Appreciating Our Lord’s Resurrection
On April 7th 2003 a B-1B bomber dropped four 2,000-pound, bombs on a building in Baghdad’s al-Mansour neighborhood after getting a tip that Saddam Hussein had entered the building.
The attack left a 60-foot-deep crater and the force of the blast broke windows and doors as far as 300 yards away.
US officials believed strongly that they had gotten their man and that Saddam was dead.
But that same day Iraqi TV showed a man identified as Saddam Hussein being greeted in the streets of Baghdad.
The US claimed the person depicted on Iraqi TV was just another one of Saddam’s doubles.
But unless they could produce Saddam’s body, nobody would ever believe that he was dead.
About 2000 years ago, according to the gospel of Matthew some women had trouble finding a body as well – the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This morning we are going to look at the Matthew’s account of the resurrection as recorded in Matthew 28:1-10.
Jesus had been crucified on Friday, and buried just before sunset.
With Pilate’s permission, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had taken Jesus’ body, wrapped it with the spices in strips of linen, and placed it in a new tomb.
Right after Jesus was crucified, the religious leaders went to Pontius Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember what that impostor said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
Therefore, command the tomb to be made secure until the third day;
otherwise his disciples may go and steal him away, and tell the people,
‘He has been raised from the dead’” (Matthew 27:62-64).
But Pilate, who was just about fed up by this whole mess, told these troublemakers to use their own guards to secure the tomb.
So, they did.
And this is where our text picks up the story.
A study of resurrection as recorded in Matthew 28:1-10 will engender a new appreciation for the resurrection.
THE DEVOTION OF THE WOMEN ! (v1)
First of all let’s note the devotion of these women to Jesus.
Mary Magdalene is a woman out of whom Jesus cast 7 demons.
As a result, she became a devoted follower of Jesus.
Isn’t it interesting that sometimes the biggest sinners become some of the most devoted followers of Jesus.
Perhaps, it’s because they have no misgivings about themselves – they know better than most that they are sinners saved by grace.
Perhaps, it’s because they have no misunderstanding about their Savior – they know better than most it was nobody but Jesus who made them whole and saved their soul.
Perhaps, it’s because they have no misinformation about their salvation – they know better than most what it means to have been once lost but now found; blind but now seeing; in darkness but now walking in the marvelous light.
Mary Magdalene was a woman genuinely devoted to the Lord.
She was devoted enough to support Jesus’ ministry financially.
She was devoted enough to go with Jesus the last mile of the way.
She was devoted enough to accompany Jesus on his last journey to Jerusalem.
She was devoted enough to stand near the cross while Jesus was being crucified.
She was devoted enough to stay until Jesus breathed his last.
She was devoted enough to stay until Joseph and Nicodemus buried his body in a new tomb.
She was so devoted that she just had to get up early on Sunday morning, just to take another look at his tomb.
I cannot proceed without asking the question -- Are you devoted enough to Jesus?
Are you devoted enough to stay when others are falling away?
Are you devoted enough to keep drawing nearer to the cross?
Are you devoted enough to keep associating with Jesus even after he has become the object of ridicule, scorn, and shame?
Are you devoted enough that no naysayer, skeptic, critic, or doubter will ever change your mind?
Are you devoted enough that no archaeologist’s find for cynical publication will ever turn you around?
Are you devoted enough to serve Him when other folk have stopped?
If you devoted, you ought to say yeah.
I’m on the battlefield for my Lord.
I promised him that I, would serve Him until I die.
I’m on the battlefield for my Lord.
Matthew says that early on Sunday morning, at the dawning of a new day, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, the mother of James and Joses came JUST to look at the tomb of Jesus.
JUST to see the place where he lay.
JUST to gaze upon his grave.
Someone has said that Women were the last to leave the cross of Christ and the first to visit the tomb of Christ. Even today, women are often the most devoted and loyal church members on the roster.
THE DAZE AT THE TOMB! (v2-4)
Having explored the devotion of the women, let’s move on to the daze at the tomb.
Although Mark says that the women came bearing spices and ointment to tend to Christ’s body.
In his account, Matthew has them coming to the tomb empty – handed because they didn’t expect to be allowed to enter the tomb.
But if God is anything, He is a master of the unexpected.
These women came expecting just to look upon his tomb.
They came expecting to memorialize Him and contemplate what might have been.
They came expecting to pay tribute to a fallen prophet.
They came downcast with heads hung low.
I must add parenthetically, isn’t that the way we come to church sometimes?
We come just to pay our respects.
We come downcast with heads hung low.
We come having been beaten up by life.
We come not expecting nothing extraordinary to happen.
But the text says when they got there, the ground began to move underneath their feet.
They heard the rumbling and tumbling of the rocks.
Then they saw an angel of the Lord descending from heaven.
Then they watched the angel of the Lord, as he rolled back the stone of the tomb, and sat on the stone.
The angel’s appearance was like lightning and his clothing was a white as snow.
His arrival left both the women and the guards in a daze.
Matthew says the guards trembled with fear and became as dead men.
Isn’t it ironic, that the living who were sent to guard the dead became as dead men; while the one who was dead was made alive again.
The guards were in a daze and the women were also in a daze.
I get concerned about folk whose God has never left them in a daze
I get concerned about folk whose God has never left them scratching their heads.
I get concerned about folk whose God has never left them with mouth wide open.
If your God doesn’t daze you from time to time, you better make sure you’re worshipping the true and living God.
Every now and then, God will move in the unexplainable.
Every now and then, God will move in the unexpected.
Every now and then, God will move in the unpredictable.
Every now and then God will leave you shaking your head.
Every now and then God will let you know that he still has all power in his hands.
The guards were dazed and the women were dazed.
But the angel of the Lord spoke to the women.
We’ve looked at the devotion of the women, and the daze at the tomb, now we turn our attention to the Directions from the angel (read vss. 5-7).
The angel makes 3 commands – Fear not; come and see for yourself; and go and tell his disciples.
When God appeared to Abram, he told him, Fear not, Abram, I am thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.
When God appeared to Isaac, he told him Fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. (Gen 26:24)
When God appeared to Moses, he told him Fear not, to go into Egypt … I will go down with thee and surely bring thee up again.
When the angel of the Lord appeared to Mary before the birth of Jesus and said, Fear not, Mary for thou hast found favor with God.
Now, the angel of the Lord says to these women, Fear not, for I know that you seek Jesus which was crucified, He is not here for he is risen as he said.
You won’t find him in the abode of the dead – you won’t find him in dead orthodoxy, dead rituals, religion, ceremonies, programs, … He is not here … he is risen.
Come and see!
The angel didn’t bother with a lengthy explanation, he just said come and see for yourself.
That’s the invitation I extend to any unbelievers this morning.
Do you want to know more about Jesus – Come and see!
Find out for yourself!
He’s alive … come and see for yourself what all the excitement is about!
Try Jesus for yourself.
The reason they sell so many timeshares is because they have adopted a come and see policy.
There’s only so much we can tell, you have to come and see for yourself.
Go and Tell!
Then after you’ve seen for yourself, go and tell somebody else.
The angel of the Lord said, “Go quickly and tell His disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee.
There you will see him, Now I have told you.”
I’m closing now, but if you haven’t heard anything else I’ve said, I want to hear this.
He has risen from the dead!
That means that in spite of … God is still in control.
In spite of how bad it may appear … God is still in control.
In spite of how bleak the outlook … God is sill in control.
In spite of how out of control things appear to be … God is still in control.
In spite of how dark the night appears … God is still in control.
Because He lives!
O Death where is your sting?
O grave where is your victory?
Thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.