Jen Krausz, Bethelehem, PA

Warm-up Question

Does the good news of Easter—Christ is risen!—still hit you with fresh meaning each year? Do you consider Easter the most important holiday of your faith?  Why?

Truth of the Resurrection

A study by Christian publisher Lifeway showed that while most people (66%) say they believe the biblical accounts of the physical resurrection of Jesus are completely accurate, most young people ages 18 to 34 (59%) say they don’t believe the physical resurrection really happened.

“Young adults are less likely to be cultural Christians than their parents or grandparents, partly because identifying as a Christian isn’t seen as positively by folks outside the church as it once was,” said Rebecca McLaughlin, author of 10 Questions Every Teen Should Ask (and Answer) About Christianity.

There are exceptions to the trend.  There have been reports of a revival  sweeping college campuses.  Thousands of students participate in days or weeks-long campus chapel services where they pray, sing praise, are baptized, and give testimonies about God’s involvement in their lives.  

Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever wondered if the physical resurrection of Jesus is true? What made you question or doubt?
  • What evidence have you found that Jesus was physically resurrected?
  • Why do you think younger people find it harder to believe in Jesus today? What would  convince them or help them come to faith?

Resurrection of Our Lord

Acts 10:34-43

Colossians 3:1-4

Matthew 28:1-10  or John 20:1-18

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year A at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

When thinking about the events of the first Easter Sunday—namely Jesus’ resurrection and the disciples’ reactions to it—it’s important to understand that the disciples had no way of expecting the resurrection. Nothing in their understanding of the scriptures their rich religious tradition prepared them for a savior who would die for their sins and be resurrected. It’s true that Christians now read some Hebrew scriptures (like Isaiah 53) to be prophecies of Jesus’s sacrificial death.  However, they were not understood in that way during Jesus’ earthly ministry. And even though Jesus told them he would die and be raised again, the disciples clearly did not understand what he was saying and did not accept his statements until what he told them had taken place. 

Believers have the whole story now, and have heard it numerous times if they have attended church for years.  But for those first witnesses it would have been a brand new concept. 

When the angel told the women about Jesus’ resurrection, something started to click in their minds. This was what Jesus had said would happen.  Now they could see that his body was no longer in the grave. They were still afraid, but joy began to take hold. 

Then, as the women went to tell the other disciples what they had seen, Jesus came and met them. Now they understood. Divine help is often necessary for us to gain an understanding of God’s ways. When we try to understand deep matters of faith with only our own strength and intellect, we just can’t do it.

The resurrection is important because it shows that because Jesus defeated death, we can also defeat death by putting our faith in him. Just as some theologians have said the crucifixion is important because there Jesus pays the price for our sins, the resurrection shows death defeated once and for all.

As the disciples encountered the risen Jesus, it soon became clear to them what had happened.  They joyfully shared the truth about Jesus with the rest of the world with such conviction that, nearly 2,000 years later, billions around the world believe it.

Christ is risen—he is risen indeed! A most blessed Easter to you.

Discussion Questions

  • How would our faith be different if Christ died for our sins, but was not resurrected? What does his resurrection mean for us and our relationship with God through Christ? 
  • What biblical truths has Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, helped you to understand? 
  • What makes it hard to accept that you need  Jesus’  death in order to be saved from your sins, as well as his resurrection to defeat death?  

Activity Suggestions

  • Write the story of the resurrection from the point of view of someone who is hearing about it for the first time. What questions would they have? What would convince them it was real? This can be done in smaller groups or individually, if students feel more comfortable. 
  • Wish one or more people you come across (a friend or the cashier at the grocery store, for instance) a blessed Easter. If they ask you questions about what Easter means for you, be ready to answer their questions. 

Closing Prayer 

Holy God, we are filled with awe and gratefulness that you offered your son Jesus to die for our sins and that you raised him after three days. May we never stop meditating on that greatest sacrifice and sharing the good news about the resurrection with others. Amen.