Into the Lesson
To open today’s lesson, share the following riddle with your class also printed in the student books. Ask students to guess the answer.
I am both first and last. In the course of time I was, and was not, and am again forever. Who am I?
List your students’ suggested answers on the board, then ask them to read Revelation 1:12-18. They should recognize that the answer is Jesus,who is the first and the last, and who lived, died, and rose again to eternal life.
Next, use the commentary on verse 18 to sketch the three reasons why the Christian should not fear death. Then tell your class that today’s lesson deals with the biblical evidence for believing that Jesus did indeed conquer death.
Into the Word
Share the following information with your class: George Rawlinson (1812-1902) was an English historian. He formulated guidelines for historians to follow to determine the value of historical writings. He proposed that (1) the writings of eyewitnesses generally have the highest degree of credibility, (2) the writings of those who get their information from eyewitnesses have the next highest degree of credibility, and (3) writers of a later age, who depend on word-of-mouth (oral tradition) for their information, have the lowest degree of credibility.
Using these guidelines and the questions below, your students should evaluate the historical credibility of the following biblical reports of the risen Jesus. (This exercise is also in the student books.) You can either divide your class into small groups and assign each group one or two passages. Or investigate each passage with the entire class.
The passages are (A) John 20:11-20; (B) John 20:26-28; (C) John 21:1-14; (D) 1 Corinthians 15:3-8
Questions for Each Passage
- Was the author an eyewitness of the appearance of the resurrected Christ?
- Did the author get the information from an eyewitness?
- Did the author rely on word-of-mouth from an earlier age?
- Taking the first three questions together, what degree of historical credibility should we assign to the passage in question?
Passages A, B, and C: The author, John, was an eyewitness of the resurrected Lord; see John 21:20-24 (highest degree of credibility).
Passage D. Paul and others were eyewitnesses of the risen Lord, though not all were witnesses to the same appearances; see Acts 9 (highest degree of credibility).
After you have analyzed each passage, discuss the implications this evidence has for a Christian’s faith. Use the lesson commentary on John 20:30-31 and the questions below to guide the discussion.
- Why did John record so many miracles, especially the miracle of Jesus’ resurrection?
- Why is it important to have historical evidence of the highest credibility upon which to base one’s faith in Jesus?
- What assurance do we have that death has been defeated, based on the historical evidence we have for the resurrection of Jesus?
Introduce the last exercise by saying, “It is important for each Christian to be able to explain why he or she believes in Christ. As Peter said, ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear’ (1 Peter 3:15).”
Then ask students to use the paper you provided (or the space in their student books) to complete the following open-ended statement: “I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, because …”
Ask several volunteers to share their faith statements.