Grasping Easter: a personal encounter with Hope himself

Passage: Matthew 28:1-10
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

Sermon Summary

We long to be the kind of disciples who can trust Jesus, even during the worst hardships. In order to grow in this kind of faith, we need to take hold of the victory Jesus has won for us, and we need to take hold of Jesus himself.

On Easter morning, none of Jesus’ followers thought that Jesus had just won a great victory over sin and death: the disciples were huddled nervously in hiding and the women made their way to the tomb with burial spices in hand. Despite their low expectations, however, Jesus had in fact won a monumental victory, as the details of Matthew’s account highlight—a great earthquake, an empty tomb, and a shining angel sitting triumphantly on top of the rolled-away stone. Just as the angel invited the women to experience Jesus’ victory (“Come, see the place where he lay”), and commissioned them to go and proclaim it (“Go…and tell the disciples that he has risen from the dead!”), so also we today need to take hold of the victory that Jesus’ won on the cross. We need to stand upon his finished work and let that alone be our source of confidence for life and ministry.

Likewise, just as we need to take hold of Jesus’ victory, we also need to take hold of Jesus himself. In Matthew’s account, the risen Jesus personally intercepts the women on their way from the tomb, which leads them to fall down, take hold of his feet, and worship him. The women didn’t need any more good news about Jesus—indeed, Jesus’ command to “go and tell my brothers” was nothing more than the angel had already told them—but they did need a personal encounter with the risen Lord himself. Likewise, we today need a personal encounter with Jesus, where we lay our lives down in unqualified surrender and worship of him, in light of all that he’s done for us.

Sermon Outline

  • Take Hold of the Victory (28:1-7)
  • Take Hold of Jesus (28:8-10)

Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide

Re-read the passage (Matthew 28:1-10)

Take Hold of the Victory (28:1-7)

Q) Re-read Matthew 28:1-7, and meditate on the details together:

  • What do you think the women were expecting as they were on their way to the tomb?
  • Why do you think Matthew includes the details about the “great earthquake”, and the appearance of the angel?
  • What is the significance of the angel sitting atop the stone that was rolled away?

Q) How does the angel invite the women to experience (or “take hold of”) Jesus’ victory for themselves? Why was this important for them to do?

Q) Re-read vs. 10. Why does Jesus’ refer to his disciples as his “brothers”? What does this communicate about his heart towards them?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that we need to “take hold of Jesus’ victory”—that is, we need to take each aspect his finished work and begin to make it our source of joy and confidence. Is there a certain aspect of Jesus’ finished work that is particularly meaningful to you right now? Here are some examples of you might consider:

  • That all your sins have been forgiven and God will never hold them against you!
  • That death has been defeated and will one day be eradicated for good (“the last enemy to be defeated is death”)!
  • That the Holy Spirit is now poured out to comfort and empower all who believe in Jesus!
  • That “a new creation” has begun and will one day be perfected throughout this earth!

Q) Pastor Bobby said that when we don’t take hold of Jesus’ victory in a certain area of our lives, we end up relying on ourselves instead. What is one area of your life where you need to repent of relying on yourself too much? How has this affected on you? How might you begin to apply Jesus’ victory to this area of your life?

Q) Brainstorm what some characteristics would be of a local church that thoroughly placed their confidence in Jesus’ victory. How would this show up practically in: the tone of gathered worship? Their evangelism? Their giving? Their hospitality and justice? Their leaders?

Take Hold of Jesus (28:8-10)

Q) Re-read Matthew 28:8-10. Jesus gave the women no new “instructions” in his encounter. What do you think, then, was the purpose of Jesus intercepting them on their way to Galilee?

Q) Verse 9 says that the women “took hold of Jesus’ feet” as they worshipped him. What does their taking hold of his feet communicate about their posture towards him and response to him?

Q) Pastor Bobby said that we need to personally encounter Jesus by worshipping him, and by offering our lives to him in total surrender. How can you tell whether you’re living in a posture of surrender to Jesus, or not? What are some of the evidences? What area of your life do you need to surrender to Jesus, or surrender anew?

Q) What is one practical step you can take this week to encounter Jesus more personally?

Additional Application Questions

Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?

Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?

Prayer

Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.

 
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