Dead but Alive Again
EasyEnglish Study Unit 7 (Level B) on the Gospel (Good News) of Matthew 26-28
translation into EasyEnglish by Mary Read
(Based on the Crossway Bible Guide, used by permission of Crossway Books, Leicester, LE1 7GP, England.)
A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.
WYCLIFFE ASSOCIATES (UK)
EasyEnglish Ó TRANSLATION (Level B)...................................................................... Mary Read
LINGUISTIC CHECKER............................................................................................... Sue Hunter
Crossway Bible Guide
(Used By Permission of Crossway Books
Leicester LE1 7GP, England.)
A Study of the Gospel (Good News) of Matthew
For personal study,
and for study by a group.
By Stephen Dray
(Note: Each Section will be in a box, so that you can
easily find a particular passage.
It will look like this: .)
There is a Word List at the end of this book.
This gives the meanings of difficult words.
These words have a star like *this in front of them in the text.
There may be other words that you do not understand.
If so, please tell us.
*OT means Old Testament. It is the first part of our Bible.
*NT means New Testament. It is the second part of our Bible.
In the Bible, verses are the divisions of a chapter.
The end of Jesus’ life was coming.
Jesus knew that his life on earth would end soon. People thought about him in different ways. They showed the right and the wrong reactions to him.
Matthew now began to describe certain events. They were the most important part of Jesus’ work. The time for words had ended. The final and greatest act of Jesus’ life was near (verse 2). Matthew told his story with great skill. He recorded several incidents. They do not seem to be in the right order. But they show some important contrasts. The contrasts have things to teach us too.
First, Jesus chose to die. This contrasts with men’s evil plans. (Read verses 1–5.) Next, there was the action of the religious leaders. This contrasts with what Mary did. (Read verses 6–13.) Also, there was a contrast between Mary and Judas. (Read verses 14–16.)
Jesus chose to die for our *sins. Nobody could force him to die. Earlier in his work, Jesus had said that he would die. (Read 16:21; 17:22–23 and 20:18–20.) But now he declared the time when he would die. He told his *disciples the way that he would die too (verse 2). So, he emphasised that he was in total control. His death would not be just an accident. It was his plan and purpose to die. He would save his people from God’s punishment for their *sin.
Jesus’ worst suffering now began. This was the greatest example of his teaching. His words in verse 1 probably applied to all of his teaching. But they certainly applied to the previous two chapters. Jesus showed his *disciples that they must have unselfish love for people. (Read 25:31–46.) Now, Jesus showed his own love for all people. The rest of the section dealt with people’s reactions to Jesus. There were two bad examples. (Read verses 3–5 and 14–16.) But there was Mary’s good example. (Read verses 6–13.)
There was Caiaphas. He was the chief priest of the *Jews. Writers of history in the first century described him. They said that he wanted power more than anything else. So, he did not like someone whose authority was greater than his authority. He felt that Jesus was a danger to him. His reactions were like those of some people today.
Matthew recorded a complete contrast. He gave a lovely example of real love for Jesus. (Read verses 6–13.) We can be grateful for Mary’s example. Like her, we can all show our love for Jesus in some way. Mary seemed to listen to Jesus better than most other people did. (Read Luke 10:38–42.)
Mary seemed to know that Jesus would die soon. The book of Mark records the name of the perfume. (This is a substance with its own special good smell.) Its name was spikenard. People used it to rub into dead bodies. Mary may not have realised the real meaning of her action. But Matthew gives the main reason why he recorded the story. It was because of her great act of love. In John 12:5, we learn that the perfume was worth 300 dinars. This was nearly a year’s wages.
The last case that Matthew recorded is in verses 14–16. We cannot be sure why Judas acted as he did. But Judas seemed to be disappointed with Jesus. Perhaps he thought that Jesus should have given him more. He was a *disciple. Surely, he deserved some rewards. We cannot be sure about this. But there are people like that today.
1. Are you a person like Mary? Should we still show our love for Jesus in public?
2. We might copy Mary’s act when we are in church. But what would be wrong with that act today? It would be hard for it to be a natural act. It would be hard for it to have any reality. Could we really show our love like this? But we want to show our love for Jesus. So, what similar things could we do?
3. A person who is not loyal is sometimes called ‘a Judas’. Even people who do not know the Bible at all will sometimes use the words. Why did Judas behave like this to Jesus? Do we sometimes think as he did?
