Love, faithfulness highlight LifeWay Easter lessons
NASHVILLE (BP) -- Love one another as Jesus taught, know that His resurrection overcame sin and death, and be assured of His return to take believers unto Himself -- words of encouragement at Easter in Bible study curricula from LifeWay Christian Resources.
Reflections by the writers of Bible Studies for Life, Explore the Bible and YOU! during the Easter season were shared with Baptist Press from LifeWay's five ongoing Bible study/Sunday School curricula, which also include The Gospel Project and SmallGroup.com.
Bible Studies for Life
"God can do anything, even what appears to be impossible to me," said Fleming, senior pastor of the four-site Champion Forest Baptist Church in Houston. "God will always be faithful to Himself and His Word, and therefore will always be faithful to me when I am walking in obedience to His Word and living in the resurrection power of His Spirit."
Fleming wrote of the discovery of an empty tomb by Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and other women who visited the tomb where Jesus was placed after His crucifixion. Although Peter and other disciples did not believe the women's account, Peter was amazed when he discovered the empty tomb.
"In a fallen and broken world," Fleming told Baptist Press, "we have a message of hope: Jesus has overcome sin and brokenness and by faith, we can too.
"Because Jesus died and was raised again, we can live in restored fellowship with our God, and walk in the victory of His resurrection power," Fleming noted as exhortations from the lesson. "The resurrection truly changes everything, for now and forever, for those who believe in and are trusting in Jesus.
"That is a message worth sharing, and we must share with everyone."
Explore the Bible
John 20:3-9 and 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 are the foundation of Explore the Bible's Easter lesson on the assurance of the resurrection.
Lesson writer Micah Carter, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ripley, Miss., found both historical, current and future truth in the passages.
"As I studied and prayed about what to write, I realized in a fresh way that our faith both rests on the historical fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and stands in continuity with believers in Christ since His first disciples," Carter told BP. "I wanted to encourage readers of this lesson that the resurrection of Jesus grounds our faith, undergirds our mission, and establishes our hope in the life to come."
Carter included frequent prayer in his lesson preparation, he said, looking beyond himself and seeing the spiritual harvest of many who rarely attend church on days other than Easter and Christmas.
"I prayed for people to be saved as they heard about the Gospel truth of Jesus' resurrection. I prayed for teachers who would work through the text, that they would have boldness and clarity," Carter said. "And I prayed for my own heart too, that I would rejoice in the resurrection and worship King Jesus who is victorious over sin and death!"
Jesus' use of the word "new" in describing His commandment to love one another was personally poignant to Justin Smith, he told BP, as he prepared the lesson for the YOU! intentionally urban curriculum.
"In an age where our church worlds can become embroiled with controversy and debate, Jesus' simple and powerful command rings all the more relevant for me," said Smith, who teaches Bible at Blackman High School and is helping plant People of Hope Church, both in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
In the lesson taken from John 12:24-25 and 13:21-22, 34-38, Smith hardly saw loving others as a new scriptural command.
"Wasn't that command all throughout Scripture? However, it became clear -- with the disciples' feet still cool from the water Jesus had washed them with -- that Jesus had given them a new context or demonstration of what this love would involve," Smith told BP. "I am to love fellow believers deeply, personally and sacrificially.
"As we examine the cross and the empty tomb," Smith said, "let us not overlook the non-negotiable command to love all other believers as Jesus loves us."
More information on LifeWay's Sunday School curricula is at LifeWay.com/SundaySchool.