1. Opening up
- Review:In Mark 13-15, we discussed the topic of suffering. Even though suffering can be hard to endure and understand, we saw that that Jesus, the innocent Son of God, suffered for you.
- Homework: Our homework was to answer the following: Where are you suffering right now? How does this truth – that Jesus suffered for you – encourage you?
- ASK: how did you answer that question?
- ANSWER: Parents, feel free to share your own answers.
- Pray: Having just discussed suffering, thank Jesus that he willingly suffered for us. Then ask the Spirit to lead your study.
Transition: If you’re familiar with the Resurrection in Mark 16 then it’s easy to skip past it and not think about what it means. Instead of doing that we’re going to think about why the Resurrection matters…
2. Struggling with doubts
- Doubts: Lots of people struggle to believe. That’s true for Christians and skeptics. It’s hard to believe what you cannot see. And if you think about it, even the atheist (who doesn’t believe in God and only believes that science can explain our world) should have doubts. No one can go back in time and prove the scientific theories he believes in. The point is this, everyone should expect to have doubts about their big beliefs. The question is, what do we do with our doubts?
- Parents: the following quote may be over the head of your son or daughter, depending on their age. If so, simply communicate the gist of the quote, which is that we should explore our doubts; that there is actually something healthy about exploring your doubts.
- “A faith without some doubts is like a human body without any antibodies in it. People who blithely go through life too busy or indifferent to ask hard questions about why they believe as they do will find themselves defenseless against either the experience of tragedy or the probing questions of a smart skeptic. A person’s faith can collapse almost overnight if she has failed over the years to listen patiently to her own doubts, which should only be discarded after long reflection.”
- Big point: Here’s the beauty of the Bible: it invites you to “come and see.” It welcomes your exploration and your questions. God reveals the Gospel of His Son with evidence. God’s Word certainly tells us that it comes from God and that we should believe it. But instead of angrily dismissing skeptics, God’s Word gives evidence and eyewitness accounts to prove its truth.
- ASK: have you ever struggled with doubt? In what ways?
- ANSWER: Parents, maybe you can share your own struggles and how God overcame them. For me (Jordan), there was a season several years ago when I really struggled to believe some of the stories I read in the Bible. In time, God overcame my doubts in two ways: 1) by answering my prayers asking for faith and belief, and 2) by reminding me of the Resurrection of Jesus. The point to make is this: if we struggle to believe, the place to come back to is the Resurrection. All of Christianity hinges on the Resurrection. As Paul says, if it’s not real, then give it all up (eat, drink, and be merry…). But if it’s real then the Resurrection changes EVERYTHING.
Transition: Everything hinges on the Resurrection. So let’s consider the evidence…
3. The Evidence of the Resurrection
- The account: Read Mark 16:1-8. Notice that there are three shocks that grow in intensity.
- The stone was rolled away. The stone that covered the tomb of Jesus was massive. The other Gospel accounts tell us that it was guarded by Roman soldiers. For the stone to be rolled away (“hurled away” in the Greek language) would have been a complete shock to the women who came to the tomb.
- An angel appeared! A young man dressed in a white robe appeared to the women. Matthew tells us that this was an angel. The women would have been shocked again to discover this unique messenger, who was there to deliver a message.
- He is risen! The greatest shock of all, was the angel’s message: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here…” The idea of resurrection would have been just as crazy to the ancient world, as it is to our world. He’s alive? How could that be possible?
- Evidence. When our world thinks about an event like this, the first question they normally ask is this: “Is this scientifically possible?” But if God is real and Jesus was God (as He claimed to be), then it should not surprise us that He has power over death. The question we should ask instead is: “does the evidence make sense?” And, “is it believable?”
- ASK: what evidence here helps you believe in the Resurrection? (brainstorm together)
- ANSWER: the following are examples that show the strength of the eyewitness testimony:
- It passes the “cover-up test”: if a court of law was examining someone’s story they would want to make sure the person was not trying to hide something or cover-up the real details. Mark presents the details in a way that doesn’t make the eyewitnesses seem too impressive: they are fearful women, who forget that Jesus foretold of His Resurrection. Further, if you were making up a story in the ancient world you would not want women to be your first eyewitnesses. Sadly, women were not allowed to testify in court in the ancient world. But in the most important story in the Bible, God puts women front and center. They are the first eyewitnesses and that makes it even more likely that this story was NOT made up.
- It passes the “bias test”: Were the eyewitnesses biased, meaning they already had their minds made-up about Jesus? Certainly, these women and the disciples believed Jesus and trusted him. But after Jesus died, the other accounts tell us that the disciples were very scared, huddled in a room together, worried that the authorities would soon be after them. But the Resurrection changed their perspective. They were no longer ruled by fear, even though they had every reason to be afraid. When you really think about it, the disciples of Jesus had nothing to gain in this life by going out and proclaiming Jesus. But that’s exactly what they did after the Resurrection changed everything. And all of them gave their life in the process, dying because they were followers of Jesus. That passes the bias test.
- It passes the “corroboration test”: Do the stories fit together? If you read all the different accounts of the Resurrection, you’ll notice that they fit together. Yes, they have different details but their details all line-up. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15 that Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at once, after His Resurrection! In other words, 500 people could tell you the same thing – we all saw Jesus at the same time!
- The spread of Christianity! What’s so amazing is that after the Resurrection, Christianity spread like wildfire. It went from a small band of 12 disciples to covering nearly the whole Roman Empire, becoming the religion of 33 million people by 350 AD. There’s only one thing that could account for that kind of rapid spread – the true story of the Resurrection.
 What follows is taken from Stephen Phelan, Training Session 6: Did Christ’s Resurrection Happen? at https://movementmentoring.live/training-session-6-lifes-big-questions-did-christs-resurrection-happen/.
Transition: It’s really important to consider the evidence for the Resurrection. When you do, it becomes even clearer that the Resurrection of Jesus really happened. But we can also point to one more bit of evidence…
4. Transformation and Power
- ASK: have you ever seen someone’s life transformed by Jesus?
- ANSWER: Parents, share your own story of how Jesus transformed your life. As you do, consider the following questions: What does the Resurrection mean to you and how has it changed you? Where have you seen God’s resurrection power overcome idols and sin patterns in your life? Have you seen God do that in the lives of others as well?
5. The BIG Picture GOAL: to see that the Resurrection is real and that it changes everything.
- If the Resurrection really happened, then it changes everything. Jesus rising from the dead is not just interesting information. The Resurrection is the most incredible news – news that has been transforming the hearts of men, women, and children for the last 2000 years!
- Homework: think about the Resurrection. What does the Resurrection mean for your life?
6. For next time…
- Choose the day and time for your next study.
- Kids and parents: Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.