Jesus said: ‘This is my blood.’
Jesus explained the meaning of his death. He would die soon. He explained this at his last supper (evening meal).
The previous study showed the reactions of some people to Jesus. They were a contrast to Jesus. He showed that he had more power than all the people had. There is the same subject in this study, too. Jesus told his *disciples what would happen. He said that one of them would give him to his enemies. Jesus knew which one of them it would be too (verse 25). Then Jesus told them more about how he would die.
Matthew repeated one word three times. It was the word ‘Passover’. (Exodus 12 describes its meaning.) The word was in verses 17, 18 and 19. Jesus was the person in charge at the meal. Matthew wanted us to understand this. (Read verses 26–30.)
Jesus had said when he was going to die. It would be at Passover. John’s *Gospel tells us the exact time. Jesus died on the day before Passover. (Read John 19:14–18.) It was at the same time that people were killing the Passover lambs. (Note: lambs are young sheep.) So Jesus had his own Passover meal. It was a day earlier than the official event. But people seemed to use slightly different dates for the event. This was true during the time of Jesus.
The Passover had always shown Jesus’ death. And he wanted people to know it. His death gave the Passover its full meaning. We can learn three things from this:
► Jesus died for the benefit of other people. That was true about the original Passover lamb. (Read Exodus 12:11–12.) Isaiah 52:13–53:12 also shows this.
► Jesus died as a *sacrifice for *sin (verse 28). He died for other people, because they were *sinners.
► Jesus died to take the punishment that we should have. God hates *sin. He must punish it. We all deserve that punishment. But Jesus took our place.
Jesus’ death is still good for us
This does not seem to be possible. So, many people do not believe it. But God can forgive *sin. And he still forgives *sin. Jesus took all the punishment for our *sin. There can be no greater punishment than death. (Read Romans 6:23.) And Jesus died. So, each person can know that God really does forgive his or her *sin. But there is more. God does not remember our *sin. (Read Jeremiah 31:33–34.)
There is another reason why Jesus died. It was to make us God’s family and friends (verse 29). Jesus, the *Messiah, described his great big meal. He was referring to a custom that took place in ancient times. Then, such a big meal was only for a person’s family and for friends. Jesus was speaking about a family relationship in verse 28. His words refer to Exodus 24:8. That was the time when God made the *Jews become his family.
Jesus’ *sacrifice was particular too. He died for many people (verse 28). This means that he did not die in general for everyone. His death is good for all who come to him. But Jesus died for each person. So, a believer (Christian) can say: ‘Jesus died for me.’ Jesus died for more people than we could ever count. What a wonderful thing Jesus did when he died! He could not have done anything more. He is the answer to all our needs. God accepts us. He forgives us. He gives us his peace and his love. And all this is because of Jesus’ death.
But we must receive the benefits of Jesus’ death (verse 26). We must ‘eat’ and ‘drink’ (verses 26–27). These words are signs. This means that they describe what we can do. We can share with Jesus in his death. We do this by a total trust in Jesus. We believe that his death is the only way to God.
Finally, this passage shows us that *sin is a terrible thing. Judas may not have stayed for the special part of the Passover meal. There is some doubt about that. But other things are clear. Jesus told him the truth about his death. Jesus appealed to him in a gentle way. He showed his love for Judas. (Surely, that was the main purpose of verses 20–25.) But Judas still chose to be against Jesus. He knew that enemies wanted to kill Jesus. But he still led them to Jesus.
1. Someone might say: ‘God is a God of love. So he will not keep anybody out of heaven for ever.’ What could you say to that person?
2. Today, we still have the ‘Passover meal’ like the meal that Jesus had. We call it by different names. It could be the *Lord’s Table, Holy Communion, the Last Supper, or the Eucharist. What truths should you remember at this time? The truths about the special meal should have effects in your life. Does its effect depend on your thoughts at the time? Look again at Jesus’ teaching in this passage. Then discuss your ideas.
3. Jesus died for all the people in the world. (Read John 3:16.) So, why are they not all believers (Christians)?
Jesus said: ‘I want your will to happen.’
These verses are very serious. They show that Jesus’ death was necessary. They describe clearly just how awful his death would be.
Verses 1–16 emphasised the fact of Jesus’ death. Verses 17–29 explained the reason for his death. These verses showed that his death was necessary. They showed, too, how awful that death would be.
