Many people and churches are familiar with Jesus and preach about Him, presenting primarily the events connected with His earthly ministry. They begin by telling about His birth, continue with His preaching and passion, and end with His resurrection and ascension. Beyond that, it seems that there is not much to say. But His earthly ministry was only part of His great work for mankind. His ministry involves all this and much more. Referring to this, the prophet Isaiah writes: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6. In addition, the letter to the Hebrews presents His ministry in the heavenly sanctuary as the great High Priest. In other epistles, there are references to His intercession in heaven, showing clearly that His ministry did not end with the ascension. The apostle Paul writes: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” 1 Timothy 3:16.

However, even these inspired descriptions show only part of His greatness. The Spirit of prophecy tells what the focus of our attention and meditation should be: “Christ crucified for our sins, Christ risen from the dead, Christ our intercessor before God;…

“His pre-existence. His coming the second time in glory and power, His personal dignity, His holy law uplifted, are the themes that have been dwelt upon with simplicity and power.” –Evangelism, p. 187.

Jesus Christ–His character, sacrifice, and ministry in man’s behalf–is the center of the plan of redemption, all history, and all Scripture. Prophets have spoken and written messages of hope that center in Him. The writings of Moses, the Psalms, and the holy Scriptures speak of Him. Luke 24:25, 27. Although the prophets had greater light than did others, because they were blessed with messages and prophecies from on high, they were particularly interested in the events concerning the Messiah and studied deeply to acquire more understanding. As the apostle Peter writes, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” 1 Peter 1:10, 11.

Should we study less or have less commitment than did they? Our study, preaching, publications, and life should all be centered in Christ. Sister Ellen G. White writes: “Bear with a certain voice an affirmative message. Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary, higher and still higher. There is power in the exaltation of the cross of Christ….

“Christ is to be preached, not controversially, but affirmatively. Take your stand without controversy. Let not your words at any time be uncertain. The word of the living God is to be the foundation of our faith. Gather up the strongest affirmative statements regarding the atonement made by Christ for the sins of the world. Show the necessity for this atonement and tell men and women that they may be saved if they will repent and return to their loyalty to God’s law. Gather all the affirmatives and proofs that make the gospel the glad tidings of salvation to all who receive and believe on Christ as a personal Saviour.” –(Letter 65, 1905) Evangelism, p. 187.

“More people than we think are longing to find the way to Christ. Those who preach the last message of mercy should bear in mind that Christ is to be exalted as the sinner’s refuge. Some ministers think that it is not necessary to preach repentance and faith; they take it for granted that their hearers are acquainted with the gospel, and that matters of a different nature must be presented in order to hold their attention. But many people are sadly ignorant in regard to the plan of salvation; they need more instruction upon this all-important subject than upon any other.” –Gospel Workers, p. 158.

We have been inspired by studying the “Life, Work, and Teachings of Jesus” in several previous quarters. We want to conclude this series with the final scenes of His life on earth, His heavenly ministry, and His second coming. May these lessons be a great blessing to every believer who waits longingly for the Saviour’s return.

–The brothers and sisters of the General Conference
and the Ministerial Department

Special Sabbath School Offering for

Let your gift reflect your generosity and love for souls!

Sabbath, July 1, 2017

“ ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen….’ He is risen, He is risen! The women repeat the words again and again. No need now for the anointing spices. The Saviour is living, and not dead. They remember now that when speaking of His death He said that He would rise again. What a day is this to the world! Quickly the women departed from the sepulcher ‘with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 789.

At the tomb

1. After spending the hours in Sabbath rest after the crucifixion, what did the believing women plan to do? When did they go to the sepulchre to embalm the body of Jesus? 

Mark 16:1, 2 And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. 2And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. 

John 20:1, first part The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark,…

“The women who had stood by the cross of Christ waited and watched for the hours of the Sabbath to pass. On the first day of the week, very early, they made their way to the tomb, taking with them precious spices to anoint the Saviour’s body. They did not think about His rising from the dead. The sun of their hope had set, and night had settled down on their hearts. As they walked, they recounted Christ’s works of mercy and His words of comfort. But they remembered not His words, ‘I will see you again.’ John 16:22.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 788. 

2. What powerful event occurred that the women never imagined? What did they see when they arrived at the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus with spices?

Matthew 28:2, first part And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven,…

“Ignorant of what was even then taking place, they drew near the garden, saying as they went, ‘Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulcher?’ They knew that they could not remove the stone, yet they kept on their way. And lo, the heavens were suddenly alight with glory that came not from the rising sun. The earth trembled. They saw that the great stone was rolled away. The grave was empty.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 788.

“Early in the morning of the first day of the week, before it was yet light, holy women came to the sepulcher, bringing sweet spices to anoint the body of Jesus. They found that the heavy stone had been rolled away from the door of the sepulcher, and the body of Jesus was not there. Their hearts sank within them, and they feared that their enemies had taken away the body.” –Early Writings, p. 186.

