Jesus Christ was buried. Eyewitnesses, Jewish leaders, and the secular government all agree about this fact.
  4. Jesus’ Resurrection.
    • Explain the following:
      • Remind the class that Joseph of Arimathaea and the others had to get Jesus’ body in the tomb hurriedly before the start of the Passover.
      • They did not have time to complete the lengthy process of anointing the body with aromatic spices to cover the odor of decay.
      • Passover that year fell on Friday and was followed immediately by the regular Sabbath on Saturday.
      • The earliest the women (who customarily did the burial anointing) could get back into the tomb to complete their task was early Sunday morning, the first day of the week.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 28:1-7.
    • Ask: “What happened when they got to the tomb?” (there was a great earthquake, an angel appeared and rolled away the stone, and the guards collapsed in paralyzed fear).
    • Ask: “What did the angel say about Jesus?” (He had arisen from the dead).
    • Tell the class the angel invited the women into the tomb to see the place where Jesus’ body had been, after which he told them to go tell Jesus’ disciples about His resurrection.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 28:8-10.
    • Ask: “Who did the women meet?” (Jesus; this was His first post-resurrection appearance).
    • Read Matthew 28:11-15.
    • Explain the following:
      • The guards went into the city and told the chief priests what had happened.
      • The chief priests paid the guards a large amount of money to say that Jesus’ disciples stole His body while they (the guards) were sleeping on duty (if they had been asleep, how would they have known what happened?).
      • Roman guards who fell asleep on duty were subject to execution.
      • The chief priests assured the guards that they would speak to Pilate and protect them from punishment.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Matthew 28:16-20.
    • Ask: “How did the disciples respond when they saw Jesus after His resurrection?” (they worshipped Him, but some still had doubts).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell the disciples to do?” (tell the Good News about Him to everyone on earth).
    • Ask: “According to what we have read today, who saw Jesus alive after He arose from the dead?” (the women and His disciples).
    • Tell the class the Bible says He was also seen by many others (see 1 Cor. 15:5-8).
    • Tell them that Jesus’ followers and secular historians of the time document the fact that Jesus arose from the dead.
    • Stress the fact that from their actions, it seems very obvious that the Roman guards and the Jewish chief priests and elders believed that Jesus arose from the dead.
    • Summarize: Bible accounts and secular historians agree that Jesus Christ arose from the dead, just as He had promised.
  5. Three Essential Elements of the Gospel.
    • Remind the students that in the introduction to this lesson we talked about the fact that the word “gospel” can be used in a variety of ways.
    • Tell the class that the Bible’s definition of the Gospel is found in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. Read those verses.
    • Explain that those verses name the three essential elements of the Gospel. They are:
      • Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures.
      • Jesus Christ was buried.
      • Jesus Christ rose again the third day according to the scriptures.
    • Write those three words on the board below the word “Gospel.”
    • Summarize: The three essential elements of the Gospel are the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the students the following:

  • Death: Throughout human history billions of people have died, but no one other than Jesus Christ died as a sinless substitute to pay the price for our sins.
  • Burial: Most of those billions that have died have also been buried, but only Jesus Christ escaped alive and unseen from a heavily guarded tomb.
  • Resurrection: The Bible tells us that God brought a few other people back to life after they died, but no one else conquered death to never die again.

Ask: “What are the three essential facts that make up the Gospel?” (Christ died, He was buried, and He arose from the dead).  Ask the students to say the words death, burial, and resurrection aloud together.

Ask: “What was the last thing Jesus told His disciples after His resurrection?” (to spread the Good News about Him to everyone they could).  Ask: “Do you think that instruction still applies to us today?” (yes).  Ask: “Do you believe you have a responsibility to tell others about Jesus Christ?” (yes).  Explain that one way to tell people about Jesus is simply to tell them those three important facts: Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the price for our sins, He was buried just like any other dead person, but He arose from the dead on the third day.

Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes.  Ask them to make a personal commitment to God right now to share those three important facts with someone during the coming week.  Voice a closing prayer.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Matthew 28:18-20.  Encourage them to follow through on their commitment to tell someone the three essential facts of the Gospel this week.  Be sure everyone has a new Sunday School Member Quarterly for Deuteronomy before leaving class this morning.  Encourage them to start the Daily Bible Reading Guide tomorrow.

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