The agony (extreme pain)
Read verses 36–42. They help us to see a little bit of what Jesus was suffering. But words cannot really describe just how terrible Jesus felt. That is why various translations use different words. Jesus felt that he was ‘very close to death’ even then. [Note: Luke was a doctor. In his book, he said that drops of blood from Jesus fell to the ground. This is in Luke 22:44. It is a medical state. It only happens with extreme pain of the emotions and of the mind.] Because of his extreme pain, Jesus wanted to be with his best friends.
Men and women know extreme pain and despair too. This happens especially when they will soon die. But Jesus’ pain was worse. Jesus was God as well as man. So, we may think that he could not feel the same agony as us. This passage shows us that the opposite is true. Jesus’ agony was greater. This was because he knew what would happen (verse 39). We do not know the future. If we did, we might not be able to bear the pain of it. So God is very kind to us.
But Jesus knew all that would happen. And something else made his extreme pain even worse. Jesus was the holy God. He hated *sin. Now, he would be in the power of *sinners (verse 45). He had created them. But they would kill him!
There was even more. Jesus knew that Judas would not be loyal. He would lead the enemies to Jesus. (Read verses 21–25 and 46–50.) Jesus knew, too, that his close friends would leave him. (Read verses 31–35 and 56b.) Finally, Jesus knew that he could escape. He could escape, if he chose to do that. (See verse 53. A legion was 6000 men.) But he knew that he would not do this. He chose to die.
This passage emphasises that it was necessary for Jesus to die. Jesus had peace in the time of his troubles. He had the strength to continue. But, like us, he did not want to die (verse 39). But the Father did not stop his Son from dying on the cross. This shows us that there was no other way. It was the only way to bring men and women to God. The *NT writers understood this well. (Read Acts 4:12.) We can have peace with God only because of Jesus.
Even Jesus’ three closest friends left him. (Read verses 40–41.) All the *disciples left him too. (Read verses 43, 45 and 56.) Jesus knew that men are weak. He knew it better that they did (verse 31)! Jesus knew everything that would happen. But he did not run away from it. He was the only person who could be as brave as that.
Finally, notice what Jesus was like on the way to the cross. He was so gentle and kind. He told his *disciples that they would leave him. But he told them something else too. He would welcome them back afterwards (verse 32)! That was how it would always be.
1. Jesus forgives you when you do not trust him. Can you really say that you forgive yourself? It is hard for some people to forgive themselves. How could you help such a person?
2. Muslims say that Jesus cannot be the Son of God. This is because he suffered such extreme pain. What could you say to them?
3. How can one person’s death save other people from death?
Who is Jesus?
Matthew described how Jesus had to stand in front of the *Jewish leaders. This happened in the *Jewish *Council. There was a reason why Matthew described this. He was emphasising what Jesus said about himself. He was also comparing Jesus and Peter. Jesus was bold. Peter was a coward. He said that he did not know Jesus. He even said it three times.
The soldiers arrested Jesus. First, they took him to Annas. Annas had been the Chief Priest. He asked Jesus questions. Then Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, who asked him questions too. Caiaphas was the Chief Priest at the time. He was also married to Annas’ daughter. (Read John 18:12–14, 19–23.) After this, all the members of the *Council asked Jesus questions. (Read Matthew 26:57, 59–67.)
Early the next morning, all the members of the *Council met together. They had to decide what Jesus had done wrong. (Read Matthew 27:1–2.) They were asking a question. It was: ‘Who is Jesus?’ The verses in this section give the answer of Jesus himself.
► Jesus is the *Messiah (verses 63–64). The *OT often told about the *Messiah. He would save God’s people. The *Jews were waiting for him eagerly. They were expecting him to come. Jesus said that he was the *Messiah. Jesus came to save (rescue) men and women from the punishment of *sin. The *Jews had ignored this. They wanted the *Messiah to save them from their enemies, who were the *Romans.
► Jesus is the Son of God. Read 2 Samuel 7:14 and Psalm 2:7. These passages introduced an idea. It was that the *Messiah would be the ‘Son of God’. Perhaps the *Jews did not understand this. But Jesus’ teaching introduced the idea to them too. (Read Matthew 21:37.) Perhaps this was why Caiaphas demanded a clear answer from Jesus (26:63). Jesus gave him that clear answer (verse 64). The rest of the *NT answers clearly too. Jesus really is ‘Immanuel’. This means ‘God is with us’. (Read Isaiah 7:14.)
