Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Crucified and Risen
Texts: Matthew 27:11-26; John 3:19; Isaiah 59:2; Matthew 27:45, 46, 49-54; Hebrews 8:1-6; Matthew 28:1-20
“The report of my death was an exaggeration,” wrote Mark Twain in 1897. Being dead can be quite inconvenient—especially if you’re really not. Just ask ten-year Army veteran Jerry Miller.
“I’m alive. I’m very alive,” claims the Brevard County, Florida resident. The U. S. Veterans Administration believes the opposite. They have declared him dead four times, each time cutting off his military benefits. Miller, a former drill sergeant, lives on that government pension and Social Security. Every time he’s declared dead, the loss of his pension benefits threatens to cause him to lose his home.
The confusion started in July 2010 when he received a letter addressed to his estate that expressed sympathy for his death and explained that, as a dead man, he was not eligible for veterans benefits any longer. Miller said he informed the VA that he was still alive, and his benefits were restarted. But the letters keep coming, each one stopping his benefits.
“I'm alive, you see. This can’t keep going on and on,” Miller says.
The latest letter came with a request for repayment of more than $94,000 and included instructions on how to return the funds. “To me, it’s stupid,” Miller says. “I can’t die but one time. They have killed me four times.” A VA spokesman says that the organization is looking into his case. Miller has also asked his congressman to do the same, but so far, being alive is not sufficient proof that he is not dead.1
The report of Christ’s death is not an exaggeration. It was literally an earth-shattering event!
This week’s lesson wraps up our study of Matthew’s gospel with his account of the death and resurrection of Jesus. The report reveals quite a bit about sinful human nature: we chose an imposter, Barabbas, over the true Messiah. We essentially chose evil over good. Even nature reacted to this decision. A great earthquake split rocks, as if the earth itself recoiled at the death of its Creator. Those who crucified Him didn’t expect that the tomb could not hold Jesus, the Creator of the tomb.
Our part in all of this is to spread the word that He lives! An angel told the women at the tomb, “Do not be afraid, He is not here, He is risen.” Then Jesus met them and said, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers.” Even though we humans made the wrong decision in choosing Barabbas over Christ, we don’t need to fear. Jesus still lives to save, rather than condemn. Our mistake in crucifying our loving creator does not have to be a fatal error.
Since the very-much-alive Jesus is with us to the end of the age, the testimony of our changed lives is sufficient proof that He is not dead.