Theme: An Inescapable Surrender
In this week’s Easter lessons we note the futility of those who tried to keep shut the tomb that was soon going to be empty, and of the need for everyone to submit to the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Matthew 27:65-66
I wonder if you have been confronted by the power of that resurrection. The chief priests and Pharisees tried to secure their ecclesiastical world against Jesus. Saul tried to secure his religious traditions and life. Satan had been trying to secure his evil kingdom. Perhaps you too have been trying to secure your own way of doing things or your own values or your own mastery of your time. You have heard Christ’s gospel, but you have tried to keep it politely in its place. Jesus is not that easily contained. You push him back, but he comes forward again. You banish him but he intrudes when you are least expecting it.
What are you going to do against the resurrection power of the One whom so many millions call Lord? How are you going to make yourself secure against Jesus?
Let me suggest what you can do. You can begin with activity. That should not be too difficult in our country and in our time. Our world seems preoccupied with activity and even rewards those who are busiest. If you are busy enough you will not have time to think. Fill your time. Schedule your idle hours. Take a class in art or foreign languages or computers or aerobics or any one of a thousand other things. Then you will not have time to go to Bible study. You can claim that you are too busy when a Christian friend invites you. Play golf or racket ball on Sundays, or join a group that rehearses during the Sunday morning hours. Then you will not have to go to church. Above all, fill your evenings with television programs or even reading the latest, best-selling, most-talked-about novel or non-fiction work. Then you will not have to read the Bible, through which Jesus most customarily speaks to souls.
Second, you can fill your life with pleasure, particularly if it is of a sinful kind. Jesus is the sinless Son of God, and sin will keep you from him. Fill your life with sin’s pleasures. Yes, that’s it. Fill it with pleasures. Make it as secure as you can against Jesus. You will be safe from Christ then.
I have one more suggestion. You can become religious. Religion is a great defense against true godliness. But if you take this course, I suggest that you do not learn too much about Christianity. The content of the faith concerns Jesus. Instead, submerse yourself in ceremony. Do things not because they are meaningful—you might have to think about the meaning—but for tradition’s sake, or for mere aesthetics. Yes, that will help. Go, make your life as secure as you can with religion. Attach your seals. Post your guards! Erect your barricades!
Alas, I am afraid it will not be enough. Jesus has broken seals before. He has scattered countless guards. What will you do when light bursts forth from heaven and the voice asks you, “Saul, or John, or Mary, or Albert, or Susan, why do you persecute me?” What will you do when the tomb springs open and Jesus of Nazareth confronts you in his resurrection splendor?
I’ll tell you what I would do. I would give up fighting. I would lay down my seals and stones and guards and feverish activity. I would lay aside my sins. I would fall down before him and say, as Thomas did, “My Lord and my God.” Then he will make you his, and he will tell you what you are to do and be for his sake.
Study Questions:

List and describe the three approaches given that people take in order to try to secure themselves against Christ.
What other approaches can you think of?

Application: Have you or someone you know been confronted by the power of the
Resurrection, and yet has been trying to seal it up by ignoring its authority and demands? What needs to happen next in response to the weight of significance of this greatest of historical events?
For Further Study: To look deeper into how religion can actually keep you from truly knowing God, download and listen for free to James Boice’s message from the book of Amos, “How God Views Religion.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)
1Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. 5, Matthew to John (New York: Revell Company, n.d.), p. 436.2Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Popular Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim, 1974), p. 253.3John Foxe, The Acts and Monuments of John Foxe, edited by Stephen Reed Cattley (London: R.B. Seeley and W. Burnside, 1841). My edition is in eight volumes, containing Foxe’s original twelve books plus background material on Foxe himself.

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