► Jesus also said that he was the Son of Man (verse 64). Jesus showed the *Jews that their idea of the *Messiah was not complete. They expected their *Messiah to defeat the *Romans. Jesus came to suffer and to die. These things would show his authority. Jesus repeated Psalm 110:1 and Daniel 7:13 (verse 64). These passages explain more about what he meant.
► Jesus is the builder of the new *Temple (verses 60–61). The *Jews did not understand what Jesus had said. Jesus did not deny that he had said it (verses 62–63). But they did not know what he meant. He was referring to his own body. (Read John 2:19–21.)
But there was a future event too. It could add further meaning to his words. Read 1 Corinthians 6:14–15, 19. The new *Temple would be a Temple that human hands had not made. (Read Mark 14:58.) It happened when the Holy Spirit came. (Read Acts 2.) From that time, all real believers (Christians) are called ‘Christ’s body’. This is the real meaning of ‘the Church’. It is not a building. (Read 1 Corinthians 12:12–28.) Jesus said: ‘I will build my church.’ (Read Matthew 16:18.)
► Jesus has the greatest authority (verse 64). From now on, Jesus said, they would see that he was right. His Father would give them the evidence. Jesus would die; but he would come alive again. He would return to his Father. Then the Holy Spirit would come. After this, the number of real believers (the Church) would increase. This would happen even when people dealt with them very badly. All these things would show the truth of Jesus’ claims.
The reactions of men and women
First, people refused to accept Jesus. These verses do not describe a court of law. They describe a plot to murder Jesus. But the leaders pretended. They did not want to discover the truth. They intended to kill Jesus. *Sinners hate truth, as some insects hate light. So they hate Jesus. They will ignore the facts and they will not obey him. But they will try to show that their attitude of *unbelief is right.
Next, people were not loyal to Jesus. It was not only Judas who was against Jesus. None of Jesus’ *disciples stayed loyal to him. Peter, especially, denied him (verses 69–75). Peter said that he did not even know Jesus. Something was even worse. In verse 74, Peter used very strong language. Some translations say that he even cursed Jesus. Other translations say that Peter cursed himself. So, he was asking God to hurt him if he was not telling the truth!
We can learn some lessons from this event. First, even a person who knows the truth sometimes denies Jesus. But there is comfort for that person. Peter was really sorry about what he had done. (Read verse 75. Compare 2 Corinthians 7:10.) So the words of Matthew 10:33 did not happen to him. In the same way, Jesus will always welcome anyone who really *repents. That person need never fear that Jesus would not accept him or her.
1. The *Jewish leaders had evidence about who Jesus was. But they chose to ignore it. They chose to follow their own opinions. How can we make sure that we are not like them?
2. Should we always obey the decisions of our church leaders? Talk about the times when you should obey them. Talk about a possible time when you should not obey them.
3. Think about the reactions of men and women to Jesus today. Describe the ways that you know about. What do you think are the reasons for each kind of reaction?
Jesus deals with a difficult situation.
Matthew recorded events. There was the death of Judas. Then Jesus had to stand in front of Pilate. It was like a law court. Matthew wrote about the reactions of men and women to Jesus.
Some men and women are completely against Jesus. The *Jewish leaders were like this. They wanted very much to kill Jesus. But the ruler and his wife knew that Jesus was innocent. None of the things that people said against Jesus was true (verses 19, 24). The *Jewish leaders were jealous of Jesus. So they hated him. That was why they wanted to kill him.
Other men and women would have to give up selfish things. And they were not prepared to do this. Pilate was like this. He knew why the religious leaders hated Jesus (verse 18). But he chose not to understand Jesus completely. Pilate had selfish ambitions. We know from history that he was a proud and cruel man. Later, the entire *Jewish nation was against him. So, he had to return to Rome. Even at this time, he hated the *Jews. He did not want to listen to them. But they accused him of being against the *Roman leader. (Read John 19:12.) So he chose to condemn Jesus.
Some men and women are not always loyal to Jesus. They change their minds easily. This was true about the crowd. (Read verses 20–25.) Only a few days before, they had welcomed Jesus. They had behaved as if he was the *Messiah. (Read 21:1–11.) Now they demanded that he should die. We do not understand how they could change so quickly. Jesus had helped them so much. He healed them. He fed them and he taught them. Now, it seemed to them that he had failed. He was not doing what they wanted him to do. So, they did not care about him any more.