An astonishing turn of events

3. What news did the angel give the fearful women? What did he invite them to do to confirm what he was saying?

Mark 16:5 And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted.

Matthew 28:5, 6 And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

“A light was shining about the tomb, but the body of Jesus was not there. As they lingered about the place, suddenly they saw that they were not alone. A young man clothed in shining garments was sitting by the tomb. It was the angel who had rolled away the stone. He had taken the guise of humanity that he might not alarm these friends of Jesus. Yet about him the light of the heavenly glory was still shining, and the women were afraid. They turned to flee, but the angel’s words stayed their steps. ‘Fear not ye,’ he said; ‘for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 788, 789.

4. What good news of the resurrection did the frightened women hear? In what convincing manner did the angels give them the message?

Luke 24:5-7 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 

“Again they look into the tomb, and again they hear the wonderful news. Another angel in human form is there, and he says, Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how He spake unto you when He was yet in Galilee, saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 789.

5. What sudden change came in the women’s thoughts? With what joyful mission did they leave the tomb?

Matthew 28:8 And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Luke 24:9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

“He is risen, He is risen! The women repeat the words again and again. No need now for the anointing spices. The Saviour is living, and not dead. They remember now that when speaking of His death He said that He would rise again. What a day is this to the world! Quickly the women departed from the sepulcher ‘with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 789.

Human reactions

6. How did the disciples react when they heard the news brought by the women? However, what did Peter and John do? To what conclusion did John come when he saw the evidence?

Luke 24:11, 12 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

John 20:3, 8 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre…. 8Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 

“The disciples hurried to the tomb, and found it as Mary had said. They saw the shroud and the napkin, but they did not find their Lord. Yet even here was testimony that He had risen…. John ‘saw, and believed.’ He did not yet understand the scripture that Christ must rise from the dead; but he now remembered the Saviour’s words foretelling His resurrection.

“When the mighty angel came down to the tomb, he was joined by another, who with his company had been keeping guard over the Lord’s body. As the angel from heaven rolled away the stone, the other entered the tomb, and unbound the wrappings from the body of Jesus…. Order and perfection are seen in all His work.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 789.

7. Despite the good news given to her by the angel, what did Mary continue doing? Why did she not recognize the Master when He first spoke to her?

John 20:13-15 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 

“Mary had followed John and Peter to the tomb; when they returned to Jerusalem, she remained. As she looked into the empty tomb, grief filled her heart… 

“Then she turned away, even from the angels, thinking that she must find someone who could tell her what had been done with the body of Jesus. Another voice addressed her, ‘Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?’ Through her tear-dimmed eyes, Mary saw the form of a man, and thinking that it was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if thou have borne Him hence, tell me where thou hast laid Him, and I will take Him away.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 790.

The divine plan in action

8. What did she realize when Jesus addressed her by name? What message did He give her for His disciples? 

John 20:16, 17 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

“Now she knew that it was not a stranger who was addressing her, and turning she saw before her the living Christ. In her joy she forgot that He had been crucified. Springing toward Him, as if to embrace His feet, she said, ‘Rabboni.’ But Christ raised His hand, saying, Detain Me not….

“Jesus refused to receive the homage of His people until He had the assurance that His sacrifice was accepted by the Father. He ascended to the heavenly courts, and from God Himself heard the assurance that His atonement for the sins of men had been ample, that through His blood all might gain eternal life.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 790.

9. What message for the disciples did Jesus repeat to the women? 

Matthew 28:9, 10 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

“Since the death of Christ, Peter had been bowed down with remorse. His shameful denial of the Lord, and the Saviour’s look of love and anguish, were ever before him. Of all the disciples he had suffered most bitterly. To him the assurance is given that his repentance is accepted and his sin forgiven. He is mentioned by name.

“ ‘Tell His disciples and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him.’ All the disciples had forsaken Jesus, and the call to meet Him again includes them all. He has not cast them off. When Mary Magdalene told them she had seen the Lord, she repeated the call to the meeting in Galilee. And a third time the message was sent to them. After He had ascended to the Father, Jesus appeared to the other women, saying, ‘… Be not afraid: go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see Me.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 793.

For additional study

“How many are still doing what these disciples did! How many echo Mary’s despairing cry, ‘They have taken away the Lord,… and we know not where they have laid Him’! To how many might the Saviour’s words be spoken, ‘Why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?’ He is close beside them, but their tear-blinded eyes do not discern Him. He speaks to them, but they do not understand….

“While the Saviour was in God’s presence, receiving gifts for His church, the disciples thought upon His empty tomb, and mourned and wept. The day that was a day of rejoicing to all heaven was to the disciples a day of uncertainty, confusion, and perplexity. Their unbelief in the testimony of the women gives evidence of how low their faith had sunk. The news of Christ’s resurrection was so different from what they had anticipated that they could not believe it. It was too good to be true, they thought.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 794, 790-793.