Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Sunday School Lesson #27

Posted by Jim F. on July 17, 2007

Lesson 27: Matthew 28; Luke 24; John 20-21

Lacking time, I’ve created study questions only for the first two reading assignments. I’ve not included any for the two chapters in John.

Matthew 28

Verse 1: Who was the other Mary? (See Matthew 27:57.)

Verse 2: Rather than “And behold,” “Look!” is probably a better translation. The angel only rolls back the stone when the two Marys come to see the tomb. Does Jesus leave the tomb at that time, or has he already left?

Verses 2-5: Why don’t the women faint when the guards are so frightened that they do?

Verse 5: Why does the angel describe Jesus as “which was crucified” rather than “your Master” or “who wrought the Atonement” or in some other way?

Verse 6: “He is risen” translates a Greek clause that can more accurately be translated “He has been raised.”

Verse 7: In Matthew 26:32, Jesus told the disciples that he would go before them into Galilee. Here the angel tells them he has done so. Why do you think he went to Galilee to reunite with his disciples rather than do it where they were, in Jerusalem?

Verse 8: What does it tell us that the women’s feelings were of fear and joy at the same time?

Verse 9: When Jesus meets the women, he says, literally, “Rejoice,” though the Greek word used was a common greeting, used as we would use “Hello.” However, in this instance, the literal meaning is also appropriate. What do you make of the women’s reaction?

Verses 11-15: What do these verses explain? Why was that important to the early Church? How might it be meaningful to us?

Verses 17-20: Would the last clause of the verse be a surprise to a first-time reader? Why does Matthew tell the story that way? Why is it important to him to mention that there were doubters among the disciples? What effect might Jesus’ words have had on the doubters? Why doesn’t he say anything to them about their doubts? Jesus says that they should go and teach because he has all power. Can you explain that relation between their call to teach and his omnipotence? What does Jesus mean when he says “I am with you, even unto the end of the world [literally, ‘the end of the age’]”?

Luke 24

Verses 1-11: Why does Luke wait until verse 10 to tell us who came to the tomb? Notice that the language that each of the evangelists uses to tell the story of the resurrection is simple and straightforward. Why did they choose that kind of language to describe such an important and dramatic event rather than dramatic language? What does the word “remember” mean in verses 7-8? Had Jesus’ followers actually forgotten that he told them these things would happen? Why does news of the resurrection first come to women rather than to the presidency of the church or other priesthood holders? (Compare John 20:11-18.) Why does the angel’s description of what had to be focus on the resurrection rather than on the experience in the garden of Gesthemane? The phrase “idle tales” is weaker than the Greek which says, literally, “things said in a delirium.” Why don’t the apostles believe the women?

Verse 12: How does Peter respond to the empty tomb? Does he believe the women’s story?

Verses 13-35: Verse 13 says “two of them” were on their way to Emmaus. Two of whom? Why doesn’t Luke tell us their names or give some other way of identifying them? (We later learn the name of one of them, Cleopas—verse 18.) Compare and contrast the experience of these two people with that of the Apostles (Matthew 28:17; Luke 24:36-38, 41; John 20:20, 24-25). How quickly does each recognize the Lord? What is the Lord doing when these two recognize him? How is that significant? Does each group believe as soon as they recognize him? In verse 15, the Greek word translated “reasoned” could also be translated “questioned.” Tradition says that Cleopas (verse 18) was Jesus’ paternal uncle, the brother of Joseph. Cleopas’s son, Symeon, succeeded James (Jesus’ brother) as bishop of Jerusalem. What does verse 19 show about these disciples’ understanding of who Jesus was? Compare verse 30 to Luke 9:16 and to Luke 22:19. What is Jesus doing?

Verses 36-49: Notice how the disciples are described: terrified and afraid (verse 37), troubled and doubting (verse 38). Why are the apostles frightened? The two people on the way to Emmaus were not. What is the difference in these two events? What does Luke mean when he says “they believed not [i.e., disbelieved] for joy” (verse 41)? What does it mean to disbelieve for joy? In verse 44 to what does “these are the words” refer? Why does the Lord say to them “while I was yet with you”? In other words, why does he use the past tense? After all, he is with them when he speaks—or is he suggesting that he is no longer with them in the same way? To both the people on the way to Emmaus and to the Eleven, the risen Lord expounds the scriptures. Why? To what does “these things” refer in verse 48? The Greek word from which we get the word “apostle” means “messenger.” What is the message of these witnesses?

More Questions

Matthew tells us of an earthquake which no one else mentions. John tells us that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and then told the disciples, among whom Peter and John returned to see the empty tomb. Mark tells us that Mary and other women saw an angel outside the tomb and a second inside, but Luke and John tell us that they see two angels inside. John and Mark tell us that Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb, though Matthew tells us that he appeared to Mary Magdalene and the other Mary as they were leaving the tomb.

What do you make of these differences? Is there one story of which each of these is a part? Are we reading different remembered accounts with the differences that memory often creates? Or are we seeing other things at work in these differences? And what difference do the differences make? How would you answer someone who used these differences to argue that the New Testament is inconsistent and, therefore, not to be relied on?

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