Other people respect Jesus in another way. They think that he could cause them to have good luck or bad luck. The word for this is to be superstitious. So they think that they must deal with him carefully. This seemed to be true about Pilate’s wife (verse 9). Her dream had upset her. So she acted. We do not know the reason. She may have wanted to keep Jesus safe. Or she may have worried about her husband’s safety. We do not know what happened to her. Probably, her worry ended when her dream did not seem so real.
Finally, some people seem to be sorry for their *sin. But they do not *repent. This was true about Judas. (Read verses 3–10.) He regretted his action. He knew, in his conscience, that he had done wrong. He may even have cried about it. But he did not *repent.
1. What is your *faith in Jesus like? Do you only trust him to supply what you need? What else should you trust him for?
2. Some Christians only follow Jesus when things are going well in their lives. How could you help them to have real *faith?
3. Evil things happen in legal matters today. Think about what happened to Jesus all those years ago. Should we say anything when things like that happen now? Should we do anything?
Matthew recorded Jesus’ trial and death. It is not easy to fit all that Matthew said with the other three records. (These are Mark, Luke and John.) There are other authors whose books are not in the Bible. They wrote about the events too. But they did not agree always either. Many books discuss these matters. Some of them say that the various accounts can never match. But we must remember an important fact.
The writers of the first 4 books of the *NT lived in Jesus’ time. So, they knew about the events much better than later people could. We must be sure before we decide that a thing is not true. We can prove that many things in the Bible are accurate. So, we can believe the records about Jesus’ trial and death. We have no reason to doubt them.
The death of Jesus
Matthew emphasised something. It was the way that people laughed at Jesus. They insulted him. There were Gentile (non-*Jewish) soldiers. There were *Jews who stood and watched. There were the *Jewish religious leaders. Also there were even criminals. They all refused to accept Jesus.
People thought that Jesus had no worth. They refused to accept him. They laughed about two things. First, they laughed about the things that he had said about himself (verse 43). Next, they laughed about his actions. The things that he had said about himself were wonderful. The people reminded him about them. He had said that he was king of the *Jews (verses 29, 37). He had said that he would build the new *Temple (verse 40). He had said that he was the Son of God (verse 43). But his great acts should have been proof enough. They should have caused people to examine the facts. However, people did not do it then. They do not do it now.
One phrase shows Jesus’ real worth. It is ‘the Son of God’ (verse 54). The soldier may not have understood its full meaning. But Matthew and the other *NT writers want us to know it. Jesus had all God’s nature. Jesus was really God who became a man. He was ‘Immanuel, God is with us’. (Read Matthew 1:23 and Isaiah 7:14.)
So, nothing else is like our Christian *faith. God showed himself to all people. When people looked at God’s Son, they saw God. In this passage, Matthew teaches 4 great truths about Jesus’ work.
► Jesus wanted to save other people. So he refused to save himself (verse 42). There was a great truth in what the religious leaders said. Jesus chose not to save himself.
► Jesus suffered because of *sin (verses 45–46). These two verses emphasise something. It is this. Jesus took the punishment for our *sin. In the Bible, darkness is often the sign of punishment for *sin. So, darkness in that country as Jesus died was a sign. It showed the fact that Jesus was taking our *sin upon himself. We deserve God’s punishment because of our *sin. At the cross, Jesus suffered that punishment for us. (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21.)
But verse 46 teaches another truth. God had to turn away from his Son, Jesus. This broke the unity of God. We cannot understand this mystery. But we can understand the lesson that it teaches. It teaches that *sin is a very serious matter. Also it teaches about God’s great love for *sinners. It hurt the Father and the Son so much. But they did it for us. Now, we can be free from the punishment for *sin.
► Jesus brought two great benefits to all who follow him (verse 51). First, we can know that God forgives us. Then we can come close to God. The curtain in the *Temple was a sign. It showed that *sin had separated people from God. The High Priest could go behind that curtain only once a year. But first he had to offer a *sacrifice for *sin. (Compare Leviticus chapter 16 with Hebrews chapter 9 and 10:19–22.) Jesus was the final *sacrifice for *sin. Now we can come to God freely.
