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23. Christmas and Easter

My notes for teaching the Old Testament, by Mama Brenda.

Leader’s notes: Lesson 23 - Christmas

Today we are going to work through two presentations to a ladies’ group for Christmas and Easter. The Christmas one uses some Old Testament material, and the Good Friday one is a meditation.

I have set it out as if I was speaking. You will be taking a Christmas meeting and a Good Friday one for your ladies’ group. I hope that by hearing and seeing your presentation, some of the ladies will be able to use it with ladies in their home churches or groups.

It will be good to have the ladies keep their books closed and/or not give out notes at the beginning. Before you start hand out the readings for the beginning of sections 1, 2 and 3, and any other readings you want read out. Remember who you have given them to!

Section 1 Bible readings opposite could be used as follows-

One lady to read all five references, or

One lady to read Genesis chapter 2 references and another lady

to read chapter 3 references, or

Five ladies to read one reference each.

Your choice - you know your ladies. If everyone does not have a Bible, or a Bible in the language you are using, write the references on individual pieces of paper and give them out before you start.

Please notice the pronoun God uses in Genesis 3:22 in what He says. See also 1:26.

These are important words in the doctrine of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit - all together before man existed. Put this information away in your mind for another study.

Student worksheet: Lesson 23 - Christmas.

What do you think of when you think of Christmas? Perhaps you think of getting some new clothes for your children, or of wishing you could get some new clothes for them. Perhaps you think of getting together in church to celebrate.

What are you celebrating?

I have been learning about the Old Testament recently, and I would like to share some thoughts which I hope will add to our understanding of Christmas. I have asked some ladies to help me with the Bible readings.

Listen to the readings and be ready to answer some questions.

1. Genesis 2:8-9, 15-17, 20-24; 3:1-13, 22-24.

Where did God put Adam?

What restrictions was Adam given?

What did the serpent (a name used for Satan, the great deceiver, or as he is called in Job, the accuser), what did he suggest to Eve?

What did Eve, and then Adam, do?

What had happened to their relationship with God?

What would happen if Adam and Eve ate from the tree of life?

In what state would they be?

So what did God do?

God put Adam in a beautiful garden, the Garden of Eden

Adam was told not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The serpent tempted Eve to doubt God’s words.

Eve ate and then Adam ate.

Their relationship with God, which had been good, was immediately broken.

If they then managed to eat the fruit of the tree of life, they would live forever -

forever in a state of disobedience to God, in a state of sin.

In love God closed off the way to the tree of life in the Garden of Eden to prevent them eating from the tree of life. He thus opened the way to the possibility of healing the relationship between God and man.

God was making a way.

2. Genesis 49:1,8,10

Judah was the fourth son born to Jacob, not the first, but Jacob says that the tribe of Judah will be a leader, will have the sceptre, the symbol of authority, until the One Who holds ultimate power comes to claim it - Jesus when He comes again. When the Northern Kingdom fell to the Assyrians several hundred years later, the name of the major tribe of the ongoing southern kingdom was Judah. Jesus was a descendant of Judah. We also know that Judah was not perfect. He was the man who failed to keep a big promise, slept with a prostitute and became the father of twins with his daughter-in-law. Yet he is in the line of Jesus, see Matthew 1:3.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 23 - Christmas.

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Student's worksheet: Lesson 23 - Christmas.

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... Also in the family history of Jesus are Rahab, a prostitute who believed God; Ruth, a Moabitess whose people were banned from being part of God’s people but who followed Naomi’s God; and Bathsheba who was King David’s adultery partner and mother of King Solomon, Matthew 1:5-6.

God wanted His people to show His righteousness so that other nations would believe, but they failed dismally.

God showed that He would bring other people into His kingdom.

3. Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-25.

A virgin, or young woman, (depending on your Bible translation), would conceive and have a son. She would call Him Immanuel – meaning ‘God is with us’.

Matthew records that “all this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet” and quotes Isaiah 7:14.

Matthew explains the situation. Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph. This agreement was binding but there was no sexual relationship until after the marriage.

So Mary was a virgin. but she was expecting a baby “through the Holy Spirit”.

Can you imagine how difficult this was for her?

And for Joseph?

What did the neighbours say?

Luke 1:26-38 tells us about Mary’s encounter with an angel, who told her she was to have a son. He specifically told her “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born of you will be called the Son of God.”

A virgin birth! And Mary agreed.

God had prepared a human mother for God the Son. The Holy One, Jesus, had a heavenly Father, an earthly mother and the man, Joseph, Mary’s soon to be husband, who although no blood relation to Jesus, looked after Him as a son.

God made the preparation necessary for His plan of salvation to happen.

God showed that people other than Jews would be in His kingdom - that’s us!

God prepared a human mother to nurture His Son Jesus.

The planning for Christmas started a long time ago in the heart of God.

Galatians 4:4 “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”

Add these thoughts to your understanding of Christmas.

You are allowed to say “Wow. That’s amazing. Thank you, God!” Amen.

May you be blessed by God this Christmas.

(You may want to pray after this message. A quiet few minutes after a message can help people anchor in their minds what they have heard.)

