We are studying Matthew 28:1-15 for Easter Sunday, April 21 – appropriately, perhaps, since it’s Matthew’s account of the first day of resurrection. [Some notes on the text are here.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider before or during class:
Two sets of characters, the Marys and the guards, witness the descent of the angel from heaven. How are these two sets of characters similar? How are they different? Do we see any significance in that pattern of similarities and differences? What is it?
Both of the sets of characters are given stories to tell – the women by the angel and Jesus, the guards by the chief priests and elders, so that by verse 15 there are two competing accounts of the day. Which of those stories seems more believable? Why? What evidence would a listener use to support the believability of each of the stories? (e.g., “why would they make that up?” “why would they get themselves in trouble?”)
What truths about the world we live in does the guards’ story support? What about the women’s?
What are the immediate consequences of these events for the women in the story? (We might think of some very concrete consequences, along with some more abstract and metaphysical ones.)
For the disciples?
How easy or difficult does the women’s message (see vv7, 10) seem to deliver? Why is that? If we had a message like this to deliver, what would be easiest for us, what would be most difficult? Why is that?
Do we ourselves have a message like this to deliver? Why, or why not?
In v8, the women are said to have great fear, and great joy. Why would they have fear, do we think? Why joy, do we think?
These two emotions come before the women meet Jesus in v9. Their first response is to take hold of his feet and worship him. If we thought about this scene as a model for worship, what would it teach us about worship?
How does it compare to our own worship?
The disciples are supposed to meet Jesus back in Galilee. What is important about Galilee? What do we know about Galilee from Matthew’s story so far? Does any of that give us some idea about the significance of meeting back in Galilee? What idea is that?
Thinking about the guards in particular, in vv11-15, they have to choose between two different stories of what happened to them. Are the guards like us, in any way? What way? Are they an example for us in any way? How?