► Jesus ended the terrible results of *sin (verses 52, 53). This wonderful event reminds us about something important. It is that if people *sin, God must punish them. And they will die. (Read Romans 6:23.) Jesus died and came back to life. This means that we need not die. It is true that our bodies still die. But what happened to Jesus is God’s promise to us. We will come back to life again. (Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–23 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18.) There will be a new heaven and a new earth too. (Read Revelation 21:1–5.)
1. Imagine that you are the soldier. You are watching Jesus who is on the cross. What do you see? What do you think about Jesus? Some speakers talk in detail about the awful physical pain of the cross. Do you think that this is right?
2. People have used art to show the death of Jesus. They have done this in each century. Do these pictures help us to understand why Jesus died? In what ways are they helpful or unhelpful?
3. What are the most important things that are true in the Christian message? If someone asked you this question, what would you say? Say it briefly. Say it in words that non-Christians would understand.
We must believe the evidence.
Jesus became alive again. Matthew gives some of the evidence. He reminds us that *unbelief is foolish.
These verses, (with 28:16–20), are the final section of Matthew’s book. There are 5 paragraphs:
27:57–61: Jesus was dead: Joseph buried his body.
27:62–66: There were special guards for the grave.
28:1–10: The grave was empty and the *Lord Jesus was alive.
28:11–15: The guards made a report.
28:16–20: Jesus is alive. He is the greatest ruler, with all power and authority.
The order of these paragraphs emphasised something. It was this. Jesus became alive again in order to rule. This was especially true of the first 4 paragraphs. They emphasised two facts. First, they emphasised that the grave was empty. Then, they emphasised that people saw Jesus alive.
Matthew emphasised the strong evidence that Jesus is alive. He did this in several ways.
► Some women were the first people to see that the grave was empty (28:6). They had watched Joseph put Jesus’ body in the cave (27:61). So, they certainly knew where to find the right place.
► The religious leaders could not deny that the grave was empty. Jesus had told them that he would become alive again. So they had tried hard to make sure that Jesus stayed in the grave. They did not want his *disciples to take away his body. (Read 27:62–66.) But the guards themselves said that the body was not there (28:11).
► The guards were at the grave (28:2–4). So the religious leaders’ excuse was false. This was clear. The guards would not all be asleep. If they were, there is something that we cannot explain. They could not know that the *disciples stole the body!
► Some people say that Jesus was not dead. They say that the cool grave made him better. They say that this event could explain the guards’ reaction. But the guards had put a special seal (lock) on the stone. They did this from the outside of the grave. So, Jesus could not have opened it from the inside. And he would not have been able to move the heavy stone. (Read verses 60 and 66.)
Jesus is alive!
This passage is not just about the empty grave. It is about the fact that they saw Jesus in his body (verses 8–10). That was what convinced Jesus’ *disciples. They actually met him. He was not a ghost. (A ghost looks like a dead person but it is not real.) He had a body. They could touch him. They could hold onto him.
Matthew’s book was not the only one. Anyway, it gives strong proof that Jesus is alive. Dead men do not become alive again. But this man became alive again.
This passage also shows that *unbelief is foolish. There is strong evidence that Jesus is alive. But some men and women, (then and now), do not believe it. Some people have never thought much about the matter. But, for the majority of people, there is another reason. They do not want to believe it. People at the time saw the empty grave. They could not explain why it was empty. Jesus had said that he would become alive again. But they would not believe this. Men and women can refuse to believe what they do not want to believe.
The religious leaders at the time of Jesus were like this. They did not care about the truth. (They showed that when Jesus had to stand in front of them.) So, even strong evidence was not enough. Their answer was to invent a story. But the story that they invented was hard to believe. It would have been easier to believe that Jesus did become alive again. Men and women are the same today. They refuse to believe the truth. Instead, they accuse Christians. They say that Christians are telling lies (27:64). That is exactly what they are doing themselves.
It can be hard to understand why this happens. The religious leaders at that time would not accept Jesus. The reason for this was pride. They were selfish. This is true of all men and women. They could accept Jesus. But this would mean that they must allow God to rule in their lives. Think about Adam and Eve. They wanted to be like God. (Read Genesis 3:4.) Ever since that time, some people have not wanted to allow God to rule them.
1. What reasons can you give for the truth that Jesus is alive?
2. Some religious people today are like the people in Jesus’ time. It is a fact that Jesus became alive again. But these people think that it is not necessary to believe this. Why do they think this? Would it matter if Jesus had not become alive again? (Read 1 Corinthians 15.)