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Leader’s notes: Lesson 23 (continued) - Easter

Good Friday meditation.

This is meditation is written exactly as I would use it.

I would use it slowly and thoughtfully, giving the ladies time to think.

I would have hymns or songs about Jesus and the Good Friday events where it says ‘Hymn’.

Some hymns I know talk about different parts of Jesus’ life, or other things. Here I would only choose to use the verses about Jesus and the events of Good Friday,

to keep everyone thinking only about Jesus and Good Friday!

Use it as it is right for you and your ladies, and for the purpose of your meeting.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 23 (continued) - Easter.

A meditation for Good Friday

Have you ever noticed how different people report things slightly differently? Perhaps you and a friend are telling a third person about an event, and as you go along you begin to wonder if you and your friend are talking about the same thing? If we try to put together the stories of Jesus as recorded by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we struggle to find a detailed order. The stories have different details - but it doesn’t matter - we don’t need to throw the Bible away - God used the different things the gospel writers’ heard or were told, to produce their take on the events. Everything that God allowed to be collected into our Bible, and preserved through the centuries for us, He wanted there.

So let’s turn to the events of Good Friday. Jesus had been arrested and held overnight - not in a police cell - but baited and mocked by a hostile group of guards who were probably employed by the chief priests. For legal reasons, when daybreak came a trial could be held. The chief priests had a theological accusation to make against Jesus, and they had no power to give a death penalty. So they took Jesus to Pilate saying He claimed to be a King, and made up a false charge of working against Caesar, the head of the Empire. Then a visit to Herod for political expediency and back to Pilate, who gave up trying to release Jesus and sentenced Him to be crucified. So the grim procession left to go outside the city wall. This was about nine o’clock in the morning.


Luke 23:32-34 Two other men, both criminals, were led out with Jesus to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified Him, along with the criminals - one on His right, the other on His left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up His clothes by casting lots.

Forgive them. For the trials? For betting on the seamless robe His mother made? For hammering nails through His hands and feet? For using the crucifixion position to produce the most pain? For being instruments in the judicial murder of the Son of God? What we know is that Jesus, in that time of extremity, asked His Father to forgive their ignorance.


John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw His mother there, and the disciple whom He loved, standing nearby, He said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Dying, giving His life for us - He provides for the human who gave birth to the human Jesus. He gives His closest disciple the responsibility for His mother. There were younger brothers of Jesus - perhaps they did not yet believe in Him - later His brother James became leader of the Jerusalem church.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 23 (continued) Easter.

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Student's worksheet: Lesson 23 (continued) Easter.


Luke 23:39-43 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at Jesus. “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Three men on three crosses. Jesus and two criminals. One mocking, the other acknowledging Jesus’ innocence and power, plus his own sins. Paradise meant a place beyond the immediate heaven of earth’s atmosphere, beyond the further heaven of outer space and its constellations - into the very presence of God Himself.

This now newly Christian man did not bow at Jesus’ feet or pray the sinner’s prayer. But Jesus heard this thief in agony, confess his sin and recognise Jesus’ purity – and Jesus promised him eternal life THAT same day!


Matthew 27:45-46 From the sixth hour (twelve noon) until the ninth hour (three in the afternoon) darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

God is complete purity - hence Jesus’ cry of abandonment by God as He carried the sins of mankind.


John 19:29 Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.

Wine vinegar - drink of ordinary people - a sponge, a stalk - someone thought to bring them.


John 19:30 When He had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.’

Earlier in John’s gospel Jesus had said “My food is to do the work of Him who sent me and to finish His work.” In the prayer before Jesus was arrested, also in John’s gospel, Jesus says, “Father, I have brought You glory on earth by completing the work You gave Me to do. And now, Father, glorify Me with the glory I had with You before the world began.”

What was finished? The work His Father had given Him to do.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 23 (continued) Easter.

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Student's worksheet: Lesson 23 (continued) Easter.

What was that work? To atone for the sins of mankind - yours and mine - to make a way back to the intimate presence of God for each of us.


Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When He had said this, He breathed His last.

Jesus called out - not the gasping breath of a tortured man, but the conscious act of a man in agony but in total self-control. Not a victim, but a victor.


From Mark and Luke and John -

“At that moment the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from the top to the bottom” - symbolic that the way to God was open for all, and that God had made it so - from the TOP to the bottom. Jesus and the repentant thief had gone to heaven!

“The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” Was it fear of divine retribution, or an honest acknowledgment?

“It was the Preparation Day (that is, the day before the Sabbath). So as evening approached. Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Jewish Sanhedrin Council, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, went boldly to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. With Pilate’s permission, Joseph came and took the body of Jesus away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who had earlier visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. Taking Jesus body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs. At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no-one had ever been laid. Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.” Two brave and caring men.

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how the body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”


Dear heavenly Father, our Almighty God.

Thank You that You loved us so much You planned a way for us to get back into a good relationship with You.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 23 (continued) Easter.

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Student's worksheet: Lesson 23 (continued) Easter.

Thank You that You sent our Lord Jesus Christ to die in our place, to pay the debt our sin demanded.

Help us to remember the events and words of Good Friday, and to think about them as we await the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning.


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