No doubt Easter this year will be different from last Easter. Last year, we were in the early stages of social distancing and shelter in place guidelines. We are now beginning to reopen and regather in many parts of the world. For some, this Easter will signal some type of step toward normalcy. Our Sunday School classes and Bible study groups may carry a different significance for some this year so we want to make sure we help people get a fresh glimpse of the empty tomb and why we gather in the first place.
With that in mind, let’s look at a couple of the teaching ideas included in this year’s adult Explore the Bible resources and some ways of adapting those ideas.
Let’s start with the end, or close to it. The group plans in the Leader Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide encourage us to lead the group to complete the Bible Skill activity near the end of the group time. The Bible Skill identifies seven Old Testament prophecies that point to Jesus’ death and resurrection and encourages us to identify how each prophecy was fulfilled. We find the Bible Skill on page 53 of the Adult Personal Study Guide, page 47 of the Adult Daily Discipleship Guide, and page 54 of the Adult Leader Guide.
BIBLE SKILL: Connect Old Testament prophecy to New Testament fulfillment. Create two columns. In the first, list Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah: Isaiah 50:6; Isaiah 53:3-10; Psalm 16:9-10; Psalm 22; Psalm 49:15; Hosea 6:2; Zechariah 12:10. In the second, write some descriptions of the New Testament fulfillment in Jesus’ death and resurrection. (See, for example, Matt. 26:67; Mark 15:19; Luke 18:31-33; Matt. 8:17; Matt. 26:63; John 19:9; Matt. 27:43; and Acts 2:29-32.) How does prophetic fulfillment impact your confidence in the gospel? In what ways could you use these passages to share the good news with someone?
So how can we use this Bible Skill in our class and group especially since seven verses are listed?
- Create a handout that includes the text of the seven Old Testament passages listed in the Bible Skill. Distribute the handout so the group can more easily review the seven passages.
- Variation 1: Create two handouts, one with the Old Testament passages and a second with the New Testament passages listed in the Bible Skill. Give half of the group the Old Testament passage handout and the other half the New Testament passage handout. As the Old Testament passage is read by a volunteer, direct the other half of the group to point to the New Testament passage in which that Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled.
- Variation 2: Create a handout of the New Testament passages to be distributed. As we read the Old Testament passage, direct the group to identify the New Testament passage on the handout in which that prophecy is fulfilled.
- Contact volunteers prior to the group gathering and direct them to be prepared to summarize one of the Old Testament passages and identify a New Testament passage that fulfilled the prophecy.
- Enlist your apprentice (the person you are preparing to lead a group in the future) to complete the activity and present a summary. This would be a way of getting them accustomed to doing the studying required to teach a group and to speaking in front of a group.
- Create three teams (an individual can be a team) and assign one team the Isaiah passages, a second team the Psalms passages, and the third team the Hosea and Zechariah passages. Direct the teams to complete the Bible Skill using only their assigned passages and then call for each team to report to the group.
- If your group is meeting virtually, create a spreadsheet using Excel or some other spreadsheet software. In one column of the spreadsheet, list the Old Testament passages. Share your screen with the group and add New Testament passages in the second column as the group identifies the passages.
TIP: While the Bible Skill identifies nine potential New Testament passages that point to fulfillment, many study Bibles will identify passages in the notes for the Old Testament passages that could be used to complete the chart exercise.
After completing the chart exercise, be sure to lead the group in discussing the two questions included in the Bible Skill: How does prophetic fulfillment impact your confidence in the gospel? In what ways could you use these passages to share the good news with someone?
The second question opens the door for us to share the Gospel with our group with the hope of seeing someone believe in Christ. This question also serves as a way to encourage the group to share Jesus with others through the day and the week ahead.
We noted at the beginning of this post that we would look at a couple of ideas. The second involves using the questions included about the response of the women and of Peter.
When examining Luke 14:1-5a, we are encouraged to ask: How might we characterize the women’s response to finding the grave empty? How does their response compare to the way people react today about Jesus’ tomb being empty? These two questions are included in the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide. Later, when examining Luke 24:11-12, we are encouraged to lead the group to respond to this question: How does Peter’s response compare with the way people today respond to the news of the empty tomb? This question is also included in the Personal Study Guide and Daily Discipleship Guide.
Both of these questions deal with the same issue; how people today respond to the resurrection of Jesus. We may need to help our groups identify the women’s and Peter’s response and then allow them to identify how people respond today. This discussion then opens the door for us to ask about their response to the news of Jesus’ resurrection. Once again, we have a natural way in this lesson of sharing the gospel and inviting people to believe in Jesus.
One danger we face is assuming that everyone in our group believes in Jesus. We may think that we would offend someone if we invite the entire group to examine their response to Jesus. For some, the reason they are there is for us to give them the opportunity to respond to Jesus. We run a greater risk of offending them by failing to challenge the group to examine their response to Jesus. May Jesus find us faithful in our presenting of the truth of His resurrection and the need for all to believe in Him.
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