3. In many countries, there are traditional stories. They tell about gods and about people who die. Then these people become alive again. What is the difference between them and Jesus?
Go and make *disciples from all the people in the world.
This is the happy end to Matthew’s book of Good News. It prepares the way for the future. Jesus said that his *disciples would do even ‘greater things’ than he himself had done. (Read John 14:12.)
The last words of Matthew’s book are for all Christians. (Actually, the whole book is for all believers.) Jesus was talking to the 11 *disciples (verse 16). But what he says is for all his *disciples ‘until the end of the world’ (verse 20b). So, these words are not mainly for leaders. They are for each believer. We may say that we are Christians. Then we must obey his command.
There is only one command in these verses. It is: ‘Make *disciples’ (verse 19). It is the responsibility of all believers. Of course, we must know what it means to be a *disciple. Then, we must know how we can ‘make’ a *disciple. Jesus explained:
► We must go. This is not really a command. It is the first of three actions to achieve our aim. (Our aim is to ‘make *disciples’.) Where we go depends on the gifts that God has given to us. We can start with our friends and neighbours. There are the people with whom we work too. God might ask us to go to another country. We call those who do this ‘missionaries’. But the job is the same. So, we are all missionaries, in the place where God wants us to be.
► We must *baptise. *Baptism is a sign that a person is a Christian. Other people can see that a person is joining with God’s people.
► We must teach all the things that Jesus taught us to obey. We do not teach truths that are just ideas. We teach truths that change lives. They are truths that have already changed our lives. So, we show people by the way that we live. And we speak to these people too. This is how we ‘make *disciples’. How we live must show that our message is true.
So, we must decide what is the best way to tell people the Good News (gospel). We must each decide this. And we must decide it as members of a church. This is our responsibility. Jesus tells us why he has asked us to do this. He has ‘all authority in heaven and on earth’ (verse 18). He is master of all. That is why he is called *Lord Jesus. So, all people have a duty to serve him.
But Jesus knows what we are like. So, he tells us two things. First, he gives us the promise of his power. (See verses 18–19. All power belongs to Jesus. And he will give us all the power that we need.) We cannot know the exact reason why some *disciples had doubts (verse 17). Perhaps it does not matter. This is because we learn what the first *disciples were like. They were weak, nervous people, just like we are. We could not achieve any good thing if we trusted ourselves. This is a comfort to know.
We have no resources of our own. But we have the resources of Someone who has all power. That is sufficient. As believers, we expect so little. This is because we doubt the words of the *Lord Jesus. He does not promise constant success. But he does encourage us to expect results. (Although there may be a long delay.)
Then, Jesus gives us the promise that he is with us (verse 20). And he promises that he will always be with us. This does not only make us happy. It gives us the resources for our task. And what wonderful resources they are. He gives us his power. But he does not just leave us to do the job. No, he himself comes with us. So, there is always a minimum of two of us! There might be hard times. There might be times of joy and success. Whatever happens, he is next to us. What a comfort it is to know this.
1. What tasks must I do on my own (but with the help of Jesus)? What tasks must two people or a group of people do? What can we learn from the answers?
2. Someone has said that churches exist for the benefit of non-members. How much is this true of your church group?
3. The *Lord Jesus told us to go to ‘all people everywhere’. Christians seem to concentrate most on Africa and Asia. Why is this true? What other places need help?
Each section below has 8 possible studies. You may be planning to have more meetings than this. Or you may be planning to have fewer meetings than this. If so, choose what is best for your group. The 4 ways are ideas for you to consider.
God became human for us (1:18–25).
The test (4:1–11).
Right attitudes (5:1–6).
Worry and how to avoid it (6:25–34).
The *Messiah gave a big meal. He walked on water too (14:13–36).
We are waiting for Jesus to return (24:1–14).
The death of Jesus (27:27–56).
We must believe the evidence (27:57–28:15).
Right attitudes (5:1–6).
Be careful! There will be people who will oppose us (5:10–12).
Salt and light (5:13–16).
Adultery (sex with someone who is married to someone else) and divorce (5:27–32) See notes below.
Real prayer (6:5–15).
Worry and how to avoid it (6:25–34).
Be careful how you tell people about their bad habits (7:1–12).
Be careful! A building may look good. But it may not be safe (7:24–29).
