Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed His word by the signs that accompanied it.
Notes to the Leader: There will be many times that those in your study group will struggle with the question of their own faith. Even to the point of wondering whether they really are “saved” as the term so often goes. This study will walk through the resurrection of Jesus and end with a review of exactly why we must accept Jesus as our personal savior.
Have someone in your group read Mark 16:1-4. Then tell this story:
Here we have two women, Mary and Salome, embarking on a mission to Christ’s tomb. Both were incapable of moving the large stone. Yet, they set off without the knowledge of who would remove the large stone from the entrance.
How does this Biblical example parallel our own faith walk?
- For most of us, each day is a mystery. We start out with some idea of where we would like to be but there are many obstacles. The obstacles don’t stop us. We just step out with the idea that when we reach each hurdle, we will somehow get over it.
Use the whiteboard or easel and build a list after asking the next question.
What are the stones that we face each day?
- Crime, violence, disease, social injustice.
- Unemployment, poor health, a physical handicap.
- Natural disasters.
What conclusions can you draw about the human spirit?
- This list can go on indefinitely. The key is that we are shown through this example, that to head out on a journey for Christ without all of the answers is what is expected of us. Our faith in God’s power to overcome the obstacles is all that is expected. God responds by providing the solutions (usually in ways beyond our own vision) to overcome and succeed. When Mary and Salome began their journey, they had no idea that an angel would solve their problem.
Section One: The Fear of Missionaries
Have someone in your group read Mark 16:5-8
Note: The stone was now rolled back, not for Christ’s exit, but for human entrance. God’s response was now to provide answers and comfort to Christ’s followers.
The three words of the angel, “He has risen!” are the most important words we can ever remember. If Christ had not risen, what would be the status of our faith?
- If Christ had not risen, we would still be waiting for the Messiah. We would have hope but not faith.
How, then, since Christ has risen, should He be viewed by humanity?
- Christ is more than a figure in a book or a memory, He is living and present in our lives.
- Christ is not someone to discuss but someone to meet.
- The Christian life we should strive for is not to know about Christ, but to know Christ.
- Christ is endless. There are new truths and wonders to be discovered each day.
Why were the two women, Mary and Salome silent even after the angel’s instructions to tell Peter and the disciples?
- They were afraid.
How does this same fear live with us today?
- When we fail to share the Gospel’s message to others (non-believers), we are leaving the happy ending off of the great story. To fail to share your faith is to fail to grasp the importance of the message and the urgency of the mission.
Section Two: When Disciples Doubt
Note: In the earliest manuscripts of Mark, verses 9-20 are absent. Most scholars believe that the original ending has been lost and later copyists wrote these verses from the accounts given in the other Gospels and Acts.
How would you contrast the joy shown by Mary Magdalene against the attitude of the disciples?
- Mary was joyful, eager to share her good news. While the disciples were broken, in despair, incapable of even believing Mary.
Why do you think that Christ just didn’t appear first to His disciples? Why did he appear first to three women?
- While the answer is not explicit in the scriptures, we see both here, and in many other bible stories, Christ’s placement of women in key roles of spreading the Gospel’s message (e.g. Luke 10:38-41, John 4:39-42). God places both men and women in important positions for carrying God’s word to the world.
- While the disciple’s knowledge of the Lord and His teachings was greater than Mary Magdalene’s, it was her simple faith that sealed her belief and established her joy. We all must remember that, while Christ wants each of us to study His word, He is after are hearts, not our heads.
Have someone in your group read Luke 24:13-35
Luke holds the full story of the meeting. Why do you think it took so long for both men to recognize Christ?
- The men were themselves blinded to the truth because of their own perceptions of what happened to Christ. Remember, the disciples had been together re-enforcing the negative attitude that Christ had failed. Disbelief fosters disbelief.
Christ was in his resurrected state. The men were not prepared to consider this option. They remained fixed on definitions and images of the past.
The men finally recognized Christ when they broke bread at dinner. What is the symbolism in this?
- The last supper.
- Our own knowledge of the Lord can come the same way. We may find ourselves walking with Him but some key event in our lives finally brings to the forefront of our minds, the truth of Christ. While Christ is a real power in this world, it is His position in the next world that is important. The disciples thought Christ would overtake the Roman empire. Instead, He overtook death itself.
Section Three: Our Great Commission
Have someone in your group read Mark 16:14-18
What are the two things that Christ rebuked the disciples over?
- Their lack of faith.
- Their refusal to believe those who had seen Him.
How does this relate to the everyday pursuit of the Christian life?
- Christ did not rebuke them for any of their actions during His death. He truly demonstrated forgiveness of their actions. Christ even understood the nature of their disbelief at first. However, Christ focused His message on the apparent lack of faith and their “stubborn” refusal to believe others. Christ tolerates our occasional apprehensions and questioning but He does not tolerate disbelief and a refusal of His evidence.
Section Four: The Power
Have someone in your group read Mark 16:19-20
From this closing we can take comfort in that the Lord had finally won over the hearts of His disciples. In review, can you describe the role of the church in Christ’s great commission?
- The church has a preaching task. Remember, we are the church. It is our role too.
- The church has a healing task. Christ is concerned for both our minds and bodies.
- The church has a source of power. This is the Holy Spirit and the confidence that Christ has not left us helpless.
- The church is not alone in its work. Christ is alive and works with it, in it and through it.
What is the message of the Gospel? What are we instructed to tell the world?
- God loves us and offers each of us a plan for his/her life.
- God’s love: John 3:16
- God’s plan: John 10:10
- Man is sinful and separated from God. Thus he cannot know and experience God’s love and plan for his/her life.
- Man is sinful: Romans 3:23
- Man is separated: Romans 6:23
- Christ is God’s only provision for man’s sin. Through him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.
- He died in our place: Romans 5:8
- He rose from the dead: 1 Corinthians 15:3-6
- He is the only way to God: John 14:6
- We must individually receive Christ as savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for our lives.
- We must receive Christ: John 1:12
- We must receive Christ through faith: Ephesians 2:8-9
- When we receive Christ, we experience a new birth: John 3:1-8
- We receive Christ by personal invitation: Revelation 3:20
- You should close your study with an invitational prayer. As your group to pray silently either committing or recommitting their lives into the hands of Christ.
- Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. Lord, I hand you my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Help me make you my most important priority. Make me into the kind of person You want me to be.
Bible Truth Being Taught
Each of us is separated from our God by our own sinful nature. It is the sacrifice of Jesus and our faith in Him that offers us eternal life.
To admit our own nature and rely on the living Christ to lead us each day.