A teaching class for the Thames Valley churches of Christ

This is the first of two classes reflecting on the significance of the witnesses to the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This week’s class will focus on the witnesses to the crucifixion and burial.

Who was at the cross?

  • Women: Mary Magdalene; Mary the mother of James and Joseph; the mother of the sons of Zebedee; Salome; ‘many other Galilean women’; the sister of the mother of Jesus; Mary the wife of Clopas.
  • Men: The disciple loved by Jesus
    • “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:25–27 NIV11)
  • Centurion: “And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39 NIV11)

Who was at the burial?

  • Women: Mary Magdalene; the ‘other’ Mary (Mary, the mother of Joseph); “women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.” (Luke 23:55 NIV11)
  • Men: Joseph of Arimathea; Nicodemus

What did they experience?

  • Mary, the mother of Jesus, saw his eyes open for the very first time and close to the very last time. As his mother, she was used to helping him when he got in trouble or soothing him when he got in pain. Now, she is present but unable to do that. She was his helper, and now she is helpless. She stands as an example of remaining with people in their pain, even though we can do nothing to alleviate it. We don’t have to have the answer, be able to waive the magic wand, or say anything. Do not leave them, but stay with them in their pain.
  • Mary Magdalene: Jesus was there to help her through her pain. Now she is there to help him through his.
    • “After this, Jesus travelled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.” (Luke 8:1–3 NIV11)

What does this tell us about faith? And love for Christ?

  • Mother of Jesus & Mary Magdalene
    • We see discipleship in action as manifested in loyalty, faithfulness and love despite danger and fear. These women held on even though confused.
  • Centurion
    • The death of Jesus has an impact on non-believers.
  • Joseph of Arimathea
    • He was sacrificing for love. His action served no apparent purpose according to the mission of Jesus. Little did Joseph know how significant his act of love towards Jesus was.

What does this mean for us today?

  1. Trust that sticking around with Jesus when it’s painful will bear fruit
  2. Anything you do for Jesus in love can be used by him
  3. Bring the cross to people, and it will have an impact
  4. You don’t have to be a super-disciple to benefit from witnessing the cross

Perhaps the overall point here is not to lose sight of the cross. The people who witnessed the cross never forgot it. No matter the inconvenience, pain, danger, or fear, we must keep our eyes on the cross. It is not the end of the story; we’ll talk more about that next time, but it helps make sense of the next part. The women and a few men understood what the writer to the Hebrews was discussing.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1–3 NIV11)

What stood out for you today from our exploration of the significance of the witnesses to the crucifixion and burial of Jesus?

The next class comes out in two weeks and will focus on the witnesses to the resurrection. Do you have any questions about those witnesses or the events of the resurrection? Please let me know: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, or practical? Please send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: malcolm@malcolmcox.org.

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God bless, Malcolm