Notes: a) Adultery means wrong sex. It is between a married person and someone who is not the husband or wife. b) There may be people in your group who are divorced. It may be too hard to deal with the subject in public. If so, choose another passage. One idea is:
When you say a strong promise (an oath). When you do more than you need to do (5:33–42).
We should listen to Jesus (the story about the farmer) (13:1–11).
Good people and bad people can live next to each other (the weeds) (13:24–30, 36–43).
To care and to forgive (the wicked servant) (18:15–35).
God is king. He gives *grace (the workers in the field) (20:1–19).
A message for all nations (the wedding big meal) (22:1–14).
Jesus will come again. So be ready! (The 10 girls) (24:36–25:13).
Jesus wants us to serve him loyally (the gifts) (25:14–30).
Serve God in ordinary activities (the sheep and the goats) (25:31–46).
The last 8 studies are about chapters 26 to 28. These would be an excellent series at Easter time.
All these outlines are only ideas. You do not need to follow them exactly. Perhaps you will choose not to follow them at all. Use your own ideas. There is something important for the leader to do. You should read the whole book of Matthew carefully. Then you can ask your group to refer to sections that they have not read. There is something else. You might decide to study only part of a chapter. But the group should still read the whole chapter together. This would help everyone to understand the verses that you, as leader, have chosen.
AD ~ AD is any date after the birth of Jesus.
baptise ~ a *Greek word; it refers to a ceremony; it means to put someone in or under water for a brief time; Mark 1:4–11; Romans 6:3–8; Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit (Matthew 3:11); Jesus baptises with fire (Matthew 3:12).
baptism ~ the name for the ceremony when someone *baptises another person.
council ~ important men who meet together to discuss and decide events.
disciple ~ a person who follows a leader; a student; one of the 12 men whom Jesus chose; a person who obeys Jesus today.
empire ~ very big *kingdom.
faith ~ to believe in someone or something; to be really sure about the things of God and Jesus his Son.
Gospel ~ one of the 4 books at the beginning of the *New Testament - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
grace ~ kindness; it is when God gives us what we do not deserve (2 Corinthians 8:9); it is when he saves us (Ephesians 2:1–10); it is when he helps us (2 Corinthians 12:8, 9).
Greek ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament.
Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke when they wrote the first part of our Bible.
Jew ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a person who believes the *faith of the Jews, called Judaism.
Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything to do with a *Jew.
kingdom ~ a kingdom is where a king rules. God is the King of all Christians and all Christians are in his Kingdom.
Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we obey them.
Messiah ~ the *Lord Jesus Christ; it is a *Hebrew word, ‘meshiah’; the same word in *Greek is ‘christos’, Christ. God promised the *Jews that the Messiah would save them; we read about him in the *OT; then Jesus came; but the *Jews did not believe in him (John 1:11). Many *Jews are still waiting for Messiah to come.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible.
NT ~ New Testament; the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.
Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible.
OT ~ Old Testament; the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.
parable ~ a story; it uses ordinary, familiar things to teach truths about God.
repent ~ to turn away from evil and towards God; this choice will mean a complete change of life; in the *NT, the *Greek word is ‘metanoia’; this means a change of mind.
Roman ~ a person from Rome; the Roman *Empire consisted of the many countries that the Romans ruled.
sacrifice ~ something that a person gives to God; in *Old Testament days (the first part of the Bible), it was often an animal; this may be to say ‘Sorry’ or ‘Thank-you’; (read 1 Samuel 15:22 and Psalm 51:17).
sin ~ when we do not obey God’s rules.
Temple ~ the *Jews’ special large building for God; it was in Jerusalem. The enemy destroyed it in *AD 70; since that time, *Jews’ special buildings for *worship are called synagogues; other groups build temples too; they *worship false gods in them.
unbelief ~ lack of *faith.
worship ~ the word can be a verb or a noun; to honour God with words of prayer and praise; it is a way to appreciate God for himself; we are also being grateful for all that he has done; we can worship God together; each person can worship God too. (Important note: people can worship false gods; they give to a false god what belongs to God only.)
Wycliffe Associates (UK) EasyEnglish© Translation (Level B)
WYCLIFFE ASSOCIATES (UK)
EasyEnglishÓ TRANSLATION (Level B)................................... Mary Read
LINGUISTIC CHECKER........................................................... Sue Hunter
© 1997–2004, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words - new lexicon).
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